Arts Council’s Holiday Fair a 46-Year Tradition

Raku turtle by Renee Wiley. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos Daily Post
Santa Fe Artist Erika Eckerstrand worked for an awning company for seven years when an injury made her change careers. Almost five years ago Eckerstrand started her own business, creating a line of tote bags, messenger bags, purses and wallets.

Messenger bag by Erika Eckerstrand. Courtesy photo

 What makes Eckerstrand’s bags unique is that they are made from an industrial woven vinyl, similar to what is used for outdoor furniture.

“It’s different,” she said. “It’s not your traditional kind of bag.”

Eckerstrand has been an active participant in the Los Alamos Arts Council’s Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair for a number of years. She will once again sell her pieces during the annual event, which is 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Crossroads Bible Church.

It will be the fourth time Eckerstrand has participated in the Arts Council’s event. “I like it,” she said. “It’s a small, one-day show. It brings out a lot of people in Los Alamos … to show support for people who come from throughout New Mexico to show their work.”

Eckerstrand is not the only artist who regularly attends the arts and crafts fair. Sandia Park Artist Renee Wiley has participated in the arts and crafts fair for 10 years.

Wiley showcases her raku pottery at the fair. Raku is a firing method for ceramics. It originated in Japan to create a black-and-white crackled appearance, but in the West, the method changed to create multi-colored finishes on the pottery.

Raku, Wiley said, is popular in high school and college art classes because it can take a common, run-of-a-mill clay pot and through the firings and glazes, “it’s a treasure.”

Wiley said she enjoys coming to Los Alamos to share her art. “I have so many wonderful customers up there.”

Wiley and Eckerstrand are just two of the many artists who will participate in Saturday’s fair. Los Alamos Arts Council Executive Director Marlane Hamilton said there will be 75 booths at this year’s fair. Artists hail from across New Mexico and Colorado.

“This is traditionally the big holiday fair,” Hamilton said. “This is one not to miss. So come on out and get those gifts for the people on your list.”

“I think people will find a wide variety of things for their gift giving list,” she said.

The Arts Council’s fair has a long tradition in Los Alamos; it has been held for the past 46 years. The fair serves multiple purposes; in addition to giving artists the opportunity to showcase and sell their work, and providing the community with a chance to kick start their holiday shopping, the event is also a fundraiser for the Arts Council.

Booth fees help to finance the Arts Council’s many activities in the community such as the Kite Festival, Pumpkin Glow, Brown Bag shows and Missoula Children’s Theater.

Attending the fair is a way to help support the local arts organization. Another way is to become an Arts Council member. Individual memberships are $15. A membership registration table will be setup at the fair and anyone interested in becoming a member can also call the Arts Council at 505.663.0477 or visit for more information. The council can also be found on Facebook.