Monday, November 23, 2015

Crafty Mart 101

Crafty Mart 101: 6 Questions with the Folks Who Make Crafty Mart Happen
by Brit Charek and Joanna Wilson

This piece first appeared in the August/issue #14 of  The Devil Strip--our new, twice monthly, arts & culture newspaper in Akron. Issue #14 is now available-- go out and pick up a copy or read it online here.

Brit Charek and Joanna Wilson have been contributors for The Devil Strip, you likely recognize their names from their awesome Akron Empire blog. If you’re a regular reader of either The Empire or this mag, you probably know they’re also the engines that make Crafty Mart run. So we asked Brit and Joanna for a quick breakdown of what to expect at Akron’s crafts-centric, small-business lovin’ shopping extravaganza, now in its seventh year this November 28-29.

What kind of vendors will you have this year at Crafty Mart?

Joanna: Our makers and artists are as varied as Akron itself. We've got everything from one-of-a-kind jewelry and leather goods, to beeswax candles and locally-sourced honey, to Akron-centric tees and pillows, to crafted furniture and wooden robots, to hand-sewn bags and soaps and beauty products, to specially blended teas and artisanal caramels, to nerdy buttons and high fashion bow ties, and more! (See for yourself:

Has anything changed since last year?

Brit: This year, we are offering a series of workshops for folks who'd like to make their own gifts! We've done this before, but this time, due to a generous gift from the Knight Foundation, we are able to offer all workshops for under $15 (up to a $150 value!!) To check out available workshops, click here.

We're also featuring a signature drink at our 3rd floor bar at Summit Artspace: The NORKA Mule combines NORKA ginger ale, vodka and a homemade ginger spice simple syrup to keep you warm while you're shopping - YUM!

How has Crafty Mart grown, both as an organization and in attendance, over the past 7 years?

JW: As of the start of this year, we now function as a non-profit organization. In addition to the Holiday Show and the Mom & Pop Shoppe in the Spring, we now organize a monthly event at Summit Artspace during the Artwalk, as well as several pop-up markets throughout the year like the ones at Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. To give you an idea about our expansion, that first year, the Holiday Show in 2009, we had makers fill Musica.  This year, we'll have artisans not only occupy Musica, but take over the Akron Art Museum and Summit Artspace as well. The Holiday Show is a 2-day event as well, so if Saturday, Nov. 28th doesn't fit your schedule, you have Sunday (Nov. 29th) to take it all in.

Where do you get your inspiration?

BC: Holy loaded question! I'm pretty well-connected to the regional and national crafty maker scene, and am always exchanging ideas with other show organizers from around the country. I'm actually working with Crafty Supermarket in Cincinnati and Craftin Outlaws in Columbus to host the Midwest Craft Con - a 3 day retreat for mid-career crafters February 19-21 in Columbus. I'm hoping that this summit will be a great place for crafty folks to recharge after the holiday season, as well as share best practices and ideas to better connect the maker community on a national level.

What is your favorite thing about Crafty Mart?

JW: One of the things I love most about Crafty Mart is that it's more than just shopping for small business artists and makers--which is important to me. But it's also about bumping into good friends, enjoying the funktacular deejays, enjoying a beer or a meal before moving on to the next venue--it's a whole day's worth of experiences that I always look forward to.

What shopping tips would you give to a first-time attendee?

BC: Since it's a lot to take in, break up the day by making sure to stop for lunch or libations, which you can do at all three locations. Make sure to grab a program when you walk in, and hit up all three venues. If you get your program stamped at all three locations and turn it in, you can enter to win some awesome gift baskets courtesy of our awesome vendors and sponsors! Yelp will be offering free gift wrapping right by where our auction table is located on the 3rd floor of Summit Artspace, so make sure to hit that up.

JW: My advice: start early. Take your time. Dance to the music. Take advantage of the free admission to the Akron Art Museum's galleries. Re-fuel with a beer or a meal in the café in Summit Artspace, the iQCafé in the Museum, or at Urban Eats next to Musica. Overall, enjoy yourself--this is what it's all about!

Come prepared with your holiday shopping list. I'm willing to bet you can do most--if not all--of your holiday gift shopping and be more satisfied with those purchases.  There's a world of difference between supporting small business artisans and shopping big box stores.

