The multitude of local artist markets in December each year is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of Athens’ flourishing arts community. From open houses at private studios to multi-vendor fairs hosted at local businesses, these special events offer a rare opportunity to connect directly with some of the most creative people in town. The value of buying from local artists during the holiday season is two-fold: While you score a one-of-a-kind gift that’s sure to impress yourself or a loved one, the artists receive the encouragement and monetary support they need to continue pursuing their creative endeavors. With 35 events scheduled, original and handcrafted work is more accessible and affordable than ever.
In the spirit of tradition, let Flagpole make shopping locally a little simpler this year with our annual holiday market roundup, a list of artist markets, studio open houses and craft sales going on in Athens and nearby.
Deck the Walls, a holiday market held annually by the Lyndon House Arts Center, at 293 Hoyt St., will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays in December from 12–5 p.m. More than 70 artists will offer jewelry, photography, paintings, pottery, accessories and folk art, plus seasonal cards, ornaments and wreaths. A Holiday Open House on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. will feature pictures with Santa, a performance by the Athens Flute Choir, live greenery decorations in the Ware-Lyndon House by the Ladies Garden Club and activities for children. For more details, visit athensclarkecounty.com/lyndonhouse.
During a Holiday Studio Sale, Charles Pinckney will offer jewelry, Karen Hamrick will offer handmade chains, and Elizabeth Barton will offer quilts and watercolor paintings. The home studio, located at 170 Canady Dr., can be visited now through Dec. 24 from 12–6 p.m. Appointments outside of those hours can be made by calling 706-372-1072. Check out charlespinckney.com and elizabethbarton.com for examples of work.
Swing by campus for Phi Beata Heata’s Handmade Jewelry and Metals Sale, held daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. through Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, at 270 River Road. Members of the student organization will present their latest one-of-a-kind pieces and handcrafted metal objects. Hourly parking is available in the nearby Performing Arts Center deck. For more information, find Phi Beata Heata on Facebook.
While in the art school building, pop over to the UGA Ceramic Student Organization’s annual Holiday Pottery Sale on Wednesday, Nov. 30 and Thursday, Dec. 1 from 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. in the first-floor lobby. Created by students and faculty, the works range from decorative pieces and hand-built sculptures to functional pottery like teapots, mugs, plates, vases and bowls. Proceeds support educational field trips to conferences and also bring in visiting artists. Visit art.uga.edu for more information.
New to the neighborhood, Hip Vintage & Handmade will open its doors for a Grand Opening on Friday, Dec. 2 from 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Offering vendors the opportunity to lease a variety of display options, from a small shelf to a large booth, the market presents collections from antique and vintage dealers alongside well-known local crafters and artists. First Friday art exhibitions will showcase a new artist each month. The 7,000-square-foot space also features a giant Paper Moon photo booth, as well as a lease-ready classroom where art and homesteading classes will be led by owners Leslie and John Lawson, a sculptor and painter, respectively, who also own Blackbriar Farms. Hip Vintage & Handmade is located at 215 Commerce Blvd., which was occupied by Needful Things Antiques for 25 years. Following the grand opening, the shop will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays. More information can be found at hipvintagehandmade.com.
In addition to the abundance of local and sustainable produce that the Athens Farmers Market offers every Saturday at Bishop Park, at 705 Sunset Dr., its Holiday Craft Markets on Dec. 3, 10 and 17 from 9 a.m.–12 p.m. feature a good selection of handmade items like ceramics, jewelry, textiles, skincare products, woodworking, pet items, framed artwork and more. For details, check out athensfarmersmarket.net.
Maria Dondero’s annual event at her home studio has long been a seasonal tradition, but this year’s Marmalade Pottery Holiday Sale will be held at her new studio and gallery space, Southern Star Studio, located right down the street at 180 Cleveland Ave. On Dec. 3 and 4 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., the ceramic artist will share a new collection of large coil pots, plus small thrown and slab pots, while her father Tim Dondero shares special treats served in the pottery. The following weekend, on Dec. 10 and 11 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., the Southern Star Studio Holiday Sale will feature works by the other potters who rent space in the gallery: Jenna Johnson, Chona R. Leathers, Allya MacDonald, Regina Mandell and Kerry Steinberg. Visit mariadondero.com for more.
Local potter Carter Gillies offers two different events this season. View an eclectic mix of functional and decorative work during the Carter Gillies Pottery Open House on Dec. 3 and 4. The following weekend, on Dec. 10 and 11, Carter will be joined by fellow potters Geoff Pickett, Jeff Bishoff and Kyle Jones for the annual Carter and Friends Pottery Market. Both events are from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and are located at his home studio at 572 Nantahala Ave. Call 706-546-7235 for more.
