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Holiday art fair celebrates 23rd year in Paonia

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Photo submitted Jewelry maker Susie Kaldis Lowe will be among the more than 20 local artists whose works will be featured in the 23rd annual Paonia Holiday Art Fair. The fair is open from 3-8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday at the Blue Sage Center

When Susie Lowe needed a name for her handmade beaded jewelry business, she turned to her grandmother. Lowe is the talent behind Theoni Designs. "Theoni," says Lowe, is her grandmother's name and the Greek word for "divinely gorgeous," which she used for her tagline: "Divinely Gorgeous Jewelry."

Theoni Designs is one of more than 20 booths setting up in the Blue Sage this Friday and Saturday for the 23rd annual Holiday Art Fair. This is the fourth show for Lowe, a graphic designer who also created this year's fair poster, to display her jewelry.

Lowe said she creates her designs using AAA quality semi-precious stones, with the goal of making beautiful things that are also affordable.

Lowe's obsession with beads began in high school. In 2004 she completed her BFA from the internationally accredited Art Center College of Design, where she delved in painting and sculpture. But beading was her passion. She stayed in the Los Angeles area, working as a massage therapist while making jewelry on the side and attending small fairs and trunk shows.

Using natural, cut stones from fiery andalusite to crystal-clear quartz, she marries graceful gold and silver wire and gemstone to create graceful, simple-yet-elegant eye-catching art. "I want women to exude beauty," says Lowe.

Lowe moved to Paonia in 2011 and put all of her energy into her jewelry business. She now works full time out of her studio on Stucker Mesa, where she lives with husband Jimmy. Her first year in the North Fork Valley she created the Renegade Art Show for artists unable to get into the Blue Sage show, and in 2012 was recruited by the Blue Sage to coordinate the fair. Lowe also joined the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition, and in March 2013, became its first executive director, obtaining Creative District certification for the North Fork area from the Colorado Creative Industries.

The Holiday Art Fair is one of her favorite events. "This show is really special," said Lowe. "It's 100 percent local."

Paonia photographer Celia Roberts created the fair. Roberts moved to the area from Boulder in 1992. Boulder offered a similar show the first weekend in December, "And I missed it," said Roberts. In 1993 the first Holiday Art Fair was held in a then-vacant office space on Grand Avenue. About three years later, the show was moved to what is now the Blue Sage Concert Hall.

"We floundered for a little while," said Roberts, and a core group of about 10 artists persisted, eventually obtaining funding to purchase the hall space.

Roberts, known for her striking images of nature and the people and cultures of the U.S. and developing countries, said she's only missed one fair in 23 years. While she won't attend this year's show, her photographs will be on exhibit in the Blue Sage Gallery, and a sale bin will be part of the main show in the concert hall.

This year's show will be one of the biggest yet, said Lowe. In addition to jewelry and photos, artists will feature pottery, original art work and prints, bees wax and honey, hula hoops, mosaics and ornaments, wreaths and center pieces, and many children's items. The North Fork School of Arts and Science will be serving soup and bread.

Lowe also worked with the Paonia Chamber of Commerce on the marketing campaign for the event and a long list of other holiday events happening in Paonia this Friday and Saturday. "It's two solid days of a good time and an opportunity to support small local businesses."

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North Fork
Christmas, Paonia
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