If you come on Saturday (Nov. 28th) and wake up the next morning with regrets about what you missed or didn't buy, know that you can return on Sunday (Nov. 29th) and shop again.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

PechaKucha Night at the Bit Factory

PechaKucha Night at the Bit Factory
by Brit Charek

If you're not quite sure about how to pronounce "PechaKucha", you have nothing to worry about — even the organizers of the inaugural Akron area event for the international speaker series aren't entirely sure about that!

"All you need to know is that 20 slides + 20 seconds = your mind blown," the PK Akron Steering Committee explains on their Facebook page.

Each speaker must fit their presentation within 20 slides each lasting for 20 seconds, which adds up to 6:40 minutes precisely per presentation. Some conceptualize PechaKuchas as “mini-TED talks,” but with a party-like atmosphere. Here in Akron, that will be thanks to Thirsty Dog Brewing Company, whose beer will be available at the event, which will take place at The Bit Factory. (I wrote about The Bit Factory back in August  click here to see that post again!)

Currently, PechaKucha events take place in over 800 cities worldwide, and as of this Friday, November 13th, that will include Akron, Ohio.

PechaKucha is a Japanese word meaning "the sound of conversation". It started in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. Since then, it has grown massively in popularity and expanded its content. Now PechaKucha includes speakers talking about a variety of topics relating to art, fashion, food, life, architecture, film, design, community, photography, law, and science – the list goes on and on! 

"PK Akron strives to bring you Akron born creative content that has the signature of being innovative, inspiring and community engaging," says Steering Committee member Annal Vyas, "If you have something you feel people would want to hear about or know somebody else who does, don't hesitate to contact us."

This Friday's speakers include:

Roger Riddle, local DJ and Curator at Unbox Akron
Brant Lee, law professor at The University of Akron
Dominic Falcione, local artist behind The Bit Factory
Abhishek "Beesh" Jain, MD., a forensic psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
Jennifer Davis, Owner and facilitator of smART Studio
Priscillia Roggenkamp, Internationally renowned artist
Phylliss Steiner, Hattie Larlham Director of Creative Arts
Joanna Wilson, Local author of “The Story of Archie the Talking Snowman”
Dominic Caruso, Design, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at The Akron Art Museum

Sponsors for the event include The University of Akron’s School of Law, Akron Global Business Accelerator, Crafty MartThe Bit Factory and the Knight Foundation.

PechaKucha Akron Volume 1 will take place at The Bit Factory, located at 526 S. Main St., 5th floor in downtown Akron. The doors open at 7pm.

You can find PK Akron on Facebook, or you can follow them on Instagram or Twitter at the handle @pkakron.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Michael Stanley & The Resonators Photos Charity Auction

Michael Stanley & The Resonators Photos Charity Auction
by Joanna Wilson

Attention: all Michael Stanley fans! A fun and worthwhile charity auction is going on right now.  Michael Stanley and The Resonators have team up with renowned Cleveland concert photographer Joe Kleon to raise money for Kitten Krazy, a nonprofit cat shelter in Medina, OH.

You may remember Joe Kleon's work from a previous Akron Empire essay.  I interviewed Joe two years ago when he had an rock photography exhibition at a coffee shop here in Akron.  Click HERE to see that interview again.  I've actually known Joe for many years--we went to school together!

Joe Kleon has been Michael Stanley’s concert photographer for 12 years and his photos have appeared in several of the band’s releases and are used to promote all their shows. He has photographed over 700 concerts and has aimed his lenses at legendary artists such as Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Rush, Aerosmith, Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, and countless others.

Joe has provided eight (8), 11”x14” color photos autographed by Michael Stanley and The Resonators to the auction and he is donating 100% of the proceeds to Kitten Krazy for the care of the cats. Joe has been volunteering at Kitten Krazy for almost two years and provides exceptional photos of the cats to help promote their adoptions. A lifelong lover of cats, rock music, and especially the band Rush, it’s no surprise his two cats are named “Geddy” and “Alex.”

Left to Right: Wynne Kreps (KK Adoption Coordinator), Michael Stanley, Joe Kleon, Wendy Mirrotto (KK President).

Kitten Krazy opened 11 years ago in Brunswick Hills and has placed over 3,500 cats and kittens. Today, the cats are located in a beautiful 4,000 SF multi-room, free-roaming shelter at 910 Lake Road in Medina.  Fully-vetted cats and kittens are available for adoption Tuesday thru Friday 12-5, and every Saturday 12-3. After-hour appointments are also available by calling 440-465-9654.

The e-bay auction will be held starting Friday, November 6th and will end Monday, November 16th.

To check out the photos and/or place a bid, the link to the auction is found HERE.

Good luck with your bidding!