Bardo Arts Center's Annual Handmade Holiday Sale

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On Thursday, Nov. 16, the Bardo Arts Center (BAC) became a beautiful rendition of an Asheville street art fair. Vendors from the surrounding community and Western Carolina University showcased their hard work at the Annual Handmade Holiday sale.

Beautiful smiles lit up the BAC lobby as handmade gifts were selected for loved ones. Students, staff and alumni were all invited to sell their artwork. Hosted by Dawn Behling, the sale began around noon and lasted until 7 p.m.

Behling has hosted art sales such as this in the BAC for the past 7 years. While the art museum is open, she maintains the front desk. But, there is more to Behling than her presence in the art museum. She creates her own beautiful works of art. Her colorful work encompasses unique elements from the earth, such as butterflies, snake skin patterns and septapus designs.

“What makes this handmade [sale] different is students, faculty and alumni participate. This brings the WCU community together,” said Behling.

Colors danced around the lobby as necklaces, charms and other handmade jewelry glistened under the center’s lights.

A variety of objects were being sold, from mugs to hand knitted scarves and hats. Many artists put a lot of time and effort into their pieces, and it was obvious. Handmade glass turtles and swans found their way into the sale, pricing around $30.

Most of the items present at the sale were sold from around $5 to $500. This offered a nice reward to the artists who dedicated themselves to their work.

Most of the artwork reflected the artists’ desires in life and what they were most interested in. Former Western Carolina professor, Joan Byrd returned for the holiday sale. She was there selling her ceramic pieces which reflected the nature of life.

She said, “My art represents the fragile nature of the earth, and it’s something we need to be reminded of. It will make us more humane.”

Many of the artists present were from the surrounding community, but current students, such as Charles Paine III, sold artwork as well. His painting, “The Proposal” which includes the three musketeers and a beautiful woman was on sale for $500. He spends weeks working on his pieces, beginning with a sketch, and then transposing it into a painting.

Western Carolina alumni, and current University of North Carolina at Asheville teacher, Jordan Krutsch said, “the sale gives us the opportunity to show off what we’ve worked hard on.”

Along with Paine were other students, such as members of the Art Education Club and the studio arts program in ceramics. Both groups sold student-made art including earrings, ornaments, bowls, t-shirts, bookmarks and other neat objects.

Western Carolina alumni Ann Suggs said, “What is special about this show is I get to show my work right next to my ceramics professor. Getting to share my work next to someone I admire is wonderful.”

If the work was not being sold by the vendor, then by someone close to them. One individual sold his wife’s homemade palm aids and soups. She was needed at home with their children. No matter their walks of life, the sale brought people together. Visitors from the Cullowhee community include students, families associated with the art program and others just passing through. It generated a home-like atmosphere, warm and comforting.

Some interesting, yet useful pieces made their way into the sale. Brannen Basham, co-owner of Spriggly’s Beescaping sold sunflower seed bombs and native bee houses. The bee houses were made from wood, but are easy assemblage and the pods can be replaced.

Snuggs says, “Life’s too short to not be having fun with what you do.”

This holiday sale was inspiring. People from the Western Carolina community shared their beauty in life and engaged with one another. Sometimes
following your dreams has a happy ending because getting to share what you love most with like-minded people and others is fulfilling enough.

Ten percent of the funds made from each individual vendor went to the art
museum in the Bardo Arts Center. These funds will be used to hold programs and any other activities for the museum.

For more information about events such as these, contact the Fine Arts Museum at 828-227-3591 or visit