[Alyson Kuhn] Hallmarket is the perfect name for a one-day arts-and-crafts fair showcasing the “non-Hallmark” work of people who work at Hallmark in Kansas City. The first Hallmarket took place in 2010, as part of the company’s centennial celebration. Such a grand time was had by all that it’s become an annual community event. We chatted with Regi Ahrens, who manages Hallmark’s exhibits, earlier this month—right after Hallmarket 2012.
Regi Ahrens shares the thinking behind Hallmarket. “Hallmarket puts the community in touch with the heart of Hallmark. Any employee is welcome to exhibit, and I honestly don’t know what artworks people will be showing until they set up their booths. Many of the exhibitors work in the ‘creative realms’ at Hallmark as artists, illustrators, stylists, photographers—but other exhibitors work in non-creative departments. For example, Parker Nicholson, who works in shipping and receiving, makes beautiful hand-turned bowls. And Mike Schwabauer’s ‘day job’ is senior creative technology specialist, but at Hallmarket he gets to show the photography that is his passion.”
Dick Daniels’ booth. The closest thing to being there is being at FunHouse57, his website.
Regi’s colleague Ron Worley adds, “For a large percentage of the exhibiting artists, the kind of art they do as their job at Hallmark is not their Hallmarket art form. The artists exhibit what they do to creatively recharge, and they have a great time. They get to share their passions with the public they design for.”
Watercolorist John Keeling in his booth. Earlier this year, John won first prize in the watercolor category at the 26th Annual Art Show at the Dog Show.
Flora Chang’s booth. Flora describes Happy Doodle Land as her “playground away from work.”
Lorraine Elmore’s shimmery butterfly medallions and glittery fluted ornament. Toward the end of December, Lorraine will creatively recharge by visiting outdoor Christmas markets in Paris, Bordeaux, and Heidelberg.
We asked a couple of Felt & Wire friends, Ana Reinert and Madeline Tompkins, to show us their acquisitions. We had met them last year when we stopped over in Kansas City after the first Ladies of Letterpress conference. Ana and Madeline are both artists at Hallmark. Ana is also the wife of Bob Atkins of Skylab Letterpress and the inspired blogger at wellappointeddesk.com. Madeline is also the daughter half of Tag Team Tompkins.
Ana Reinert’s new necklace made by Ruth Donikowski, who celebrated her 25-year anniversary with Hallmark in October 2012.
Ana points out, “The colored pencils are new, not vintage. They’re drilled, and they can spin around on the wire. Ruth cut them to show a bit of each color name, like ‘Scarlet.’ You can see the colored cores as well.”
Ana has already expanded her pendant’s wardrobe: “When you bought a necklace, you got to choose four buttons. And I’ve popped the pin backs off a lot of my own old buttons, and they fit in the base too. This is the perfect travel necklace!”
At Skylab Letterpress, Captain Bob Atkins (left) and Co-captain Ben Jones know it’s safe to sport their new bow ties from Refinery in the press room, because they won’t get caught in any moving parts.
Madeline Tompkins (above, in front of the Tag Team Tompkins booth) also took home a couple of tiny treats from Flora Chang: a wooden magnet—which will be in very good company on her refrigerator—and a painted rock. Madeline was able to shop while Diane (her mom) minded the booth.
A total of 112 artists exhibited at Hallmarket this year. Eight of them donated their day’s sales to the memorial garden being created (at the University of Kansas Cancer Center) to honor Kelly Westover, a Hallmark colleague who passed away last year.
Hallmark also encourages the next generation of artists at Kaleidoscope, a community arts-and-crafts space for school children. As you might imagine, supplies are abundant and arty. But that’s only the beginning. Check out Maura Cluthe’s 11-ft. robot.
Photos, except as noted, courtesy of Hallmark or the individual artists.