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The Alternative Holiday Gift Guide

You know you’re going to spend money this holiday season even if it’s only a gift or two for friends, family or that special someone. So, why not spending money in a way that supports emerging galleries, craftspeople, artists, charities, or quality small businesses that are trying to do something different.

Quick Guide to the Holidays That Make Up “Holiday Season“:  Dec 1 (Hanukkah Begins);  Dec 16 (first abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky’s birthday); Dec 23 (Festivus); Dec 25 (Christmas Day); Dec 26 (Kwanzaa Begins); Jan 6 (Armenian Christmas); and Jan 7 (Eastern Orthodox Christmas).

Here is our short guide to some ideas for creative and affordable gifts.

A view of Arch Collective's Holiday Pop-up boutique with local personality Aaron Short stopping by.

Places To Snag Stuff

Handmade Holiday Craft Fair on Saturday, December 4 (12 to 6pm) at 3rd Ward (195 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn)

Le Bouquiniste, which is a mobile kiosk in Jersey City featuring books, prints, broadsides, chapbooks, zines — all from small & independent presses. Zines are a dollar or two, limited edition chapbooks are usually under $10, and most artist books are under $20. Click here for a PDF with dates, times, and locations. This is a project by Curious Matter.

Arch Collective NYC Holiday Pop-up Boutique is promising to be a place to find some handmade stuff that could appeal to the local Bushwickers. From what I saw there was everything from small art works to clothes and some jewelry and odds and ends too. It looks like an experiment in artist chic.

YeeHaw Industries is based in Tennessee and they are a personal fave of mine. This Appalachian letterpress outfit is setting up a New York pop-up shop from December 9 to 23. Called “NYC Jingle” this temporary location will be in the Chelsea market (75 Ninth Ave, between W 15th & 16th Streets). For those in the South, you’ll be interested in knowing that they will be setting up a similar shop in Atlanta.

$25 and Under

Tom Sach’s wrapping paper with a sketch of Le Courbusier’s La Unité building, which represents an “inspiring vision of the harmonization of the social and economic spheres in architectural space!” In other words, the perfect consumer gift for the anti-consumer in the family. ($6)

Formed by Fire prints Alice in Wonderland-related imagery on antique book pages in addition to other images. They’re nice, simple and playful like the Lobster Quadrille from Lewis Carroll’s story or other images like a king squirrel — whatever that means. ($8)

Sissy Nobby’s “Lay Me Down w/ dre skull” 12″ — The break-out star of New Orleans’ gay bounce scene, the single is half New Orleans Bounce and half 80s synth pop ballad … how can people NOT love this. ($10)

A whimsical cotton cloud hanging sculpture by Katie in Virginia Beach.Which she suggests “can be hung from the ceiling, used as a mobile or placed on a table top,” but she doesn’t add “or can augment any indoor psychedelic experience.” ($15)

Peter Glantz, Becky Stark, and Jacob Ciocci’s “Your Heart is a Prism” signed 22 x 16″ print, edition of 100 ($20)

Yane Calovski’s D Is for Drawing is a Macedonian periodical that highlights drawings by individual artists and group shows but this one also has a coloring book project that uses the work of Tracey Emin & Edvard Munch as source material … so, score! And trust me, whoever is getting this probably doesn’t have this one. ($18)

Cary Leibowitz’s “I Got Mugged At Printed Matter…” mug that recounts the story of having your Pucci stolen by a Canadian at the landmark Chelsea store. Must.Buy.Today. ($20)

Tom Sachs “Edition 24 sticker pack” (2003) — if you even have to ask what the hell this is then you don’t deserve it … actually, I’m not sure what it is but I want it. ($20)

A Hyperallergic t-shirt designed by Duncan Alexander, because they are awesome and you know you want one … ADMIT IT! ($20)

A custom silhouette portrait by Jenny Lee Fowler, because it’s handmade, unique to you, and pretty retro in a good way. ($25) … btw, you can also get a pair for $50

$26-$50

Andrew Jeffrey Wright’s “Pot Crutch” 9 x 12″ silkscreen, edition of 46. ($30)

Sean Star Wars’s “Missippy Nitemare/Vader” woodblock print. This southern print shop has a fresh sense of style with a heavy dash of quirkiness. ($30)

YeeHaw Industries’s Vice-Presidential wrestling Christmas ornament set does not disappoint. This shit is weird and feels like a breath of fresh air from the Appalachians. ($30)

Chris Stain, who is always socially aware, has a limited edition print, “Last Stop in Brooklyn,” that’s worth checking out and it benefits the Just Seeds Collective. ($35)

Archie McPhee & Co’s “Dramatic Chipmunk Oil Painting” because a meme never dies. ($38.95)

The William Wallet by Winterchek Factory is cool, minimal, and created by an indie Brooklyn designer who does what I like to call Brooklyn Bauhaus. ($42)

Cary Leibowitz (aka Candyass) is “Chanuka Hat” (2003), which proclaims in bright florescent colors, Happy Chanuka! ($50

Tokyo wall graphics by 8-bit maestros eBoy. They are really cool and will look awesome on your wall. ($50)

Shepard Fairey’s “Alto Arizona Girl” (2010) poster and it’s good to know that proceeds from the sale benefit the efforts of Alto Arizona, which fights against Arizona’s racist immigration laws. ($50)

$51-$100

Yoshitomo Nara’s “Too Young to Die” ashtray, because truth is sexy! ($75)

Momo’s “New Yorker Cover” (2007), which is a one-color screenprint on archival watercolor paper that’ll appeal to the street art fans in your life. ($80)

STO’s “Higher the Hair, The Closer to God” hand painted on wood, part of their Word series. ($100)

Items from the Triangle Arts Association’s charity online arts fundraiser called 100×100 that offers 100 quality works for $100. It goes to support a great organization. I’m affiliated this organization and can vouch for for the great work they do from offering free studio space in DUMBO to organizing a biennial workshop that welcomes artists from around the world. ($100)

A subscription to Tom Huck’s Lucky Death Bugs Bug of the Month Print Club, which includes “a slice of nightmarish entomologic EVIL straight to your mailbox every month for a year” and a bug t-shirt. ($100)

Michael Buckland’s “I Heart Conceptual Art” wristwatch from Toronto’s Art Metropole. ($100 Cdn, about same in US$)

Over $100

A limited edition 100% silk Mary Heilmann horizontal scarf … a safe gift for a sophisticated woman and it even has mainstream art world cred! ($125)

Nothing says special like a deck of cards designed by Tauba Auerbach and you can get them in geometric or math function suits. Now that’s a fabulous way to play strip poker. ($175)

An adorable Tom Otterness bear cookie jar. He’s the guy who has charmed subway users at the Eighth Ave/14th Street station with bronze sculptures of crocodiles, faceless figures, money bags, and oversized pennies and now he can bring the same cuteness to your very own munchies jar. ($185)

And for the person who has absolutely everything?

I suggest Jon Kessler’s figurine of a Guantanamo Bay detainee, titled “Habeas Corpus” (2007). This could potentially traumatize the recipient or galvanize them into action to save our civil rights … it can really go either way but we’re hoping for the latter. And at half price, why not take that chance? ($2,200, now $1,100)

Whatever you decide … Happy Holidays!

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you tweet us (@hyperallergic) your artist or art-inspired holiday gift ideas we’ll RT the best of them & compile them into a future post! #holidayartgifts

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