December 6th, 2022

A new holiday tradition is forged with the first annual Metal Arts Gift Show

A hand crafted metal belt with a stamped eagle.
Hand crafted gifts of all kinds will be found at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center on December 10th. Photo by Creative Cactus.

American musician and “party guy” Andrew W.K. once offered this advice on Twitter: “If you can’t find the party, BE the party.”

McMinnville artist and silversmith Maggie Bowman, reflecting on the years of Covid isolation, is putting that idea into action. She reached out to the area’s blacksmiths, coppersmiths, jewelers, knife-makers and other metalworkers, and on Saturday, Dec. 10, the party is at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

“I miss my people,” said Bowman, a retired teacher. “My people over the years have been crazy people who light things on fire and hit them with big hammers.”

The good news:  You’re invited to this party.

The debut Metal Arts Gift Show & Exhibition 2022 will feature more than 30 local artists, many of whom will give demonstrations of how they work their alchemy. The Heritage Center, a sprawling, 40,000-square-foot facility that showcases agricultural history, includes a working forge. This weekend, it’ll be working. 

A woman standing at a workbench shows a piece of jewelry to a man and woman.
Bowman talks about her process in her workshop during this year’s Art Harvest Studio Tour. Photo by Creative Cactus.

Bowman said she invited ten jewelers who will have work available for sale, and twenty more artists who work in a variety of metalsmithing disciplines and traditions, some using ancient methods to create knives, armor, gemstones, jewelry and masks, along with signs, yard art, and much more.

“I didn’t want it to just be a jewelry palooza, you know?” she said. “I want families there. I want guys there. I want middle schoolers there. This isn’t a typical craft fair.”

To get an idea of the amazing work that will be on display, check out Courtney Terry’s interview with Bowman and local artist Ugo Serrano on the latest Arts Alive Yamhill County program produced by the Arts Alliance of Yamhill County at McMinnville Community Media. Dominating the table they’re seated at is a formidable helmet that looks like it belongs in Beowulf or Game of Thrones

Bowman promises an exciting, family-friendly affair that, come to think of it, offers one more way to shop local for Christmas. Food carts will be available, and there will be live music by the Grateful Dead-inspired The Dead Band from 5-7 p.m. 

“This will go all day,” Bowman said. “My vendors are going to be exhausted, but it’s gonna be a fun day.” 

The Yamhill County Heritage Center is ADA accessible and  is located at 11275 SW Durham Lane just south of McMinnville along Highway 18. Cost is $5 or a donation of five cans of food for YCAP. For more information, call 503-472-2842. 

About the author: David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.