Warm your spirit with art and philanthropy

At a time of year too cold for outside shows and with few selling opportunities for artists, early February’s Northminster Fine Arts Fair offers the perfect occasion to come in from the cold and snow to warm your spirit with art.

The 14th annual art fair takes place on February 2nd from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Northminster Presbyterian Church. More than 40 Ohio, Kentucky, and Michigan artists in glasswork, painting, pottery, woodworking, photography, mixed media, fiber arts, and jewelry-making will set up their booths for an anticipated 1,000 visitors.

Fair trade vendors selling handcrafts, jewelry, and coffee will also take part. The social movement of fair trade helps producers in developing countries achieve more equal trading equity, better working conditions, and sustainability.

“It’s gratifying to see the commitment that these vendors have toward social justice,” says Susan Ahlrichs, co-chair of the Northminster fair.

Heartfelt Tidbits, a nonprofit launched in 2011 to help local refugee and immigrant families, also will be there. Recently, they partnered with the church to offer Friday morning English and citizenship classes.

Sheryl Rajbhandari, executive director of Heartfelt Tidbits, is delighted to be involved.

“The fair provides an opportunity for new Cincinnatians from around the world to share their creations, earn a bit of money, and gain inspiration from the other artists who exhibit at the event,” she says.

“At the same time,” she continues, “attendees have a chance to learn more about the artisans, their talents, and the work of Heartfelt Tidbits and The Welcome Project (a social enterprise empowering refugee and immigrant women to pursue creative entrepreneurship).”

The Northside nonprofit, Visionaries + Voices, providing representation, studio space, supplies, and support to more than 140 adult visual artists with disabilities, will also be featured at the fair.

Finneytown high school students will display their work, and a children’s art area will provide free crafts for young people. And for just the cost of the clay, kids can learn to use a pottery wheel.

Begun in 2006, the fair was the brainchild of Eric Hauck, a worship leader at the Northminster Presbyterian Church, as part of the church’s mission of outreach to the community. The original leadership team was Eric, a potter, and his wife Britt; artists Barb Smucker and Deb Shelton; and scratchboard artist Rich Schafermeyer, who now co-directs the event with Ahlrichs.

Artists are given a booth without a fee; instead they contribute 10 percent of their profits, which will be donated to Visionaries + Voices.

“Our show features full-time artists as well as those who passionately do art in their spare time,” Schafermeyer says. “Combine that with an all-volunteer staff who shares the artists’ passion, and we have a very unique event.”

About 90 volunteers are on hand for the show to manage setup and cleanup, make and serve food, greet visitors, and help guests navigate the sizable selection, which is divided into three main areas. The fair’s breakfast menu is known for offering the best cinnamon buns in the city, and gourmet lunches include a signature chicken salad. There’s a snack bar with homemade treats, and proceeds benefit the Northminster youth and their mission trips. Talented musicians will entertain those eating lunch in the café.

Along with art for sale, there will also be a raffle with donated work from participating artists.

For more information, visit http://www.northminsterchurch.net/fine-arts-fair or call 513-931-0243. The Northminster Fine Arts Fair will be held on February 2nd from 10 a.m.–4 p.m. at the Northminster Presbyterian Church, located at 703 Compton Road in Finneytown.

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Read more articles by Connie Springer.

Connie Springer is a publicist, writer, photographer, and watercolorist. View her work at her website and portfolio.