By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY -- The A.E. Backus Museum in Fort Pierce is making holiday shopping a bit more personal this year, with a one-of-a-kind holiday art festival, showcasing a variety of original art from all over the country.
The annual festival, open to art enthusiasts and guests of all ages, will run from Nov. 30 through Jan. 11.
"For years, we have put together a holiday art festival," said Kathleen Fredrick, director of the A.E. Backus Museum. "We intentionally select artists from all over the state of Florida to be featured in the show; although, we will also be offering work from all parts of the country."
Exhibiting artists include watercolors by Michael Weber, etchings by Bob Lafferandre and oils by George Rowe and Carole Boyd.
But it's not just paintings that will be available for purchase. Also on display is hand-crafted works of art from Suzanne Ritter, who specializes in sterling silver and fine gemstone jewelry, old Florida pottery by Martin Cushman and even handbags by Nancy Faris.
The rest of the museum in Fort Pierce will be filled with beadwork, glass jewelry, bronze sculpture and shell art.
"We wanted to offer a beautiful selection of art that could be purchased on any budget," Ms. Fredrick said. "We have items starting at $5 and going all the way up. Several pieces are small enough to be stocking stuffers."
The museum will also host an art sale and open house from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 30. Admission is free, and guests can enjoy refreshments as they shop.
"We have a lot of secret-shoppers come in," Ms. Frederick said. "Since buyers can purchase the piece right away during the sale, the staff helps by keeping the selections a surprise."
Residents who can't make it to the open house on Nov. 30 will have another opportunity the next day, on Dec. 1.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the museum will host "Saturday at the Festival," and exhibiting artists will be on hand to demonstrate their work and help shoppers with a selection.
One thing guests to the event won't see, however, is a lack of inventory in the festival.
"We have a lot of pieces to display," Ms. Frederick said. "As a space opens up in the show, we will immediately fill it with another piece, so the inventory will be constantly changing."
As a special reward for attendees, the museum will give away a free gift, valued at $75, to everyone who makes a purchase of $25 or more on the two days. There will also be a special discount on regularly priced purchases, including original artwork. Also, admission to the museum will be free on those two days, and since it offers free admission on the first Sunday of every month, people can come on Dec. 2 at no charge as well.
The museum is well-known in the county for its art work and its history. It was established in 1960 by A.E. Backus, a Florida landscape painter, along with a group of local art lovers. The museum now features the country's largest display of paintings by A.E. Backus, and is a non-profit organization that helps to promote artists residing on the Treasure Coast.
The A.E. Backus Museum is located at 500 N. Indian River Drive in downtown Fort Pierce and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is free for museum members, students, active military personnel and children younger than 10, and all others are $2.
The holiday art sale and open house will be from 5 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 30. The Saturday at the Festival open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 2. Admission is free both days.
For more information, call (772) 465-0630.