Shop Local: Bazaart Holiday Art Market Opens Friday at AVAM

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Bazaart Vendor, Jennifer Strunge aka Cotton Monster. Image via Cotton Monster

The crafters are coming! On Nov. 24 and 25, the American Visionary Art Museum in the Inner Harbor will once again host its Bazaart Holiday Art Market, an annual holiday craft sale featuring artisans from Baltimore and the surrounding region. Fifty artists and crafters will set up shop in the Jim Rouse Visionary Center, located next to the main museum building, to sell their handmade jewelry, ceramics, sculpture and other interesting gifts that defy categorization. Unlike other craft fairs around the holidays, Bazaart stands out as a juried celebration of all things weird and handmade. The fair is a perfect place to find unique Baltimore-made gifts for the holidays.

Baltimore fiber artist Jennifer Strunge has been creating her line of soft-sculpture monsters and animals for more than a decade. Cotton Monsters are made from recycled clothing and linens that Strunge cleans and keeps organized in colorful piles in her Arcadia studio.

New, one-of-a-kind creatures are born daily from the rainbow of scraps on her shelves, all without the use of a sewing pattern. They are then stuffed, sewn closed and named by Strunge, who grows attached to each of them as she works solo in her studio.

While she mostly sells her work online, Strunge says it’s worth the extra work to set up at a select few craft fairs each year — including at Bazaart — to connect in-person with customers.

“There is nothing more rewarding than seeing kids’ faces light up when faced with a mountain of monsters, or seeing adults turn into children,” Strunge said. “And it’s really special to witness first-hand who is adopting my creations.”

Bazaart has expanded hours this year, and will be free and open to the public Friday, Nov. 24, from 12 to 6 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. While the craft market itself is housed on the third floor, shoppers can enter the entire building for free and enjoy the kinetic sculptures and other works on the first and second floors at no cost.

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