Monday, November 25, 2013

5th Annual Crafty Mart: Recap

5th Annual Crafty Mart: Recap
by Joanna Wilson

You may be wondering why Akron Empire is always covering the bi-annual arts & crafts show Crafty Mart.  The answer is twofold--half of Akron Empire is the event's organizer.  The other reason is because we believe in supporting local small businesses and by covering Crafty Mart, we are encouraging and promoting over 50 local artists, crafters, and entrepreneurs.   We also like to believe that it's one of the funnest days of the year.  Have you made attending Crafty Mart an annual tradition?

The 5th annual Crafty Mart is Saturday, November 30th (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) 10am to 5pm at Musica in downtown Akron.  Admission is free.

Let me remind you of a few past Akron Empire posts about Crafty Mart and a few of its regular vendors.

**Last week, Dina from the blog Dina's Days shared her thoughts on Five Reasons to Shop at Crafty Mart.

**Last year, guest blogger J Hudson shared his experiences as Crafty Mart's co-founder.

**A review of the Spring show from 2012 by Akron Empire's Brit.

RSVP to Crafty Mart on Facebook

Below are links to three of the Crafty Mart vendors we've profiled in the past.  All three will be at the upcoming 5th annual show as well.

The charming robots made by Pat Gerber are crafted from reclaimed wood from shipping pallets.

Chris Rutan of Rigmarole makes vinyl wallets, paper folded stars--and she's a photographer.

Roza Haidet of Rusty Chain makes one-of-a-kind jewelry from copper, brass, and sterling silver.

Tame Your Mane beard oil is a new venture by Mathias Noble King.

At the 5th annual Crafty Mart you can also take advantage of a charity fundraiser on behalf of the Battered Women's Shelter of Summit & Medina Counties.  You will be able to buy $1 raffle tickets for a chance to win a $100 online Crafty Mart shopping spree just in time for the holidays!  

For more information, please check out the following links:

Crafty Mart page on Facebook

Crafty Mart event on fb
Crafty Mart website
a complete list of all the vendors at the 5th annual Crafty Mart

Over the next several weeks, Akron Empire will highlight a few other events to shop local and handmade.  I hope you'll join me in supporting local artisans this holiday season.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tame Your Mane Beard Oil

Tame Your Mane Beard Oil
by Brit Charek

My husband is very proud of his beard. It's more than just a fashion statement or a bi-product of skipping an extra grooming step in the morning-- it's become part of his personality.

Thanks @katiemidge for snapping this photo from Handmade Toledo

Although the beard was one of the features that first attracted me to Mathias, its exponential increase in size over time started to put me on edge. Out of spite, I sent him an article about how to care for his beard. This led us on our Beard Oil adventure. He ordered a few different types off Etsy, but since he tends to be a "taker-over-er," as I have passive-aggressively coined him (with affection, of course!), he started making his own.

After a few test batches, Mathias opened an Etsy shop himself and started selling his own blend which he calls "Tame Your Mane." It's a blend of essential oils designed to keep the skin under your beard healthy and moisturized, while keeping the facial hair manageable and conditioned. And it smells great. It contains peppermint, black pepper, tea tree, cypress, jojoba and almond oil. He hand blends each bottle individually.

It's been a long road, but I've accepted that the beard is here to stay. (I'm just grateful he trimmed it up for our wedding day...) In the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun working the craft show circuit with him and watching him bask in the frequent compliments he gets on his product as well as his beard.

You can check out Tame Your Mane Beard Oil at Crafty Mart next Saturday November 30th at Musica downtown. There will be a tester bottle for skeptics to try out.

