The annual Holiday Farmers Market held Saturday at the La Plata County Fairgrounds hosted local farmers, ranchers and artists. Some of the vendors stationed at the indoor market are relatively new to the scene and were enjoying the chance to participate.
Dustin Cook with Dustin Cook Design was one of the newer artists set up at the market Saturday. Cook is a Durango local of 11 years and an acrylic painter of 10 years.
This year was Cook’s first to participate in the farmers markets. He attended the weekly farmers markets when there was vendor space to accommodate him and also attended the summertime Sunday art markets, he said.
On Saturday, he could be seen working on his first commissioned piece, an acrylic-on-canvas project. Cook sat at his booth with his art piece propped up on an easel, his previous works displayed behind him and across a table for passersby to inspect.
One large piece featured an Escher-like labyrinthine composition with cubed rectangles coalescing together.
“He’s (M.C. Escher) a huge influence of mine,” Cook said without looking away from his canvas.
He said he’s been drawing his whole life, but about 10 years ago he picked up a paintbrush and hasn’t put it down since.
Participating in the farmers markets has helped Cook get his name out to the public, he said. He sees familiar faces at the markets and there is more interest in his work since he’s become a vendor.
He said that a boost in recognition makes people more likely to support a local artist.
Cook is a freelance graphic designer and is no stranger to the “Durango Tango” – he bartends at J. Bo’s Pizza and Ribs to help pay the bills.
Learn more about Cook’s graphic designs at www.dustincookdesign.com.
Deb Wolf is another artist new to the farmers market and the Durango area. She's from New England, where she has attended plenty of other similar markets as a vendor.
Wolf’s specialty is oil painting and frame-making, she said. She focuses on using repurposed materials for her frames.
She pointed to one piece and said its frame was constructed from repurposed pallet wood.
“I wrap a lot of my frames in aspen bark,” she said.
She mainly paints landscapes and seascapes, mostly conjured up from her imagination.
“I like to play with light and texture and shadow,” she said. “My goal is to make them kind of powerful that way.”
Wolf has carried her passion for art since she was a child, she said. She attended art school and studied art therapy and dabbled in design.
She said it simply made sense to her to merge art and conservation through her practice of using repurposed wood materials for her custom frames.
“I go shopping for frames,” Wolf said. “No. 1, they’re too expensive. No. 2, they all look the same. Black, brown, metal. Boring. It just occurred to me, why not make my own? I love the rustic look of using distressed wood.”
Framing is easy enough, she said. All one needs is a miter saw, miter box and a wood router.
“Be pretty good at measuring,” Wolf said. “Measuring is the key. Now it’s easy, I can make three in a day.”
She said her husband recently bought a snowblower that was delivered on a large wooden pallet. She said when she saw the pallet, she felt jazzed like a kid in a candy store.
The Holiday Farmers Market was just the second market Wolf has participated in, but she loves Durango.
“We (Wolf and her husband, Joe) used to live in Santa Fe when we were in our 20s, so we used to come over to Durango a lot,” she said. “We made the decision to make the big move.”
Wolf’s art is available online at www.dwolfdesigns.net.
Theresa Fagundes is a local artist and quilter who started doing pottery about seven years ago. Her first farmers market was the 2020 Thanksgiving Farmers Market. She said she participated in about three markets over the summer this year.
She works out of her garage, and she said she loves translating the natural beauty of the world into her pottery and quilts.
“My goal is mostly to bring the outside world in,” she said. “You can walk outside and see colors and beauty everywhere, but sometimes I think we forget to work for it. I think my pieces remind people to look for it.”
Fagundes majored in art to start with in college, but her mother suggested she try something such as nursing. So she did – for 13 years. But she made her way back to artistry and that’s her primary gig these days.
“About three years ago, it (pottery) really took off due to some unforeseen circumstances,” she said. “But it’s been kind of incredible watching it happen.”
Explore more of Fagundes’ art at www.fiberandglaze.com.
Nina Heron with Bhakti Moon Botanicals had a station at the Holiday Farmers Market with essential oils and other skin care, body and spa products she developed.
“We try to grow as much as we can and source sustainably, all of our products and ingredients – aromatherapy, botanical-based, product line,” she said. “We make everything all natural and organic here.”
Heron is a clinical aromatherapist and has worked with essential oils for at least 30 years.
“I like to work with spas,” she said. “We create body treatments and services. I’ve worked in the spa industry as a massage therapist. I’ve owned my own spas.”
She said she started creating products of her own and the project took off from there. She said becoming a vendor for her own products was a natural progression and that she enjoys the creative process.
“The gist of what we do is to create spa rituals in your daily life,” Heron said. “To make each little routine act a little bit more sacred in some ways. It’s just an invitation to bring that more into your daily life and into your daily routine. You create more presence and joy and beauty.”
One of the newest vendors to the market this holiday season is Becky Heine and her new business, Southwest Sweets. Cookies and brownies are her focus, but not just any cookies – jumbo cookies.
“I’m just a brand new business and this is my second market now,” she said. “Hoping to kind of get my name out there and get people to try my cookies and stuff.”
Heine started Southwest Sweets around September, she said. She offers a wide array of cookie flavors such as spicy chai snickerdoodles, gingerbread caramel and brown butter oatmeal butterscotch. Her menu also includes vegan options.
So far, her customers appear to be attracted to the more unique flavors, Heine said. The gingerbread caramel was a big seller Saturday at the Holiday Farmers Market. Her gluten-free brownies also fared well and had sold out before 1 p.m.
She said her personal favorite product is her brownies. With her blossoming business, she said she plans to have a website up and running in the near future.
Heine with Southwest Sweets can be contacted at email@example.com and followed at @southwest.sweets on Instagram.