DECATUR — As an artist, the Christmas season was good to Dina Fryman last year.
Participating as part of the Decatur Area Arts Council’s annual “Xmas ARTicles” holiday shop, her collection of colorful knitted scarves and decorative painted items made her the event’s top seller. Several times she had to return to the Madden Arts Center to restock their supplies.
“It’s funny, because I see people wearing scarves around town and I say ‘I wonder if that’s one of mine,’ ” said Fryman, whose work will be returning for Xmas ARTicles throughout December. “I try to make them unique enough to spot by finding yarns that not everybody has access to locally.”
The volume of scarves sold has earned Fryman the nickname “the scarf lady.” Already well-known in Decatur’s fine arts community for her longtime work as Theatre 7’s resident “costume maven,” Fryman also embraces her own artistic side during her free time.
She learned sewing from her grandmother as a child and has now been making her scarves for decades. Today, she believes the key to her commercial success has been in keeping her work affordable.
“It’s all about finding just the right price point,” she said. “I try to work on volume and not mark up the prices, and I always create vibrant and colorful pieces. I don’t do beige and tope.”
Fryman is just one of 50 artists showing their wares this year at the arts council. The month long shop will feature jewelry, purses, paintings, notecards, photography, ceramic and woodworking items, among others. It kicks off from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, as part of downtown Decatur’s Christmas Walk. The Walk will feature a variety of live holiday music, such as the Millikin Wind Ensemble, Tudor Voices, Millikin String Quartet, pianist Andrew Schneider, guitarist Dan Daugherty and the Millikin Saxophone Ensemble.
Each Xmas ARTicles artist has his or her own field of specialty. For Decatur resident Libby James, it’s homemade soaps and bath salts, available in 25 different fragrances. Her goat’s milk soaps were especially popular last year, and represent the completion of a long process of hand crafting.
“They’re made by mixing emollient oils with goat’s milk to make the soap, which has to cure for at least six weeks,” James said. “I use goat’s milk because it has a lot of fat, which feels wonderful on your skin and helps return moisture to it. Soap-making is a bit of a lost art, and I’ve gotten a lot of enjoyment from it.”
More traditional “fine arts” are also represented. Argenta resident Lori Sprague will be returning with her vintage, mixed media wall pieces, which combine found items and knick-knacks into hanging displays. The items are said to be “upcycled” — reused for new and more aesthetically pleasing purposes.
“They’re not just random odds and ends, each piece has a theme to it,” she said. “They’re very interesting to look at if you’re a person who likes vintage things. You can feel the memories attached to them.”
For more information and full hours, visit www.decaturarts.org.
GALLERY 510: Downtown Decatur’s Gallery 510 Arts Guild will be featuring the work of watercolorist Rae Nell Spencer in December. The Oreana artist is known for her colorful abstract florals and landscapes and uses a variety of surfaces from cardboard to yupa paper in her work. Spencer will be discussing her work at 6:30 p.m. tonight as part of the downtown Christmas Walk, along with performances from the Eisenhower Choir and complimentary warm Russian tea.
The work of Sharon Zimmerman will be on display in the Decatur Airport, and Michael Delaney will have a display at the Decatur Public Library.
MILLIKIN BLUE CONNECTION: Millikin University’s retail arts shop, The Blue Connection, will be participating in the downtown Decatur Christmas Walk with an After 5 Live event from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4. The gallery “will be filled with holiday cheer, gifts and homemade crafts for under $100.” Snacks will be served and local musicians will be performing holiday music during the arts gift shop event.
ERLANSON ART GALLERY: Richland Community College’s Erlanson Art Gallery will be displaying the whimsical pencil drawings of Wisconsin artist Bill Amundson until Dec. 13 in a gallery called “Disabled Development.” A former professor at the University of Colorado, Amundson’s drawings are described as “witty, humorous and fun” in his commentary on contemporary society. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Richland will also be holding its annual Art Bazaar & Celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The event will feature juried art for sale, portfolio reviews for artists, on-stage performances and student presentations. Entry fee and booth information are available at www.richland.edu.
PERKINSON ART GALLERY: Millikin University’s Perkinson Gallery at the Kirkland Fine Arts Center will be featuring the work of sculptors Alison Ouellete-Kirby and Noah Martin Kirby until Dec. 13. Their large and small sculptures are based on the theme of communication and attempt to make it “touchable” in a way that will provide revelations to the viewer. Gallery hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
BICENTENNIAL ART CENTER & MUSEUM: The Paris art center will continue showcasing the work of students from Eastern Illinois University through Dec. 27 with “Zenith: Selections from Eastern Illinois University’s Painting Program.”
ROCK SPRINGS NATURE CENTER: Decatur’s Rock Springs Nature Center will have two ongoing exhibitions on display through December. In the North Wing Art Gallery, Decatur’s Barn Colony Artists will be displaying pencil drawings, wood carvings and paintings. The South Wing Art Gallery will continue showcasing the nature photography of Delores Rice-Logue.
KRANNERT ART MUSEUM: Six exhibitions will continue for another month on display at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Krannert Art Museum. The “Art + Design Faculty Exhibition;” “Return to Sender: Ray Johnson, Robert Warner, and the New York Correspondence School;” “Correspondents of Ray Johnson;” “HELLO WORLD! Or: How I Learned to Stop Listening and Love the Noise;” “Yun-Fei Ji: Selected Works;” and “Encounters: The Arts of Africa” will be on display until Jan. 5.
PARKLAND ART GALLERY: Champaign’s Parkland College will continue hosting “State of the Art 2013-14: National Biennial Ceramics Exhibition” until Feb. 1. A “Coffee and Tea, Cups and Dessert” benefit for the Parkland Art Gallery will also be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5. More information is available at artgallery.parkland.edu.
TARBLE ARTS CENTER: Two continuing exhibitions will be on display in December at Eastern Illinois University’s Tarble Arts Center.
“Grandmother’s Circle — A Tribute to Crecy’s People and to Sallie Alpha: An Installation by Alpha Bruton,” will be on display until Dec. 15 in the Egallery.
“A Couple of Ways of Doing Something: Photographys by Chuck Close, Poems by Bob Holman” will be on display until Dec. 20 in the Main Galleries.