“Where beer meets productivity”
Arts & Crafts 920 brings the community, local breweries and art together
By Rachel Sankey
It’s no secret Green Bay has a passion for beer and other spirits – a community chalk full of local breweries each offering its own niche of craft beer, locally-made wines and signature cocktails.
Green Bay resident and organizer of Arts & Crafts 920 Sam Pelegrin said she wanted to take the passion and uniqueness of the area’s local breweries and the community a step further – which is where Arts & Crafts 920 was born.
Art from the start
Pelegrin, a K-4 grade art teacher for the Howard-Suamico School District, grew up on the central coast of California, and said she has always been into art.
“I was always doing art as a kid at home, and drawing on the walls, it seems,” she said.
After high school, Pelegrin attended the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
“I knew I was going to do something art-related with my career, but I just wasn’t sure what it was,” she said. “It did take me a while to figure out that I was meant for teaching. I really do feel like I’m in the right field now.”
Pelegrin said she made the leap from California to Green Bay to be closer to her husband’s family, and brought her idea of community outreach along for the ride.
A long time coming
Arts & Crafts 920 was an idea Pelegrin said she had been thinking about long before it came to fruition.
As a teacher, she said she’s always liked the idea of having an art or a studio space for people to work on projects that weren’t necessarily in an academic setting.
“I’ve always wanted to have that community outreach,” Pelegrin said. “I really fell into teaching because I knew it would be fulfilling. I knew I would be happy, but it was also a stable job… I think somewhere in me, I’ve always wanted to do something more a little off the books, something a little bit more for the community at large.”
She said through her own experiences of working in the brewery and bar scene as a second job in the past, she felt it would be a great idea to meld breweries and crafts together.
“It seems like they’re really popular everywhere, and not just Green Bay,” Pelegrin said in regards to breweries. “A lot of people are really enjoying that environment where you can kind of relax and have a craft beverage and it’s not loud. It’s not like a nightclub, or a busy sports bar. You know, there’s just a different atmosphere there and it just seems like a really good energy for creating and making art.”
When it came to pitching the idea of Arts & Crafts 920 to the area breweries, Pelegrin said the majority of them were on board.
“We kind of scheduled things right away and I was able to just kind of have them pick which projects they thought would be best for their kind of space,” she said. “I’ll get there a little early to set up, and I bring everything with me, so they don’t really have to worry much. The only part I ask from them is that they provide some beer. Everybody will have a complimentary beverage with their ticket when they sign up to come do a project.”
Without the confines and regulations of teaching in a classroom, the craft world, Pelegrin said, is her oyster.
She said she has done a lot of macrame art, such as for hanging plants, as well as jewelry, fishing lures/keychains, flower art and embroidered hats.
“It’s a lot of functional art that people can make and also use,” Pelegrin said. “I’m hoping to kind of start changing up the crafts so that people can come to return events and not just be like, ‘Oh, I’ve done those already.’ I want people to be able to continue this as almost like a habit, because I think there’s a lot of healing to come in and have that space to make art.”
Pelegrin said she does her best to keep the crafts easy, with simplified processes, so everyone can make something. She said it is up to the participant if they would like to try completing the craft at a higher-skilled level.
“You don’t have to be an artist by any means to come to these events. Like I said, I teach elementary art. So, I’m used to trying to make things easy for everybody,” she said. “It’s not one of those wine and paint classes where everyone paints the same birds or flowers. I really try to value everybody’s creativity and let them put their own spin on things.”
For each class, Pelegrin said participants have a guide sheet, accompanied by a demonstration by her about how the craft is made.
She said if a person doesn’t finish their craft within the scheduled time frame, they are able to take the craft home and finish it there.
Pelegrin said each class is named after the craft and a type of alcoholic beverage, such as “Hoops and Hops,” “Corks and Cabs” and “Fringes and Flights.”
Classes are typically capped at 15-20 people, as Pelegrin said she wants to be sure everyone has a good experience and isn’t waiting for help for too long.
She said she brings all the necessary supplies, and recently started ordering craft items wholesale.
Community and brewery reactions
Pelegrin said the community’s response has been nothing but positive.
“That’s honestly been one of the most rewarding parts – how happy people are when they’re leaving,” she said. “I can feel that they had a good time just from the looks on their faces. It’s more than just going out for drinks with friends now. You’re actually being productive and you get this sort of fulfillment.”
Pelegrin said sometimes taking action and being productive can be just as helpful with a person’s self-care, if not more, and there’s something special when people are connecting their mind and body through art.
“I love when people are done and come up to me and say, ‘Thank you,’” she said. “I have a lot of return customers coming back for more and it’s been cool. It’s been really nice.”
Pelegrin said the responses from the participating breweries have also been great – with some starting to schedule more and more classes with Arts & Crafts 920.
Despite managing both her teaching job, Arts & Crafts 920 and her own little ones, Pelegrin said starting a small business has been really helpful for her own creativity and mental health.
“I should thank my husband,” she said. “He’s stepped up a lot because we do have small children. So when I go and do my art events, he’s with our kids. But, honestly, as a mom and as an artist, it’s been really nice to have this job. It’s hard to explain, but when I don’t make art for myself, or art that I enjoy, I don’t feel good. I begin to feel sort of stagnant. So it’s been really nice to have the support.”
Rachel Sankey is the associate editor of Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected].