From its original cooperative gallery to the first Boardwalk Craft Market in 1993 to the present day, the Poway Arts & Crafts Guild (PACG) promoted the vast variety of local creativity. The community has enthusiastically welcomed the market from the beginning, prompting its expansion from four months a year to year-round by popular demand. Guild members and guest artists alike are excited to share their work with the community, making Saturdays in Old Poway Park a time for both education and entertainment. PACG artists celebrate the connections between modern crafts and our community’s rich heritage. We spoke with PACG President Dennis Caldwell and Boardwalk Market Committee Chair Valerie Bailey to learn more.
Q&A with Dennis Caldwell and Valerie Bailey
What is the history behind the Poway Arts & Crafts Guild? How has it evolved over the years?
Valerie: The Poway Arts & Crafts Guild was founded in 1986 “to promote the awareness of quality traditional crafts and craftsmanship in the local community and to encourage, inform, and inspire both the beginning and the established craftsperson by providing a form for exchanging ideas and concerns” (From the mission statement of PACG).
In 1986, PACG established a cooperative gallery for local crafts artists in what is now the Old Poway Village on Midland Rd. The founding members of the Guild had previously been involved in a cooperative gallery in San Diego and brought that experience to this new venture. After several years, it was decided to redirect efforts to a series of monthly outdoor craft fairs for guild members and guest artists. These fairs took place at various locations in the Old Poway area.
When the City of Poway acquired the property that is now Old Poway Park, PACG moved these shows into the park at the corner of Midland and Aubrey on the site where the train barn was later built. The fairs relocated several times within Old Poway Park as construction of park facilities progressed.
As the City of Poway finalized the general concepts of an educational heritage theme for Old Poway Park, plans were made to provide for a weekly Saturday morning farmers market adjacent to the park. It was decided that the farmers market would sell only food and plant-based items. As plans for the farmers market were implemented, the Poway Arts & Crafts Guild began to work with the City to organize a similar event for craft artists. The concept of the farmers market was “meet the growers” and of the Craft Market was “meet the artists.”
“The Boardwalk Craft Market is a vivid illustration that the past is not a series of dead historical events, but is connected to us by an unbroken chain of real people.”
In the fall of 1993, the first Boardwalk Craft Market took place on the south boardwalk of Old Poway Park, on Saturday mornings across the railroad tracks from the farmers market, for four months: September to Christmas. The Craft Market was enthusiastically welcomed by the community and returned the next year. After five years, by public request, it expanded to year-round: on the first Saturday of the month from February through August and every Saturday from Labor Day Weekend to Christmas. A few years later, again by public request, additional markets were added on the third Saturday of June, July, and August.
What is the Boardwalk Craft Market? What can visitors find there?
Valerie: The Boardwalk Craft Market was conceived as a community service rather than a commercial event. It enables the public to meet with the actual craft artists in a stress-free, non-commercial, educational environment. Just as the farmers market has a process of certification to ensure the quality of the food items sold by participant growers, so the Craft Market has a jurying process to ensure the quality of goods produced by participant craft artists. All work is juried on craftsmanship and appropriateness to the historical character of Old Poway Park. As “contemporary craft artists working in traditional crafts,” participants are not restricted to making historical reproductions. Through crafts made today, for use in today’s world, they show a direct connection to the home crafts and trade crafts of past times. The Boardwalk Craft Market is a vivid illustration that the past is not a series of dead historical events, but is connected to us by an unbroken chain of real people.
Since 1993, the Boardwalk Craft Market has presented a wide variety of traditional crafts. Examples include: weaving, spinning, quilting, knitting, crochet, tatting, lace making, metal smithing, glass blowing, beading and jewelry making, basketry, woodworking, woodcarving, furniture making, decorative painting, candle making, soap making, pottery, ceramics, copper enameling, and stained and leaded glass.
How did you get involved with PACG, and what is your current role?
