Jan. 20 fund-raiser showcases area creations

An oil painting titled “Choco Brownie” by Susan Forrester-Mackay

If you’re looking for something to do on Jan. 20 after the inauguration of a new president is over, consider being a part of a “fun” fundraiser for the North Shore Arts Alliance.

ChocoL’Art is not a banquet with a big meal. It’s not black-tie with lots of speeches. It is a hands-on art experience using different media at each table. You have to attend to find out more!

There are unusual items for Silent Auction bidding, including a basket with a $100 gift certificate to Tuscany Foods. There’s a handyman basket put together by a local contractor, a frozen gourmet cheesecake as well.

Another part is “Small works – Big Ideas.”

“It’s something that several artist groups have done before. Artists and people with art interests donate small, little works which are sold first-come, first-served for $25. There are people who sell their art work  professionally at much higher prices, so $25 is a bargain,” explained local artist and NSAA member Susan Forrester-Mackay.

Why “ChocoL’Art”?

“Because there will be chocolate specialties created for this event by the chef at Shorewood Country Club, specialty chocolate drinks mixed by the bartender, and favorite chocolate desserts donated by friends of NSAA,” Mackay stated. “When we lost our Arts Council there were a number of artists who felt the need to create an entity that focused on the visual arts. We identified 60 artists in north county, had some meetings, and eventually created the North Shore Arts Alliance in 2009. It is a 501C3.”

The NSAA holds several shows throughout the county during the year. The Octagon Gallery in Westfield, the Sensory Gallery in Ripley and the 3rd on 3rd Gallery in Jamestown have all exhibited NSAA artists.

“Our signature event, what most people associate with NSAA, is the Chautauqua Lake Erie Art Trail. Although in past years it has been over two weekends, this year it will only be during the Memorial Day weekend. Juried artists with studios are open for visitors so they can talk about or demonstrate the processes in developing their work.

Other juried artists can “hub” at various galleries including the Art Loft, Sensory Winery & Gallery and the Portage Hill Gallery. The trail extends through much of the county — from Ripley to Silver Creek and beyond. We pretty much stay in those boundaries of North County,” Mackay explained. “We have over 100 artists and members who support us with their membership and donations. A year ago, the Fredonia Historic Preservation Society permitted NSAA  to inhabit the gatehouse in Fredonia. It is an historic property that had been empty for about a year and a half. We have an artist in residence and we currently use this space to hold meetings and workshops.

“ChocoL’Art will help fund a small artist gallery as a co-op so that North Shore Arts Alliance can become a physical presence in the community. NSAA sees art is an economic driver. Long term we’re looking to create an art center. This is an ultimate goal — to really have an arts incubator and a center for the arts up in the north county. We are taking this step to eventually have art within main street frontage.”

Marcia Merrins is one of the artists involved with North Shore Arts Alliance.

“The arts have value, benefits, and relevance in healthy communities. Building public support for the arts is a challenge at every level. North Shore Arts Alliance is working toward creating a real presence in Chautauqua County. It needs your support. To accomplish all this takes heart and community,” Merrins stated.

And fundraising.

ChocoL’Art is part of that fundraising effort. Admission is $35 and covers chocolate indulgences and materials for the art experience. Reservations close Jan. 15. For tickets and reservations, call Merrins at 672-4275.