Corrections or additions?

(This article by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on

December 2, 1998. All rights reserved.)

Loving Gifts for Arts Lovers

Chanel No. 5? Fuggetaboutit. Same with negligees,

fur boas, and such fripperies, and even Neiman Marcus’s conversation

piece — whatever it may be for 1998. High-tech toys, from flat

TVs to "flashbake" ovens, and even remote-control window


Too cold and crass; not nourishing for the soul. It’s time to


the dominant paradigm" and focus on made-to-measure holiday gifts

for your visual arts-loving friends and relatives.

This year’s round-up of art-friendly gifts for all ages features


near at hand, but includes a few that involve a day trip. One or two

require some personal inconvenience, or even discomfort. Some are

serious, and others are frivolous, but all are art-related, with


ranging from $1.49 and $3.50 to — well, it depends on what you’d

like for lunch. Best of all, these gifts won’t demand new batteries

at irregular intervals, upgrading, or even dry-cleaning.

Start small, about four inches by six inches, to be exact. Give an

artsy friend a fistful of postcards featuring art reproductions you

know are already favorites or that you want to introduce them to.

Depending on where you buy art cards, and their quality, they usually

run from 30 cents to twice that. To be really thoughtful, include

as many postcard stamps (20 cents each) as you have cards. Then sit

back and wait for your own thank-you card to arrive.

Moving up the reproduction ladder, you can’t go wrong with an art

calendar. The possibilities are limited only by the number of rooms

and offices your giftee might have. Ranging from $10 to $20, pretty,

shocking, or surprising art calendars — take your pick — are

available just about everywhere; no need to order from a museum


these days.

In bigger-repro land, consider art posters. There’s nothing like a

David Hockney western canyon or swimming pool scene to brighten a

dull winter’s day. Most art museums have a collection of posters


their own exhibitions, and frame shops often have catalogs of posters

from all over. Regardless of source, the typical poster will cost

under $20, and the easiest way to display it is dry-mounted (add $8

or $10), without either frame or glass.

Entering the heftier gift department, in weight as well as content,

the art exhibition catalog is a sure thing, likely to please the


who could not afford one on leaving an exhibition, or that may impress

your giftee with your up-to-date arts perspective. A few worthwhile

biggies of the season:

The Princeton University Art Museum’s catalog for its

current photography exhibition, "Photography at Princeton,"

— beautiful show (free), beautiful catalog, silver-colored, with

fold-out reproductions ($30 at the Art Museum shop).

The catalog for the exhibition at the New Jersey State

Museum ,

"Art by African Americans in the Collection," is available

in that shop for $30, and with its informed, comprehensive survey

of the subject this catalog is a collector’s item, worth every penny.

Climb aboard the Jackson Pollock bandwagon with the Museum

of Modern Art’s hardcover exhibition catalog ($75) or the


version ($35). The books share the same striking cover and accolades

from this critic, who found the catalog to be surprisingly readable.

A tuneful sidebar to the Pollock exhibition, which will be at MOMA

through February 2, is "Jackson Pollock Jazz CD," also


in the MOMA shop. Selected from Pollock’s extensive collection of

78-rpm records, which he reportedly played while making his paintings,

the CD features 17 jazz classics from the ’30s and ’40s, as well as

ragtime, blues, and swing. Pollock’s wife, Lee Krasner, said her


believed jazz was the only other creative thing, besides his work,

that was happening at the time. So how about some creativity by



Browse the periodical shelves at your friendly neighborhood book store

and select a clutch of current art magazines for someone in your


Unlikely to take the time for herself, she’ll appreciate your astute

choices, which might introduce hot art issues or provide practical

how-to’s from professional artists. Graphic, glossy, and fast reads,

zines are also easy to grab for a long train or airplane ride, and

one or two of them might spur a subscription in the future.

How about gifts for the artist to wear? Museum stores

stand ready to help you with silk scarves and jewelry, all derived

from art in the collection — or so goes the claim, though the

connection is sometimes tenuous. (Now, there’s an art history thesis

or dissertation topic for you: Relate the objects in the museum store

catalog to the original, considering its mediums and faithfulness

of reproduction — if you dare!)

Other possibilities, typically found in museum shops, include artists’

biographies and autobiographies, books on art history, theory, and

artists’ mediums, and prints of popular works. The Art Museum,


University, offers a 500-piece puzzle showing a detail of Monet’s

"Waterlilies and Japanese Bridge," and the ubiquitous


totes, note cards, T-shirts, and magnets. Eugene Delacroix’s


Tiger" (magnet or coaster format) goes for $4.95 or $14.95. Need

we point out how apropos that is for a recipient with a Princeton

habitat? And, for a while, these items will do double allusive duty

by nodding to the big Delacroix exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum

of Art that continues through January 3.

Advance tickets are long gone for the one-time, one-stop Van Gogh

exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C. What

to do for a wishful Van Gogh fan or art history student? Do a good

deed, a very good deed. (Yes, this is where the discomfort we


earlier comes in.) On a mutually convenient day before January 4,

drive your friend to Washington — or spring for a hotel room the

night before. Between 5 and 7 a.m., drop him or her off at a cozy

breakfast spot while you wait on line until the day’s free tickets

are distributed. With admissions in hand, you have only to thaw and/or

dry out, join your friend, and enjoy Van Gogh together at the



If all that represents too much discomfort, the gift of a day trip

to New York might be the ticket. Since Pollock’s hot, go to MOMA to

see the show that includes a full-size replica of his studio and a

video of his drip-painting on glass. With stamina, you can walk


the exhibition of Pollock’s prints, on the same floor. Finally, allow

yourselves time to limp to the in-house cafe or the restaurant


the sculpture garden for lunch or supper.

