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Holiday support for the arts

More holiday ideas of gifts for this Christmas season

For The Dominion Post

COVID-19 has affected everyone, but you can still gift unique Christmas gifts and help area artists and artisans at the same time.

Keep the music alive 

 While live music concerts tickets may not be a gift-giving option this year, local musician and artist Jenny Wilson had tips on how to support musicians this season.

 “It’s a state of mind, that when you are at home, music is free,” Wilson said. To help musicians who rely on ticketed events and merchandise sales, Wilson said people can consider purchasing CDs or buying digital downloads (not just streaming for free).

 Attending virtual shows and tipping generously, Wilson said, also helps. “You can just go to their website, or their YouTube, and most musicians have a virtual tip jar there,” she said. She suggested booking private virtual shows, inviting a few friends to tune in, and booking small outdoor concerts for spring and summer.

 Wilson said she and other musicians have adjusted to teaching virtual lessons. A gift of a music lesson, for the person with an instrument gathering dust and with learning to play on the eternal to-do list, would be timely in this pandemic year.

 If ordering online, reach out about local pickups to avoid shipping time restrictions to get gifts in time for the holidays.

 With so many local options in all categories, every gift for every loved one can be bought from a local creative, spreading economic support and the holiday spirit throughout the community.

Bring the bling 

 Jewelry, a classic gift for loved ones, made by artisans working in varied mediums, is available locally from many shops and online. The Pretty Pickle offers resin and flower jewelry, The Artisan’s Menagerie is a source for fine metal jewelry and Lock House Studio offers mixed medium jewelry available at River Fair Trade.

Silver Pennies Jewelry and Spencer & Kuehn Fine Jewelry Studio on High Street also offer one-of-a-kind and bespoke pieces.

Eddie Spaghetti print
A print by Eddie Spaghetti makes the perfect gift for any art lover — bonus: Prints are light and easy to ship to loved ones kept away due to the pandemic.

An eye for art 

 For the art lover, local options abound as artists search out alternative ways to promote their work.

 Edward Maier, of Eddie Spaghetti Art, continues to sell his work through his website. As do many other artists, Maier depended heavily on craft shows for sales.

“Every month, I thought, OK, next month will be OK,” Maier said. Now he thinks, “they might even be canceled next year.” 

 “In March, I was pretty darn nervous. But magically things started happening,” Maier said. He received commissions to create murals and other types of creative work.

 “I’ve been pretty busy; people have been reaching out,” Maier said.

He credited his continued work to having been in business for a couple decades, over which he built a network of contacts. “If this was a new thing for me, it wouldn’t have worked out.” 

 Maier said he has made a few artworks inspired by 2020. One features an upside-down rainbow, two trees and birds that can be pulled across the piece.

 “You’re in control of that movement,” he said, noting that this year has made people feel out of control. “We are still in control of how we perceive things,” Maier said.

 Art prints are available in local shops or directly from artists: Milkweed Rising Studio (photos of flowers and nature digitally edited into mandalas), Octavia Spriggs (watercolor paintings and ornaments), Penelyn VanOrange (paintings, prints and stained glass) and PractiQuills (paper quilling) among many others.

 The Morgantown Art Association, at the Mountaineer Mall, offers works by local artists, most of which are priced at $100 for affordable gift-giving.

Read all about it 

 For the bookworm, consider a book written by a local author such as “The Sound of Holding Your Breath,” by Natalie Sypolt. Katie Fallon’s books on vultures and cerulean warblers are great for birders and other nature lovers.

 Noteworthy for her whimsical text and unique illustrations is children’s book author Cynthia O’Brien; her books and those of local authors of children’s books Fallon, Kelsey Clark and others are available online, at the Appalachian Gallery, the Preston Community Arts Center and other local shops.

For the little ones 

 Wooden puzzles by Wood Mountain Dreams, gifted to young children, will gracefully transition from toy to home decorations as the child grows.

 Sock monkeys by Penelyn VanOrange at Appalachian Gallery will charm children of all ages.

 For those with green thumbs, plants from or gift cards to The Plant Cult, Modern Homestead and Shields Herb and Flower Farm may bring joy.

The skin you’re in 

 For that hard-to-buy-for giftee, locally made body products make perfect gifts, especially a gift basket full of them. Rora Apothic’s soaps in a variety of scents can be found online and at River Fair Trade.

 The company also makes a large variety of body products that can be combined in a gift basket. The Appalachian Botanical Co., a new West Virginia enterprise, grows lavender and produces a variety of body products. Among its offerings is a travel kit consisting of lavender hand sanitizer, crème, mist and sachet, particularly useful in these times. Available at Hoot and Howl and online.

 Other local body product makers: Made with Love at Preston Arts Center and on-line, J&L Naturals and Natural Home Essentials for sidewalk pick-up at Mountain People’s Co-op, Bella Beloved online and TigerFly Soap Co. for sidewalk pick-up and online. A sampler basket with an item from each local maker might be just the ticket for the one who already has everything else.

Stocking stuffers 

 For stocking stuffers, consider West Virginia and cryptid stickers and pins by Keep On Creepin’ On, tiny creatures and keychain pies by Angie D*Signs, or a small stained glass window hanging by Looking Glass Designs. The Old Stone House Gift Shop carries holiday ornaments galore, as do the other shops already mentioned. Evans Knob Farm offers wool felted ornaments. CDs by local musicians and gift cards to local restaurants could fill out a Christmas stocking.

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