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Unwrap art
Tired of the mall? This holiday season, check out local artists for your gift-giving needs.

Standing sore-footed in long lines, dodging elbows of impatient shoppers as they forage through tables of merino turtlenecks and recent bestsellers, getting home to find you’ve bought the same smattering of predictable gifts as last year — it’s enough to make even the most bubbling Bob Cratchit lose all his holiday cheer and morph into an über-Scrooge. And every year it’s the same dilemma: how to avoid the malls — which mutate into seething dens of crazed consumerism this time of year — and find original and inexpensive presents, presents that speak volumes without silencing your wallet, presents that go beyond the anticipated book, CD, or sweater?

Why not give art? Over the next few weeks, a number of galleries, museums, schools, and organizations are hosting art sales. And by giving someone a work of art, not only are you demonstrating to the recipient that you’ve put some thought into the gift, you’re supporting local artists, and that, as they say, is priceless. So tuck a sprig of holly into your hat and check out some of these art sales.

From December 4 through 7, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) offers its 23rd annual December Sale, New England’s largest public art sale, featuring more than 4000 works of art by more than 700 artists. Whether casual holiday shopper or contemporary-art collector, you’ll find works by the likes of Chuck Close, Robert Rauschenberg, Ellsworth Kelly, and Cora Roth, as well as by budding talent, Museum School students, faculty, and staff. The original works represent a range of media — drawings, prints, sculpture, jewelry, paintings, clothing, and photographs — and prices. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to the artists, and the other half supports SMFA’s financial-aid program. Last year, the sale raised half a million dollars.

MassArt, the country’s only publicly supported independent college of art and design, also hosts an Annual Holiday Sale, which runs December 1 through 6. Browse works by yet-to-be-heard-of or already famous MassArt students and alumni. Like the SMFA sale, profits go to the artists and benefit the college’s scholarship program.

With an all-are-welcome, jeans-and-T-shirt attitude, Out of the Blue Gallery offers art for the people, showcasing work by local artists of all abilities that makes for an affordable experience for both artist and consumer. On December 6 and 7, the gallery hosts "Harmony," its annual holiday art show and celebration. More than 40 local artists, including Carly Weaver, Joey Mars, and Rachel Ross, will display and sell their work.

Lincoln’s DeCordova Museum also gets in on the art-sale action. Through December 31, the Store@DeCordova hosts its annual Artists’ Market, during which the store is expanded and filled with all manner of work by top-tier artisans and artists. Purchasing work means you’ll be supporting the artists, as well as helping the DeCordova continue to provide superior programs. Slightly further afield, LynnArts presents the Under a Hundred Show and Sale from December 5 through 23, which includes pottery, paintings, photographs, sculpture, cards, and more, all for under $100.

Cultural Survival, an organization that defends human rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, throws its Biannual Bazaar on December 6 and 7. Arts and crafts — baskets, rugs, sweaters, dolls, rugs, and glassware — by indigenous artists from Africa, Tibet, and Vietnam, among other countries, will be on sale to support the organization. And on December 5, 6, and 7, there’s Crafts at the Castle, a sale and exhibition of original art by 93 artists, proceeds of which benefit Family Service of Greater Boston. Art makes for the perfect gift: it’s good for artists, organizations, the people you’re buying for, and you, because you’ll be able to stay the hell away from the mall.

Where to find it:

• Crafts at the Castle, Park Plaza Castle, Arlington Street and Columbus Avenue, Boston, (617) 523-6400 ext. 5987; www.artfulgift.com/catc.

• Cultural Survival Biannual Bazaar, Harvard Law School, Pound Hall, 1536 Mass Ave, Cambridge, (617) 441-5403; www.cs.org.

• LynnArts Under a Hundred Show and Sale, Exchange Street, Lynn, (781) 598-5244.

• MassArt Holiday Sale, Tower Building Lobby, 621 Huntington Avenue, Boston, (617) 879-7710; www.massart.edu

• Out of the Blue Gallery Holiday Art Show, 106 Prospect Street, Cambridge, (617) 354-5287; www.outofthebluegallery.com.

• School of the Museum of Fine Arts December Sale, 280 The Fenway, Boston, (617) 731-0534; www.smfa.edu

Store@DeCordova Artists’ Market, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln, (781) 259-8692; www.decordova.org

Issue Date: November 28 - December 4, 2003
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