© Austin M. Davis
Gus Froese spoke to the Times-Herald during Moostletoe 2013 on Saturday afternoon at his studio on the second floor of the Hammond Building. Behind him is a sketch he did 30 years ago.
Moostletoe gives shoppers a headstart on Christmas
Gus Froese thinks the walls of homes in Moose Jaw might all be filled.
“I heard somebody today saying, ‘I’d buy that painting but I wouldn’t know where to put it,’” Froese told the Times-Herald on Saturday.
Froese — whose works are on the sides of many buildings in Moose Jaw — was one of the artists to open their studios to the public for Moostletoe 2013.
He held no resentment about people not having space to hang his work in their homes.
“I know the feeling, because we live in an apartment,” Froese said. “Once you have a certain number of paintings on the wall, you don’t want to overcrowd it any further.”
At around 5 p.m., just before the tours were supposed to finish, Froese’s studio room on the second floor of the Hammond Building only had Gus and his wife Kathleen in it. But the 83-year-old Froese showed no bitterness about a drop in sales this year.
“It’s more of a social event than anything. Maybe people don’t have buying so much in mind, although Moostletoe means Christmas in October, so you’re doing your Christmas shopping,” Froese said.
He added that people might not have Christmas shopping in mind as they toured through the seven open studios. He was just happy to meet new people and have them look at his drawings and paintings.
“It doesn’t bother me to have them come in here and see where I work. Now you can see what a messy palette I have. It doesn’t matter to me. I can paint with that condition. Maybe you couldn’t,” Froese said with a laugh.
He said in the past, every painting he had would sell. He doesn’t over-think how artists in Moose Jaw could have that level of success in a saturated market.
“For me, all I do is, I go in here and paint. I like that,” Froese said.
The scene was dramatically different at the Yvette Moore Gallery as people wandered through the big space looking at jewelry in glass cases and framed paintings.
Moore said Moostletoe has changed since its beginnings because of community support.
“I think more of the businesses have gotten onboard and taken advantage of the traffic that’s come in for the weekend,” Moore said. “They’ve all taken time to decorate and get ready for the Christmas season.”
She said a group of ladies she spoke to had been coming to the event for five years and make an entire weekend out of it.
When asked what Moostletoe said about the presence of art in Moose Jaw, Moore said the event’s popularity says more about business than art.
“Why it works so well in Moose Jaw is because we have this amazing downtown core that is full of these character buildings, these heritage buildings,” Moore said.
She believes Moostletoe was successful because of a combination of the architecture, the event itself and boutique stores with unique products.
“I think, together, it’s a great package and people find it a great place to come and shop,” Moore said.
Follow Austin M. Davis on Twitter @theaustinx.