By Juliana Bledsoe
Holiday gift buying can bring out the insanity in all of us. What with the incessant stream of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” commercials and the insane door-buster deals that result in annual parking lot campouts and tramplings, the thought of entering the mall is enough to make just getting each loved-one a gift card a welcome option. Luckily, Reno’s thriving arts community has shoppers covered as they venture out into the cold to find gifts for family and friends.
The scene at the Rogue Art and Craft Village at the Holland project this Saturday was far from the frenzy that characterizes the malls this time of year. The weather proved not to be a deterrent as heavily bundled shoppers gathered around the calm Holland Project art space. The whole venue smelled like coffee, chocolate and baked goods as shoppers milled about the sprawling tables laden with all kinds of handmade gifts produced right here in town by independent artists. Ornate necklaces made from the inner-workings of clocks and the vast array of prints and photography were just some of the clever gift ideas on display.
Meeting the person behind the art also offers the opportunity to give a story alongside whatever locally produced gift one might find. The local community of starving artists offers a far different perspective than the tired cashiers at Macy’s.
“This fine art world is so weird,” said Eric Burke, who was selling original gouache paintings of graffiti he had done all around the world. “Stick it on the street or something.”
Craft fairs nonetheless bring the more aloof artist types together with people that can fund their projects.
For those who do not posses the skills of knit and crochet, the fair also featured the work of a couple of needle-bearing crafters that were whipping up items sure to please any member of the family. Andrea “Dre” Oeschger of Dre’s Crochet was hard at work stitching hand warmers out of heirloom yarns. Something warm and handmade is a lovely statement even if your hands didn’t make it. Think scarves, hats, mittens and even soft little booties for babies.
A “tea bath” setup from crafter Sara Pastore is a great gift idea for moms to help them soak away the aches and pains of entertaining relatives. Relaxing bath soak scents, such as orange and vanilla or lavender and chamomile, are made with natural flowers and essential oils blended with Dead Sea salt. They smell wonderful and are a great way to pamper the overworked women in your life.
Another eye-catching item was the hand-stitched and hand-printed daily planner made by Katherine Case of Meridian Press. She also had an impressive range of original printed cards and stationary.
The upcoming “Cash and Carry” art show and sale at the Never Ender gallery will offer shoppers another opportunity to find local wares from the many talented artists in our area until Dec. 30, with an opening reception on Dec 12. Never Ender offers everything from original paintings, to handmade clothing and jewelry.
For the hands-on types, the Holland Project’s wood-burning workshop on Dec. 14 is another great way to reward those that have been good this year. Participants will be able to personalize wooden items such as spoons, buttons and handmade cards by scorching patterns and designs into them with a heated metal wood-burning tool. The workshop is from 1-3 p.m., and materials will be provided for a $10 fee.
Wherever you choose to open your wallet in order to bring cheer to others this season, it’s worth reconsidering the madness of big box stores in favor of the work of local artists toiling away over their various mediums.
Don’t end up like the man in China who leaped seven stories off a mall balcony, falling to his death this weekend when his girlfriend pleaded to look through just one last store after the couple had reportedly been shopping for over five hours. Whatever the gift, shoppers can avoid the typical stress of the holiday shopping experience this year, and do something to support the local economy at the same time, by buying from the local arts and craft scene.
Juliana Bledsoe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.