The 37th annual Christmas Fantasy Arts & Crafts Fair returns to the Roswell Convention & Civic Center
By Christina Stock
The 37th annual Christmas Fantasy Arts & Crafts Fair returns to the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St., on Dec. 13 and 14. Doors open on Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event includes a silent auction, which will benefit the Roswell Refuge. This year, there will be booths with artistic sculptures, authentic Native American jewelry, salt scrubs, paper crafts, beads, silverware jewelry, pottery, clothing and holiday art at the event, and of course, Whitfield Farms will have a booth with gourmet candy, including the iconic Roswell Fours — a chocolate-pecan-caramel treat with a long history in town.
New this year is local artist Roxanna Duran, who comes from a long line of talented people. Born in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, she has called Roswell home for several decades. “We come from a blended family, my husband and I — we have four children, 14 grandchildren and six great-grandkids. We’ve been together 32 years, married 22 of that,” she said. Duran explained that her children asked her for handmade items, such as jams and hand-sewn aprons to her wooden craft projects, instead of any store-bought gifts. “It became a tradition. My youngest daughter — the last grandkid I was taking care of — moved to California three years ago, I started going stir-crazy. I had no more babies. My husband started to give me equipment: A scroll saw, jigsaws — all that I need and last year I made the crosses. I did it for each one of the grandkids and they all told me, ‘Grandma you need to start sharing your work.’ So I entered — for the first time — in the Eastern NM State Fair. And to my surprise, I got three first-place ribbons. Now my kids are encouraging me to do this, so I went to see one of the art fairs last year in April with Jane Nevarez. And I got to talking with her and she told me about this Christmas one. So this is going to be my first showing. I have never done any of this, this is my first time of seeing how everybody likes what I’ve done. It is exciting, but scary. We’ll find out,” Duran said.
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Walking through her home, her walls are decorated with family heirlooms such as her grandfather’s shadowbox and wooden crosses in any shape or form. Duran prides herself that not one cross is the same and every item is made from scratch, working with the nature of wood, its unique material being an inspiration for her. “I buy sheets of wood, big pine or cedar. I bring it home and I lay out my drawings on it, then my husband cuts the big sheet and from there I take it. I cut out everything by hand and go through the process of planning it out in my head, visualize it and then just go from there. I do all different types, some with silver. I do woodburning also, I go into different things — whatever talks to me at that time, even mirrors, clocks. I do other shapes. Crosses are my specialty. That’s what I enjoy doing most. I do other things for nurseries,” Duran said.
Because of Thanksgiving, artist Tawnya Buchanan asked to be interviewed via email. She writes about her background, “I was born on Christmas day into an artistic family. My family always encouraged me to try different mediums and art forms, and I did. I’ve dabbled in almost everything. The only other thing I ever wanted to be was an archaeologist and they even supported that. I started Only Child Creations — and yes, I am an only child — back in the mid-1990s and was working almost exclusively with polymer clay and renaissance festivals at the time. I did that for about 10 years when the day arrived that my studio became a nursery. With my children now grown I have resurrected my art business and am back to doing shows again alongside my amazing husband.
“I mostly like to work throughout the night. I prefer the stillness that night has, it’s an almost meditating quality that the hectic rush of the daytime can’t compete with. I can focus better and immerse myself in whatever I am doing without interruption or distractions,” Buchanan said.
One of her special projects is miniature top hats. Asked if they are Steampunk-inspired, she wrote, “Yes. They are most definitely Steampunk-inspired, and I love the genre. It was an almost natural evolution for me, personally, transitioning into Steampunk from working the Renaissance festivals and the fact that I have always had an obsession with the turn-of-the-century and Victorian times. The fashion, architecture, pastimes — all of it. I could really go on forever about how much I love that era.”
Asked what she is looking forward to most, Buchanan wrote, “Interacting with the crowd. I feel like I’m doing something right when a person’s eyes light up while they are looking around. My husband and I love talking with everyone that comes through our booth at shows. We’ve had some amazing conversations with so many people. And, of course, selling tons of my work.”
Another couple joining Christmas Fantasy are Nancy Harbick and David Wozny. In an email, Harbick wrote about their background. While the couple met in Washington in 2016, Wozny was offered an apprenticeship in New Mexico to learn wood and stone sculpture. Harbick followed him to New Mexico after a few months of being apart. In 2019, the couple were married. Harbick wrote that both artists enjoy collaborating with each other on different artistic endeavors. This show marks the start of their professional artisan career. They worked together to design and build their very first vendor display booth, which includes hand-milled lumber cut from heritage logs harvested off of the family ranch. Wozny will have wood and stone sculptures available and Harbick will be offering natural personal care products and personal adornments for sale.
