By Mia Summerson
A fashion show featuring dresses made from unusual items like gift wrapping and plastic grocery bags, will be one of the highlights of the Holiday Happenings from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center, at 1201 Pine Ave., in Niagara Falls.
The event is free and open to the public.
“A big portion of why we do this is for the community,” said NACC Executive Director Kathie Kudela, who added that there are events planned for all ages.
Children can get their photos taken with Santa Claus and participate in craft making, she said, while adults can enjoy the open artist studios, galleries and basket raffles.
“It’s a positive thing for the community,” Kudela added. “People can go in and see artists working. It’s a nice time to come in and see what artists do.”
The children’s crafts will take place from 3 to 5 p.m., and the artists’ studios will also be open at that time, with much of their work available for purchase. Live music will fill the hallways from 3 to 6 p.m.
The event will also include two gallery openings from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Thirty artists will be featured in the Main Gallery and their work will be judged by a Buffalo art gallery owner, said Kelly Buckley, program coordinator at the NACC.
The judge will be Marcus Wise Wise, curator and owner of 464 Gallery in Buffalo. Another gallery opening will take place in the Garden Gallery and feature the work of Richard Christian, an artist who is said to draw his inspiration from myths and other stories.
New to the event this year is a “Wearable Art Fashion Showcase”, featuring the work of Mary Grace Ohrum. “This will be the first time we’re including it,” Buckley said. “We’re incredibly excited about it. We’re really hoping it’s not only successful this year but that it becomes a regular part of Holiday Happenings.”
Ohrum makes functional garments from everyday items that one might not ever think of using to make a fashion statement, such as coffee filters, trash bags and recycled plastic.
Recently, after a photo shoot of some of her work at the Niagara Falls Aquarium, Ohrum said she has been taking inspiration from marine life.
“I love aquatic stuff and I love the ocean,” she said. “So I’ve been trying to use a lot of iridescent and metallic qualities. I also like how, since this was inspired by the aquarium, using the recycled plastic helps to raise awareness.”
Ohrum’s wearable art will also be available for purchase at the event. There will be a stage showcase to display approximately 15 dresses that she has made, and models will also be walking around throughout the event so people can get a close-up look at the dresses.
Although the event is meant to inspire holiday cheer, there is a more somber aspect to the festivities. Linda Rafferty, who has portrayed the role of Mrs. Claus for the past few years, passed away on Sunday, Dec. 1.
“She was so full of life,” said Buckley. “When she was around it was all laughing and fun, and she was a big part of this. She added so much and really related to the kids, she fit the role perfectly and looked forward to it each year.”
Continuing the tradition of having Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Holiday Happenings event is being viewed as a way to honor Rafferty’s memory.
For more information on the Holiday Happenings event and the participating artists, visit www.thenacc.org.