There are several busy, welcoming holiday markets in Evanston this fall. Markets and gift sales always sprout (“pop up”) around Thanksgiving – lately, even earlier, as gift-giving season marketing kicks into ever-higher gear and Christmas music plays on public speakers beginning the day after Halloween.

Evanston Made Pop-Up

First floor at Evanston Made Pop-Up. (Photo by Yancey Hughes)

The newest market this year is the Evanston Made Pop-up, at the former Urban Outfitters store, 921 Church Street, at the corner of Church and Maple Avenue. This area was touted as the “new center of Evanston,” before the renovation of Fountain Square and its traffic pattern change. Whether because of COVID-19 or some other reason, this store is vacant and for rent, along with the huge 18-theater movie complex.

But the folks at Evanston Made, the new nonprofit artists’ organization (membership 400), were delighted to be offered six weeks rent-free in the Urban Outfitters two-story, 13,000-square-foot space. It was a challenge to pull together a market-cum-exhibit in only two weeks and install it in four days, said Executive Director Lisa Degliantoni, but the result is satisfying to artists and public alike.

Looking down at the first floor of the Evanston Made Pop-Up. (Photo by Yancey Hughes)

The first floor displays mostly items for sale, ranging from tapestries and paintings to ceramics, jewelry, prints, clothing, scarves, notecards, small paintings and sculpture, photography, hand-made candles and furniture. There are several seating areas, so tired shoppers can rest their feet. Volunteers handle sales, with 125 artists participating. A few stunning artworks by noted artists, such as Karl and Indira Johnson, Nina Weiss, are on display and for sale at the very front.

Liz Cramer and Kathy Halper, Co-Directors of Evanston Made. (Photo by Yancey Hughes)

The second floor, accessed by a wide stairway (where Artists Book House – ABH – has written and installed a poem) is vast, and better suited for large works and installation art. Installation art is a genre of three-dimensional artworks that are often site-specific and designed to alter the perception of a space.

The staff at Blick Art Materials, nearby on Maple, all artists, has a wall of works here.

Further, the second floor doubles as an event space. The market opened with a members-only event there, November 5, with wines, a DJ and dancing. Two hundred people attended the party, said Degliantoni. Another party, this one celebrating Evanston Made’s second year as a nonprofit, will be held on December 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., reservations only, please.

ABH had several book arts “stations” set up on the second floor on Sunday, November 14. There, one could try calligraphy, bookmaking and collage, take a 10-minute “speed sharing” course in memoir writing or add to “Treewhispers,” a stunning installation of individual handmade paper circles, each embellished by an individual artist. Degliantoni said approximately 500 people went through the market that day.

“Treewhispers.” (Photo by Gay Riseborough)

On Sunday, December 5, artist Shruti Vijay will demonstrate and teach “urban sketching.”

On December 12, actress Claudia Reuteria will read and perform Frida Kahlo’s letters to her husband, artist Diego Rivera. She will be accompanied by live music and a flamenco dancer.

On December 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., an award-winning short film, “Love Dog” by Evanstonian Rob Larson, will be shown. A Q&A with Larson will follow. Admission of $5-$10 is suggested and all receipts will be donated to Center for Independent Futures. This is the only event asking a fee.

“Embrace” plasma-cut recycled metal by Karl Johnson. (Photo by Gay Riseborough)

On December 12, there will be a literary salon, with several Evanston authors signing and selling their recent books directly to the public. Among them will be Jevoid Simmons and Betsy Bird, with others lined up by ABH. Independent booksellers will be represented as well.

On Saturday, December 11, Evanston Dance Ensemble 2 (ede2), the junior ensemble of seventh and eighth graders, will perform two pieces from Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite” at 3 p.m., followed by a 30-minute movement workshop for movers of all ages.

A “Visit with Santa” booth will arrive soon, coordinated by photographer Yancey Hughes and open on weekends, and there will be live music on Saturdays, scheduled to coordinate with Small Business Saturdays.

Evanston Made is also sharing the space, at no charge, with partners, donors and volunteer friends. Council member Clare Kelly will use the second floor for her “Coffee with Clare” First Ward meeting, December 6. On December 16, “Kids Create Change,“ the new nonprofit, will hold a fundraiser, “Light Up the Night” there, 7 to 10 p.m. The Evanston Chamber of Commerce will give its annual Women’s Luncheon there, and there are sure to be more such special events.

Shopping days and hours at the pop-up are Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays till December 19. Most artists are interested in accepting commissions if you don’t see exactly what you want.

Holiday parking is free in the city’s nearby Maple Street Garage on weekdays between 5 p.m. and midnight and all day on Saturdays, beginning Thursday, November 26 through Saturday, January 2.

And, after the first of the year, when all the art goes home, GW Properties, the owner of the building, says a recreation or entertainment facility will move in. Maybe even a climbing wall!

Evanston Art Center Winter Expo

Winter Expo at the Evanston Art Center. (Photo by Gay Riseborough)

At the Evanston Arts Center, 1717 Central Street, the 19th annual Winter Expo of arts and crafts opened with a tickets-only preview party on November 19 and to the public the next day. It is a large, multimedia market, on the first floor of the building. Bright sunlight spilled in upon the many laden tables the afternoon I was there.

This is, and always has been, a juried show. Emma Rose Gudewicz, the Manager of Development at the art center said there were four jurors this year. They looked for work of high quality, work that would sell well, and that they found personally appealing. The jury always tries to control the number of artists in a certain genre – not too many ceramists, not too many jewelry makers, etc.

Emma Rose Gudewicz at the Evanston Art Center. (Photo by Gay Riseborough)

Here you will find handmade clothes, pillows (some beaded), jewelry, glass ornaments and vases, small paintings, handmade hats, stoles and scarves, small leather goods, turned wooden bowls, handpainted notecards, Ted Glascoe calendars (views of Lake Michigan), handbound journals, all kinds of tableware, small sculpture, glass chessboards and sets, hand-poured candles, carved pens, handmade furniture, tiny boxes and unusual bird houses.

The Art Center’s Winter Expo was called the Holiday Market for years. I don’t know the reason for the name change. The minimum number of artists shown at the expo is usually about 140 – this year it has 157. Renay Mandell, a jewelry artist exhibiting, said she’s been there 12 years now and “knows” she will get in each year. “I have a following,” she admitted, “so I always do very well here.”

St. Nick’s Fest Craft Fair

On Saturday and Sunday, December 4 and 5, over 50 craftspeople display and offer original gift items to holiday shoppers at St. Nicholas Catholic Church. Offerings range from jewelry to pottery, note cards to tree ornaments, wooden turned bowls and pens to much more. This is an annual event. Hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. At Pope John XXIII School Cafeteria and Oldershaw Hall, 1108 & 1120 Washington Street.

Gay Riseborough

Gay Riseborough is an artist, has served the City of Evanston for 11 years on arts committees, and is now an arts writer at the Evanston RoundTable.