Dec. 2, 2003 – This weekend, it will be like old times in a way at Tillett Gardens on St. Thomas. In another way, of course, it won't.
For 21 successive years, the arts complex hosted a holiday season arts and crafts festival the weekend after Thanksgiving Day. Last year, with the blessings of founder Rhoda Tillett, the event moved to a different location under a different name with different organizers.
This year, albeit a weekend later, it's back.
"Rhoda Tillett did so much to support the arts and crafts, and she dedicated most of her time to doing it," clay artist Ruth Prager, who has her Kazooti Clay Studio in Tillett Gardens, says. "With Rhoda's passing this year, we have a small committee of people who have worked very hard to preserve the hard work that Rhoda did to bring the Arts Alive Arts and Crafts Holiday Festival to life."
The members of the group in addition to herself are Kellie Tillett, Rhoda's daughter-in-law; Vivian Faulkner, manager of Tillett Gallery and the Arts Alive office; and two other clay artists in the complex, Lynn Paccassi-Berry of Ridvan Studio and Alison of Alison's Wonderland.
Five garden tenants will be taking part: Alison, who hand-crafts bird feeders, candle holders, napkin holders, ocarinas, platters and wall sconces; Jason Budsan of Caribbean Herbals, who creates candles and soaps with tropical fragrances such as Ripe Mango, Night Jasmine, Lime in de Coconut and the Frenchie Connection; Alma Hermon of Hermon Craft Studio, who makes quilts, dolls and kitchen accessories; Paccassi-Berry, whose ceramic art includes wall sculptures, vases, bowls and jewelry; and Prager, who crafts wall sconces, platters, business card holders, ornaments and other one of a-kind art objects.
Among those exhibiting their works and wares from booth spaces in the garden will be DeLois Abraham (Christmas items for children), Aphrodite (oil paintings), Cynthia Born (Lucky Bamboo arrangements), Jacqueline Cawley (watercolors, oils and acrylics), Beverly Clarke (soaps and candles), Anita de la Cruz (batiks, watercolors and oils), Steven Flores and Joey De Martelly (paintings, sculpture, mosaics and jewelry), Dino Joseph (natural care products), Bridgette Julius (gifts and cards), Pam Larsen (watercolors), Gerard E. Lehner (woodworking items, etching alapoupe), Tiffany Miller (beaded jewelry and eyewear), Leah Norton (wire-wrap and bead jewelry), Claire Ochoa (works by artists from her Gallery St. Thomas), Judith Ottley (quilts), Juliet Smith (beaded jewelry), David Francke (acrylics on paper and prints), and Gloria Zakers (handmade jewelry).
Several student groups and several stateside artists and artisans also will have booths.
And in the culinary arts department, Judith Gooding and Jackie Smalls will be selling pastries and other baked goods, and Prescott Payne will be offering vegan foods. The two permanent purveyors of food in the garden, Jack's Restaurant and Grandma'z House, will be open, too, as will Tillett Gallery
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The schedule of live entertainment looks like this:
11:30 a.m.– "rocking chair art" demonstration by Gerard Lehner.
12:30 — a tease from their next production by Pistarkle Theater.
1 p.m. — music by E. Benjamin Oliver School Choir and Band.
2 p.m. — music by the Bertha C. Boschulte Middle School Burning Blazers Steelband.
3 p.m. — music by Hintz Academy of Music students.
11:30 a.m. — "rocking chair art" demonstration by Gerard Lehner.
1:30 p.m. — Hugo Moolenaar's Mocko Jumbies.
3 p.m. — music by Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Choirs and Concert Band
"Going to the festival is a great way to get an early start on your Christmas shopping and a wonderful opportunity to see the works of many artists and crafts persons doing work right here on the island," Prager said.
"It has been no easy task, but we hope this show will be a smashing success," she said, adding that bringing the event back to Tillett Gardens "is an indication of Eric and Kellie Tillett's dedication to the continued support of artists and crafts persons in the community."
Through their efforts, she said, "Tillett Gardens has been refurbished. The parking lot is completely repaved. A landscaper was brought in to bring the greenery back to life. The buildings have been repaired and painted. It makes a beautiful setting for the for the Arts Alive Arts and Crafts Holiday Festival."
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