Broke: Holiday Edition to take over Peterborough Town House

  • The 12th annual Thing in the Spring music and arts festival took place from Wednesday to Sunday in Peterborough.  Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The 12th annual Thing in the Spring music and arts festival took place from Wednesday to Sunday in Peterborough.  Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The 12th annual Thing in the Spring music and arts festival took place from Wednesday to Sunday in Peterborough.  Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Peterborough Town House, site of Broke: Holiday Edition on Saturday, as drawn by Deb Caplan. Left: Lillian Graham of MemoryRelics at her booth at a previous Broke (staff photo by Ben Conant.) Courtesy image

  • Deb Caplan will showcase her Peterborough inspired drawings at Broke: Holiday Edition on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Deb Caplan will showcase her Peterborough inspired drawings at Broke: Holiday Edition on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

  • Deb Caplan will showcase her Peterborough inspired drawings at Broke: Holiday Edition on Saturday. Staff photo by Tim Goodwin—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/27/2019 4:47:19 PM

At this time of year, everyone is searching for that all-important personal gift at an affordable price. Showing someone that they’re truly thought of can go a long way, but you don’t want to break the bank.

Well look no further than Broke: Holiday Edition this Saturday at the Peterborough Town House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The annual juried arts fair features more than 50 vendors in a wide variety of mediums and the kicker is that everything is priced under $50.

It was started by Mary Goldthwaite-Gagne and her husband Eric Gagne. The young couple were in the 20s, just getting started and like most in their position, affordability was something they thought about. Under the umbrella of the Glass Museum, their 501c3 nonprofit, they started Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair and its become a staple of both the holiday shopping season, as well as during Thing in the Spring, their annual multi-day music festival in Peterborough. They wanted to provide handmade crafts, art and wears that anyone could buy.

“Art should be for everybody,” Goldthwaite-Gagne said. “And when we started, affordability was an issue for us.”

Walk into the Peterborough Town House this Saturday and you will find an array of printmaking, hand-blown glassware, jewelry and ornaments, cut paper illustrations, stickers, handmade children's toys, knitwear, comics, posters, cards, handmade artisan chocolates, herbal body and wellness products, embroidered illustrations, weaving, wearable art, handmade bags and wallets, pens, wood carvings, cutting boards, all manner of ceramics, and an array of fine metal jewelry – all by the people who made them.

“We really gravitate toward works that are made by that person,” Goldthwaite-Gagne said.

Deb Caplan of Peterborough will be participating in her third Broke this weekend and got involved because she felt her prints fit the mold. Caplan creates drawings of some of the more recognizable places in town – the Peterborough Town House, Harlow’s Pub, the Peterborough Town library, the MacDowell Colony, the Peterborough Diner, etc., as well as events like Children and the Arts.

She has found her drawings, which she turns into black and white and one-of-a-kind hand colored prints, to be popular among both people who live in the area and visitors. And Broke made sense as an avenue to showcase her work.

“The subject matter isn’t what a lot of people are doing,” Caplan said.

Her holiday cards featuring Peterborough scenes start at $3 each and her hand colored prints go for as much as $32.

“They’re all different and unique because they’re all hand colored,” Caplan said.

Caplan loves the hustle and bustle of the day, as people wander in and out of the Town House during the six-hour fair.

“It’s very vibrant. There’s just a lot of action and activity,” Caplan said. “It’s just constant throughout the day.”

While a lot of her work is of Peterborough, Caplan has branched out to other areas to appeal to more people.

Kerri Cordeiro began her print-making as an outlet for her creative side while working in the corporate sector in Boston. It evolved from there and now she does it fulltime, operating under the name Tall As A House.

Cordeiro, of Peterborough, describes her work as “a lot of patterns, a lot of color.” It starts with drawings – done by her – and then everything is hand screen printed.

While some have to create a whole new set of items to fit into the price requirements at Broke, Cordeiro said it fits right into her wheelhouse.

“I tend to make things that are utilitarian and affordable,” she said.

This weekend, she will have a selection of pouches, note cards, coasters and more available for purchase.

“It depends on the time of year, what I have available,” she said.

Like many, she’s a one person operation, drawing the patterns, mixing ink, screen-printing, cutting, folding, gluing, sewing, and riveting.

Cordeiro has been participating in Broke on and off since 2011, and finds it to be the best fair she’s involved in.

“It’s very worthwhile. It’s packed the entire time,” Cordeiro said. “Mary does a great job and everybody is so great. I have the same group of people I’ve sat next to for a few years.”

As an art teacher at ConVal, Goldthwaite-Gagne likes the fact that Broke is something her students can go to and actually afford to buy things at. Students will also be participating as vendors, selling items like cutting boards and mugs, with some of the money going toward funding field trips to art institutions in Boston.

To get into Broke, artists, vendors and crafters have to apply and there’s a juried process for inclusion, which seems to get a little harder each year as it gains more popularity.

“For me, it was really important to establish that structure,” Goldthwaite-Gagne said. “And it’s what makes Broke a really strong show.”

Goldthwaite-Gagne said they gravitate toward the people that actually make what they will be selling and the creativity is inspiring.

“It’s fun to see how people will make things, sometimes outside of what they typically do,” Goldthwaite-Gagne said.

Broke will he held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30 at the Peterborough Town House. For those with accessibility needs, the side entrance will be open. Admission is free.

“It’s a lot of work, but I’m proud of what it is,” Goldthwaite-Gagne said. “It’s a privilege to do this work.”

For more, search Broke Arts Fair on Facebook.


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