Celebrating its 10-year milestone, Indie South Fair's Holiday Hooray offers a lineup of over 150 vendors—the most its ever hosted—covering virtually everything handmade, from original art in every medium, bath and beauty products, toys and sustainable fashion to artisanal food, home goods and furniture. Highlights include Appaloosa Jewelry, Pixel & Ink, Songbird Soaps, Rockbelly, Pale Blue Dot, Extollo Jewelry, My Athens and Oscar Bites. Indie South is unique from the majority of other markets in that it also incorporates a wide selection of collectors who focus primarily on vintage clothing and accessories. The two-day open-air market, which also promises music, food trucks and kids’ activities, takes place on Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. at 660 N. Chase St., just off Prince Avenue. Santa will visit for photo opportunities from 10 a.m.–1 p.m. on Saturday and all day Sunday. Representatives from Girls Rock Athens will offer a donation-based gift wrapping station. Admission to the market is $3, and free for ages 12 and under. For more details and a full list of participating art vendors, visit indiesouthfair.com.
The Downtown Athens Open House encourages shoppers to visit the various boutiques and shops that neighbor each other on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 1–5 p.m. Carriage rides will depart from outside of Wells Fargo from 2–5 p.m., and children can take photos with Santa from 1:30–4:30 p.m. Costumed characters from Rose of Athens will circulate among businesses, and a “Find the Elf” interactive scavenger hunt will reward those who find hidden elves. Places such as Aurum Studios, Native America Gallery, Frontier, Tena’s Jewelry, Agora Vintage and Dynamite Clothing will participate. For a full list of businesses, check out downtownathensga.org.
Smokey Road Press, artist Margot Ecke’s studio that specializes in letterpress and bookbinding, is holding a Moving Sale on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. In addition to all prints being half off, the shop will offer posters, hand-bound journals, stationery, holiday cards, ceramics and art materials at discounted prices. Several pieces of equipment (Heidelberg windmill, Vandercook Universal III, C&P motorized platen press) will be up for grabs. Smokey Road Press is located in the Leathers Building at 675 Pulaski St., unit 600. Email email@example.com for details.
Illustrator, tattoo artist and AthFest commemorative mural artist David Hale will host a studio sale and print show on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. In addition to over 30 original works, Hale will over “mystery tubes” filled with a variety of prints in three different sizes. A portion of proceeds from the event, which is cash or check only, will be split between three charities: Women for Women International, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and The Cottage. Love Hawk Studio is located at the Chase Park Warehouse at 160 Tracy St.
For physical, mental and spiritual wellness, visit the Holistic Healing Fair and Holiday Market. In addition to handmade soaps, lotions, candles and aromatherapy products, gift certificates can be picked up for massage, acupuncture, tarot readings, health coaching and more. Local practitioners who specialize in fields such as astrology, Reiki, color and sound therapy and reflexology will be present to discuss their services. The Healing Fair will be held at Flicker Theatre and Bar, at 263 W. Washington St., on Saturday, Dec. 3 from 12–6 p.m. For biographies, go to holistichealingnetwork.wordpress.com.
Offering an alternative to the traditional gift-exchange experience, the Holiday Benevolence Market presents a way to give back to the local community. Attendees are invited to select items off a shopping list of “symbolic gifts,” which breaks down how monetary donations can be used to assist 30 local nonprofits in their missions. Going strong since 1994, this annual tradition is sponsored by the United Way and 10 participating congregations. The First Presbyterian Church of Athens, at 185 E. Hancock Ave., hosts the market, which also features live music and a light lunch, on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 12–2 p.m. To see a list of requested gifts, go to firstpresathens.org/benevolencemarket.
During the annual Holiday Open House at the State Botanical Garden on Sunday, Dec. 4 from 1:30–4 p.m., kids are invited to take photos and share their wishes with Santa, as well as make holiday crafts. The festively decorated tropical conservatory will be filled with music when the Georgia Children's Chorus performs holiday classics at 2:15 p.m. The garden’s gift shop, which features many items designed by students, will be open for adults to browse for potential presents. For more information, visit botgarden.uga.edu.
An outdoor patio under twinkling lights makes for a festive setting at the juried Athens Holiday Market, held at Big City Bread Cafe on Dec. 8 and 9 from 5 p.m.–9 p.m. Peruse the works of 57 local artists while a live band performs around the bonfire. The lineup includes jewelry by Jim Norton, folk art by Cap Man, stained glass by Susan Staley, watercolors by Jamie Calkin, illustrations by Maggie Baxter and geometric works by Lou Kregel. Big City Bread is located at 393 N. Finley St. and can be reached at 706-353-0029.
