Visual

Art Abounds

Creativity for Christmas

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

It’s clear the artists and crafters of the Pacific Northwest have been busier than Santa’s overworked elves of late. Judging by the amount of pop-up shops, holiday markets, and related events taking place in the next couple of weeks, the problem won’t be finding ways to shop local. Instead, the conundrum will be winnowing your choices to ensure everybody you love gets something they love without getting overwhelmed by the choices in front of you.

It’s a good problem to have, and I have a few suggestions about how to make the artistic adventure one that’s both fruitful and fun. At the Fairhaven Fourth Friday Art Walk on Fri., Nov. 27 and the First Friday Art Walk in downtown Bellingham on Fri., Dec. 3, bring extra bags along when you set out to stroll the streets for merry merch. Both events see galleries and businesses staying open later than usual, so even if you get off work late, you’ll still have time to hit them up for gift suggestions.

When you’re about and about, stop by your favorite restaurant or watering hole for a breather. If you’re not comfortable in crowds, Downtown Bellingham Partnership will also be offering its Downtown Online Marketplace through the holidays, updated with curated gift-giving ideas from a number of the district’s shops, boutiques and eateries.

A number of pop-ups taking place in venues where you typically wouldn’t shop for art have drawn my attention, including an inaugural Pawliday Mar-Cat taking place from 3pm-8pm Weds., Dec. 1 at NEKO Cat Cafe. In addition to getting to hang out with more than 20 adoptable kitties (!!!), you can also get in some holiday shopping with Art by Ciara, Mae Botanicals, Shelbygraffics, Barn Cat Creations, and Gaudy by Nature goods. Reservations are required, so don’t “paws” in making one.

A Shop Small Holiday Bazaar at L&L Libations on Sat., Dec. 4 is also worth a look-see. A number of vendors will be on hand to sell everything from candles to “gratitude attitude” stones, shirts, stickers, earrings, clay jewelry, crocheted hats, art prints, cookies, pottery, plants and wreaths, and one of my favorite Bellingham artists, renaissance woman Michelle Schutte, will be selling ornaments, small paintings, and hand-crafted HOSA hot sauce.

If you’re looking to combine day-tripping with Christmas shopping, consider a jaunt to Whidbey Island, where the Whidbey Art Market will return after a year’s hiatus to Freeland Hall on Nov. 26-27. There will be something for everyone—oil, acrylic, watercolor and mixed-media paintings, photography, sculpture, jewelry, basketry, textiles, collage, assemblage and much more. Visitors are asked to observe current state COVID guidelines by wearing a mask and social distancing, but you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

To throw some art appreciation into your busy holiday schedule, find unique exhibition-inspired gifts, handmade art, jewelry, holiday décor, and Old City Hall souvenirs at the Whatcom Museum Store’s Holiday Sale taking place from Nov. 26-28 inside the Lightcatcher Building.

Soon thereafter, attend a Holiday Bazaar on Dec. 4 in Lynden at the Jansen Art Center, 321 Front St. In addition to meeting talented artists who will be showing and selling their work—from knitted baby sweaters to pottery and paintings—the Gallery Shop will be open to help find the perfect present, and the textiles studio will be hosting a stash sale featuring work by instructors and renowned weavers. Additionally, enjoy the new Winter Exhibits that will be up for public perusal.

If you’re in the Skagit Valley that same day, make your way to La Conner for a Holiday Open House taking place at the MoNA Store at the Museum of Northwest Art. A classical guitarist will be playing, and there will be a surprise gift with every purchase. While you’re there, take a look at the Outside In Gallery and check out Illuminating Skagit, an exhibit designed to take you on a luminous journey throughout the Skagit watershed.

I’m only scratching the surface of what’s out there, something you can see by the abundance of online listings. From fine art to culinary offerings, jewelry, clothing,  textiles, and far beyond, I’m confident that indeed there is something for just about everyone

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