Fine Arts Associates: Rich History Provides Foundation for Group with Bright Future

Fine Arts Associates: Rich History Provides Foundation for Group with Bright FutureFounded in 1952, the Canton Fine Arts Associates continue to offer friendship, entertainment, learning experiences, and volunteer opportunities to members and the public alike. Monthly luncheon meetings with excellent art-related programs are held from September to May, excluding November. The luncheons are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 11:45 a.m. in the Wilkof Courtyard of the Canton Museum of Art. Guests are most welcome at these luncheon meetings. Attached is the full 2017-18 program schedule.

In 1972, the organization launched Christkindl Markt, now a cherished Canton holiday tradition celebrating its 46th year on November 10, 11 and 12. Christkindl Markt has grown to become Northeast Ohio's premier juried, holiday-inspired fine arts and fine crafts show which attracts visitors from across the state. Christkindl Markt features artisans from across the United States, showcasing their works throughout the Cultural Center for the Arts and the Museum. Visitors will discover the highest quality creations in glass, painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, textiles, floral arrangements, woodworks, holiday items and more. In addition to the inspiring artwork, Christkindl Markt includes the Christkindl Café and Markt Bistro, offering delicious snacks, lunch and dinner fare on-site. Visitors will also find an array of candies in the Sweet Shoppe, (including Buckeyes, fudge, bark, holiday cookies and more). A used book sale, a shopping spree raffle and silent auction are also popular Markt attractions.

Proceeds from Christkindl Markt benefit exhibition and educational programming of the Canton Museum of Art!

CLara Wright, a member since the 1980s, remembers diving right in from the start. Help was needed in the kitchen, so Clara - a guest at that point - volunteered. And she has been volunteering ever since. Although she had recently moved to the Canton area and had never attended Christkindl Markt, she readily accepted the position of "sandwich chair." Clara remembers doing things differently in those days. Making chicken salad from scratch for thousands of hungry Christkindl Markt shoppers meant cutting coupons before purchasing the chickens from several different checkout lines in order to have enough for her homemade recipe! She must have set the bar a little too high, as the next year's chairman simply bought chicken salad from the grocer's deli for the sandwiches. Today, a delectable cuisine is offered by caterer That Little Italian Kitchen.

Donna Leibensperger, a member since 1972, recalls, "At that time the Art Institute was housed in the Case Mansion, a "castle" type building on a small hill overlooking Market Avenue. We had our meetings on the third floor in the former ballroom. The monthly menu was a square of Jell-o, a cookie and coffee or tea, for which we paid 25 cents. At some point in the late 1960s the Board decided to double the luncheon fee to 50 Cents, for which we got an extra cookie or perhaps a couple of strawberries. The increase elicited a chorus of complaints. Many members thought the increase was outrageous!" Today, monthly meetings include selections from a delicious luncheon menu, catered by Mr. Mike's.

Donna continues, "The Board decided in 1972 that, since so many of our members were artistic, we should have a craft show and sale in a classroom for our members at one of our meetings. Dozens of items were donated by members and the silent auction brought in $1,000. We were elated by the success and decided the next year to have a show for the general public. Committees were formed to make craft items and candy. We set up about ten booths in the lobby and made more than $3,000 that year. The following year we invited about 30 artisans from the area to be in the show, held in the Upper Galleries, in addition to the crafts and candy that our group made."

And Christkindl Markt was born.

Through the years as other arts and crafts shows have waned, the industrious ladies of Canton Fine Arts Associates have persevered.

"(The have) kept up the quality and uniqueness of Christkindl Markt," says Donna, "so that we are still a successful moneymaker for the Canton Museum of Art ­- even after 45 years! Over these years I have chaired many committees except anything to do with tickets or money! I have enjoyed working with our dedicated members on everything from making candy and crafts, decorating, chairing exhibits for five years, co-chairing and chairing the Markt - and now being the used books seller! What a wonderful ride it has been!"

That ride includes one more humorous story from Clara. One year a woman wearing a heavy fur coat drew attention, appearing to be hiding something under the fur. Was it possible that the Markt had been victimized by a shoplifter? "Turns out, she had smuggled in her dog," laughs Clara!

Canton Fine Arts Associates will kick off the 2017-18 season of luncheon programs beginning Wednesday, September 13. This year's Christkindl Markt will take place November 10, 11 and 12 - offering celebrity guests Robin Swoboda, Andre Bernier and - perhaps -- even Santa Claus himself!

For more information, contact the Fine Arts Program Coordinator at 330-453-7666 extension 105.

Canton Fine Arts is an affiliate organization of the Canton Museum of Art. The mission of this dedicated group is to raise funds for the Museum through volunteer efforts. Since 1972, Canton Fine Arts has presented the Christkindl Markt, an annual fundraiser for the Museum.

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