Bookworms can rejoice in knowing that Avid Bookshop, located at 493 Prince Ave., will host a Local Author Meet and Greet on Thursday, Dec. 8 from 5:30–7:30 p.m. Shoppers can have copies of books autographed with personalized messages while perusing Avid’s collection of books and gifts. Participating authors include Kaitlin Bevis (the Persephone trilogy), Larry Dendy (Through the Arch: An Illustrated Guide to the University of Georgia Campus), Valerie Frey (Preserving Family Recipes), Melia Keeton-Digby (The Heroines Club: A Mother-Daughter Empowerment Circle), Mandi Mathis (The Littlest Inventor) and more.
The Holiday Sale at Normaltown Pottery, slated for Dec. 9 from 4–9 p.m. and Dec. 10 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m., will feature handmade, functional pottery by studio owner Juana Gnecco, along with ceramics by Nancy Green. Normaltown Pottery is located at 410 King Ave. For more information, call 762-728-0575.
Operating primarily as a wholesale business, Mbare, Ltd. will open its warehouse to the public for Africa in Athens on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 5–9 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10 from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. The fair-trade company works directly with artisans and craftspeople in Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Senegal to collect stone sculptures, wood carvings, tin art, masks, baskets, hand painted pillows and more. Mbare is located at 118 Commerce Blvd., and more details can be found at mbare.com.
Offering a selection of clothing, toys, housewares, accessories, prints, incense and more, Willaby Clothier will host a Holiday Pop-Up Shop on Dec. 9 from 5–9 p.m. and Dec. 10–11 and 17–18 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. In addition to the studio’s own selection of goods, the event will bring in goodies from regional makers like Brown Parcel Press, Chona R. Leathers, LVR Naturals, Rinne Allen, Smokey Road Press, Sara Parker, State, Wiseblood Women and 1000 Faces Coffee. Willaby is located next door to Southern Star Studio at 174 Cleveland Ave. Go to willabyshop.com.
Rebecca Wood and her team of potters will host their Holiday Sale on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. R. Wood Studio, located at 450 Georgia Dr., will have many of the brightly colored pieces that the studio is known for, in addition to several one-of-a-kind pieces, seconds and discounted works. To view samples of the potters’ work, check out rwoodstudio.com.
The vendors of the West Broad Farmers Market will offer a special Holiday Craft Festival on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 9 a.m.–1 p.m. In addition to special handmade items, the festival includes a turkey raffle and cooking demo, a collard greens cook-off, live music and kids activities. The market, which is hosted at the old West Broad School at 1573 W. Broad St., aims to develop new food-based entrepreneurs, build a neighborhood-centered economy and increase access to healthy, affordable foods. For more information on the market's goals, visit athenslandtrust.org.
More than 25 artists will share their creations during the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art’s second annual Holiday Market, with vendors including Aurora Fused Glass, Tunes and Spoons, Peacy Belle Designs, found-object assemblages by Lisa Freeman and works by tattoo artist Brian Kindamo. The gallery itself also has a creative stocking stuffer for art lovers this year: a set of nine letterpress coasters with designs by Eleanor Davis, David Hale, Black Cat Tips, Susan Hable, Lou Kregel and more. Proceeds from the collection ($18) benefit ATHICA. The market will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at 160 Tracy St. For more, visit athica.org.
ATHICA’s Holiday Market is part of the Tracy Street Arts Crawl, a rare opportunity to peek into the work spaces of several local artists. Multiple studios inside the Chase Park warehouses will be open, with participating artists including Beth Cyr, David Hale, Nancy Everett, Erin McIntosh, Baraka Elihu, Susan Nees and Veronica Darby. Held on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., the event also includes food trucks and crafts for kids. Find the event on Facebook for updates.
Heirloom Café and Fresh Market hosts one of the last opportunities for seasonal shopping on Saturday, Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. during brunch hours. Handmade wares will range from jewelry, gourmet foods, woodwork, ceramics, soaps and bath products, textiles and more. The 28-name vendor list includes artists such as Kenneth Kase (jewelry), Susie Burch (paintings), Beth Zorbanos (handmade dolls) and Cathy Pentz (stone pendants), as well as businesses like Ciao Meow, All Hearted Soul Teas, Thready for Anything, Normal Soap Company, The Olive Basket and Rolling Runway. Heirloom is located at 815 N. Chase St. Visit heirloomathens.com for details.
Treehouse Kid & Craft presents its seventh annual Handmade Hollyday Artist Market across the street at Starlite Showroom, located at 750 W. Broad St., on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Swing by to peruse the creations of over a dozen vendors, including drawings by Kiran Fernandes, dyed silks by René Shoemaker, pottery by Melanie Sgrignoli, bath and body products by Reciprocitee and items benefiting Sweet Olive Farm Animal Rescue. Unique items for little ones include plush dolls by Luvaboo and crowns by Tin Cup. Find the event on Facebook for details.
