For nine years, the gallery at the Carroll Arts Center has been transformed into a holiday shopping haven during the annual Gallery of Gifts. This year, visitors to the Gallery will have a wider selection than ever, as organizers have expanded the number of juried creators to a record high.
According to Susan Williamson, visual arts coordinator with the Carroll County Arts Council, 53 artists are participating in the juried show, with pieces for sale including jewelry, ceramic, glass, fiber, wood, basketry work and other unique creations. Williamson said in addition to the larger number of exhibitors, the gallery also features a more diverse selection of pieces than ever before.
“We have so many more nice things for everyone. If you don’t like one thing, there’s another style just around the corner,” Williamson said. “We don’t want to turn our back on jewelers, but we can’t have an all-jewelry show, because then it becomes a competition just for selling jewelry.”
Items for sale range from $5 to pieces that sell for hundreds, offering options for nearly every shopper looking for handmade, one-of-a-kind creations, from knit animal sculptures, to Maryland memorabilia to stoneware.
One of the unique creators participating in the show this year is Tyler Drayer of Drayerboards.
Drayer creates original recycled art from skateboards. Drayer said he began last year painting old skateboards, creating pieces of art on the canvas of the board. Soon, though, he realized there was more that could be done with the skate decks. After purchasing some woodworking equipment, Drayer began transforming skateboards into a variety of wooden objects from crab mallets to bottle openers, to clocks to earrings, using colors and images from the original boards.
This is his first year participating in the gallery, having been contacted on his Etsy page by Williamson.
“It’s right down the road from where I live and where I work, so I was excited to participate,” Drayer said. “Last year I had a few Christmas ornaments, but this time last year, I didn’t have any actual creations, it was all paintings. I’m excited to sell my new creations.”
Williamson said the gallery is split evenly between returning artists and new creators. She said it’s important to give shoppers a blend of some of their favorites while also introducing them to the pieces they will come back for in the future.
Painter Molly Sims will exhibit her work for the first time at the gallery. She said she’s excited to be a part of the display, since the holidays is the time people buy the most artwork and gifts from her.
Sims will sell portraits of wild animals like foxes, rabbits and bears as well as a collection of bird paintings. Several of the birds are painted on wooden medallions designed to be hung from Christmas trees as ornaments.
“Nature really inspires me because it’s incredibly beautiful and intricate,” Sims said. “I feel like as human beings, it’s our role to be the caretakers and caregivers of the world and nature and animals. This is my way of expressing my love of nature and wildlife and show what a blessing it is. Hopefully it inspires a love of it in other people as well.”
While some creators are bringing their work to the Carroll County holiday crowds for the first time, others are returning to the gallery.
Joyce Fritz Ritz, of Souly Joyce, will be exhibiting her wire and stone jewelry at the gallery, returning for the sixth time. She said the Gallery has always been one of her most successful shows.
“As an artist and a jeweler, I love that it’s hand-chosen and different because then we all do well,” Fritz Ritz said. “It really pushes things for me when I come back to a show, because I have collectors who really want to see something new.”