Holiday markets offer the unique
Attention holiday shoppers: time really is running out. Luckily, you can still visit some charming local artists markets that offer one-of-a-kind handmade finds for everyone on your list. Grab some friends and make a day of it at one or more of these featured seasonal venues. Not only will you avoid the crowded malls, but you're more likely to get something extra special.
Detroit Artists Market
At Detroit Artists Market, you'll find Art for the Holidays through Dec. 28. Their wide selection of wares has grown to include "200 and climbing" local talents with an array of handmade clothing, jewelry, ceramics, textiles, sculptures and more.
"We have more artists and more items than in the years past. The variety is the best it's ever been," says director Matt Fry. "We're the longest continuously running nonprofit contemporary art gallery in Detroit. People have come to know this and they come here religiously."
Their Detroit-themed items are especially popular. For instance, the vintage watercolors by Sam Karres that depict the Motor City date to the 1970s and '80s. "It's great for someone to own a piece of Detroit-centric art by a local artist," Fry says.
Lisa Farris makes charming ceramic mugs inspired by drawings done by children in her family. Speaking of kids, there are adorable gifts for those little ones on your list, like Mr. Sogs Creatures by Joelle Medici.
Prices start below $5 for ornaments and go up to four figures for paintings. There are lots of options in the $50 and under range including unique jewelry.
Since the artists often replenish what's sold with something new, customers often return a few days later, Fry says. Limited free parking is available behind the building, while an adjacent lot charges a small fee.
"What's nice about Detroit Artists Market is that we have such a unique 83-year history and there is a collegial atmosphere. It's palpable. The artists volunteer a lot and we have an amazing core that helped install this shop," Fry says.
It's not just the products that make an impression. As Fry explains, "The shopping experience is really fun. People come here and make a day of it. They might go to the DIA before and a restaurant like Motor City Brewing Works after." What a great way to bring on the holiday cheer.
Anton Art Center
Anne Lilla, executive director at the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens, can't say enough about their Celebrate: Christmas Market 2014, open through Sunday. The holiday shop has been around for more than 30 years, and this year marks the center's 45th anniversary.
Volunteers do everything from decorating to staffing the seasonal shop inside the historic building. This year there are over 100 artists from which to choose.
Among the latest offerings you'll find glass, wood, fiber, paintings, clay, jewelry, cloth and mixed media. Though a few are made by out-of-state artists, the works are predominantly by Michigan artists and everything is handmade.
Distinctive items include fabric sculptures by Connie Sochacki and woodturnings by Roger Meeker. The felted and beaded jewelry by Skylar Bre'z is another unique find.
Their popular kitchen shop sells locally made chocolates, jams, jellies and pickles as well as little crocheted towels and other crafts.
For those who haven't been there before, Lilla says you will find a wide array of relatively affordable handmade items for people of all ages, from kids to grandparents. Prices go from $4 for ornaments to $900 for some paintings.
"If you are returning to the market, this is one of the best Christmas markets of the last few years," she says. "The quality of work is high and there are a lot of new artists and designs."
For shoppers, the festive setting sets the tone. "The volunteers who staff the shop are really warm and friendly," Lilla says. "There is Christmas music playing in the background and the building is so beautiful. It's serene."
Paint Creek Center for the Arts
In Rochester, there's the Paint Creek Center for the Arts Holiday Art Market with more than 100 artists shown. Everything from Pewabic tiles to glass ornaments and fashion accessories can be found in the quaint location.
Their ceramics encompass everything from soap dispensers and soup bowls to necklaces by Deanna Clyne. Little gifts like handmade soaps are in demand.
Lovely scarves, hats and gloves make charming gifts, especially for those on your list who seem to have everything. A request for purses led to a small but distinct selection.
Prices are reasonable and a portion of the proceeds goes to support their art programs. Current works include some that were made by faculty members.
"Now that it's a little closer to Christmas, the glass ornaments sold out twice. Those have become the big sellers," says Rana Edgar, director of exhibitions and art market. Luckily, there is plenty to replenish. "Things change every day," she adds.
"A lot of our students are aspiring artists and they are really inspired by the items we sell and they often become patrons," Edgar says. Others are likely to be inspired by the handmade selection with a local spin.
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center
Last but not least is the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, where Annie VanGelderen, president and CEO, shares the latest developments at the Holiday Shop. Here, over 100 artists offer a little bit of everything from garden sculptures and home goods to jewelry, apparel and more.
"It's the whole plethora," she says. "We even have knitted baby caps and a number of new artists. We like to introduce our audience to new artists. People always notice and some have been coming here for 20 years."
Prices start at $5 and go to a few thousand dollars for paintings. "We run the full gamut, but the average price point is around $40 to $50," VanGelderen says.
Free parking is among the perks.
Most of the artists are from Michigan, including the Upper Peninsula.
People often collect glass ornaments by two different artists. "They buy one or two new ones each year for their tree. That becomes a tradition; with time, they might be handed down to the kids," VanGelderen says.
Handmade jewelry sells well. "No one is going to be wearing the same piece at a Christmas or New Year's party because there are no duplicates," she says.
That's just part of the charm. "When something goes from an artist's hand to the purchaser's hand, there is something tangible in it," VanGelderen says. "There is something really beautiful about holding something, even a bar of soap, knowing that someone's hands actually formed it."
Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at email@example.com.
Detroit Artists Market Art for the Holidays 2014 (through Dec. 28):Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon – 5 p.m. 4719 Woodward Ave., Detroit.
detroitartistsmarket.org, (313) 832-8540.
Anton Art Center Celebrate Christmas Market 2014 (through Sunday): Thursday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday noon – 4 p.m. 125 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens.
theartcenter.org, (586) 469-8666.
Paint Creek Center for the Arts Holiday Art Market (through Dec. 30) Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed Sundays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. 407 Pine St., Rochester.
pccart.org, (248) 651-4110.
Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (through Saturday): Thursday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 1516 S. Cranbrook, Birmingham. bbartcenter.org, (248) 644-0866.