work > PRESS

Susan Hodara for the New York Times
Published: December 12, 2013

Handblown glass bowls whose colors swirl like ribbon candy, whimsical felt fascinators and intricately adorned purses, ceramic cake stands as enticing as the desserts they were designed to hold — these are a few of the myriad offerings at seven gift-themed art exhibitions in galleries from Pelham to Cold Spring. The shows, though unrelated, share a common aim: to inspire visitors, as an announcement for one of them suggests, to “celebrate the season of giving with the gift of another’s creativity.”

Events in Westchester (December 15, 2013)
Times Topic: Westchester Arts
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That announcement is for the Holiday Art Show and Boutique at Blue Door Gallery in Yonkers, which is showcasing, as the other galleries are, hundreds of works chosen with gift-giving in mind.

For Arlé Sklar-Weinstein, Blue Door’s director, that meant assembling an assortment of affordable options. Thirty-eight artists, many of them local, were selected to contribute items priced from $3 to $300, including paper jewelry, stained glass, handmade aprons, small sculptures, paintings, prints and pottery in all colors and sizes.

Blue Door Gallery is one of four divisions of Blue Door Art Center, introduced in 2002 to bring arts programs to underserved communities throughout Westchester. Blue Door Gallery presents monthly exhibitions as well as music, performance and literary events.

During the holidays, galleries tend to showcase the kind of art that might also appeal to aesthetically inclined shoppers. “One of the nice things about our holiday sale is that it gives artists a chance to stretch out and be a little less precious without compromising their artistry,” Ben Green, president and founder of Peekskill Clay Studios at the Hat Factory, said.

The four-year-old Peekskill Clay Studios has a roster of pottery classes and maintains kilns and work space for member ceramists. For its holiday pottery sale, 13 members created all kinds of functional and decorative pottery, starting at $5.

The exhibition, which opened Nov. 30, is running on four consecutive weekends, each with a different theme. This weekend, 20 percent of sales will support the Peekskill Education Foundation; next Saturday, visitors can take an introductory clay workshop.

An alternative for those in search of ceramics is “Clay-Holiday,” the annual studio tour and sale at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, where a tantalizing array of earthenware, from vibrant platters to delicate necklaces, fills the gallery and shop. Founded in 1957 as an artists’ cooperative, the center curates regular exhibitions in addition to holding classes for all ages and sponsoring community outreach programs. At its core are the 50 artists who rent work space on the premises. “Clay-Holiday” is the center’s only exhibition of works solely by these artists, who are welcoming visitors into their studios throughout the show’s run.

Shoppers can also meet the artists who created the wares in ArtsWestchester’s fourth annual “Holiday Boutique.” Approximately 25 craftspeople, many of them from Westchester, are selling their handmade items like T-shirts, knitwear, lots of jewelry and even some skin-care products, in booths throughout the Arts Exchange in White Plains. “You can buy a unique gift,” Kathleen Reckling, the gallery director, said, “and support an artist at the same time.”

The same is true at “A Gift of Art” at the Mamaroneck Artists Guild in Larchmont. The nonprofit guild, established in 1953, has a juried membership of more than 200 artists who participate in monthly programs and exhibitions. The current show consists of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures — none larger than 24 square inches — along with countless smaller pieces, including one-of-a-kind scarves and jewelry, in the gallery’s consignment boutique.

Size is a factor in “Thinking Small,” the holiday exhibition at Gallery 66 in Cold Spring. “To make the work more accessible to the public,” Barbara Galazzo, the gallery’s founder and director, said, “the artists did physically smaller — and therefore more affordable — pieces than usual.”

“Thinking Small” occupies two of Gallery 66’s exhibition spaces with dozens of scaled-down paintings, photographs, collages and sculptures, among them Cali Gorevic’s black-and-white photographs of luminescent trees and Tarryl Gabel’s oils of Hudson River Valley scenes, the smallest just 4 by 6 inches. There are also items like wooden kaleidoscopes, laser-cut lacelike earrings and ornaments made of fused glass.

Gallery 66, which opened in October 2012, represents 20 Hudson Valley-based artists and organizes themed exhibitions throughout the year. Currently, in addition to “Thinking Small,” a two-person show titled “Taking Precedence” is on view, and a display of sculptures is in the garden.

For decades, the holiday show at the Pelham Art Center has celebrated craft. This year’s “Craft-Tastic: An Exhibition and Sale of the Handmade” presents 455 works, including finely wrought wooden tables, rings with tufts of squirrel fur and shiny silver-plated spoons so fractured they seem to be blowing away.

Along with exhibitions, Pelham Art Center offers classes and events for all ages (full disclosure: I teach a writing workshop there). “Craft-Tastic” was curated by Gail Heidel, the center’s gallery and public program manager, who gathered works by artists from around the country and an artist collective in Cambodia, and from two local fair trade stores. “I wanted to explore the breadth that can result from any traditional craft medium,” she said. Taking clay as an example, she noted Andrew Coombs’s traditionally thrown porcelain; colorful slip-cast vessels by Heather Mae Erickson and Amy Santoferraro; Judith Weber’s sculptural tiles; and figurative and abstract ceramic sculptures by Cheryl Boykin Bryant and Leigh Taylor Mickelson. “I love the diverse vocabulary the artists are using,” Ms. Heidel said.

Whether an encaustic painting, a crocheted brooch or a porcelain wreath, every creation in all of these exhibitions carries the imprint of its maker. “The hand,” Ms. Heidel called it, “the labor involved, the time it took to make — all of that gets passed along when you give the object to someone else.”

COLD SPRING “Thinking Small” runs through Dec. 29 at Gallery 66, 66 Main Street. Information: (845) 809-5838 or

LARCHMONT “A Gift of Art” runs through Dec. 24 at Mamaroneck Artists Guild, 126 Larchmont Avenue. Information: (914) 834-1117 or

PEEKSKILL “Holiday Pottery Sale” runs through Dec. 22 at Peekskill Clay Studios at The Hat Factory, 1000 North Division Street. Information: (914) 739-2529 or

PELHAM “Craft-Tastic: An Exhibition and Sale of the Handmade” runs through Jan. 4, at Pelham Art Center, 155 Fifth Avenue. Information: (914) 738-2525 or

PORT CHESTER “Clay-Holiday: Annual Studio Tour and Sale” runs through Dec. 21 at Clay Art Center, 40 Beech Street, Port Chester. Information: (914) 937-2047 or

WHITE PLAINS ArtsWestchester’s two-day “Holiday Boutique” ends Dec. 15 at the Arts Exchange, 31 Mamaroneck Avenue. Information: (914) 428-4220 or

YONKERS “Holiday Art Show and Boutique” runs through Dec. 28 at Blue Door Gallery, 13 Riverdale Avenue, Information: (914) 375-5100 or

A version of this article appears in print on December 15, 2013, on page WE11 of the New York edition with the headline: Creative Answers for the Gift List.