Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show returns
The Santa Barbara Arts and Crafts Show reemerged Sunday for its second week after staying closed for seven months.
Janice, the artist behind Pottery by Janice and Jewelry by Janice, has been in the show since 1984, and this year is the weirdest.
“A lot of the artists didn’t want to come back during the pandemic,” she said.
Historically, the art vendors get the prime spots near Stearns Wharf and crafts are pushed past Garden Street. But now, crafts are mixed among the artists.
Jack Bailey, of JB Pottery, applied to join the show right before COVID-19 closed it. He had participated about 25 years ago, but it was really competitive to secure a spot.
He used to sit in a 10-foot spot near the bathrooms far from the wharf, but Sunday he had a 25-foot stretch near State Street.
“It’s wonderful being this close to the action,” he said.
He notes that it’s a good time for newcomers to try the Arts and Crafts Show. He felt pressured to participate every week and spend a lot of time to secure his spot in the show in previous years, but now it’s less rigorous.
Despite an impressive display of elegant pottery that feels professional, he says it’s just a hobby for him. His full-time gig is as a program manager at UC Santa Barbara.
Dane Venaas taught him how to throw pottery while he was in college at UCSB. And 25 years ago, Mr. Bailey asked for a potter’s wheel for his birthday. His wife and kids bought him a wheel and a kiln to establish a backyard studio.
His wife and son helped out at his booth Sunday, refilling the display and helping carry boxes. He brought 16 banana boxes full of pottery into the show and expected to leave with half as many.
A sign on the display table directs customers to use hand sanitizer before touching the pottery. He wanted them to be able to feel the texture and weight of his work, but still be safe.
During the lockdown, he had more free time to make pottery, but already had a lot of pieces in storage.
“I couldn’t justify making more, so I’m glad to have a place to sell,” he said. “For a local artisan, it’s been a fantastic venue.”
Painter and photographer John Grandfield didn’t have an outlet to sell his work during the lockdown either. He had a few commissioned pieces but estimates that his business went down to 20% of what it was before COVID-19.
He tried to stay busy during the lockdown and did home repair projects and painted more artwork.
“I really missed the social aspect of being down here,” he said.
His booth attracted a lot of guests. It feels like an art gallery, set up in a zig-zag hallway formed by easels. Mr. Grandfield sits on a stool at the end and chats with customers and browsers.
A few people recognized him and waved. He’s been doing this for 30 years, after all.
“The public seems to be enjoying it a great deal,” he said. “They’re very happy to see us.”
The crowd was a mix of young and old, families and singles. Signs said to limit one group per booth at a time, but it was much too crowded at most of the vendors.
Janice said it was hard for her to maintain social distancing guidelines. Her booth has three sections: jewelry, pottery and yard art. And it can be hard for her to switch among the crafts and stay distant.
Jason Bryan, Santa Barbara’s senior recreation supervisor, set up a sign in front of her booth with the COVID-19 guidelines as a lighthearted reminder.
She doesn’t mind all the precautions; she’s just glad to be back.
Claudia, the creator of Mystical Gems Jewelry, said it was sad being shut down. She has only been a part of the show for a year but enjoys it.
“This actually brings me joy and peace,” she said. “I love seeing people smile when I sell them my jewelry.”
She, like the other vendors, said customers have been excited to have the show back.