I was at West Portal today, meeting friends for lunch. The weather was pleasantly sunny after overnight rain, and I was delighted to see the West Portal Arts Fair had arrived. Both sides of the street were lined with stalls set up by crafters and artists. I recognized some from previous years, but others were new.
By the time we’d finished lunch (and made a detour to West Portal Books), the sun was gone. Nevertheless, I stopped at a few stalls, buying ear rings for a gift, a beautiful handmade wooden spatula from the same stall where I bought a coffee scoop last year, and yearned after some wonderful Zapotec rugs and handmade marquetry mirrors with naturalistic designs. One of them had a great blue heron, another had cherry blossoms, and yet another had mother-of-pearl inlaid in the wood, representing glass windows. A stall I didn’t recall from last year had adorable clothes for kids, I’m guessing mostly for little girls. And the White Rose Boutique had a Festival special – and an eye-catching display of hats that apparently made your feet happy…
By this time, a drizzle had started up, and the vendors were covering or packing up their stalls. I decided to go back tomorrow; the forecast is for better weather.
In other West Portal news: The Squat and Gobble restaurant, which had burned out in October 2012, is back! We ate there the other night. They have a broader range of offerings now, and the food is predictably decent. The new decor, though, is quite bland – nothing like the rotating art they used to have initially, and the mural that replaced it.
Someone called to tell me about a great little art festival at West Portal this weekend. “There are stalls all the way down on both sides,” he said, “You should check it out.”
I did, of course, intending to browse for a bit. It was not so little – there were something like seventy stalls. There were ceramics. Art glass (including one artist whose work reminded me of Dale Chihuly’s). Handcrafted jewelry of fused glass or silver or beautiful stones. Handmade clothing, dramatic and unique. Furniture. Inlaid wood mirrors. Artistic switchplates. Books made into boxes. And wonderful art, from oil paintings to beautiful photographs to prints and hand-drawn pictures and water-colors. Kaleidoscopes. Handmade dolls’ clothing to fit “American Girl” dolls. Wooden toys. Handmade dolls and animals, including a few monsters.
I got a few photographs for this website which I’ve set up as a slide-show above. (See if it works for you, this is the first time I’ve tried one. You should be able to either click through, or let the pictures change automatically.) Not everyone wanted their stalls photographed. (Some have had their designs stolen by people who photograph and reproduce them.)
The mood was mellow and friendly, with artists all willing to talk about their work. Some of the regular West Portal merchants had taken advantage of the activity to put out their own outside displays. It’s on tomorrow and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a nice place to pick up one-of-a-kind gifts for your friends, your home,yourself. I hadn’t planned to buy anything, but I did anyway. I’ll probably go back tomorrow.