All Hallows Art Fest Rises Again

The best part of the trick-or-treat is what happens right after the door opens. The same goes for All Hallows Art Fest, an annual September event in Petaluma that currently ranks as the second largest Halloween art showcase in the country.

“People chime in, they look around, and then they smile,” said Stephanie Tanzer Sherratt, event producer. “Of course, they are already smiling often when they walk through the door.”

After 27 years of producing the unique and eccentric all-Halloween event – ​​a joyous, Frankensteinian fusion of a seasonal market and curated art exhibition – Sherratt is still enjoying those faces as regulars and newbies enter. in the main hall. Some of them in the early hours, waiting for hours to be the first inside to choose which spooky, wacky, scary and delicious creations they will buy.

The one-day event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on September 25 at Hermann Sons Hall, 860 Western Ave. in Petaluma.

According to Sherratt, Hermann Sons’ iconic antique chandelier — which she decorates with old-fashioned paper streamers and large honeycomb balls — seems to grab people’s attention before they move on. reading of the many skeletons, witches, monsters, goblins, ghosts and ghouls on display.

“As soon as they see this beautiful chandelier, all decorated, I don’t know what it is, but people change,” Sherratt said. “They might have been cold or tired if they had gotten up early. They might not have known what to expect if they had never been there before. But all of a sudden, you see them just chilling, relaxing and cheering up and getting all excited and ready to experience All Hallows Art Fest.

Adjacent gothic jewelry, Cthulhu-shaped ceramic mugs and bizarre fabric sculptures resembling zombies and vampires to pumpkin head puppets, leather masks shaped like owls and dragons and gorgeous table tops assembly table made of doll heads and apothecary jars, everything at All Hallows Art Fest is handmade. Sherratt selects artisans from a pile of submissions she receives from across the country. This year’s waiting list had 26 artists, only a few of whom participated in this year’s show, themed “A Wicked Affair.”

This is no ordinary holiday craft fair, Sherratt wants people to know that. Although the venue’s two large rooms – dubbed All Hallows Hall and The Raven Room – include many items priced to suit a range of budgets, it is actually an art exhibition showcasing some of the most respected Halloween artists in the industry.

Jorge de Rojas of Ho Ho Halloween Studios combines traditional papier-mâché techniques with a range of reclaimed materials to sculpt unusual handmade holiday art, including some of the coolest and chicest buckets you’ll see. ever and a series of adorable lollipop-loving devil kids ready for Halloween night.

Foolcrow’s Vicky Nelson will return this year with her beautiful taxidermy creations and fall-appropriate vintage collectibles, as will Charlene Geiger with her stunning folk art dolls – cherubic witches and human dream babies/ fairy pumpkins – in vintage fabric and found objects.

Other popular returnees this year include performers who have become closely associated with the annual show. Bootiful Things’ Isaias Urrabazo creates Halloween-inspired folk art of what he calls “scary pumpkins” and imaginary candles with whimsical faces, plus an assortment of colorful Day of the Dead-inspired skulls , all handmade. hand carved and painted.

Carrie Jahnig of Lichen Lane makes spun cotton creations of dapper mice, ghosts, mummies and garden spirits. Sharon Bloom specializes in ceramic sculptures and tableware fashioned in a folk art style frequently using imagery of witches, pumpkins, owls and whimsical creatures made from candy corn.

While some first-timers have expressed a degree of shock at the high-end artwork, that’s to be expected from an event showcasing such esteemed and sought-after practitioners of macabre and joyous mastery of craftsmanship. of monsters.

“There are people who come to the show who have collections that are now worth well over $100,000,” Sherratt acknowledged. “These are items that are going to be passed down for years, not mass-produced items that you buy at the store and throw away after two or three Halloweens. Someone sat down and spent hours crafting these pieces by hand, putting their heart and soul into them, knowing that at shows like ours, someone will fall in love with this piece and release it every year. on Halloween, and ultimately pass it on to their children.

“That’s what it’s all about, and why artists from as far away as Florida come here, and why collectors and Halloween fans come to Petaluma from all over the country.”

And people make All Hallows Art Fest a must-attend event. Last year, after pivoting to a Facebook auction-like approach in 2020, the show brought nearly all of its most loyal performers back to Hermann Sons, although a few regulars stayed home for safety reasons. .

“Even then, with only about 25 artists here, I was shocked to see how many sold out,” Sherratt said. “Many similar shows across the country have not survived COVID. Some stopped doing shows like mine because during the shutdown people got used to buying online.

“But All Hallows Art Fest is for people who feel different, who feel the need to be among like-minded people. A few long-time collectors have said to me, “I don’t care what the price is, I’m flying in to this show. These are people who really feel the magic of Halloween. These are our people.

About Oscar L. Smith

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