A seasonal display at the Spruill Holiday Artists Market, which features more than 100 participants. (Photo by A Dunkley Designs)

Holiday artists markets: The art of giving

Story by Suzanne Van Atten

Holiday shopping has become as simple as scrolling the web and pushing a few buttons on the computer. And if that feels like too much effort, gift cards provide the least amount of muss and fuss.

But something has been lost in the march toward convenience. Nothing conveys the idea that “it’s the thought that counts” more than a carefully selected present that reflects the recipient’s taste or interests. A gift that is unique and not mass-produced is even better. Perhaps the best antidote to online shopping and gift cards is the holiday artists market, and Atlanta is home to several well-curated shows featuring original, handcrafted objects made by local artisans and priced for your shopping list.

The antithesis of traffic-clogged shopping malls, artists markets provide a genteel atmosphere ideal for leisurely perusing handcrafted items and fine art works, preferably with a friend or two in tow. And instead of contributing your hard-earned cash to the coffers of corporate conglomerates, your money benefits local artists.

The Holiday Artists Market at Spruill Gallery is one of the area’s longest-running holiday shows, with 2018 marking its 25th season. Each year, more than 100 artists and crafters are invited to participate in the show, which features a combination of returning artisans and those making their gallery debuts. Goods for sale include paintings, photography, jewelry, pottery and more.

“Our team and I are constantly looking for new artists throughout the year to invite to the artists market,” says gallery director Jennifer Price. “It’s always nice to have something fresh and different.”

Among the newbies this year is Regina’s Farm Kitchen selling jams and jellies, including an organic blueberry and lemon variety, as well as savory biscotti made with herbs and olive oil.

Returning artists include Joanne Hernandez, a metalsmith instructor at Spruill Center for the Arts who makes jewelry using large stones, and Lacy M. Freeman, who paints whimsical animals in acrylic on canvas and wood panels. Freeman has added greeting cards featuring prints of her paintings to her inventory, along with wooden gift tags.

Another long-running, invitational holiday show is “Little Things,” a fine art show at Swan Coach House Gallery featuring work by 110 artists.

“The idea is to present affordable small works on paper in time for the holidays so people can purchase original works of art as gifts,” says gallery manager Michelle Laxalt.

Each artist is asked to provide two or three pieces for the show, which offers the rare opportunity to “buy a smaller work at a lesser price by a prominent artist,” says Marianne Lambert, who has curated the show since it began 16 years ago. “Little Things” features a mix of “well-known artists with emerging artists and all artists in between,” she says. “Seldom do artists appear two years in a row.”

Artists invited to participate this year include painters Joe Peragine and Rocío Rodriguez, and multimedia artist Lisa Tuttle.

For the DIY and Etsy crowd, the Indie Craft Experience hosts two shows this season. Holiday Shopping Spectacular brings more than 170 makers to the Georgia Freight Depot from Nov. 17-18 to sell art, crafts and vintage goods. And on Dec. 9, the Holiday Market brings 60 artisans to the Yaarab Shrine Temple. Both shows also feature food vendors and music from DJ Zano.

Relatively new to the holiday market scene is Christkindl Market, now in its third year at Central Park in Atlantic Station. Sponsored by the German American Cultural Foundation, this German-style Christmas market provides a place to buy holiday decorations, Christmas tree ornaments and seasonal confections.

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Holiday Artists Market. Nov. 13-Dec. 23. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, Noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Free admission; donations accepted. Opening night party, 6-9 p.m. Nov. 13. Spruill Gallery, 4681 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-394-4019. spruillarts.org/gallery

“Little Things.” Nov. 15-Jan. 4. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Free admission. Opening night party 6-9 p.m. Nov. 15. Swan Coach House Gallery, 3130 Slaton Drive, Atlanta. 404-266-2636. swangallery.org

Indie Craft Experience. Holiday Shopping Spectacular, Nov. 17-18. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. both days. Georgia Freight Depot, 65 Martin Luther King Drive. ice-atlanta.com/holiday-shopping-spectacular. Holiday Market, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 9. Yaarab Shrine Temple, 400 Ponce de Leon Ave. ice-atlanta.com/about-holiday-market. Both shows $5, free for children 12 and younger.

Christkindl Market. Nov. 30-Dec. 23. 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday. Free admission. Atlantic Station, 245 18th St. christkindlmarket.org

Insider tips

The first 250 attendees each day at Indie Craft Experience Holiday Shopping Spectacular and the first 100 attendees at its Holiday Market get free swag bags.

In addition to its Holiday Artists Market, Spruill Gallery hosts a special Gift Bazaar from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Dec. 15, featuring more arts and crafts by additional artists.

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