Friday, August 1, 2008

Have yourself a merry little August and support local artists

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — This year, let’s go for something crazy. Instead of Christmas in July, I’m moving on to a new concept: Art in August.
Let me explain.
Christmas in July is a pretty popular concept with type A Americans ... and, I must admit, with chronically early, always ahead-of-our-time Aquarians.
Most years, I thoroughly annoy many of my friends, colleagues and loved ones by announcing that I have all of my holiday shopping done by the Fourth of July. I don’t mean to be smug about it all. I’ve just found that it’s easier, less stressful and often considerably cheaper if you keep your eyes out all year for things you know are likely to delight your loved ones.
Of course, I’ve learned the hard way that you have to hold off on wrapping everything, or label it very securely, or you end up unwrapping and wrapping everything twice to figure out who gets what.
It also helps if you have secure storage areas like my double hall closets dedicated exclusively to gifts.
Despite massive recent giveaways, my closets runneth over this year. But necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s one reason I’m planning a quantum shift in my 2008 holiday strategies.
The other reason is that many artists are having a tough time this year. Several of my favorite galleries, shops and boutiques have closed and it can be harder for artists and craftspersons to find venues.
I believe that this, too, shall pass, but in the meantime we have an amazing community of talented artists in the Mesilla Valley and we need to do whatever we can to keep them here ... and keep them creating.
I think we should start our holiday shopping right now, and we should resolve to spend as much of our gift budget as possible on works of art, created close to home.
Some people are timid about giving art, figuring that it will be too difficult to come up with things that will really please all the people on their list. But the solution may simply be to enlarge your definition of art ... and the ways to acquire it.
A painting, drawing, fine art photography or sculpture are what come to mind for many when they think of art, and some think that it will be too hard to choose and too expensive to give such a gift.
Think again. With a little investigation, you can get a good idea of the tastes of a friend. Or you can play it a little safer and give a gift certificate to a gallery or even from a particular artist, many of whom have online galleries now.
If you’re having budget problems, many artists will let you buy art on time. Just could have your own Christmas club arrangement, and that painting that seems out of reach now could be yours after relatively painless monthly payments. In places like Santa Fe and Silver City, I’ve known elementary school kids, even, who have managed to buy little masterpieces this way.
Some artists may be willing to barter for goods and services, too.
And there are many artistic gifts that you may not have considered.
A book of poetry, photographs or a mystery, biography, novel or something on regional history could be the perfect gift for someone here, or someone far away who would enjoy knowing more about the place you call home.
And what about wearable art? Think about jewelry, tie-dye, woven, knitted, painted and embellished clothing, purses and accessories.
Performance arts are a possibility, too. You can give tickets to a play, concert or dance performance if your recipient lives close by or will be visiting during the holidays. You could stretch the budget by offering transpiration to a museum or gallery tour or a free performance, fiesta or event, or maybe make your own gift certificate offering a home-cooked meal at your place before or after the excursion.
And don’t forget music and performance CDs. Several great local artists and groups like the Las Cruces Symphony have terrific CDs available.
Those faddish items and electronic gadgets may be outdated before the year is out, but a gift of art could well become a family heirloom cherished by generations. A gift of art is a very personal way to inspire and support the creativity that represents the best of humanity, a very nice thing to share any time of year.
Merry Artistic August.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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