Metal + Petal, a new business located at 2161 W. Broad St., will hold a holiday market from 12–4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. The shop offers furniture, lighting, rugs and other interesting accents for the home. Visit metalandpetal.com for samples of what's in store.
The Oconee Cultural Arts Foundation's 22nd annual juried Holiday Market includes the works of 70 regional artists and crafters, ranging from paintings, stained and fused glass, jewelry, photography, woodwork, sculpture, fiber art and more. Items range from natural sculptures by Barbara Odil, dichromatic glass jewelry by Annette Paskiewicz and dyed silks by Margaret Agner to folk art by Frank Saggus, paintings by Judy Bolton Jarrett and ceramics by Jerry and Kathy Chappelle. The market is open Dec. 2 from 5–8 p.m. and Dec. 3 and 4 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Admission for all three days is $3. OCAF’s Artist’s Shoppe, which features handmade items created by more than 75 of the gallery's members, opens in conjunction with the Holiday Market and will remain open through Dec. 23. Homemade treats baked by OCAF members, as well as Greek pastries by members of St. Pilothea Philoptochos Society, will also be available in the gallery’s Golden Pear Bakery. OCAF is located at 34 School St. in Watkinsville. For more details, visit ocaf.com.
While in the area, visit the annual J.B. (Jeff Bishoff) Pottery Sale for new works. Occurring on Dec. 3 and 4 from 10 a.m.–5 pm., the sale is located at 1790 Salem Road in Watkinsville. Call 678-863-1847.
This year’s lineup at Wolf Creek Pottery promises a diverse array of traditional and contemporary ceramic pieces, with participating potters including Jorie Berman, Juana Gnecco, Jen Graff, Nancy Green, Rich Panico and Minsoo Yuh. Hand-printed textiles and paper by Sara Lee Parker will also be available. Located at 1500 Tappan Spur Road in Watkinsville, the studio’s annual Holiday Sale is on Dec. 3 and 4 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. For more details, call 706-410-5200.
Tour the home studio of Woodruff Pottery, located at 35 S. Main St., during its Annual Holiday Sale and Open House on Dec. 3 and 4 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Artist Alice Woodruff has more than 40 years of experience in creating pottery, and makes both decorative and functional high-fired porcelain works like large platters, bowls, teapots, teacups and kitchenware. Anyone who buys a pot can take one of a comparable value home for half off. Call 706-207-5175 for directions.
The family-run Bendzunas Glass Studio and Gallery, located at 89 W. South Ave. in Comer, will keep extended weekend hours from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., with live glassblowing demonstrations running until 3 p.m. With over 40 years of experience, artist Paul Bendzunas has passed his craft down to his three children, who also work in the studio. Although operating primarily as a wholesale business that distributes to galleries countrywide, a public gallery displaying some of the family’s best mouth-blown functional and decorative glass art works will be on display. For more information on the studio’s history, check out bendzunasglass.com.
Venture over to Farmington Pottery’s December Open House on Dec. 3 and 4 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. to view the latest creations of Geoff and Lisa Pickett. A wide variety of Geoff’s wood and gas-fired pitchers, vases and tableware for the home and garden will be available, as well as a selection of soaps and botanical skincare products made with fresh herbs grown by Lisa. Farmington Pottery is located at 1171 Freeman Creek Road in Farmington. For more information, visit pickettpottery.com and farmingtonherbals.com.
Among the fine art, folk art, jewelry, stone work and metal work created by the dozen or so members who run the historic Farmington Depot Gallery, the Holidaze Festival on Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4 from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. features an artist market with handmade creations by additional regional artists. Over a dozen artists will set up tables including Tex Crawford, John Gingerich, Peter Loose, Michael Pierce, Kip Ramey, Crispy Printz and more. The gallery is located at 1001 Salem Road in Farmington, at the corner of Salem Road and Highway 441. For more information, visit farmingtondepotgallery.com.
For vibrant, richly glazed pieces of pottery that draw inspiration from nature, check out the works of David Morgan, a regional potter who has been creating functional stoneware for 30 years. The David Morgan Pottery studio, located at 3747 Old Wildcat Bridge Road in Danielsville, opens for a Holiday Sale Dec. 10 from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and Dec. 11 from 12–5 p.m. Call 706-795-3418 for more information.
Glass artist Larry Hamilton will host a Studio Holiday Art Sale on Dec. 10 from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Dec. 11 from 12–4 p.m. Located at 66 Morrison St. in Watkinsville, the sale will also feature paintings by Leigh Ellis, folk art by Chris Hubbard and pottery by Lynette Phillips.