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May 10, 2005 > Art, gardens, gunfighters and auctions

Art, gardens, gunfighters and auctions

by Linda Stone

In the busy little hamlet of Niles, residents has been preparing for their 12th annual Wildflower Art and Garden Show by growing plants to sell to event goers to emphasize its 140-year horticultural heritage and to benefit the community with a cinematic history, quaint charm and railroad town appeal. Niles is former home to Essanay Studios that featured Charlie Chaplin and Broncho Billy among other silent film stars.

This year the name of the show has been changed from Wildflower Art Festival to Wildflower Art and Garden Show. "We are trying to get it more oriented to gardening," said Carol Spindler, co-chair of the free event.

Master gardeners will be on hand for talks and demonstrations on composting and container gardening with Spindler giving a talk on gardening without pesticides.

One of the best-known events at the show is the Open Garden self-guided tour that includes 13 new innovative gardens. Niles is known for its avid gardeners and residents open their backyards throughout the neighborhoods for people to enjoy. "These are gardener's gardens," said Spindler. There will be two drawings for prizes for those who purchase a garden tour ticket. Tickets will be entered in a drawing for a $50 gift certificate good at any participating merchant and another drawing for a $50 gift certificate to be used on the same day with any vendor.

During the show many artisans will be displaying their crafts. The "Artists in Action" event will showcase local artists situated on the sidewalks demonstrating their work. It is a unique opportunity to see the artistic process up close and to ask them about their craft. Artists include Donna Sanson, a Bay Area watercolorist and instructor. Other artists include: Adrienne Dedic from Newark, a print maker and sketcher; Susan Van Wambeck from Newark who does pastel work; Christine Wilson of Niles a watercolorist and from San Francisco, painter Dennis Croffland.

A Showcase Reception featuring Johnny Rio will be at the Fremont Art Association in downtown Niles. Rio is a 35-year Fremont resident and three-time winner of the Artist of the Month award.

Fanciful banners hanging from light poles that have been gracing the streets in the past few weeks will be auctioned off on the day of the event. Twenty to 25 children from Niles Elementary School spent a whole day on their hands and knees on drop cloths spread around the floor creating their artwork painted on these 54 by 24-inch banners, last March. Besides the children's artwork, 10 artists also participated in painting banners for auction, by using acrylic paint on treated canvas. These original artworks are for hanging in front of your house or in your garden. So take a leisurely stroll along Niles Boulevard and chose your favorite, then prepare for spirited bidding at the auctions.

You might notice a couple of gunfighters sashaying around having gunfights with "funny buck teeth" and costumes adding an authentic flavor to the streetscape. "They are a riot!" exclaimed Spindler. The Gunfighters of The Old West will be there all throughout the day and will also perform two comedy skits. They might even help out at the auction by slinging their guns to foster an atmosphere of bidding, Spindler said.

Patty and Abigail, a duo who has been compared to Sheryl Crow and the Indio Girls, will provide musical entertainment with a blend of pop, soft rock, blues and light country.

Walk over to the new Essanay Film Museum and watch a native plant slide show or old movies and feast on Mexican and Hawaiian barbeque, hot dogs and polish sausages.

At participating stores will you can purchase tickets in advance for $12 instead of $15 on the day of the event. Some of these stores will also have demonstrations and sale items.

Stop by Corrie Glass and see Wayne Corrie giving glass blowing exhibitions in his shop where in an 1892 building on the same street where Charlie Chaplin made his first films including The Tramp. Rosie Long owner of Kiowa Rose will give beading demonstrations in her shop, and you will also be able to see a lace-making group working interesting patterns. "I don't know how they do it, it's so intricate" said Spindler who has been involved with the festival for four years.

Other participating merchants include: Antique Treasures who carries a fine collections of Heritage Lace and Fenton Art Glass; Bite and Browse Collective with glassware, jewelry, linens, toys and furniture; Bronco Billy's Pizza; The Empty Nest, a co-op art gallery and blend of antiques fine art gifts and hand crafted items; Iron Dog featuring Victorian antiques to 1920s Art Deco items; Kate's Kottage, with vintage Christmas linens and jewelry; Keith's Collectibles who has Black memorabilia, ceramics and western items; Morning Glory an antique store; My Friends and I a 2,200 sq. ft. store filled with antiques, country handcrafts and collectibles; Shelbee's a gift gallery and Things to Remember antiques and collectibles.

The major sponsor is Dale Hardware who "gave us a generous donation" Spindler said.

Niles is easily accessible from US Interstate Highways 680 and 880. From the north take 880 and exit at Alvarado Niles Road and head east about six miles. From the south, take 680 to the second Mission Blvd. exit and drive north on Mission Blvd. for four miles. Turn left on Niles Blvd.

Schedule of events
9 a.m. - ticket booth opens
9:30 a.m. - garden tours begin
10 a.m. - MC announcements
10:30 - healthy gardening without pesticides
11 a.m. - composting demonstration
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. - music
12:30 p.m. - container gardening talk
1 p.m. - making a living wreath out of succulents demonstration
1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. - music
2:30 p.m. - native plant slideshow in Essanay Museum
2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. - end of silent auction
3 p.m. - live auction on stage

Wildflower Art and Garden Show
Sunday, May 15
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Downtown Niles
(510) 742-9868

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