Athens and its neighboring towns are home to a tremendous number of artists, many of whom create artwork full-time and even more who run their passion project as a side hustle. Something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving is the relief they’ll bring us during the upcoming holiday season, when we can give our loved ones interesting gifts that are locally purchased and handcrafted—just, you know, not by our hands.
Every year, Flagpole prints a massive roundup of over two dozen artist markets and studio sales that occur leading up to the holidays. That list won’t come out until the next issue, so here’s a handful of events happening this weekend to tide you over. Skip the stampedes of Black Friday and directly support the livelihoods of your local artists on Small Business Saturday.
In celebration of a 20-year milestone, Good Dirt Clay Studio will host a holiday pottery sale on Saturday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. In addition to a select group of advanced students, featured potters include Amanda Proctor, Stephanie Johnson and Jessica Hoynowski. Business owner Rob Sutherland, who took his very first clay class at Good Dirt in 2001, will also share a collection of unique wheel-thrown stoneware pots. The anniversary event will also include light refreshments and an outdoor fire pit. After many years downtown, Good Dirt is now located at 485 Macon Hwy. Visit gooddirt.net for details on the studio’s courses.
For more locally made ceramics, venture over to the home studio of Carter Gillies for his Pottery Open House on Saturday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 26. Gillies will offer an eclectic mix of functional and decorative work ranging from popular household items like plates, mugs and bowls to elegant vases and kid-sized, half-priced cups and bowls. He will also offer ornaments to children in exchange for something creative, like singing a song, drawing a picture or telling a story.
For anyone who misses out this weekend, a second open house will be held on Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3, as well as the annual Carter and Friends Pottery Market on Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10, where he will be joined by guest potters Geoff Pickett, Kyle Jones, Jeff Bishoff and Zuzka Vaclavik. All markets will be held from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Gillies’ studio is located in the Boulevard neighborhood at 572 Nantahala Ave. Contact 706-546-7235 or email@example.com for more information.
For a little bit of everything, swing by the fourth annual Piney Woods Artisans Open House on Saturday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 26 from 12–5 p.m. Gallery owner Dortha Jacobson’s oil paintings capture pleasant landscapes, neighborhood scenes and botanicals. Jim Norton creates one-of-a-kind jewelry with unusual shapes and colorful patinas. Wini McQueen offers hand-dyed accessories, and Tina Tinsley makes warm felted hats.
While sculptors Harold Rittenberry Jr. and Barbara Odil are both inspired by nature and extremely resourceful with their materials, they create wildly different work. Rittenberry’s towering metal sculptures often feature silhouettes of birds, snakes and other animals, while Odil’s assemblages combine shells, seed pods, wood, bones and other found items into anthropomorphic bodies. Piney Woods is located in Winterville at 265 Athens Road. For more information, call Jacobson at 706-742-2571.
Indie South will host a Small Business Saturday event on Nov. 25 from 11 a.m.–7 p.m. The Normaltown shop, which also serves as a headquarters for its giant biannual outdoor markets, is fully stocked year round with handmade, vintage and collectible items. Highlights include artist-designed tarot decks; jewelry by Laurel Hill and Brass & Pebble; eclectic notecards, stamps and monthly planners by Native Bear; treats from Classic City Bee Company and Piedmont Provisions; and all the crystals and sage you’ll ever need. Check theindiesouth.com for details.
The family-owned and operated studio and gallery Bendzunas Glass will host a Winter Open House on Saturday, Nov. 25 from 5–9 p.m. with snacks, door prizes and live glassblowing demonstrations. Master glassblower Paul Bendzunas, who has over 40 years of experience, and his children create both functional and decorative works of art including vases, ornaments, cups and bowls. While the studio often provides wholesale to other shops, tonight is an opportunity to peruse one-of-a-kind pieces straight from the source. During the month of December, the studio will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.–6 p.m., with live demonstrations running until 3 p.m., and on weekdays by appointment. Bendzunas Glass is located at 89 W. South Ave. in Comer, and can be reached at 706-783-5869 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an effort to encourage everyone to support locally owned businesses, several shops will participate in the Athens Holiday Scavenger Hunt, which kicks off on Saturday and runs through the holiday season. Participating locations include Avid Bookshop, BMA at Home, Community, Dynamite Vintage, Frontier, Indie South, KA Artist Shop, Lotta Mae Supply Co., Metal + Petal, R. Wood Studio, Sons of Sawdust, Starlite Showroom and Treehouse Kid and Craft. After picking up a scavenger hunt postcard at one of the aforementioned destinations, participants are instructed to find the hiding heart, receive a stamp and post a photograph of the completed postcard with #shoplocalathens to Instagram. Randomly selected winners will receive prizes.
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