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!
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.
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!)
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.
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…
Downtown (Main St., State Circle and Maryland Avenue)
- McBride Gallery, 215 Main St.
- Main St. Gallery, 216 Main St.
- Annapolis Marine Art Gallery, 110 Dock St., #3
- Maryland Federation of Art, 18 State Circle
- Jo Fleming Contemporary Art, 37 Maryland Ave.
West Street Area
- 19FIFTYTHREE and ArtFarm, 45 West St.
- 49 West Coffee, Winebar and Gallery, 49 West St.
- Annapolis Collection Gallery, 55 West St.
- FinArt, 214 West St.
- Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St
Just outside town: Eastport and West Annapolis
- West Annapolis Artworks and Fine Framing, 4 Annapolis St. West Annapolis
- Lisa Masson Studio Gallery, 511 4th St., Eastport
I wish you successful art shopping, a warm and blessed holiday season, and a very Happy New Year!