Dennis – President: I was woodworking as a hobby when I joined the Boardwalk Craft Market as a guest artist in 2006. I became a member of the guild in 2007 and president in 2009. My current role is to conduct our meetings once per month and help coordinate the activities of the Guild.
Valerie – Board Market committee chair and founding member: I have been a professional jeweler and silversmith for over 50 years. I have sold my work in shops, galleries, and craft fairs throughout Southern California. This includes 21 years of living history with the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in the Los Angeles/Inland Empire area portraying a 16th Century jeweler and demonstrating metal smithing and jewelry making. My jewelry is in private collections throughout the country, including those of many Hollywood personalities.
I have been a Poway resident since 1971. I live in Old Poway very near Old Poway Park, and through the Poway Arts and Crafts Guild and the Boardwalk Craft Market, I spend a lot of time participating in park events. So Old Poway Park would be my favorite spot in Poway.
Lorraine Gilbert – Secretary: I became involved with PACG after my husband encouraged me to jury into the Boardwalk Craft Market. After participating in several shows, I was nominated to become a guild member in 1995. I became secretary in 1996.
Rick Salazar – Vice President: I am the vice president of the PACG. I am also a landscape photographer. After visiting the market one Saturday, I applied and was juried in. I enjoy meeting the people who come to the market and also seeing the art and crafts of the other people.
At A Glance | Poway Arts and Crafts Guild
Names: Dennis Caldwell and Valerie Bailey
Professions: Woodworker and Silversmith
Hobbies & Interests: Woodworking, silversmithing, reading, Flower Club
Favorite Spot in Poway: Old Poway Park
What are some of the most rewarding and challenging parts about your work with PACG?
Dennis: Most rewarding is the teachers’ appreciation of our donations each year and talking with the people who come by to admire the crafted items. The most challenging is setting up and tearing down at each show.
How does PACG stay connected to the community?
Dennis: We attend all meetings of the Old Poway Park Action Committee and participate closely with the City on events at Old Poway Park.
When and where is it held? Is it held year-round?
Valerie: The Boardwalk Craft Market is held rain or shine on the south boardwalk of Old Poway Park. The boardwalk surrounds the Hamburger Factory restaurant and the Historical Society’s museum. Dates are the first Saturday of the month from February through May, first and third Saturday June through August, and every Saturday from Labor Day Weekend to the Saturday before Christmas.
How many artists take part in the market? How many members does PACG have?
Dennis: We have between 12 and 20 artists at each show, and we have about 20 members of the guild.
Valerie: 2017 is the 25th season of the Boardwalk Craft Market in Old Poway Park. There are approximately 25 artists showing their work this season. Each artist chooses the dates they want to participate, so the number of artists varies at each show. There is room for approximately 16 to 18 artists, depending on the space required by each artist and whether or not they are demonstrating.
This year’s artists are working in: soap making, glass blowing, sewing, knitting and crochet, quilting, silversmithing, jewelry making, beading, decorative painting, photography, woodworking, pottery and ceramics, and hand spinning and weaving.
How can local artists become involved with PACG or the Boardwalk Craft Market?
Valerie: Those who wish to participate should keep in mind that the Boardwalk Craft Market is not just a place to sell things. Applicants are juried on their entire body of work, which must show a comprehensive understanding of their craft. By definition, craft means made by hand. Priority is given to crafts not currently being shown on the boardwalk and some areas, such as jewelry, beading, and the fiber arts, have a waiting list. Applications require photographs and information on how the applicant learned their craft, how long they have been working, and how their work relates to the historical aspect of Old Poway Park. Information on participation may be found at the Craft Market or by calling 858-486-3497.
Can you tell us about PACG’s grant program? Who is eligible, and how can they apply?
Dennis: We donate to any high school or middle school in the Poway school district. We only send invitations to the art departments of the schools because we want to help encourage young people to participate in local arts and crafts. We try to make it easier for the teachers.
Who have been some of the grantees in previous years?
Most of the high schools at one time or another and lately we are hearing more from the middle schools. We have donated an average of $600 per year over the last 14 years.