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Art shows take on a new form, attracting younger generations

Jewelry was designed by Lisa Marie Musarra from Musarra & Co. of Lakewood was displayed at the April 29 show. (Photo courtesy of Becki Cooper)

Meagan Steed

Westlake

On Sunday, art and craft lovers will unite at the 2012 West Side Summer Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show at Wagner’s Country Inn in Westlake. The show was founded in June 2011 by 26-year-old entrepreneur Becki Cooper, who created the company in hopes of attracting an audience of the younger generation.

Recently, Cooper noticed there has been a renewed interest in do-it-yourself projects, due to the websites Etsy and Pinterest, and has geared her shows to fulfill the needs of artsy consumers. Cooper features vendors who create unusual and unique items such as pottery, eco-friendly art and jewelry, hair accessories and handmade iPhone accessories.

Cooper reaches out to prospective vendors through new ways of marketing, such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and LinkedIn. Many vendors at the 12 shows each year are young moms from the surrounding counties in Northeast Ohio.

“I want the shows to become a known name in the community,” said Cooper. “I want the artists to feel they are their own community, where they feel they belong and can relate to one another. It’s like a book club, but it’s an art club.”

Jen Buchanan of Bay Village owns Jen Buza Bags. She has been a vendor in the past two shows and will also have a booth on Sunday. Buchanan makes little purses, yoga bags and messenger bags out of repurposed items such as men’s suits and ties, and uses unusual items for the handles, such as chopsticks and key rings that are linked together.

“I like doing these kinds of shows,” said Buchanan. “I like that she has put together a good group of people. She tries to get a group of diverse vendors who sell products that are really unusual and different from your stereotypical art show.”

A few summers ago, Cooper began taking cake decorating classes and was later told by peers that she should begin selling her creations. Because of her passion for art shows, which she shares with her mother, she created Becki’s Sweet Boutique and sold her baked goods at local art shows. But Cooper wanted to create a new type of art show that did not have the same connotation as a typical art show and was geared toward the younger generation.

The first show was held in June 2011 in Middleburg Heights, and had 45 vendors. This weekend, Cooper has attracted more than 170 vendors for her show, which will also feature a wine and beer bar, full concessions area and free parking.

For each show Cooper chooses a local charity to which she donates a portion of the proceeds following the event, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Project Night Night, which donates a blanket, book and stuffed animal to a homeless child. This Sunday, a portion of the proceeds will be given to the Cleveland, Ohio, Animal Protective League for animal rescue.

“Since I grew up in Cleveland and I love it, I believe it is really important to give back,” she shared.

The 2012 West Side Summer Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show will take place Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Wagner’s Country Inn, 30855 Center Ridge Road in Westlake. For further information, please contact Becki Cooper at 440-227-8794, or via e-mail at info@avantgardeshows.com.

 

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