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A print sign by Tomie dePaola, on view at the Mill Brook Gallery. Courtesy photo.




Artsy ideas
Give the gift of creativity

12/11/14
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 For the art lover in your life, go with something locally made by an artist or, better yet, an artistic experience.

 
Currier creations
For the next two Thursdays — Thursday, Dec. 11, and Thursday, Dec. 18 — the Currier Museum of Art (150 Ash St., Manchester) will be open until 8 p.m. for holiday shoppers who can’t make it to the museum during regular hours, which normally are from 10 or 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. 
Currier Museum gift shop manager Heidi Norton offered a few ideas for those who will be using these extra hours for Christmas shopping.
“Of course, I think a Currier membership would be the best gift,” Norton said during a phone interview. (Membership starts at $50 and goes up depending on the level you want.) “But I think people are also realizing the museum shop offers something more unique than at the mall.”
Norton said items related to the M.C. Escher exhibition have been selling extremely well. The shop houses a plethora of quirky Escher-like gifts, from mirrored cube puzzles and tessellation design books to eclectic earrings and Escher-inspired jewelry. 
The shop also sells fine art puzzles and mugs, art supplies, traveling sketchbooks, novelty sharpeners and fine pens, pencils and erasers. Inventory nearly always includes hand-crafted (and sometimes locally made) textiles, jewelry and other items. 
 
Buy art
Local artists have been working very hard for this holiday shopping season. There are gift shopping-friendly art shows covering most corners of southern New Hampshire this weekend.
The Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden (236 Hopkinton Road, Concord, themillbrookgallery.com, 226-2046) has an exhibition called “Artful Gift Giving 2014” that features a unique selection of fine art starting as low as $20 per gift. The gallery is open through Dec. 24 from Tuesday through Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also in Concord, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s gallery (49 S. Main St., Suite 100, Concord) hosts a fine craft exhibition, “Gifts From Our Hands: What We Do Best.” On view through Dec. 19, the exhibition showcases work by juried craftsmen members from all over the state, including shawls, jewelry, necklaces, ceramic tiles, stoneware, baskets, wall hangings, etc.
The Wild Salamander Creative Arts Center (30 Ash St., Hollis, wildsalamander.com, 465-WILD, kcm@wildsalamander.com) also offers a price point-friendly art show, “Good Things Come in Small Packages,” on view through December. Participating artists have designed in a smaller format to make the fine art more accessible. The center also houses a brand-new “Wild Little Art Shop,” which also contains one-of-a-kind jewelry, prints, greeting cards and fine craft. 
Around Manchester, Studio 550’s (550 Elm St., Manchester, 550arts.com, 232-5597) Cup Show & Sale is still on view and will be through Jan. 17. Here you’ll find beautiful, functional drinking vessels priced between $28 and $50.
Closer to the Seacoast, Newmarket hosts a quirky shopping experience with the 3rd Annual Holidaze Bizarre, an alternative craft fair this Saturday, Dec. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., in the millspace at Newmarket Mills, Newmarket. More than 30 vendors will sell handmade, recycled, vintage and unconventional unique gifts, including toys, art, clothes records, cassettes, self-published comics/zines, books, knit, crochet, woodwork, toys, sculptures, housewares, etc.
 
The gift that keeps on giving
Manchester residents and artists Tony and Kim Luongo recently founded Smile Create Repeat, a small business that sends monthly art supplies to eager learners.
How it works: the Luongos come up with a theme each month. That theme will involve certain tools — colored pencils, ink, watercolor, charcoal, etc. 
Subscribers will receive these tools in the mail along with lessons on how to use the items. (A “creativity card” located in the box will contain the lesson, but Tony Luongo has also been putting lessons online; visit smilecreaterepeat.com.)
The subscribers see no age. Some Smile Create Repeat art users are kids, others retired adults. The materials are not flimsy, like what you might find at a dollar store; the Luongos said they take careful measure to either test or research each and every product.
“Every month is a new theme, and for 12 months, we will not repeat the same theme. Some items may be repeated — drawing pencils, paintbrushes — but we will show how to use them in new ways,” Kim Luongo said. Recent themes included watercolor, ink, charcoal and pastels.
Tony Luongo is a full-time artist and Kim Luongo went to school for art, so they know their stuff. 
“There are craft stores and A.C. Moore, Michael’s, but there’s no collaboration on how you’re actually going to use those items unless you’re going to take a class somewhere. We’re trying to give people guidance,” Kim Luongo said.
They began the business in September. They have their own kids who love using these art products, and Kim Luongo feels there are others looking to give items that help unplug.
“As people get older, they get a lot more distracted by everything electronic and what’s going on in their lives. They don’t actually stop to look at the beautiful leaves falling to the ground or see the color in the sky. I think we’re trying to steer people away from that, to step back and let them create,” she said.  
 
As seen in the December 11, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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