Hundreds of people filled the huge, multi-levelled basement of Eastminster United Church on Danforth Avenue on Saturday to buy arts and crafts — and enjoy some other holiday treats.
They were there for the 10th annual presentation of the arts and crafts sale by the Toronto East Rotary Club. Nearly 50 artisans displayed their work.
But they were also helping people in desperate situations. Proceeds raised by the event go to community projects, including the Out of the Cold Program at Eastminster which provides shelter, meals and beds for those who would otherwise be sleeping outdoors and going hungry.
The artisans themselves seemed to appreciate the event as well.
Watercolour artist Ron Harris said that apart from exhibiting in locals shops he comes to only two shows a year, this one and the October art show at St. Barnabas on the Danforth. He’s been coming to the Eastminster event for five or six years.
Harris’s work is mainly of landscapes, despite his home being in an urban environment, which has presented challenges, he notes. He doesn’t like skyscrapers and city traffic as subjects for his art.
“About a year ago someone asked me ‘Where do you live?’ I said I live in downtown Toronto and they said, ‘But there’s nothing to paint in downtown Toronto.'”
This prompted him to look for more natural settings within the city. Cabbagetown is one local area where he’s found subjects that interest him.
Rick Gomes was attending his first arts and crafts sale at Eastminster, although each year he takes his novel birdhouse designs to about a dozen other shows around the city . It’s a hobby that helps to bring in a few extra dollars to help him with the full-time care of a sick parent.
“It’s not a huge money maker for me, but it keeps me out of trouble,” he jokes.
He creates the variety of birdhouses, feeders and baths out of found materials. “I repurpose everything,” he says. “I go to secondhand stores, garage sales and dumpster diving, and I take pieces and create a house out of it.”
He was selling birdhouses at the show for $25 to $45 each, about half the price retailers charge when they sell his work. (See more on his Facebook page.)
The event was very successful for him, he said. “And great fun.”