Kandi's Rods and Kustoms

Kandi's Rods and Kustoms employees pose by a hot rod recently rebuilt by the shop. 

ASHLAND — A hot rod mechanic shop along Claremont Avenue is throwing a party this weekend with an altruistic spin.

Kandi’s Rods and Kustoms will push its cars aside on Dec. 17 and 18 to make room for artists trying to make some extra cash for the holidays.

Dubbed the “Starving Artist Christmas Art Exhibition,” the event will run from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday and from 2 to 8 p.m. on Saturday. The event will feature products made from local artists, such as paintings, photography, tattoo art and hand-spun wool.

The best part? There’s no gallery fees and artists get to keep 100% of their proceeds.

“I’ve seen shows that charge huge fees just to set up a small space to display and sell their work. I think it’s ridiculous. We should help support each other,” said Kandi Blaze McCrea, the shop’s owner.

McCrea considers her work an art form and so she understands what it means to be a starving artist, she said.

The inaugural event currently promises wares from seven different artists. But don’t expect the expected.

“No cookie-cutter art,” she said, chucking.

“We have some macabre stuff, hand-woven things -- things that really speak and took personality to make,” McCrea said.

One of the artists, for example, is Curt Ames. He owns “Studio What? Tattoo” in Millersburg. Ames plans on setting up a pop-up tattoo studio at the event.

Another artist sells fantasy, pin-up photography, while another sells photography featuring abandoned buildings.

Others will sell dot art featured on old vinyl records and hand-spun wool products.

“I’m not a big fan of the big box stores and commercial gifts. I like personal items that are one-of-a-kind. These people make incredible pieces,” McCrea said of the artwork that will be on display and for sale during the event.

But McCrea won't turn away artists who want to sell their products there. The event's theme is supporting local goods made by local artists and makers, she said.

McCrea founded the business six years ago, when the shop was located off East Third Street in Ashland. From there, the shop moved to another nearby place — but it had a leaky roof and other water issues.

“We were forced to move after that. When we found this place (at 1722 Claremont Ave.), we were scared to move here because it’s so big,” she said.

The shop, however, is full of cars and work for her and the mostly female staff.

“We love what we do and we love to host community events … and we have some space,” she said.

McCrea said there is still room for more local artists to join the weekend’s event. Visit the shop’s website to sign up and for more information.

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