Sunday, December 15, 2013

Local Art Seen: Have You Been Buying Local This Year?

Ceramic bowls and plates make great practical gifts.
The weekends leading up to Christmas are often the most complained about shopping days of the year. The stores get taken over by roving mobs of shoppers, parking lots are jammed and the lines long. This Norman Rockwell picture pretty much captures the spirit.

But guess what? There are plenty of alternatives to this madness. One of them is to not procrastinate. Start your Christmas shopping in June. Another is to do what my grandmother did... She started her knitting projects in January, making hats and sweaters and afghans for her numerous grandchildren. A third, this one being the theme for today, is to look for all those special gatherings of artists who have wares that might can fill the bill... or the stocking.

Zentangle-inspired Art Cards by Esther Piszczek
In a culture of mass production, doesn't it seem weird to get gifts that are "in" and make you feel "unique just like everybody else"? Now I don't begrudge getting gifts from big box retailers per se, but there's something to be said about receiving those fascinating kinds of things being produced by local craftspeople, artists, jewlers, and glass blowers.

Kenspeckle Letterpress
Here are some things I saw this past two weekends. I'm sure your community has similar places where creative expression flourishes. Ceramic mugs and bowls make wonderful gifts because they can be appreciated and used for a lifetime. The Northland has more ceramic artists than one can count, it seems, and each has his or her special style. The photo at the top of the page is from Karin Kraemer's cheerful studio in Superior's historic Board of Trade at the corner of Broadway & Hammond.

The whole building was open this weekend, meaning that all the artists who have studios there also had their doors open including painter Terry Millikan, fabric artist Erika Mock and the Mud Sisters, who also have a great variety of practical ceramic arts.

North Shore-O-Poly
Last weekend I came across the inventive Brian Minor's game North Shore-O-Poly. It's a Northland rendition of the classic board game featuring the streets and business of Atlantic City, except in this case the places are all those familiar sights and spaces on our North Shore, from Split Rock Lighthouse to the Gunflint Trail. The project seems to be a family affair, as is any good game.

Speaking of games, Esther Piszczek -- who has applied her drawings to T-shirts, calendars and gift cards -- has now produced several decks of playing cards which are, like, way cool.

Yesterday I found out that Marian Lasky and Rick Allen -- The Kenspeckle Letterpress team -- have been residing on the second floor of the DeWitt Seitz Building in Canal Park. I'd been doing occasional walk-throughs of Sivi's Art Gallery nearby to see their stuff, and now realize I need to take time to get down here to Canal Park's other spaces more often.

Another interesting space in the DeWitt Seitz Building is Mary Reichart's fiber arts space called Otlak on the 4th floor. Reichart, who works with felt, learned some of her techniques by observing locals during a stay in Kyrgyzstan.

Other things you'll find include cookies, candies, jellies and jams, all made locally and with love. Really. And of course there's the wall art that I'm so frequently writing about. You can appreciate it for five minutes in a gallery, or for the rest of your life in your living room. I'm not making that up.

Bottom line: Have you been buying local this year? Start collecting. 


marian said...

Hey Ed, thanks for the mention! I was sorry to have missed you when you stopped by. Merry Christmas to you!

ENNYMAN said...

You bet. Thanks for stopping by here, too. Merry Christmas...
I will surely be back.

Esther Piszczek said...

Great Post, Ed! Thank you for the mention!!