The Art of Giving

Because ’tis the season for gift guides.

Because museum gift shops are more fun than a sack full of toys.

Because there are more interesting ways to deck the halls than pinterest can count.

Because everyone needs more creativity on their New Year’s resolution list.

I came up with this list of carefully curated (100% affiliate-free) good cheer for the artist, collector and aesthete in your life.

For Halls and Walls:

For the Walls

1. Dianne Bos is probably Canada’s most recognized pinhole photographer. Through the process of long (often 15 minute) exposures her images record the passing of time, and transform otherwise populated spaces — amusement parks, beaches, interiors — into uncanny, ghost-like scenes. To buy (and image from): Edward Day Gallery

2. Eleanor Doran’s work features mixed-media cityscapes and haunting architectural details that remind me of Gerhard Richter and Luc Tuymans (at a fraction of their prices). To Buy (and image from): Terence Robert Gallery

3.  I was first introduced to Wanda Koop’s work by my Aunt who hung a print from Koop’s “Paintings for Brightly Lit Rooms” in her Dining Room. What continues to draw me to Koop’s work is her play with abstraction and how she explores the many tools, guides and aides we use in the process of seeing. To buy (and image from):  Mayberry Fine Art

4. Tanya Slingsby layers, then excavates, materials like paint, resin, marble dust, and wax on canvas to create what she calls “sculptural” paintings that invoke nature and the sublime. To buy (and image from): Visit Christine Klassen Gallery

5. David Bierk, who died in 2002, was truly a new old-master, an Art Historian’s artist. Bierk’s mixed-media paintings recall artists like Titian, Fantin-Latour, and allude to Abstract Impressionism and the Industrial Revolution. That sounds like an awful lot of history to live up to, but Bierk’s work somehow still manages to beautiful, singular and timeless. To buy (and image from): Diane Farris Gallery

6. I see Andre Petterson’s work and I think of el duende. From dancers, to horses, to exuberant typewriters exploding with ribbons, lines appear to come alive, and the simplest subjects appear magical. To buy: Bau-Xi Gallery

For the Library:

For the Library

1. 2012 saw 3 major art critics “break up” with the art market, declaring that they would no longer play courtiers to a palace of obscene art collectors. It’s an exciting time of art-market protest, and an opportune time to read its most outspoken protestor, Dave Hickey. To buy (and image from): University of Chicago Press

2.  This summer, I was sad to read that critic Robert Hughes died. For me, Hughes’ writing is a guide for clarity, simplicity and precision. It’s also timeless in its ideas. With blockbuster exhibitions like Van Gogh at the National Gallery of Canada, and Picasso at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I found myself returning to Hughes’ Time Magazine  reviews of similar exhibitions from the 1980s and 90s. Hughes’ Nothing if Not Critical is therefore a must for any artist or art-lover. To buy (and image from):

3. The Biography: After seeing Domestic Symphonies at the National Gallery of Art in Ottawa, I immediately wanted to know more about the Canadian-born photographer whose work — poised between pictorialism and modernism — seems so ahead of its time. I was surprised and delighted by Watkins’ biography, which tells the melancholy story of Watkins’ life and also frames her work in both historical and critical contexts. Seduced By Modernity is equally captivating for the casual art lover as it is for academics. To buy (and image from): : 

For Artful Living:

A collection of beautiful and light-hearted art-related stocking stuffers to make spirits bright.

Artful Living2

1. Keep both artist and style straight with this History of Art Mug from the MoMA Store. To buy: MoMA Store

2. When life hands you lemons why not make art with them? To buy: Art Gallery of Ontario

3. “Tortured genius never came in such small a size.” The only trouble with these fridge magnet finger-puppets is deciding which artist to choose to hold up your best work. To buy: The Unemployed Philosophers Guild

4.  Also from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild, this Dali clock is clever and beautiful. Surrealism for your mantelpiece. To buy: Here

5. Inspired by Victorian-era portraits, these whimsical serving trays come in two unique designs. To buy: Art Gallery of Ontario

 6. Even though there are thousands of Iphone cases out there, none are quite as appropriate (and meta) as this trompe l’oeil is for the instagrammer-flâneur. To buy: The Saatchi Store

 7. Let’s be honest, some gift shop designs can be down right tacky. This Picasso iPad cover, however, is a subtle way of safekeeping your iPad. To buy: The Guggenheim Store

(all images adapted and collaged from links)

For the Child, or Child-at-Heart:

For Kids

1. Bring on the snow days. This jar is packed with anything and everything a kid could need to create his or her first masterpiece (consider this a Kid-Kit from the merry days of The Babysitter’s Club for your mini-Picasso). To buy: Art Gallery of Ontario

2. A mess is a simply a work of art in progress. If only my niece wouldn’t grow up so fast…she would be a shoe-in for this adorable bib. To buy: Tate Shop

3. Soap crayons? Does one have to be a child to enjoy these? Bath time doesn’t get much better than this. To buy: Tate Shop

4. Art In a Box is a great way to introduce children to art history through fun, interactive activities. To buy: Tate Shop

5. At Our House is a counting book with bright shapes, funky designs, and lots to keep your little one entertained for hours. To buy: Tate Shop

6. A fascinating introduction to Architecture that travels from Ancient Egypt to Bauhaus and beyond. To buy: Art Gallery of Ontario

7. Although not quite Calder, this piece is more kinetic sculpture than mobile, don’t you think? To buy: Guggenheim Store

(all images adapted and collaged from their respective links)

For Them All:

Finally, I can’t think of a better gift than a membership to someone’s favorite museum or gallery. Give the gift of almost-anytime-access-with-little-to-no-line-up and, as hokey as it may sound, open up a new year of ideas and possibilities (as well as all kinds of discounts in the gift-shop).

For more artistic giving and inspiration check out this pinterest board .


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