In her biography, it says about Harbick, “Harbick comes to us from the great state of Oregon. She, however, now hails from the small village of Capitan. She was a craftswoman from an early age; it began with mud pie creations and handmade Barbie clothes. Her professional training kicked into gear with 4-H at the age of 10 when she started sewing, cooking and crafting up a storm. Her craft wares are varied and usually inspired by an event, friends and family, or personal necessity.”
In Wozny’s biography, it says that he was influenced by traveling the country early in his life. At the age of 10, he met an up-and-coming fine artist from Washington state named Jim Mauriten in Ruidoso. His influence brought him to work with natural materials and wood. In 2017, he returned for a two-year apprenticeship with Mauritsen at his studio. “Wozny has worked with many different mediums in past artistic endeavors,” it reads in his biography. “He is also experienced with wool fiber felting, wire sculpture and basket weaving. He is currently most passionate about wood and stone sculpture.” Harbick wrote, “Dave is excited to bring his most recent creations of wood and stone to the Roswell Christmas Fantasy show.”
Jane Nevarez and her husband Paul Nevarez have been the organizers of the event for seven years. Artists in their own right, their creations are made from used cowboy ropes, horseshoes and new this year, from horseshoe nails. Out of these iconic materials, the couple creates clocks, crosses, mirrors, frames, lamps and rope baskets. Their art is branded under Jus Rop’n Kreations. The couple has been showing and selling at various arts and craft shows and cowboy symposiums.
When asked why they chose this year the Roswell Refuge to benefit from their fundraising silent auction, Paul Nevarez said, “There is a story behind that, why we chose them. We had a friend — her and her husband were neighbors. He was a drunk, an alcoholic, but we didn’t know that at first. We helped him out, being new to the neighborhood and Roswell. We took him out and showed him the town. This guy, he got where he was beating on his wife. Three different times and every time it happened, she’d come over to the house for help. He would always get arrested, spend time in jail and get out. So he straightened out for a little while until it happened again.”
Jane Nevarez said that she was appalled how severe the woman got hurt. For her protection, the hospital staff didn’t permit anybody visiting her, but Paul said, after explaining the circumstances, that the woman had no family, other than the abusive husband and his handicapped father — the couple was able to take her to their home. “You are going to the shelter (Roswell Refuge,” Jane Nevarez said to her. Together with the sheriff, they picked up some vital items and brought her to the refuge. “That’s why we chose the Roswell Refuge,” Paul Nevarez said. “We don’t mind helping, because they do a lot.”
Jane Nevarez said that the woman now lives out-of-state, but they still stay in contact.
After contacting the Roswell Refuge, its intervention services supervisor Lauren M. Neumann emailed her and her staff’s reaction, “We are so very excited that Mrs. Nevarez and her husband chose us for this event, we are so very thankful that our community is supporting the Roswell Refuge as we are a nonprofit and depend on many donations to continue to help our clients.
“Last year, we helped over 350 clients with our services, the Roswell Refuge for Battered Adults offers a 24/7 shelter for men, women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Our administration office has a court advocate who assists victims of domestic violence with domestic violence restraining orders. We also offer the domestic violence offender treatment program, which is our offender program, the domestic violence offender treatment. The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program ran by Kim Hansen is housed here as well,“ Neumann wrote.
Another important nonprofit organization will have a booth at the fair as well. Walk for Hope, which is the largest annual fundraiser for the Chaves County Cancer Fund. In an email, volunteer and spokesperson for Walk for Hope, Brittnye Lamb shared in an email on Nov. 27, why the organization is going to be at the fair. “Over the last 10 years, Walk for Hope has raised over $500,000 — all of which Chaves County Cancer Fund has pumped back in to the community, as we are all non-paid volunteers for both the Cancer Fund and Walk for Hope. This year, the city finance committee has denied our request to waive fees and Walk for Hope will be liable for up to $5,000 just to put on Walk for Hope at Cielo Grande May 8, 2020. (The details of the staff recommendation for the organization to attain sponsorships to cover rental costs and the passing of the motion on Dec. 3 is posted on the city’s website at roswell-nm.gov/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Agenda/_12032019-1681) Therefore, we are looking for any way we can to fundraise to cover those fees so we don’t have to take away from the Cancer Fund. Jane has been very generous in offering us a booth at the Christmas Fantasy so we will be there selling some items we have, some crafts, handmade blankets, jewelry, pink items, etc. We are accepting sponsorships now and anyone interested in helping can email us at email@example.com or find us on Facebook at Walk for Hope Chaves County,” Lamb wrote.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 575-208-2864.