Artist Natalia Shields with one of her creations. SUPPLIED

The Christmas spirit will be online November 19 to December 15, with unique gifts only keystrokes away.

The first Pelham Holiday Artfest will be a virtual celebration of creations by artists and artisans in several media: painting, photography, glass, textiles, ceramics, wood, and more.

“The major purpose of the Holiday Artfest is the same as that of the main May art show—fundraising for the Pelham Library system, to provide scholarships for Pelham students pursuing the Arts in post-secondary education, and to support various community art activities,” said Natalia Shields, an Artfest organizer and participant.

Shields said that in addition to contributing to fundraising efforts, the Holiday Artfest will provide a new venue for showcasing artists’ work, and will be a vehicle to promote the Festival’s sponsors year-round.

“We expect our new shows and professional e-commerce platform, combined with strategic advertising, will increase the Festival’s reach beyond the Golden Horseshoe, to the rest of Canada and beyond.”

The last online Pelham Art Festival in May registered some sales across Canada, and an international sale as a result of the fact that it was virtual, said Shields.

Approximately 35 artists are participating in the Holiday Artfest, including 11 new artists that have never been in the show. Participating artists will be profiled along with their work, and the public will be able to purchase original pieces directly from their creators.

The Artfest will also be connected to Akimbo, a Toronto-based company that promotes contemporary visual art, video, new media and film locally, nationally and internationally.

Retired from teaching in 2009, Shields was heavily involved in her passion of photography in that role.

Everything that I’ve learned through teaching, I’m utilizing now in my creative work

“I taught visual arts at a very high-tech high school in Toronto, so I became familiar with Adobe software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign,” she said. “Everything that I’ve learned through teaching, I’m utilizing now in my creative work.”

She arrived in Pelham in 2014, and has been involved in the local art scene ever since.

“I signed up to volunteer, and now am mainly responsible for festival advertising and promotional materials,” she said.

Shields exhibits annually at the Pelham Art Festival, as well as in exhibitions at the Niagara Pumphouse Gallery and the Women’s Art Association of Canada. In 2020, she participated in the juried virtual Toronto Outdoor Art Fair.

“The show will feature a collection of art pieces called ‘Creative Gems.’ This is a collection of small and affordable pieces that would be ideal for gift-giving,” said Shields. “All will be original art that won’t break the pocket book, and is small enough that most recipients will be able to find a place for it in either their home or workplace. We’ve asked each artist to submit up to three pieces for this collection, and have placed a size limit, so no framed or unframed artwork will be larger than a 50-inch perimeter of any framed or unframed artwork. Each artist will decide what constitutes ‘affordable’ for their own work, although I think it’s safe to say the prices to be in the $75 to $300 price range.”

Artists and artisans continue to support the fundraising efforts of the Pelham Art Festival Committee by donating 15 percent of every artwork sale. Since its inception, the fundraising tally of Pelham art festivals is nearing half a million dollars.

The Holiday Artfest’s website is www.pelhamartfestival.com, and it also has an Instagram presence at https://www.instagram.com/pelhamartfestival