Melanie Harvey’s basement studio is about to be overtaken by new work. Harvey, a potter, is crafting two loads of fresh art to sell at the Ladies of Lawrence Artwork (LOLA) Valentine’s Day show.
The art sale — which takes place from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 11 and 12 at Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, 804 Massachusetts St. — is one of Harvey’s most treasured events. Specializing in ceramic arts, Harvey crafts handmade functional pieces, such as cups, plates, and bowls, enhancing them with hand-drawn decals.
Eight years ago, when Harvey started making art, she examined local shows to find one that “fit the vibe of her work.” She discovered LOLA and has been a devoted vendor ever since.
“It’s been a favorite of mine because it’s artist-organized, it’s grassroots and it’s a really supportive and creative place,” Harvey said. “There’s this supportive energy to the whole thing that I experience in small ways at other events, but not in the way I do at LOLA.”
In addition to the positive energy pervading LOLA’s events, some of the most talented artists in Lawrence participate, Harvey said.
This year, 35 vendors will sell wares at the LOLA Valentine’s Day show — so many that the event is being spread out over two days, said Jessica Robie Mitchell, LOLA’s event coordinator.
From flower arrangements to homemade herbal teas and tinctures, and handcrafted jewelry to functional ceramics, an array of art will be for sale, Mitchell said.
“It’s going to be really fun,” Mitchell said. “The (artists are) students, mothers, they work full-time jobs, they have careers outside of just doing their art. It’s a very wide range of women represented. And the quality of everything is really, really good.”
Chloe Sheridan, who has been an artist for 15 years, said she loves to feature her work at LOLA.
“I’m mainly known for my edible art but I have recently shifted in working with other mediums and will have home decor offerings,” Sheridan said. “I’ve made resin plaques with pictures from vintage magazines made to hang, heart-shaped mirrors and picture frames, with spackling made to look like cake. I’ve also made some fun valentine cards to throw in the mix.”
The show will be the first of many community events for Sunflower, said Sharyn Harley, the shop’s hospitality manager.
“Sunflower is in the midst of an evolution,” Harley said. “First and foremost we’re a bike shop and an outdoor shop, but we’ve added an event space. Our main point is to just be in the community and always promote things that are beyond screens.”
LOLA will be held on the second floor of the bike shop, and people can purchase coffee and cocktails as they explore the art.
“They can come and hang out and experience the space,” Harley said. “There is a ton of community connection that happens (at LOLA). There’s always a lot of hugs and chatting, and we really do have that extra space to offer.”
Some vendors, like Harvey, are looking forward to being consumers at the event as well.
“All of my favorite earrings and art I have in my house have been purchased at LOLA events,” Harvey said.
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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.