Eighteen years ago, the folks at Blue Genie decided to throw together a small art show, to sell off the employees’ art to holiday shoppers.
Dana Younger, one of Blue Genie’s founders, says they didn’t really expect to keep putting on that holiday show every year for the next couple of decades, but that’s what happened.
“You know, we are so fortunate because our show has become a tradition,” Younger says. “And that feels really special to us. I mean, we have kids – huge kids, like teenagers – showing up saying, ‘You know, my parents brought me to this show when I was little.’”
The show’s gotten much bigger over the years; it now lasts the entirety of the holiday season and features some two hundred artists and makers.
“And it’s also a tradition for a lot of artists,’ Younger says. “Where they get to connect with other artists in the community and show people what they’ve been up to.”
They’ve also worked to keep a balance of older, established artists in the show while bring in some fresh blood every year.
“Freshness is so important to us,” Younger says. “This year we have 50 ... new people out of two hundred. And it’s really fun to walk around the show and see all of the new and creative energy.”
One of the artists who’s been participating in the show for the past few years is Anna Gieselman, who creates jewelry inspired by her beekeeping hobby.
“I was making jewelry, but it didn’t look anything like this,” she says of her earlier jewelry work. “It was all self-taught, wire-wrapping with stones, just really basic. And then I started keeping bees.”
The bees inspired her to create a new type of jewelry. “I took honeycomb from my beehives and then I cast it – so I did a lost wax casting – and so all of my jewelry is from actual honeycomb,” she says. “It actually was honeycomb, and now it’s solid metal.”
Gieselman says she enjoys the art bazaar every year as both a maker and a shopper. “I don’t want to go to the mall, I don’t want to buy something from Amazon,” she says. “To be there… and I know, hey, somebody in my community made this, that feels really good. [And] as a maker, just being able to have my stuff seen by so many eyes, and purchased, it’s great.”