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Guyon: The Art of Gift-Giving

12/14/11 7:55AM By Annie Guyon
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(Host) Commentator and writer Annie Guyon has found a way to make the holidays more meaningful and creative.

(Guyon) Even when I lived in a major metropolis, with shopping centers and big box stores every few blocks, I rarely shopped at mega-chains. I preferred finding out-of-the-way places that sold unique wares with a little soul to them.

Living in a rural area has made me even more of a retail localvore because we have such an abundance of beautiful, innovative, hand-made and affordable gift options right in our own back yard, especially art!

At this time of year, one-of-a-kind works of art abound — at open studios, pop-up holiday fairs and galleries.

Original art is the kind of gift that keeps on giving, too — it supports artists, arts organizations and the creative economy in general. But there's an even deeper value to art, for both giver and receiver. It's made with the hard work and creativity of a human being — not automated pneumatic machines or conveyor belts in factories.

All of the paintings, photographs and sculptures that have been given to me over the years have special meaning besides the objects themselves.

There's the modernist etching from a former boss at my first gallery job; an enigmatic black-and-white photo that a distinctly enigmatic pal gave me for my 30th birthday; and a quirky conceptual art piece which a delightfully quirky friend gave me when I had my first major art review published. Each one has a story and reminds me of the giver.

Some of the art on my walls I bought for myself in moments of pure self-indulgence... and why not? I may wear 20-year-old hiking boots, but every so often I splurge on art if I can. I find that, as with a good pair of boots, with art, too, sometimes it's love at first sight and just meant to be.

It happened to me a few years ago. Above my mantle hangs a large still-life — not a bowl of fruit, but a single, ripe and rotund pear; and it was one of those things I simply had to have. I'd walked into the studio of Newfane artist Leonard Ragouzeos, spotted the pear from across the room and exclaimed, "THAT is the pear I've been looking for my entire life!"

Ever since art school, I'd been in love with that shape — earthy yet also figurative and elegant. Here, in the form of a wonderfully oversized, two-by-three foot monochromatic litho — energetically drawn with an almost confrontational boldness — it was both ponderous and poetic. I'd studied countless, perfectly lovely pear portraits over the years - so I knew this was the one for me.

Since I'd come on a friend's motorcycle, though, I had to wait several long days before it was delivered - but somehow that delay made my "gift-to-self" yet more thrilling.

So I suggest shopping for art when you're out this holiday season, and considering which works will specifically resonate for each person on your list, including yourself. The thought that goes into that kind of gift is what really counts - and supports the local economy as well.
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