Santa knows where you’ve been shopping—and he thinks you can do better.
STOP. IN THE NAME OF LOVE, before you stuff any stockings with pre-packaged fragrance sets or, God forbid, tube socks, consider the artistic alternatives. One-of-a-kind jewelry, handbags, and clothing, not to mention fine art, can all be found using the following highly selective compendium of holiday trunk shows, art sales, and spunky craft fairs (think knitted bikinis, not pinecone Santas). With such thoughtful gifts at your fingertips, you’ll be forgiven for putting your own name on a few of them.
Saturdays at Northrup King
No other building in Minnesota can boast such a concentration of artist studios. And during the holidays, this 780,000-square-foot locus of local art keeps convenient visitor hours—spend a Saturday afternoon strolling from studio to studio, browsing everything from Ingrid Restemayer’s minimalist mixed-media pieces to the hand-woven Peruvian rugs at Art Andes, plus jewelry, clothes, sculpture, and, of course, paintings. Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m., November 29 to December 20; Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson St. NE, Minne-apolis, northrupkingbuilding.com
Ruby3 Progressive Holiday Trunk Show
Anna Lee is the heart and soul of the local fashion scene, producing the annual Voltage Fashion Amplified show in Minne-apolis, along with other special events, and recently founding MNfashion, a nonprofit supporting the state’s burgeoning apparel industry. Despite wearing all these hats, Lee still finds time to design some of her own. Stop by this hip happening to browse Lee’s bold Moulin Rouge–style party hats or try on a fuzzy, faux-fur winter hat—sassy, one-size-fits-all gifts for any fashionista. December 4 from 7 to 10 p.m., Miyagi Salon, 411 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; and 10 p.m. to midnight, Red Stag, 509 First Ave. NE, Minneapolis, ruby3.com
College of Visual Arts Annual Holiday Art Sale and Auction
If you missed last month’s big art sale at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, consider this smaller-but-like-minded event. CVA students, faculty, alumni, and staff put a broad range of paintings, drawings, prints, and photography up for grabs, benefiting the school’s scholarship programs. These events are a famous source of inexpensive sofa-size paintings and wonderful screen-prints. For the pick of the litter, pay $25 to attend Friday night’s preview party. The event is free on Saturday. December 5 from 5 to 8 p.m., and December 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; CVA Gallery, 173 Western Ave., St. Paul, cva.edu
No Coast Craft-o-rama
In just three years, this event has become the hottest alternative craft fair in Minne-sota, featuring local purveyors of the modern craft movement. They’re a tattooed bunch: domestic divas who favor funky, in-your-face knitting and needlework. Among the painted marble coasters, kids’ clothes, aprons, and jewelry, expect to find the work of such local luminaries as Rebecca Yaker, known as the sock-monkey lady thanks to the dresses and bikinis she fashions from the classic cotton pattern. Yaker is also the brains behind Hazel & Melvin’s Room, a line of covetable crib bedding, nursing pillows, and diaper bags printed with sleek, mod patterns—perfect for hip mamas. Dudes will adore a screen-print or T-shirt from Adam Turman, a popular graffiti artist who also paints busty babes and such iconic Minneapolis scenes as Hennepin Avenue’s Grain Belt Beer sign. December 5 from 3 to 8 p.m., and December 6 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, nocoastcraft.com
Trunk Show with Apiary Design, Joynoëlle, and Penny Larsen
Each of these talented, detail-oriented designers has been tapped by the wedding-industrial complex, but this sale represents their off-white creations. Joynoëlle founder and designer Joy Teiken sells her extravagant, holiday party–appropriate dresses and overcoats. Apiary Design offers exquisite stocking stuffers—greeting cards and note sets inspired by vintage wallpapers and the sensual curves of inky, handwritten letters. And jewelry designer Penny Larsen pushes the pearl bracelets and chandelier earrings that are her trademark, though it was her delicate silver hairpin that snagged our heart at last year’s sale. Shopping for girlie-girls? This frilly affair will help you earn major style points. December 5, from 4 to 8 p.m., and December 6, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Joynoëlle Boutique and Atelier, 312 W. 42nd St., Minneapolis, joynoelle.com
The Handmaiden Minneapolis Craftmas Spectacular
Curated by the owners of I Like You, a cutesy consignment arts and crafts store in south Minneapolis, this event emphasizes optimism. Among the unisex tees and canvas bags by Too Many Suitors is the popular cotton V-neck that
un-ironically announces, “Someone in Minneapolis loves me.” Also on hand: stylish messenger bags from Drive-by Bags (fashioned out of recycled billboard-ad material) and dangle-and-drop earrings (sporting flowers and snowflakes) from the crafty Margaret Nimocks, a.k.a. Mod Margaret. December 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Ballentine VFW, 2916 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-827-9065
Sale at the Gale
After 19 years at Cafe Brenda, this venerable event moves to more spacious digs at the Gale Mansion, just south of downtown Minneapolis. Here you’ll find classic items, from basket weavings to paintings to pottery, courtesy of Minnesota’s veteran craftspeople and artists. Highlights include porcelain pots by Elaine Woldorsky; whimsical children’s books and illustrations by local favorite Nancy Carlson; and Robin Rifé’s ethnic, often Navajo-inspired jewelry—earrings, bracelets, and necklaces made from bones, beads, raw silver, turquoise, and coral. December 7 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Gale Mansion, 2115 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis, decemberholidaysale.com
In 2006, Target designer Elisa Brynteson welcomed strangers into her living room to shop the handmade greeting cards, pet toys, and “nugget dolls” (cute, SpongeBob-looking guys) she makes on the side. Three years later, Brynteson is being joined by a host of other crafters, including other moonlighters from Target’s various design departments, and yet she hasn’t moved the event from her living room. Highlights include Vân Tran’s printed baby clothes and Sarah Miller’s “Love & Light” jewelry, featuring gems said to be blessed by Reiki energy. Sarah Nassif, a textile designer with a background in botany, creates elegant shirts, dresses, and totes screen-printed with all manner of floral patterns, her latest line sporting the silhouetted branches of apple trees. Cookies and hot cider are served at this homey affair, presided over by Brynteson’s friendly Boxer, Finch. December 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and December 14 from 12 to 5 p.m.; private home at 3615 25th Ave. S., Minneapolis, finchsboutique.blogspot.com
Soo VAC Arts & Crafts Fair
Savvy shoppers already know this gallery’s gift store, Soo Too, which stocks handmade jewelry, toys, and funky accessories, including a line of sporty handbags made from repurposed soccer balls and swim caps. Soo VAC is now holding a holiday art fair featuring some of the shop’s most notable vendors. Many are artists who make more affordable pieces for such occasions. Look for inexpensive jewelry as well as high-end drawings, installations, and dioramas by Sisbro, a Minneapolis-based brother-and-sister team; Bethany Kalk’s aquamarine mixed-media and acrylic paintings are available at several price points starting at $120; and Joe Sinness makes elaborate drawings of bunnies and rainbows using colored pencils as well as photo and gouache wall art for just $65 each. December 17 to 24, Wednesday and Friday 12 to 6 p.m., Thursday noon to 8 p.m., Saturday noon to 4 p.m.; Soo Visual Arts Center, 2640 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, soovac.org
Christy DeSmith is a freelance writer in Minneapolis.