Think outside the (big) box for holiday gifts: Local galleries, gift stores offer unique options

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Christmas is a week away and if you're still on the hunt for a unique gift for a loved one, take heart. Metro Detroit has plenty of spots to find just the right present, but it's time to step outside the big box store both literally and figuratively.

Several local art galleries and art centers have special holiday art markets now open offering a wide range of handcrafted gifts, often by local artists, including ceramics, candles, paintings, kitchen items, jewelry, holiday decor and more. And they're open right through the holidays.

A fused glass piece with a stand ($185) by artist Alysa Diebolt is available at the Detroit Artists Market's Art for the Holidays. It's flanked by blown glass vases ($38) by Rick Shapero.

The Detroit Artists Market on Woodward is the OG of Michigan's holiday art markets. Now in its 70th year, its Art for the Holidays is the original and longest-running holiday art market in the state, said Matt Fry, the gallery's director. 

Detroit Artists Market "is a great place for people who like buying unique gifts," said Fry. "...Holiday shows are now ubiquitous, but we've been doing this for a long time now, and it's a good one."

The Detroit Artists Market Art for the Holidays, which runs through Dec. 30, features items from roughly 200 Michigan artists. Items include ceramics, paintings, holiday decor and more.

This year's show features everything from custom cutting boards to retro cool paintings of Detroit landmarks from roughly 200 artists. Prices range from $30 for handpainted ornaments to $500 for art.

And while the Detroit Artists Market may have Michigan's longest running holiday art market, Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit has one of the newer markets. Its "Gift of Art" Holiday Exhibition, now in its second year, features roughly 100 pieces by 40 artists from all over Michigan and a couple from New York.

A mask by Detroit painter and sculptural artist Donald Calloway is one of the 100 pieces for sale at Irwin House's "Gift of Art" Holiday Exhibition. It runs through Dec. 31.

Prices range from $50 to $500 for paintings, mixed media pieces and some sculptural chairs. It's open from 12-7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at both Irwin House and a sister location, Chene Parc.

Gallery director Misha McGlown said the exhibition is a great place for emerging artists to show their work and for the public to discover them. This year's show, for example, features a few paintings by Detroit artist Jonathan Harris, whose "Critical Race Theory" painting has exploded all over the internet in recent weeks. 

"When you're a new artist, a lot of times people tell you no" when it comes to showing your art, said McGlown. "So this is an exhibition where we don't turn anybody away."

For glass fans, Crystal Logic in Detroit's Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood is an option for gifts.

Owned and operated by local glassblowers Allison Key and Pete Gibbs, who opened the store a year ago, it offers locally hand-blown glass from other Detroit and Michigan glassmakers. The shop also carries metaphysical gifts like crystals, minerals, tumbled stones. 

For loved ones who are history buffs, the new Ford House Visitor Center at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores has a spacious gift store with a wide range of unique gifts, some of which were created and curated based on the Ford family. It has everything from books and tableware to stuffed animals of Moss, the Ford House's dog. 

The store "really thinks about what makes Ford House special and different and leverages those stories in product development," said Mark Heppner, the Ford House's president and CEO. "...And many of our products are focused on local artists, local manufacturers, Michigan-based.

Holiday gift markets

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center Holiday Shop, 1516 S. Cranbrook Road, Birmingham: Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, Monday and Tuesday and 12-4 p.m. Sunday. Closes Dec. 21. Go to

Crystal Logic, 14708 E. Jefferson, Detroit: Go to

Detroit Artists Market Art for the Holidays, 4719 Woodward Avenue, Detroit: Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Open 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 24. Show runs through Dec. 30. Go to

"Gift of Art" Holiday Exhibition at Irwin House Global Art Center and Gallery, 2351 W. Grand Boulevard, Detroit: Open 12-7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Exhibition runs through Dec. 31. Go to

The Shop at Ford House Visitor Center, 1100 Lake Shore Road, Grosse Pointe Shores: Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday through Sundays. Open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Dec. 24.