12/13/2012 - Looking for a present that’s a little more unique than a gift card? You can’t go wrong with the gift of art.
Craft fairs, markets, and art exhibits are everywhere this time of year, said Katy Solsky, founder and organizer of award-winning Concord Arts Market.
Manchester’s Holiday Market, for example, will be held again on Saturday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and there are plenty of local craft stores like WonderMade (19 Warren St., Concord, wondermadenh.com) and Concord Handmade, a pop-up holiday shop in downtown Concord (67 S. Main St., Concord, email@example.com
“One thing that’s nice is that you’re supporting local people. … There are various studies that show when you spend money locally, it stays in your economy longer, and I think that there’s a general interest in supporting your local economy,” Solsky said.
But then there’s the big question: What should you get? After surveying a number of local art and craft galleries, it seems that functional art has resonated with buyers so far this shopping season.
Jaye Goodwin at Art 3 Gallery (44 W. Brook St., Manchester, 668-6650) has found that many of its customers are interested in three-dimensional artwork. Whether it’s tiny treasures or tiny paintings or prints, Art 3 Gallery has a large inventory of all sorts of art at all sorts of price points: sculptures, glass collectibles, paperweights, pottery, abstract or fine art.
The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen is another haven for functional art, and with its various retail galleries (including Concord, 36 N. Main St., 228-8171; Meredith, 279 DW Highway, 279-7920; and Nashua, 98 Main St., 595-8233), it’s easy to stop in. Each shop is managed independently, but the caliber of craft is the same in each shop; the League of Craftsmen casts its seal of approval on each item sold at the retail galleries. Nancy Rowley, the retail manager in Meredith, said that there are more people who are seeking out handmade items than in past years.
“We’re really seeing people come back to hand-crafted work, things that are made by the people. We can tell them [shoppers] their [crafter’s] name, where they live. … It’s made in this country, and more importantly, most of it’s made in New Hampshire,” Rowley said in a phone interview.
Younger crowds, people in their 20s and 30s, have been visiting the gallery, Rowley said, to check out their high-end, hand-crafted jewelry and functional craft items, like pottery.
Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden (236 Hopkinton Road, Concord, themillbrookgallery.com, 226-2046) still has a few sculptures left in its garden, but the big holiday exhibit is “Artful Giving,” which features handmade, affordable gifts, starting at $15 for a key chain, $25 for a ceramic cup, and $55 for a pair of handmade, sterling silver earrings. There are also paintings, mobiles, sculptures, vases and tea pots.
The Whitty Gallery at Wild Salamander Creative Arts Center (30 Ash St., Hollis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 465-WILD) offers 100 square art pieces in “100 Square Feet of Art,” most of which are 12 x 12 inches and between $10 and $100. Watercolor, oil, acrylic, mixed media, pen and ink, sand paintings, collage art, oil paintings, and pen and ink work make up this square (but not “square”) exhibit. Artists and buyers were diverse, ranging from professionals to 12-year-olds. You can’t wear this art or eat soup out of it, but KC Morgan, one of the owners of Wild Salamander, said that what’s great about these pieces is their size: they fit anywhere.
Morgan suggests that in choosing art, you should think about a person’s interests, tastes, background.
“I think that people are really looking for something that connects with them. One couple, for instance, bought a piece depicting the field across from their house. Another woman from Canada bought a painting of a sunflower because she grew sunflowers,” Morgan said.
“Art is such a physical thing that takes hours, days … people work really hard, and it’s nice to appreciate them,” gallery owner Pamela Tarbell said.