Top Picks for Arty Holiday Shopping

There's no more memorable a gift than a piece of art or handmade craft. We round up the top places to find them this season.

By Aaron Scott December 4, 2012 Published in the December 2012 issue of Portland Monthly

Socks get holes, iPods break, sweaters rarely fit, and toasters are rarely cool. What then can you give that’s unique, memorable, and capable of bringing joy for years to come? Art, of course! (And crafts). It’s the perfect gift: it shows thought, creativity, and support for the artists and makers who labor to bring beauty, texture, and color to our lives that would be downright black and white without it. 

There’s a plethora of splendid places to buy art this time of year, whether you’re searching for high-end prints, gorgeous artist books, or, yes, hand-knit socks (holes are more fashionable when they’re in one of a kinds). Here’re some of the stores and fairs where you’ll find PoMo editors doing their holiday hunting, in addition to our annual gift guide.

Also consider: season subscriptions to your favorite theater or dance company = gifts that give all year!

PoMo’s the Geek's Guide to Gifts
Portland is a city of geeks. And we don’t mean that as an insult. Our obsession with everything from smoked ice to custom-built bikes has created some of the country’s most cutting-edge restaurants and celebrated designers—and a citizenship that craves such craftsmanship. Embrace the fascination this year, and indulge your most beloved geek with one of these local gifts.

Give Good Gift Pop Up Shop, the Portland Bazaar, and Crafty Wonderland
This weekend the stars align with a trifecta of local shopping events that give harried shoppers a reprieve with dozens of the best local goods all within a half-mile of each other. PoMo’s Shoptalk blog has more on all three, and At Home focuses specifically on the Portland Bazaar (a definite stop for Culturephile—you'll see us wrestling At Home over Kinetic's windup walking cardboard Elephant kit).

At Home also offers a guide to the West End's pop up shops, including Boys Fort and Tinselbox.

Prints for PICA
Every year since 2003, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art has brought together over 100 artists to its pop-up printmaking shop for a day of artmaking and creative exchange. The result is hundreds of original works by Portland’s best artists, ranging from the well known to the just starting out, available for sale with all benefits going to PICA. The quality of the work is matched by the atmosphere, where shoppers can interact with the artists while mingling with drinks and live music.


Portland’s New Boutique Bookstores
Borders and Barnes and Noble might be closing across the nation, but there's a new breed of highly curated, independent bookstores cropping up in Portland—stores that feel like galleries and that treat books as objects to be handled, collected, displayed, and gifted. Read our Culturephile article about the stores and view a slideshow of favorite things—things that would make perfect gifts—from the owners of Ampersand, Division Leap, Monograph, and Reading Frenzy.

Three of these stores and a slew of other small stores and presses will also be selling their rare books, vintage photos, publications, and more at the Publication Fair on Saturday, Dec. 16.

Shopping for Culture
Often overlooked, museum gift stores are one-stop shops to find smart, beautiful gifts while supporting some of our best cultural institutions. PoMo’s At Home blog has a roundup of Portland’s best, along with a more detailed story about the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s newly redesigned Gallery Store.

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