Follow Tame Your Mane's Facebook page for more info.
Purchase beard oil from Tame Your Mane's Etsy shop.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chin's Place in West Akron

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this article about Chin’s Place, a classical Cantonese restaurant near Highland Square.  Dominic has written about music for Akron Empire in the recent past, with articles about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, and the UltraSpinx/Bad Trouble split 7", and most recently, ShiSho.  He is also an artist with a piece in Clever Little Devils, an exhibition at the Box Gallery, which was featured last week on Akron Empire, click here to read that post. If you're interested in guest blogging, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

474 West Market St., Akron OH 44302--catty-corner from the Red Cross Building

Chin’s Place
by Dominic Caruso

I’ve been kicking around Akron for a few years now, and have lived nearby to Chin’s Place for a little over a year, but never gotten around to trying the food there until last weekend. In fact, numerous friends have recommended Chin’s to me, and my girlfriend eats there all the time.  All I can say is I’ve been missing out.  Luckily, when we are wrong, we can do things to make our mistakes right--we can change course. Which I intend to do by eating at Chin’s a lot more in the future.

The restaurant is a Highland Square fixture and enriches the neighborhood in more ways than one. Proprietor Elaine Chin was nice enough to spend a few minutes to talk to me about the restaurant's history and food. It’s a 3rd generation Chinese restaurant that serves what Elaine describes as classical Cantonese cuisine. The Chins craft their dishes using their grandfather’s recipes.  After starting a successful restaurant in Hong Kong, he came to Akron in the 1950s to work as a chef and to bring his family to the United States. The Chins' stewardship of their grandfather’s recipes extends to the use of fresh ingredients: everything is made from scratch, down to the duck sauce, which, when the apples are in season, they make using fruit from their friend’s local orchard. None of the restaurant's sauces are pre-made. They even peel and mince ginger every day to use in their flavorful dishes. Elaine told me that whenever they can, they use locally grown organic vegetables. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a particularly cultivated palate, but you don’t need to be a gourmand to appreciate and enjoy food that is prepared with care and quality ingredients.

In the spring and summer, vegetables like baby bok choy and green beans often come from Chin’s own garden, an impressive and lovely space which you can visit behind the restaurant. The garden is in hibernation now, but you can view photos of it on Chin’s Facebook page. In the spring and summer, you can eat outdoors on nice days.

I had the black bean - ginger tofu vegetables, which I immediately started eating and then had to rearrange to take this photo.

Don’t wait for spring and summer to stop in. It was a gloomy day on Saturday in November, when I visited.  And although it wasn’t particularly cold outside, the overcast day made me feel especially hungry for some good, filling winter food.  I ordered the black bean - ginger tofu vegetables, and it was delightful. The ginger in the sauce made the dish especially delicious and satisfying, the perfect comfort food for cold gray winter days.

In addition to cultivating their garden, Chin’s hosts a Plant Swap each spring, where friends and neighbors can meet to exchange perennials, annuals, herbs, vegetable starts, and other plants.

The dining room is small, but comfortable and bright.
The dining room is sparingly decorated with beautiful images like this embroidered picture.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day except Sunday. They serve a nice variety of vegetarian and vegan selections, including black bean - ginger tofu vegetables.  They also serve meat dishes like Cantonese chicken chow mein, and seafood meals like traditional Cantonese shrimp and black bean sauce, along with popular favorites like egg rolls, moo shu pork, and kung pau chicken. You can dine in--the restaurant has a small, but comfortable dining room--or take out, or have them deliver. They also cater.  One additional thing that I noticed while I was there: Elaine knew each person who came in to pick up orders and spent a minute or two chatting with each one to see how they were doing. It’s the kind of place that is a real asset to a community, and I’ll be back. Maybe, we can meet there soon!

Visit Chin’s  Facebook page.
Here’s a link to their menu--call for seasonal specials.

Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Reasons to Shop Crafty Mart November 30

Akron Empire would like to welcome back guest blogger Dina from Dina's Days.  Dina has previously shared with Akron Empire her favorite thrift store in Akronabout local musician, guitarist Dan Wilson and a vintage clothing sale at NOTO in downtown Akron.  Thanks Dina!

