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Meet your makers

The "every-so-often" Grandma Party Bazaar showcases Orlando's tight-knit community of artists

Photo: Patricia Lois Nuss, License: N/A

Patricia Lois Nuss

Grandma Party

10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18 Stardust Video & Coffee
1842 E. Winter Park Road

Most holiday craft fairs position themselves as an antidote to the same old mall shopping experience. The Grandma Party Bazaar, on the other hand, is an antidote to the same old holiday craft-fair shopping experience. Like most cities, Orlando has been bitten by the indie-craft bug, and like most cities it’s currently rife with markets offering handmade goods, but from the beginning Grandma Party has offered something different.

Now in her ninth edition at Stardust Video & Coffee, Granny continues to be an explosion of anarchic creativity clothed in the sensible shoes and cardigan of a sedate market for tea cozies and afghans. Nothing against tea cozies or afghans – you might find either of those things at Grandma Party – but along with the usual knitted items, in past years the fair has sold intangible goods and experiences including custom songs about you written and recorded on the spot, a kissing booth and a wish-granting, glitter-tossing pair of pixies. This year you might see a “bedroom confessional” offering free relationship advice or a stall selling snowballs (the snowball-fight kind, not the kind you eat). Grandma Party doesn’t just sell art; in a way, it is art.

The first clue to that is the slogan: “Grandma Party is you and me and all of us making it happen.” Ring a Miranda July-tuned bell for you? While the slogan’s not an intentional echo, Grandma Party shares not only an aesthetic sensibility with July’s first feature film, Me and You and Everyone We Know – a faintly self-conscious twee-ativity – but many of July’s strengths as well: an ability to see art in the mundane, a tireless and ingenious maker’s spirit, an iron-clad work ethic.

“This is the ninth Grandma Party, but we don’t say ‘annual,’” organizer Christina Rapson says. “They used to do it twice a year, so we just call it ‘every so often.’”

The first was put together by former Orlando resident J.T. Almon, member of the locally legendary Band of the Name and major player in the mid-2000s Funbalaya band/dance/art collective. Six years ago in an Orlando Weekly story (“Love your neighbors,” Dec. 1, 2005), Almon talked up the kickoff party for his new Grandma Party record label: “a bazaar with 25 vendors selling crafts, topiaries and music.” The bazaar concept bested the label idea, and Grandma Party outlasted Almon’s tenure in Orlando. Before leaving, he handed things off to his friend Casey Szot; she organized Grandma Party for three years before moving away herself and passing things along to Rapson and her partner in the last few Grandma Parties, Ashley Belanger.

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