At most museums and galleries, the art on the wall is meant to be seen, and not touched. In many instances, there are even placards reminding patrons that, if they choose to reach out and experience the works in a dimension other than a visual one, they will be reprimanded and possibly evicted from the premises.
This weekend, art lovers will not only be allowed to handle the pieces on display, but also try them on and take them home as part of “MoNA Style,” a one-day-only fundraiser happening Sat., March 16 at La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art. The 29th annual event, which features the works of more than 40 artists from around the region, highlights everything from hand-crafted scarves to hats, purses, jewelry and more. A variety of home furnishings will also be available for perusal and purchase—and yes, you can put your hands on those, too.
MoNA’s store manager, Jacque Chase, has been part of putting together the event before, and says she typically sees a lot of return customers—mostly women who are looking for unique items for themselves or to give as gifts.
“The people who come love the event and look forward to it every year,” she says. “They bring friends, dress up and come in laughing ready to enjoy themselves. Their enjoyment comes from the quality and diversity of the artists’ work. A common comment is, ‘We look forward to this every year, and have so much fun.’”
In addition to viewing the wearable wares throughout the day at MoNA, Chase says those who plan on attending should know there will be informal fashion shows happening from 11:30am-1:30pm at nearby eateries, including the La Conner Brewing Company, Nell Thorn Restaurant & Pub, the La Conner Seafood & Prime Rib House, and Seeds Bistro & Bar. Not only does this give patrons a chance to see the pretty pieces in action, but also gives them the option of making the event a daylong affair. (If this idea appeals to you, you’ll probably want to make reservations at your favorite dining establishment).
And, because many items are one-of-a-kind and may draw the attention of a number of different shoppers, it might behoove you to get a preemptory look at what to expect. Most of the pieces are currently highlighted on MoNA’s website, and short bios of all the artists help shed light on their various talents. Whether you’re interested in Lori Bellamy’s metal earrings and necklaces, Ulrieke Benner’s elegant scarves, Nancy Dean’s bird-bedecked hats, Angela Ehrig’s reclaimed cashmere sweaters, Dorothy Skea’s silk and lace jackets, Dale Reiger’s glass works, or Katherine Lewis’ willow purses and baskets, you’ll get a leg up on the competition simply by spending a few minutes browsing online.
While you’re busy mentally dressing yourself in your handcrafted finery, take a moment to remember that “MoNA Style” is also a fundraiser that assists the museum’s mission to “collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret art by Northwest artists.” Participating creative types are given a portion of the proceeds, but the rest goes to insure that MoNA continues doing what it does best.
For Chase, the highlight of the show is seeing the quality and diversity of the pieces that are carefully selected for the exhibit. It’s a challenge to work to find the best mix of regional artists every year, but she says the end result is well worth the hard work.
“It is just a happy day and you can tell the attendees are having such a good time,” she says. “It gives me a sense of satisfaction as we watch the plans come to fruition to make this day successful.”
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