With the prospect of Covid-19 shutting down its annual Holiday Gift Show, staff at the Beckley Art Center was forced to get creative this season.

“This is our biggest annual fundraiser, but with so many challenges this year, we didn’t know if we would be able to do in-person shopping,” said BAC Executive Director Robby Moore.

“So, in late summer, early fall, we came up with this idea that we feel like is a good, safe alternative for everybody.”

The alternative, Moore explained, allows shoppers to visit the art center’s website where they reserve private shopping times in 50-minute increments.

“We just want to be safe and it’s important to keep our staff and all of our guests and our members safe,” he said, explaining surfaces will be wiped down in the 10 minutes between each reservation.

The holiday gift show, which will take place in the Dan and Cynthia Bickey Art Gallery, will feature more than 150 items by artists from throughout West Virginia and the local region.

Moore said the items range from one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments made from both paper and fabric, to glass mosaics, photography and illustrations.

“We have a couple of jewelry makers; we have Christmas décor like candle holders that have been painted and made out of wine glasses,” he said. “And we have more traditional pieces of art like paintings on canvas.”

He said participating artists were asked to keep the items they made for the gift show at $50 or less.

“We want to make sure we have a variety of ranges available,” he said, explaining one-of-a-kind art can often be pricey, thus keeping people from visiting galleries.

That’s not to say, however, that those looking to purchase what Moore refers to as “normal exhibition” style gifts will be out of luck.

“We’ll still have regular pieces of fine art available for purchase if you want to give a piece like that,” he said, explaining guests can browse the gallery’s regular gift shop, which features items including ceramics, collages, photography, metalwork, mosaics, wind chimes, and handmade scarves.

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Moore said it’s important that the gift show continues, even in its altered state, as it allows the artists an opportunity to sell their work at the end of a long year of canceled shows.

“These artists are a small business,” he said. “They make their work and they sell it professionally. That’s important all the time, but in a year like this, it’s really important to shop small and support small businesses.”

And he said the show is important for the Beckley Art Center as well, as Covid-19 has forced it to cancel many of its events and look to online classes and donations for revenue.

“This year has definitely affected us,” he said. “We need all the support we can get during this time of year.”

He said he believes the gift show will not only provide visitors a safe opportunity to shop for the holidays, but will also provide them a chance to purchase something special for friends and loved ones.

“I like to encourage people to give the gift of original artwork,” he said. “I just think it’s such a special gift to give. It’s very personal. You know somebody has made it out of love. It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s like giving an heirloom as opposed to something that thousands of other people have the exact same thing.”

The Beckley Art Center Holiday Gift Show opens Saturday, also known as Small Business Saturday, by reservation, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It will then be open Tuesday through Saturday from Dec. 1 through Dec. 12.

To secure a shopping time for a group of up to nine, visit www.beckleyartcenter.com/holiday-gift-show.

Items can also be purchased online for in-person pickup.

Call the Beckley Art Center at 304-253-9226 for more information.

— Email: mjames@register-herald.com

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