Unison Arts Center hosts annual holiday Craft, Art and Design Fair

Artists participating in Unison’s Annual Craft Art and Design Fair (L-R): Steve Fabrico (stoneware), Kim Ellis (author and illustrator), Stacie Flint (paintings), Elissa Rinaldo (flower arrangements), Annie O’Neill (decorative earthenware) and Alexa Ginsburg (felted natural fibers). (Photographs on the wall are by Francois Deschamps who is not part of the craft fair). (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

After years of hosting their annual holiday art and craft fair at the New Paltz Middle School, followed by a two-year run on the SUNY New Paltz campus, Unison Arts Center is bringing the fair home this year, holding the 28th annual holiday Craft, Art and Design Fair at their 68 Mountain Rest Road headquarters in New Paltz over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, December 1-2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Admission costs $4 for adults and $3 for members of Unison. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. 

According to Ally Bell, Unison’s director of design, the fair will be more intimate in scale this year, with 24 master craftspeople and fine artists displaying a wide range of handmade crafts and art. The selection will range from pottery, jewelry, fiber and woodwork to herbal products, baskets and paintings. But while the number of vendors will be fewer than in past years, the quality will be just as high as always, with many favorites returning and a few new faces in the mix.


The Craft, Art and Design Fair will be set up in the Unison theater as well as on the back deck, which will be heated with a tent enclosing the space. Even a conference room will be enlisted. “We’re opening the entirety of Unison for the fair,” says Bell, “using all the space we have to do it in classic Unison style.”

Vendors will include Unison founders Helene and Stuart Bigley, offering ceramics and fine art paintings, respectively. 

Jewelry will be available by Capobianco Designs, Hot Rocks Design, Helen Hosking Art, Amity Jewelry and Enamelista. Nature-based products at the fair will include woven baskets by Mary Ann Williams, herbal products by Kate’s Herbals, wreaths and flower arrangements by Elissa and Sherri’s Heirloom Soaps. 

Gardiner’s Annie O’Neill will have her painted clay pottery at the fair, joined by additional pottery artisans Sally Rothchild, Laura Kellar and Stephen Fabrico Designs. Knitwear will be available from Holy Cowl and House of Bee Design. Sirena Writing Center will offer books, with books and paintings offered by Joe Reilly. 

Rounding out the 2018 vendors are Norwegian Woodworks, Alexa Ginsburg’s Naturally Felt with wearable felt items and sculpted felt animals, Stacie Flint paintings, copper boxes by Grace Gunning, jams and pickles from Grey Mouse Farm, plush and paintings from Vagabond Artistry and puppets from Anne Pike-Tay.

To preview what will be found at the fair, visit the Unison website at https://www.unisonarts.org/craft-art-design-fair/, where there are links to many of the vendor’s websites.

One of the consistent strengths of the Unison holiday fair is that while the work is always upscale, all price points are represented, so visitors can always find something affordable. The event offers the opportunity to shop local and support area artists and artisans.

The nonprofit Unison Arts Center has been fostering creativity in the New Paltz area for more than 40 years now, offering a varied program of exhibitions, entertainment and workshops in an intimate and inviting atmosphere. They’ve been in flux these past years, as happens with groups that have been in existence for a while, but things have settled down in the past few years and the organization’s board says their goal is to have Unison recognized as “a welcoming place where there is always something happening and where the public knows they can trust the quality of whatever is presented.”

The Craft, Art and Design Fair is sponsored by Bailey Ceramic Supply.

The weekend after the fair, Unison will hold an opening on Saturday, December 8 from 4-6 p.m. for their 10X10 art exhibit and sale, open to the public through December 28. Artists will submit up to four pieces 10 inches by 10 inches in size (framed or on canvas) to be hung in the holiday art salon.

For more information on all things Unison, visit the center on Facebook or www.unisonarts.org.