{images designed by}

This month marks the 5th anniversary of Akron's best handmade craft marketplace, Crafty Mart. While preparing to write this post I reached out to Dina's Days Facebook and Twitter fans to hear what they love most about Crafty Mart. Here are five reasons why you should be there on November 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Musica, We Gallery and Uncorked Wine Bar, 51 E. Market St. in Akron:

1. It's their 5th anniversary!

After five years, this bi-annual craft marketplace continues to be one of Akron's must-see events. With over 50 vendors, the event boasts an incredible array of handmade crafts, up-cycled treasures, and one of a kind gifts. Musica, We Gallery, and Uncorked Wine Bar serve as the perfect venues for this local event in Akron's historic district. 

2. There's a photo booth! 

Another fan favorite, Magnolia Photobooth Company offers free high quality photos in their photobooth upstairs at We Gallery. As you can see, the props are so much fun.

3. You could win a $100 shopping spree while supporting a good cause! 

Shoppers can purchase a raffle ticket to enter to win one of several $100 shopping sprees to Crafty Mart. All proceeds benefit the Battered Women's Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties, the only shelter providing domestic violence services within a two county radius. 

4. It's a one stop local shop for all your holiday needs! 

Just in time for post-Thanksgiving shopping, Crafty Mart not only gives artists a platform to share their talents, but also provides shoppers with the ultimate local shopping experience. On November 30th, you can join thousands across the nation by participating in Small Business Saturday right here in Akron. While you're there, you can begin checking items off your list by picking up a few unique gifts. 

{every year I pick up a dressed up box from Monica Whelan. This Kodak one was the perfect addition to my vintage camera collection}
{an adorable ring made by Barbara from Toony Jewelry}

5. Meet new people, get inspired, and spend time with loved ones!
Okay, that's really three reasons but one of my favorite things about going to Crafty Mart every year is making an afternoon out of it with my friends or sisters. We grab a delicious drink from Urban Eats and make our rounds. One of the best responses I received from a fan on Facebook was that Crafty Mart leaves her feeling inspired to create and craft.  I couldn't agree more! 

Be sure to join the event on Facebook and share with your friends! 

Crafty Mart links to share and follow:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Clever Little Devils--Art Show at Box Gallery

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Rob Lehr.  Lehr has curated a new art exhibit that opens this weekend.   Rob Lehr has sat on the board of directors for Artists of Rubber City since 2008. He has organized several group exhibitions in Akron with as many as 65 participating artists.  Rob Lehr is also a freelance Creative Director and Commercial Artist having graduated from the Myers School of Art at The University of Akron in 2008 with a Bachelors of Fine Art.  As a contemporary artist, his artwork depicts suburban American concepts & aesthetics while commenting on social politics, urban lifestyles, food politics, classism, and popular culture.  Since 2010, he has owned & operated an art toy company named Vivid Plastic, which sells vinyl art toys & contemporary art prints nationwide.

Clever Little Devils at the Box Gallery in Akron
by Rob Lehr

A new contemporary art exhibition opens this Friday, November 15th called Clever Little Devils at The Box Gallery. This show brings together over 40 local and national artists to discuss the relationship between youth culture and advertising. As a curator, I am always looking for unique themes that will help artists tell their stories and showcase their personalities.  I believe every artist has a personal response to the art they see daily and advertising is certainly one of the most unavoidable mediums of art around.  The exhibition gives these artists a neutral playground to express themselves at a community-driven art gallery. 

Artwork by Trey Berry

As children, we have a different understanding of what advertisements are trying to tell us (or better yet, sell us) about American life. I also feel that advertisements enter our lives without warning and without permission. This is an opportunity for fine artists to respond to an otherwise one-way interaction. 

Another piece in the exhibition.  This 3-D work is by Ron English.

