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San Clemente Journal

The Village Art Faire

Aug 12, 2014 12:51PM ● By Don Kindred

Photos by Jonie Millhouse

by Alison Richards

It’s 7am on a Sunday morning in San Clemente, CA. The retail stores along Avenida Del Mar won’t open for a few hours yet, but this seaside downtown neighborhood is already coming to life because today happens to be the first Sunday of the month, time for the monthly Village Art Faire.
The artists arrive early, and in a very short time transform the wide brick sidewalks lining the street into a unique shopping experience featuring close to 70 gifted artists and craftspeople. It is an event offering an eclectic assortment of hand-crafted fine art and fine crafts, including fused glass, paintings, photography, metal work, textiles, leather goods, candles, botanicals, jewelry, woodwork, graphic art, and much, much more.
The VAF has been a San Clemente tradition for over 20 years. For a long time, many of the businesses located in the historic downtown area of the city, had been closed on Sundays. The concept of an event that would draw people to the downtown area on a Sunday was welcomed by the business owners. In addition, the Faire could provide an excellent venue for local artisans to show and sell their original hand-crafted work, while also contributing to the sense of community that was (and still is) so vital to this “Spanish Village by the Sea.” Thus the Village Art Faire was established.
There are essentially two types of art and craft fairs - juried and non-juried. This Faire is a juried event, meaning not all artisans that apply, will be accepted. The juried process usually involves sending in an application that includes images of the artisan’s work, as well as a detailed sketch or description of how the artist intends to display their work. A selection committee then looks over the photos or samples and makes a decision based on originality, creativity, marketability, general appeal, and quality of craft and display design. 
A non-juried fair, on the other hand, accepts its exhibitors on a first-come, first-served basis, and although very popular, may not necessarily offer the same type of shopping experience. Because of the juried nature of the VAF, visitors can always look forward to a unique spectrum of work.
The items found at the Village Art Faire include both fine art, and fine crafts. Though many craft activities (defined as creating beautiful functional items) can be clearly distinguished from the fine arts (creating beautiful items for beauty’s sake), a large number of craftspeople who create one-of-a-kind pieces would rightly consider themselves artists - the attention to detail and creativity found in some of the event’s craftspeople, is awesome.
The type of crafts found at the VAF has changed over time and often reflects current trends and environmental influences. Anything that has been re-purposed or up-cycled is big business. Today’s successful artisan is able to incorporate their artistic creativity with their awareness of the cultural and environmental factors that influence themselves and their customers. For example, Peg Taylor, one of the Faire’s newest artisans, has built her business by creating beautiful wood products from discarded oak wine barrels.  
Another product seen at the Village Art Faire is succulents. These hearty plants have been around forever but have grown increasingly popular because they are drought tolerant, easy to care for, and are available in many different shapes, colors, and sizes. The variety of available succulents, combined with the numerous and creative types of vessels in which to plant them, has resulted in a product that is both ecologically responsible and aesthetically pleasing.  
This same respect for a healthier lifestyle is evidenced by the organic ingredients found in the candles and body products for sale at the VAF - make sure to check out Natural Body and Bath and Natural Paradise.
The artists and craftspeople selling their work at the Village Art Faire range from full-time artisans to weekend crafters; from retired CEOs to stay-at-home moms. Art evens the playing field - an equalizer of sorts. Many VAF artisans have been able to turn what was initially a hobby, into a business that allows them to make a living doing what they love to do.  
Southern California has a large circuit of art fairs, craft shows, and farmers’ markets offering artisans a steady stream of opportunities to show and sell their work. Many of the artists in attendance at the Village Art Faire can also be found at other venues throughout the year. In addition, social media outlets and global marketplace sites such as Etsy have been very helpful marketing vehicles for artisans, allowing them a way to engage with their customers in between art fairs. Much of the work that these artisans do is one of a kind, and venues like the VAF give them an opportunity to differentiate their craft and get feedback from customers and other artisans.
A visit to the Village Art Faire provides a perfect time-out from our busy lives. In our all too hectic world, it’s increasingly important to have access to the arts, whether it be a beautiful water-color painting, a colorful fused glass plate, or perhaps a handmade leather belt. What’s so special about arts and crafts is that they’re not mass-produced, and appeal to an aesthetic component that is often missing in our world. 
Close to 70 skilled artisans will be waiting to greet you as you stroll along Ave. Del Mar in the historic downtown shopping area at the VAF. There is plenty of free parking available and a handful of excellent eateries are nearby. This Faire takes place the first Sunday of every month (except in January), from 9am to 3pm. Hope to see you there!
For more information, contact: Alison Richards
[email protected] (949)395.7008.

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