Friday, November 26, 2010

What better gift?

Today is Black Friday, the day when masses move to shop—ostensibly to buy gifts for loved ones. If that is the phenomenon behind that odd nomenclature, I hope that is the reason for it.

If you are starting to think about gifts for loved ones, think about giving art or art objects made by local artists.

Art lasts forever. 
Art creates a meaningful communication and bond between giver and recipient. And, in the process, you will help support a segment of our workforce that is suffering disproportionately from the lack of money moving in our economy-- people who are hard-working and deserving of help. Bigger than that, you help keep a critical part of our culture alive.

Where to find this kind of special gift? First, don’t go to any big box or brand stores for it. I personally wouldn’t call anything “art” that is available in places like Macy’s or Nordstrom or any of the big mall stores. Whatever you find there is more than likely to be manufactured far away, and in the millions.

Instead, find a locally owned gallery populated with works by local artists. While many of them have disappeared in the last few years, there are still some who are ready and open, such as Kelly Street Gallery in Half Moon Bay (full disclosure: I am one of the four partners of this fine art photography gallery), Gallery House on Cal Ave in Palo Alto, or Palo Alto Art League (ditto, member of these cooperatives). There are also the Cubberley artists in Palo Alto. I bring these galleries up because I know the artists personally, and how talented and hard working most of them are. Whatever town you are in likely has a gallery or collective like these, an "Open Studios [your town name]" or any number of artists who are happy to show and sell their work individually.  

I am also familiar with the many items that artists have spent months working on to make ready for holiday giving. Framed art photos, illustrations, paintings, encaustic (wax) paintings, silk scarves, boxed cards, single note cards, sculptures, ornaments, prints, decorated boxes, glass objects, calendars, jewelry, ceramics, art-decorated market bags, and more. 

Some of these things are functional, but probably most are not. But the point of art is not to function in the world in ways that we normally think of as useful. It is there to communicate thoughts, feelings or concepts; to remind us of seminal events or moments in our lives; to punctuate corners of our world with visual beauty; to make us wonder and think. Or even to inspire us to create something ourselves, even if it is to re-create the world we live in.

What better gift could you give than that?

Note: The image above is titled Flaming Dahlia. Like the other works shown throughout this blog, it is available as a pigment print either framed or unframed, or mounted on wood with an encaustic (wax) glaze. Just email me at n(at) for more info. I also now sell cards (and soon prints) in my Etsy store, "Being Present," and my book Garden Poetry can be viewed here.

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