When it comes to the Santa Barbara art scene, there is plenty to celebrate.
But as is the case with most things, nothing lasts forever.
Santa Barbara’s uptown artisan gift gallery “A Crimson Holiday” will be closing its doors Wednesday as the holiday season comes to an end. But before the local artisans, designers and craft-makers pack up their things until the fall, the store will hold its sixth annual “Art for the Heart” fundraiser for the American Heart Association.
Set for 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at 121 S. Hope Ave. in La Cumbre Plaza, the event will donate 20% of all art sales to the American Heart Association. In addition, the artists will bake heart-shaped cookies that will be offered as refreshments and for sale.
All of the proceeds from cookie sales will be donated to the nonprofit that funds cardiovascular medical research, educates consumers on healthy living and fosters appropriate cardiac care in an effort to reduce issues caused by cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Through the fundraiser, local artists have donated more than $1,400 to the national voluntary health organization over the years, including more than $700 a year ago.
Marilyn Dannehower, proprietor of the retailer in each of its 13 years of business, has always had a keen interest in the American Heart Association. Having participated in various AHA events and knowing people who have worked with the organization, Ms. Dannehower is a heart attack survivor and credits AHA for providing her with the outlet and information she needed to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack.
“Our clientele, of course because we’re a gift shop, is a lot of women and women have very different symptoms than men do,” Ms. Dannehower said. “Women really need to be educated on what to look for.”
While the most common heart attack symptom for both men and women is chest pain or discomfort, women are more likely than men to experience such symptoms as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain, according to the AHA’s website.
“Although men and women can experience chest pressure that feels like an elephant sitting across the chest, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure, ” said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer. “Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”
During the event, the artists will be sporting the group’s Little Red Dress pins and an AHA representative will be on hand with pamphlets and brochures for others to learn more about cardiovascular health.
The local art shop has done several other fundraisers over the years, but Ms. Dannehower said the AHA event is one that really resonated with the artisans. The event not only serves as a way to inform customers, but also a way to show gratitude for those who help local crafters.
“We want people to come celebrate a great season,” Ms. Dannehower said. “We want to thank them and we want to give them some food and just have some fun.”
A Crimson Heart first opened in 2002, though it has not been in operation every year. Now completing year 13, Ms. Dannehower has been involved every year and has been the sole lessee for 12 years.
“A group of us were just looking for a place to sell our work and I just fell in love with it,” Ms. Dannehower said. “I just thought it was the greatest thing, because you could build this clientele of people who appreciate handmade things, and that has grown over the past almost 20 years. People appreciate something different.”
She works with the mall to acquire the lease and invites different regional artists. Filled with handmade crafts — jewelry, scarves, candles, coasters, art work and clothing to name a few — Ms. Dannehower tries to keep a variety of genres so there is something for every shopper.
“There’s just so much talent and there’s not a lot of places for people to set up,” she said. “There are some places, but they’re very, very expensive. What I’ve done here is I’ve figured out a model where we get the rent paid, we get the bills paid, but I don’t charge a lot of money for people to (sell) here.”
The artists pay a fee for a display area or they pay a consignment fee, with the latter allowing artists to trade off payments for work. The artists who work in the shop pay a smaller consignment, and the store is run cooperatively with the artists working the floor to assist customers. A total of 42 artists participated this year, including authors. On the shelves are children’s books by local writers and illustrators, as well as a book titled “Christmas in Santa Barbara,” which features old local Christmas traditions.
“It’s a fabulous book for anybody whose family is here or knows people who are here,” Ms. Dannehower said.
The store opened Oct. 15 with a busy start, though sales did slow a bit in December — which Ms. Dannehower suspects was the case for other local stores as well.
“I think everybody had a little bit slower December,” she said. “That’s what I’ve been hearing from everybody downtown.
“You never know with shopping online, or they did their shopping early. But we had a good season and it was a lot of fun.”
The shop held a grand opening in the fall, as well as what Ms. Dannehower called “a really crazy party” called “Celebrate the Season of Giving” in November. For that event, the shop raffled off gift certificates from the artists displayed in the store, which allows customers to shop local in a creative way.
“What store gives you gift certificates, you know? Free stuff,” she said. “It was just something that we came up with years ago when it started getting a little bit slow, and to help us connect with our clients a little bit and to celebrate them.”
Ms. Dannehower, a former vice president of sales for a software company, decided she wanted to go into business for herself when she was 49 years old. Now 67, she sells her jewelry at various venues and shows, including the Arts and Crafts Show held Sundays at the Santa Barbara Waterfront.
Her jewelry includes plenty of color and she uses various materials, including Swarvoski Crystal from Austria, gemstones, pearls and abalone. While she is a skilled jewelry-maker, she is also an avid ocean aficionado. She is a volunteer naturalist for the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary and goes out on whale watches and helps identify the whales.
“For me, it’s kind of all about color and textures and a lot of things from the ocean.”
Some of her newer work includes mosaic on rocks that can be used as a decorative piece for a garden.
Admitting it can be a lot of work to open up a store and break things down just three months later — “it’s a little insane” — she is grateful for the help and support of others who display their work.
“We’ve really built a nice group of people,” she said. “A lot of the artists come back every year, we get new people every year, but we help each other and they certainly help me.”
When asked what the future holds for the shop, Ms. Dannehower chuckled and replied “More of the same.
“We always think about staying open year round, but by the time we’re at the end of our three months people are tired, or they don’t have very much to sell, so we end up closing,” she said. “That’s not to say that maybe some time we’ll open up and do some pop-ups during the year for some holiday weekend, maybe Mother’s Day, or Father’s Day, Fourth of July. If we feel the time is right, we’ll open up and stay open. That’s always the dream.”
The shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. For more information, call 805-570-1987.