Visual Arts » Crafts

Greatly Gifted

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Nestled amid Indianapolis' museums are art-world solutions for those who find themselves singing the holiday-shopping blues this gift-giving season. Stocked full of unique treasures at all price points, museum shops offer everything from high-end handmade jewelry to home décor items and plush stuffed dolls in the likenesses of master painters.

So, while mall lines grow and parking lots jam, savvy art-oriented shoppers can catch an exhibit--Matisse, Life in Color at the Indianapolis Museum of Art or the Eiteljorg Museum's contemporary art fellowship show, Red perhaps--and simultaneously cross off a few items on this season's to-do lists.

Taking my own advice recently, I dropped in on a few museum shops and came up with some gems I can afford and a few that will require deeper pockets than mine.

Here's what I came up with:

Indianapolis Museum of Art

   ·Love Replica: Robert Indiana-authorized Love replicas are made of anodized aluminum and come in red, silver, gold, green, blue and pink. Great for a desk or bookshelf and light enough to mail to that expatriate Hoosier on your list. ($68)

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   ·In addition to those, Indiana's iconic Love is offered on mugs ($12.95), note cubes ($11.95) and note cards. ($18.95)

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   ·For the Robert Indiana super fan, the IMA is planning a print retrospective of the artist's work opening in February, but its 152-page illustrated book, The Essential Robert Indiana (with images of Indiana by William John Kennedy, who photographed the artist in the 1960s) is available now. ($49.95)

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   ·Andy Warhol enthusiasts will become better writers with a set of Andy Warhol Philosophy Pencils. Each has a different Warhol quote, including "In the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes," and "Wasting money puts you in a real party mood." ($8.99)

   ·Other colorful Warhol-themed options include sticky notes ($11.99), mini journals ($11.99) and a 200-piece puzzle. ($17.99)

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   ·Everybody has a Grinch on their holiday gift-buying list. John Updike's The Twelve Terrors of Christmas, with creepy drawings by Edward Gorey is just the right thing to put in a brown-paper package and tie up in a bow for him or her! ($9.95)

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   ·Bling is good, especially when it's designed by Chicago artist Patricia Locke. Sparkle isn't spared on these matching earrings and necklace, made of sterling silver, semi-precious stones, Swarovski crystals, pearls and glass beads. (Earrings, $120, necklace, $130)

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   ·Encouraging children to spend time with artists is a good thing. These masters are gone, but a child's imagination won't mind. Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali plush toys make great bedfellows. ($20)

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   ·For a utilitarian, get an Indianapolis Museum of Art water bottle or travel mug. (bottle, $5.95, mug, $15)

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

   ·Add a little texture to a friend's room with horse hair throw pillows. ($100 and $80)

   ·Make doing business more stylish for the professional in your life with a tooled-leather three-compartment briefcase. ($335)

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   ·Wearable Native American art tugs at the heartstrings of jewelry collectors, especially those with a bohemian bent. This wide cuff with turquoise and spiny oyster, made in the American Southwest, will drop jaws.  ($1,800)

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   ·Leave the bow tie home.  Any black-tie soiree is more eclectic when someone shows up in a bolo tie, especially if it's a lapis and turquoise version created by Native artist Herbert Joe. ($1,300)

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Stay warm this winter under Pendleton wool blankets, all with Southwestern designs. ($228; they come in other sizes and patterns)

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Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center

While the Basile History Market at the history center houses a variety of Indiana-made gifts and artwork, merchandise themed around Jean Shepherd's classic Hoosier holiday tale A Christmas Story is a big seller this time of year. Set in Hohman, Indiana, (a fictionalized version of Shepherd's hometown of Hammond), A Christmas Story describes the trials of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, as he tries to get a Red Ryder BB Gun for Christmas.

Outside the shop is a re-created living room set that looks like it is right out of the film. Inside is a variety of memorabilia, including:

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   ·A 40-inch leg lamp replica of the one Ralphie's father wins in a contest in the story. He declares it "a major award" and then, to the dismay of Ralphie's mother, installs it in the family home's front window. ($249.95)

   ·A tabletop version of the leg lamp ($55.95), night lights ($11.95), a decorative leg lamp strand of lights ($24.95) and a leg lamp bobble, uh, shade ($19.95).

   ·A copy of the 1983 film A Christmas Story starring Peter Billingsley as Ralphie and Darren McGavin as his father. ($17.95)

   ·A box of A Christmas Story adhesive bandages for holiday accidents. ($6.95)

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