From her shop stuffed with vintage rings, bracelets, and baubles, Elizabeth Hesser said Saturday that she was glad to see so many community members come to Tillett Gardens for the 31st Annual Art in the Garden Festival.
“It really is the last place on St. Thomas like this,” said Hesser, who owns Pandora’s Box.
The free family event continues Sunday from 10 to 5. The fair features live music, hands-on art projects for kids, distinct but affordable holiday gifts, such as rare orchids grown by Duncan Bass, or scenes of Charlotte Amalie done batik style by Doreen Walsh.
Arts Alive, a nonprofit dedicated to cultivating children’s interest in fine music and visual arts, organizes the fair, which breathes life into the Danish West Indian Farm turned artist hub.
While some artists longed for the days before the community’s founder, Jim Tillett, and his wife Rhoda passed away, others focused on future opportunities.
Charlotte Hendrichsen and her husband, Finn Jensen, said they quickly sold out of most of their small handmade teddy bears crafted of mohair, wool and glass pellets.
Wearing red-framed eyeglasses, Hendrichsen said she maintains studios in Denmark and France. She and her husband have been visiting St. Thomas for the last two months, and this is the couple’s third such trip. When they return next year, they hope to offer teddy-making classes at Tillett Gardens, they said.
“Here the teddies are a hobby,” Hendrichsen said. “It is to have something to do because my husband is reading a lot, and I do the teddies.”
Just around the corner at the Children’s Art Table, mixed-media artist Eranah Davies crafted bookmarks with Luna, an 8-year-old artist who also loves to read.
Davies, who shares a Tillett Gardens studio with potter and tarot reader Rene Hope Rasy, also teaches kids’ art classes through sevenminusseven, another arts-focused nonprofit.
“She’s awesome!” Luna said of her teacher.
While intermittent rain showers caused some fair-goers to depart, the gardens were full for one of Saturday’s last musical performers: the young Quelbe stars of G-Clef Music Academy.
As the sounds of the children’s keyboard, guitar, and steel drum playing filled the air, both the mission of Arts Alive and the creative history of Tillett Gardens came to life.