When Mona Cassis began the Verona Artists and Farmers Market four years ago, she had a vision for a special community booth.
The idea was the “Art Under 20” tent – a place for local youth to showcase and sell their creative handiwork or play music at the market.
This year, the outdoor market closed for the season on Wednesday, Sept. 30, after operating weekly since May, despite the physical distancing requirements of COVID-19.
Several Verona youths participated in the Art Under 20 booth this season. Violet Filler, 9, Avery Goth, 18, and Levi and Danny Dziubla, 7 and 10 respectively, exhibited their arts and crafts.
Violet sold at the market beginning in July to raise money to buy a paddleboard to accompany her mom, Molly, on kayaking trips.
“Also, it was the only social activity I’d get to do because of COVID,” she said.
Pieces for sale from Filler included sweatshirts, T-shirts, adult and kid masks, bowl holders, garlands and key chains.
Violet said it was her first time making any of these things and the ideas came from her mom, who searched the internet for crafts for teens.
“I found things she could make with not so much help,” Molly said.
The shirts feature designs based on the outline of the state of Wisconsin, with different ones made different ways – some contained iron-on decals, some were spray painted and some were bleached.
The masks were made from scraps of fabric Molly had from past crafting exploits. Violet said of all the things she made, she loved making the sweatshirts the most.
While she would like to exhibit at the booth again next year, Violet doesn’t know yet if she will keep making things over the winter months. Some day she hopes to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to major in art.
Violet’s friend Levi Dzibula came to visit her stand one week and then he asked his mom Anna if he could join the stand, if Violet was okay with that.
She welcomed him to join. He made chocolate chip cookies, rice crispy treats and puppy chow to sell, in addition to heart-shaped magnets made from Perler beads.
Levi had started getting bored over summer, with few places to go during the pandemic. Violet had a bunch of Perler beads, so using what instructional videos they could find, the pair began crafting hearts, picking colors that they felt went well together. They enlisted Levi’s brother Danny for what their mom called a “heart magnet assembly line.”
“He made just about a thousand,” Violet said.
Although his mom corrected that number to 100.
Setting up her own tent side by side with Violet and Levi this year was Avery Goth, who sold watercolor paintings. She exhibited at the Art Under 20 booth for several years.
She sold her art at the market through August, when she had to leave for University of Wisconsin-Platteville for her freshman year as a criminal justice major.
Goth said she is a self-taught artist, and a friend introduced her to watercolors.
She sometimes took commissions at the market, including a family who asked her to paint a mermaid for their daughter. She painted Pokémon often, and said her favorite work was the character Baby Groot from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films.
“I’ve made quite a few good pieces that I liked, but my Baby Groot put a smile on a lot of little kids’ faces,” she said.
While she’s not planning to continue making paintings to sell, she brought all her supplies with her to her dorm room. She said it’s not a career, but rather more of a pastime.
Goth said she is not sure yet if she is going to live at home anymore, but said if she returns to Verona next summer, then she will definitely exhibit at the booth again. She said she finds farmers market artists have more freedom to do what they want creatively and enjoys the friendly atmosphere.
“I miss all the people who’d come and look at my stuff – everyone was really nice there, really supportive,” Goth said. “Even if they didn’t like my artwork, they wanted to donate, which was nice and supportive. It’s overall an amazing, fun place to go.”
Cassis said she did not recruit any new children for the tent this year because of COVID-19, but rather, Violet approached her. Cassis felt more comfortable saying yes because Violet had her own tent to set up.
“She has so much energy, it’s just great,” Cassis said. “She is so enthusiastic and excited. She was always here and put forth a lot of effort. I can tell she is happy.”