Many artists in the show wanted to celebrate the nostalgia of advertisements from their own childhood, while other artists chose more satirical views in illustrating the theme.  This balance between play vs. work, really becomes apparent throughout the artwork.  From current social issues to the ghosts from our past, the artists brought substance to the show using their creativity.

by Adam Dumont

Selecting artists for group exhibitions is always a lot of fun. I have been fairly active in Akron’s art scene for a few years now but I am always looking for new talent to help round out the show with new perspectives. A few national artists that are featured in Clever Little Devils are Nick Bakita (New York City), Ron English (Dallas),  Phil Guy (San Francisco), Bonnie Stipe (Albuquerque), Andrew Lopez (Chicago) and several local artists include Andy Dreamingwolf, Mark Soppeland, Charlie Wagers, Arnold Tunstall, Adam Dumont and many more.

By local artist Mark Soppeland

Clever Little Devils is also about bringing contemporary and thought-provoking artwork to our community galleries in Akron. We need more exhibitions that offer contemporary ideas and mediums, not just at the museum level.  Artists in this show come from a wide variety of age groups and diverse educations. From tattoo artists to fine art college professors, this show will hopefully offer you something new.  I want the The Box Gallery to be a place for people from many different backgrounds and experiences to engage in conversations about art. 

By Bonnie Stipe

 For me the hanging the art on the walls is just the beginning because I truly enjoy throwing a big party!  This Friday, November 15th, will be a great gathering of Akron’s creative personalities all under one roof.  I am fortunate to have Ashley Brooke Toussant and Kyndra Heischman both playing music for the opening reception.  These ladies have fantastic voices and their performances alone should not be missed.

For a full list of artists in the exhibition, along with more details, visit the facebook event page here:

Clever Little Devils opens Friday, November 15th 2013 from 5pm-9pm at The Box Gallery on the 3rd Floor of Summit Art Space Building  (right around the corner from The Akron Art Museum). The gallery address is 140 E. Market St, Akron, OH 44308.

The event is open to the public and free.  Show runs through December 31 for First Night Akron.  The exhibition is sponsored by Artists of Rubber City.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The 2nd Annual Akron Comicon at Quaker Square Station -- Saturday, November 9

Akron Comicon Returns!
by Brit Charek

Akron Comicon returns next weekend on Saturday November 9th! (If you missed the inaugural event last year, check Akron Empire's review of it by clicking HERE-- there's some great photos!) This time the event will be held at Quaker Square Station, where there is plenty of parking and nearby restaurants. 

The event was organized to "established to celebrate newspaper comics and comic-books as an original American art form and promote comics as a viable entertainment medium by bringing creators, dealers, and fans together for a day of fun and interaction designed for the entire family."

Just like last year, there will be a range of events and activities taking place all day. One I'm personally looking forward to is the Costumes for Charity Contest. For every costumed attendee, Akron Comicon is donating $2 to charity. The winnings will be split between two charities: Hero Initiative and Help For Heroes. Last year, there were 52 fans in costume at the event-- this year there's likely to be many more!

This year's event will have 40 featured guests, many of which are currently working in the comic book industry. Here's a list of just a few: Dave Aikins, Darryl Banks, Mike W. Barr, Tom Batiuk, Adam Beechen, Jon Bogdanove, Craig Boldman, Ron Frenz, Mike Gustovich, Bob Ingersoll, Tony Isabella, Brad  Ricca, Chris Sprouse, Marc Sumerak, Chris Yambar, and Thom Zahler. Information about all guests is available on Akron Comicon's website.

Akron Comicon has moved from Akron U's Student Union to Quaker Square Station
Check out to see a list of artists, guests, vendors and special events. Also make sure to like their Facebook page to continue getting updates!

Admission tickets cost $10 at the door. Admission for Senior Citizens is $5. University Student tickets are $5 with a student I.D. All children age 10 and under are free. 

OR you can enter our contest to win a free pair of tickets to the event, courtesy of Akron Comicon! Just answer the questions and enter your email address below before midnight on Thursday, November 7. We will announce the winner on Friday, November 8 and email instructions for how to get your tickets. Thanks for following Akron Empire and we'll see you at Comicon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway