SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — This year was supposed to mark the 50th anniversary of the South County Art Association’s annual Pottery and Art holiday sale, a local tradition for the Kingston gallery held for three weeks in late November through mid December that has allowed shoppers to add handcrafted mugs, bowls, teapots, sculptures, paintings, jewelry, ornaments and other goods to their holiday shopping list while supporting local artists and artisans and the SCAA itself for half a century.
However, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the milestone festivities were put on hold for another year as the SCAA had to hold off on a full sale.
“We had to cancel our three-week sale, our 50th anniversary sale, that is an event that brings in so much money for the artists in particular,” Executive Director Kathleen Carland said. “We sell about $56,000 worth of art.”
“It can get pretty packed in here, very tight corners with all of the wares for sale and the customers, the lines can get very long, so we thought, ‘we don’t want anyone to risk their health,’ so we decided to nix that this year,” Exhibitions Director Jason Fong said.
While the association plans on celebrating the anniversary next year, not all hope is lost for fans of locally-produced handmade wares and art: The SCAA is hosting a one-day outdoor Autumn Pottery and Art sale this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot and backyard behind their main Helm House gallery.
The sale will feature over 30 member artists and artisans selling their wares.
“It’ll be pottery primarily, but there will also be some other work, paintings and 2D work for your walls,” Fong said.
With safety and social distancing in mind, the SCAA decided that, if they wanted to have a sale to meet their usual standards and daily numbers, they would need to hold it outside.
“We decided we wanted to do it outside so that people can distance and be in the fresh air, so because of that we decided to move it up to October, because once you get into November we thought, ‘well, the weather is going to be too cold for that,” Fong said.
All artist vendors and shoppers in the sale must wear masks and maintain six feet of social distance between themselves and others. The SCAA will provide hand sanitizer to every artist table for both vendor and shopper use. Sanitizing stations will also be provided at the entrance and exit to the sale.
While this year’s sale will be scaled back, Fong hopes they’ll be able to properly honor the half century milestone next year.
“We’re going to do just the one-day sale this year and next year we’re going to have our 50th anniversary of the holiday sale and hopefully make it a big one,” Fong said.
The Autumn Pottery and Art Sale will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday behind the SCAA’s main Helm House Gallery at 2587 Kingstown Road in Kingston.
For more information, visit their website, southcountyart.org.