An alternative to the inside of MOMA is the street outside. Pollock

isn’t visible from here, but the banks of scarlet amaryllis in the

lobby are. And so are the enterprising vendors selling art and gifts

of all sorts: custom calligraphy (of your name or the blessing or

proverb you choose), art books, small paintings and prints, wire


jewelry. You could buy on impulse, then feast on fresh-air fare: hot

dogs, pretzels, knishes — with mustard, thanks.

Enough, already, of this togetherness? Enroll your art-loving friend

or relative as a member of the museum of your — or the giftee’s

— choice. Then you can simply drive your friend to the train


and wave her off. More important, in making her a member, you may

do for her what she’ll love, but would not do for herself. Since we

started there, let’s stick with MOMA, where, typical of most museums,

membership offers unlimited free admission, members-only previews

and viewing hours, subscription to a members’ magazine and museum

store discount. (It is very gratifying to bypass the line for a


exhibition, flash a membership card to the guard, and go directly

to the art. And doing so regularly quickly pays for the membership.)

Further, being a member of a museum is a feel-good experience. Doesn’t

your friend deserve that?

A nice thing about giving art-related gifts to someone special is

that the gift often suggests or necessitates two people, and offers

kindred spirits an occasion for joint enjoyment. Another example,

once again in Manhattan: The New York Public Library, at Fifth Avenue

and 42nd Street, offers splendid — and free — tours of the

building twice a day, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Like a Colossus, your

art-gift recipient could straddle the past — enjoying the


examples of Beaux-Arts architecture," that encompasses


columns and arches, grand marble staircases and high, elaborately

decorated ceilings" — and the present — the newly reopened

Rose Main Reading Room, restored and modernized to accommodate,


the latest in late 20th-century technology.

"Send this friend to school!" could be your cry if you accept

the offer of Mercer Community College. Buy the college education gift

certificate in any amount to encourage your art-loving friend into

a studio course, a survey of art history, or an art appreciation


You could "wrap" the certificate in a brand new marbled paper

notebook and enclose a map of the campus, starting with the student

parking area.

Back home again, and still looking for the perfect gift for an artsy

person? Why not shop locally, cultivate spontaneity, buy on impulse

— and savor the work of area artists and crafters, and the wares

of art-related businesses? Here are some possibilities: Lawrence Art

and Frame Gallery, off Route 1 in Lawrence Shopping Center, has long

been a place to find area artists and quality framing. Lately owner

Peter Van Ellis has added art objects to his shop’s inventory of


by Marge Chavooshian and Elizabeth Ruggles, and Michelle M. Post’s

wood engravings. Now, both whimsical (soft-sculpture seats,


and metal "yardbirds") and functional (pottery and painted

furniture) items are also available.

Van Ellis also believes in smelling the roses — or the algae.

Time permitting, he pursues his hobby in the gallery’s workroom: he

makes canoe paddles in cedar and ash woods, sometimes using up to

70 individual pieces for one of six designs. For your artsy-athlete

or your athletic art-lover, you might see a Van Ellis paddle as the

best of both worlds.

Practically around the corner there’s Triangle Repro, off Route 1

on Darrah Lane. Be forewarned: this Triangle site, with both the usual

professional supplies for working in acrylics, pastels, oils, and

pencils, has also mastered the point-of-purchase concept. Go there

for simple photocopies, and emerge, helplessly, with nifty pens,


colored-plastic totes, a Crayola umbrella. Yes, Crayola, for one


corner of the crafts-kit area is devoted to the products of that


Pennsylvania-based behemoth. Did you know there are Crayola washable

paints, watercolors, markers, wipe-off slates, scissors, and, oh,

yes, crayons? And not just crayons — but varied numbers of them

in different anniversary boxes, with new colors and old colors, with

or without built-in sharpeners.

If you manage to move beyond Crayola’s nostalgia trap, you’ll


such temptations as a gargoyle kit ("carve your own and turn them

to stone") and a memory plate (paint on a white plate, bake it

in the oven, then display) — each for $16. With such alluring

gifts, it may happen that you see what you want to buy, then try to

come up with a lovely child to give it to. Other temptations include

"The Complete Soapmaker Book and Kit" ($29.95), "Art


Packs" for Van Gogh, Rousseau, et al. ($9.95), and "The Little

Christmas Stained Glass Coloring Book," which, for $1, invites

a child to color in between the (lead-like) lines, then display the

finished picture in a window.

Starting at $3.50, the "elephant ear sponge"

pieces, for pottery and texturing surfaces, might also serve as


"tools" — look out, Max Factor. Unusual pencil sharpeners

and highlighters abound at this richly-stocked Triangle site, which

also offers a panoply of crafts materials — origami to felt,


to glitter to rubber stamps — and an array of papers.

Hurry, you’re already late: the 23rd annual "Transformations"

fine crafts show and sale opened the day before Thanksgiving at the

Princeton University Store. Featuring the works of 22 area crafters,

the shop will be open through December 28. The three-day fine arts

and crafts bazaar at Artworks, the visual arts school of Princeton

and Trenton, awaits you from Friday to Sunday, December 4 to 6. Also

Friday to Sunday, December 4 to 6, is "Sauce for the Goose


the annual holiday arts sale at the Arts Council of Princeton.

Now that you have found suitable gifts for all your art-loving


only one important task remains: What to do with that Chanel No. 5

flacon you brought home prematurely? Nothing easier — and don’t

say I never did anything for you.

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