From literary bestsellers, to every latest gadget, to malls and shopping plazas filled with mass produced “somethings” for every “someone” on your list, there is no denying that internet and chain retailers make it easy to one stop shop for the holidays.  This year though, while you’re purchasing for friends and family, consider gifting locally produced works of art from right here in Worcester, one of the most dynamic cities for art and culture in the region. Each purchase will directly impact the creative community in our city, and that’s a great way to spend your holiday dollars this season.
Buying Local Art for the Holidays 1
If you scroll down the rabbit hole of “wall decor” on your search engines list of retail websites, or walk the aisles of your local home goods store looking for gifts, you will find a lot of relaxing landscapes; bold, abstract expressionist images designed to match your sofa; and black-and-white photographs of flowers, cafes, and charming side streets in Europe.  They range from $50 to $500 and are ready to hang.  But here’s the thing, they are all mass produced, which means that while an artist did create the original piece, they receive no royalties, no recognition, and the retailers make all of the profit.  Every dollar spent on a commercial print is a dollar that could go to support a local artist instead.  If we spend a little differently, not only are we purchasing something beautiful, we are engaging, connecting, and supporting our creative community.
This year, if you would like to give a piece of art, or something handcrafted as a gift, consider doing it in a way that supports our local artists, makers, crafters, creative businesses and institutions.  For roughly the same amount of money that you would be handing over for an assembly-line reproduction, you can give something that’s one of a kind.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Holiday Festival of Crafts hosted by the Worcester Center For Crafts
November 24th and 25th from 10am to 4pm
The Holiday Festival is a true alternative to the Black Friday madness, featuring hand-made work in an environment where you can meet the maker, take your time, and let the artists personally assist you. Wearables, jewelry, leather goods, glass, textiles, ceramics, and more will be for sale. For more information please visit their website at

Gallery Purchases and Credits
Sprinkler Factory, Davis Gallery, and ArtsWorcester
If someone in your life has a true love of art, consider visiting one of our local galleries to purchase a piece they will treasure forever.  The Sprinkler Factory, the Davis Gallery, and ArtsWorcester all have work on display by distinct, diverse, brilliantly talented local artists, all with portfolios of work for sale.  If you are unsure what to purchase, ask someone from the gallery to assist you in securing a gallery credit.  Like a gift card, you may buy the credit in any denomination.  Tucked inside a handmade card, this is the perfect gift for someone who is collecting, or simply interested in receiving something unique and beautiful.  For more information, current shows, and/or a list of member artists, please contact the Sprinkler Factory at http://www.sprinklerfactory.com/, the Davis Gallery at http://www.davisgalleryaustin.com/, and ArtsWorcester at http://artsworcester.org/.
Buying Local Art for the Holidays 2
Crompton Collective
Crompton Collective is a curated boutique marketplace located in the historic Canal District of Worcester.  Designed to celebrate local, independent artists and makers, and a love of old things, the building is filled with eclectic treasures.  Wandering through the displays and booths, you are sure to find the perfect gift for that special someone on your list.  For more information about the Crompton Collective, please visit their website at http://www.cromptoncollective.com/
Worcester Wares
For Everything Worcester
Worcester Wares carries a fun mix of local, Worcester themed lines of product, created by local Worcester artists and makers.  Amazing, and all so very different, there are pins, tote bags, shirts, posters, cards, stickers, and holiday ornaments for sale in this unique shop tucked away on Commercial Street. For store times and information, please visit their website at http://www.worcesterwares.com/about/
Membership to the Worcester Art Museum
For less than $100, you and your significant other will receive FREE admission, and 10 percent off at the gift shop, when you purchase a one year membership to WAM.  What you are really buying though, are museum dates.  Dates to openings, private events, discounts on classes, and opportunities to see the newest art exhibits in a more intimate setting.  The Worcester Art Museum houses over 35,000 works of art dating from antiquity to present day, representing cultures from all over the world.  It is the hidden treasure of Central Massachusetts, making the gift of a membership something anyone will enjoy.  For more information about the museum and how to purchase a gift membership, please visit their website at http://www.worcesterart.org/.
Artist Commission
The most meaningful gifts I have ever given or received were commissioned from local artists.  When you contact an artist whose work you admire about a custom piece, don’t be surprised by how willing most are to work within your budget and visual input.  Choosing an artist may be the hardest part of beginning the acquisition.  Visiting one of Worcester’s many local galleries (including the three mentioned in this article) is a great place to start, as is Etsy.  Etsy features artists and makers from all over the world, including many from Worcester.  By visiting the web page for “Etsy Worcester” at https://www.etsy.com/market/worcester_artist you will be able to choose from a variety of artists, with a variety of styles, all from our local community, where I am sure you will find the perfect fit for creative collaboration.
And for our youngest artists, there are just as many opportunities to share the gift of art in our community:
ArtsWorcester offers a teen membership and programming to students with an interest in creating and learning about art. They host several events throughout the year for this group of young artists and their families, as a way of introducing them to our local arts community. For information about this program, please visit their website at http://artsworcester.org/
Claytime and ArtReach, both locally owned studios, offer classes and workshops for artists of all ages, including our youngest creatives.  Consider purchasing a gift card to either, as a FUN alternative to just another toy. For more information about both of these studios, please visit their websites at https://www.claytimestudio.com/ and http://www.artreachstudioafs.com
In the next few days we’ll come together and give thanks… and then we’ll shop.  Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and every sale in-between.  This year I encourage you to make your list, check it twice, and instead of heading out, stay in!  Spend the day in Worcester purchasing handmade, one-of-a-kind, artisan made gifts in support of our city’s growing creative community.
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