With the holidays approaching, what a better way to kick off the holiday shopping than to purchase art in town and support local artists. The annual Art for the Masses (AFTM) event returns to UNCW all day on Saturday, November 23rd, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Burney and Warwick centers. All pieces will tag $250 or less.
Having started 11 years ago, initially from Creative Wilmington, 2012 marked AFTM first year UNCW took over the event. Over 8,000 people attended to purchase artwork, with 175 artists participating. UNCW students help coordinate the event and are given the opportunity to participate as well. Alongside helping the students is faculty member Shane Fernando, director of Campus Life Arts and Programs.
“It becomes a way for them to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world experiences—large-scale event planning, effective communication, risk management, etc.,” Fernando says. “Overall, it was a great success for our students and community artists.”
This year they are completely sold out in artist spaces and have a waiting list. Many artists returned from last year after seeing increased success primarily from moving it to UNCW.Originally, AFTM had no specific home. Creative Wilmington coordinated it at various spaces around town—parking decks, warehouses, and unfinished buildings to name but a few. While it gave the event a certain rustic and artistic feel, too many negative side effects came with it. “Many were not heated, had no restrooms, were not handicapped accessible, and had insufficient lighting for viewing artwork,” Fernando says.
After Creative Wilmington folded a few years back, the UNCW Department of Art and Art History, along with UNCW Presents, teamed up to continue the community tradition only with added benefits. Now a fully accessible, climate-controlled facility provides food and bathrooms for artists and viewers alike. UNCW wanted to make sure it continued its original purpose.
“We have continued the most important aspects of the program: a juried, competitive process for artist acceptance to ensure that quality, original, fine art is in the sale, artists keep 100 percent of their proceeds from the sale of their work, and admission is free to the public,” Fernando says. “We do ask for a door donation to support public art programs at UNCW.”
Joining AFTM for the second time is an organization called the Venus Flytrap Potters. They formed a mere 14 months ago, after the town of Leland purchased a building and renovated it to develop a cultural arts center for the town. A group of experienced potters got together to encourage the town council to include a pottery studio in the center. Pat Goodman, the Venus Flytrap Potters’ president, has flourished in the organization since it began. They host many prize-winning artists such as Joyce Grazetti, Connie Petrone, Sharon Vinciguerra and Jane Floyd, who also serve on their board. They have assisted in advising the town on what the studio layout should be, needed equipment, classes offered, and how the studio could become self-sustaining.
The non-profit organization accepts donations for their cause, with the goal to continue educational offerings in Leland’s pottery studio in their cultural arts center, as well as to fund-raiser for equipment purchases and visiting artists. The Town of Leland is committing to purchase most of the needed equipment, so their goals are in a state of flux. Currently, classes are offered off site, since the actual site won’t be available until the building is complete, with profits going directly to support the studio once it opens. Members of the organization also participate in selling their work in order to give back to the studio.
“Commissions from Venus Flytrap Potters’ work sold at Arts for the Masses will go toward supporting the studio at the Leland Cultural Arts Center,” Goodman says. “We participated last year as well, and found it to be a really wonderful opportunity, not only to sell our widely varied works of pottery but to enjoy the work of other artists in the community and region. It’s a wonderful place to see the variety of talent in our area, and the public support last year was great!”
Some other noteworthy featured arts will include oils, encaustics, and acrylics with mixed media by Liz Hosier; printmaking by Topher Alexander; clay pottery, face jugs, folk art and jewelry by Brian Peterson; painting, water color, and acrylics by Ronald Williams; handblown glass by Jane Greer; and more.
The event will also feature art from DREAMS of Wilmington, Cameron Art Museum School, No Boundaries International Art Colony, UNCW and Cape Fear Community College students. Admission is free. Come out and support local artists for the day!
Art for the Masses
Saturday, November 23rd
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Free admission; door donation accepted for UNCW arts programs
All original artwork $250 and less