Old-fashioned holidays sometimes feel like a thing of the past, what with gift shopping promotions starting two months early and everyone shopping for online deals.  Cyber-shopping has reached an all-new and frenzied high… and can give us a lot of anxiety along the way!

Art Shopping
Patrice Drago, Beginning, acrylic on panel, 8″x 8″, Artist in Residence Studio at MD Hall

We are lucky in Annapolis, we have what many towns across America no longer have:  a center; a downtown, or more appropriately – a heart.  Every December (especially when it snows) I am reminded of an idyllic postcard of our great-grandparents day.  But it’s not just a visual; the spirit of the season is very much alive with so much to do, so many places to go, in an environment that encourages meeting new people and making new friends, and of course – terrific gift shopping, especially one-of-a-kind original art gifts.

Art Shopping
Howard Schafer, Beals Island, Maine Shoreline, Oil Painting at The Annapolis Marine Art Gallery

If you have hesitated to buy art as a gift I understand; aesthetics are so personal. But not all art is a pocket-draining investment.  The artists, galleries and other art venues in the Annapolis area seem to have reached the top bar this year with offerings of unique and affordable gifts that have a broad appeal.  There are hand-painted tree ornaments, tiny paintings, and amazingly creative figures in clay, glass and any other type of mixed media you can imagine.  For those people on your list that you know really well, I’m betting you can find something that says to you “it’s so her!” or “he will love this!”  How nice to surprise someone with a gift that is original, created by the hand of a local, celebrated artist.  Instead of a just a box and a card, the gift comes with a story that you can share, which may have more meaning and be more memorable than a sweater from Macy’s or boots from L.L. Bean.  (Okay – I’ll be honest: I want all of it!)

Art Shopping
Katherine Carney, Oysters Trifecta, Acrylic at West Annapolis Art Works

Don’t take my word for it; come on out during Midnight Madness this month (Dec. 7, 14, and 21) and see for yourself.  (Actually – come out any day from now through New Year’s Eve!) You and your family or friends can cruise up and down the streets stopping into shops and galleries to find something for everyone, where you will find hot seasonal beverages such as cider or hot chocolate, and in some cases more lively refreshments.  Take in a meal at your favorite restaurant and head back out to see all of the street activity along the way.

I can’t create a top five list of art venues for you because the art gift you want to buy will be different from mine, which is what will make it so special.  I can give you a list of those we know of that will participate in Midnight Madness.  You might not make them all in one night, but you have three nights of Midnight Madness, and of course there is the daytime and weekends too.

Art Shopping
Kevin Fitzgerald, Waldon Pond, Oil on Canvas at Main St. Gallery

Here’s my list, but it is not exhaustive.  If you’re new to the area – and even if you’ve been coming into town for years – you’re sure to discover a new favorite shop, nook, or hangout.  And when you see someone taking a picture of all of the activity, you might just imagine yourself transported into one of those old-fashioned picture postcards of years gone by…

Art Shopping
Cheryl Duvall, Festive Sailboat in the Moonlight_, watercolor at 49 West Coffeehouse

Downtown (Main St., State Circle and Maryland Avenue)

West Street Area


Just outside town: Eastport and West Annapolis


I wish you successful art shopping, a warm and blessed holiday season, and a very Happy New Year!


Patrice Drago

Patrice Drago is a full-time artist and freelance writer with a lifetime of experience in the travel and hospitality industry. Growing up in hotels up and down the East Coast from Maine to Florida she used her artistic and journalism skills to create a unique and adventurous career with Marriott International. Moving to Annapolis in 2002, she began a slow transition to focus solely focus on producing, writing about and supporting art and the art community. Patrice is an Artist In Residence at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, and she exhibits and sells her work in Maryland, New York and Maine. She writes the monthly Gallery Column for the Annapolis Capital newspaper, is an officer on the Boards of Directors of MFA (Maryland Federation of Art), and the newly revitalized Annapolis Arts District. Contact Patrice at: or