This Holiday, GIVE ART! ( #12 – #22)

November 30th, 2011

I am back for the second installment of Fear No ART’s, “This Holiday, GIVE ART!” blog.  I am counting down the 44 days before 2012 by Facebooking one art suggestion a day and consolidating these suggestions into 4 blogs of 11 each.

This list is by no means exhaustive, so don’t hesitate to buy the painting that you think your significant other will like that is hanging in your favorite  artist’s studio, café, or gallery down the block.  And, of course, art doesn’t begin and end with paintings, so I branch out here and offer a plethora of ideas, all with the general sentiment of This Holiday, GIVE ART! 

Here are numbers #12-#22.

12.  If you are at a loss for what to give this year, just do what Robert Plant does and give Punk Rocker and Waco Brothers phenomenon Jon Langford’s book Skull Orchard Revisited.  It has Jon’s artwork AND a copy of his CD from his newest band Skull Orchard. Plus, who doesn’t love this Wales original-Chicago transplant? He is practically an institution in this city. And, hey, if its good enough for Robert….

13.  Lill Street Art Center Gift Shop: Look no further. There is every sort of beautiful, affordable piece of artwork here!  Ceramic tea pots?  Metal Sculptures? Jewelry?  Yes, yes and more yes! And it this weren’t enough, you would also be supporting this wonderful school that has been promoting the arts for over 35 years.

14.  If you haven’t been lucky enough to take one of Steve Dawson’s songwriting classes (they sell out fast!) or join one of his sing-alongs ( my favorite!) where everyone bellows “Wildfire” at the top of their lungs at the Old Town School, then its time to buy one of Dawson’s CDs from his band, Dolly Varden.  Dawson is a musical experience and if you aren’t familiar with his music, it is time to know and support this important brick in Chicago’s musical foundation. photo credit (c) Sarah Gross.

15.  What about a gift that expands your mind all year long?  An MCA membership will give you something to talk about at parties for 365 days a year.  Its not just that the MCA has cutting-edge international exhibitions organized under the director of Chief Curator Michael Darling, but it is one of three museums in the country that is dedicated to the performing arts, as well.  Oh, our city really is great!

16.  Itching for a bit of wilderness?  Take a mini-escape through history and nature with artist Dennis Downes’ new book Native American Trail Marker Trees: Marking Paths through the Wilderness. With over 30 years of research, Downes outlines how, both pre and post European settlers, native Americans bent and sculpted trees to indicate certain paths.  In addition to painting and sculpting, Downes has been fighting and promoting to preserve these living landmarks and considers them an endangered species.  The book is fascinating and beautiful and a perfect stocking stuffer.

17.  Almost every actor in the city has either studied at the Piven Theatre Workshop or studied with someone who studied at the Piven Theatre Workshop.  The incredible cultural treasure Joyce Piven still teaches and direct and remains a force to be reckoned with.  I credit her with my favorite quote, “when an actor steps out on to the stage and says, ‘I don’t know’, that’s the beginning of creativity.”  Don’t miss tickets for Encore: After the Theatre and Other Stores, directed by Joyce Piven this April, and experience the art of this living legend.

18. This year’s riveting documentary, The Interrupters, hails from Kartemquin Films and director and producer Steve James and producer Alex Kotlowicz.  Buzz on the street is that The Interrupters could be up for an Oscar nod.  This film and many, many more quality documentary films that come from Kartemquin are not created from great ideas and incredible vision and Zeus-like perseverance alone.  They need financial support.  Shop the Kartemquin store and find lots of little holiday treasures and know you are helping to make great quality films in a world that sadly needs more quality and artistic media content.

19. What I have come to know about artists is that they rarely do just one thing.  The urge to create is usually larger than themselves and they tend to create in many areas.  Artist Lynn Basa is no exception.  Perhaps best known for her large scale public and corporate works and her dedication as a public arts advocate, Lynn also creates on a residential scale.  She works in materials as diverse as wool for creating immense tapestries and metals, stone and glass for large scale sculpture.  Her more intimate pieces are her encaustic paintings which are incredibly reasonably priced, while maintaining a distinct artistic vision and “Lynn Basa” flare. An intimate and beautiful gift.  Photo: Tom van Eynde

20. Author Valya Dudycz Lupescu is an incredible force for many reasons.  Her most recent book, The Silence of Trees made her a semifinalist for the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.  Equally as exciting is the work that Valya does with writer Donald Evans in building the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame and honoring great Chicago writers (Algren, Bellow, Wells, Brooks, the list is so very long)  every year at the Chicago Literary Awards.   We have them to thank for their incredible hard work in ensuring that these writers are never forgotten.  And in the meantime?  The Silence of Trees has been an Amazon Best Seller and reached the Top 100 for Paid Kindle Books in 2011. I told you she was an incredible force.

21. The Poetry Center of Chicago’s mission states that they promotes poetry through readings, workshops, residencies and arts education, to make poetry accessible to the general public, to stimulate and encourage young poets, and to advance the careers of poets by offering them professional opportunities. Who doesn’t like that?  In addition, and what thrills me even more, is that they sell broadsides.  Don’t worry. I didn’t know what a broadside was either.  I learned it is the combination of one artist’s painting/drawing/etching and one artist’s poem brought together so that the poem can live in your house as artwork. The image to the left is of a broadside of James McManus & Tony Fitzpatrick.  Only $250.  Yes, thrilling!

22. Give the gift that keeps on giving.  The 3Arts Foundation has started their own kickstarter-like program that helps artists raise money for certain projects.  3Arts pledges the last 1/3 of all funds, ensuring that any project that has raised 2/3 of the funds will be fully funded. Wonderful actor and Gift Theatre founder Michael Patrick Thornton is raising money through 3Arts for his giftED program, in which 4 artistic teachers will work with students on the Northwest side and teach them the skills necessary to build a theater and create an ensemble. Give to the giftED program, and see that money grow by 1/3 and spread to kids on the Northwest side through the arts, who will then in turn grow up to create more art and teach others.  Wow. That’s more than a gift.  Its an investment in ourselves.

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