Uh, oh, it’s happened again. With Christmas only days away, you still have a gift list longer than a snowman’s scarf and panic is setting in. Each year you vow to do it better next time—start earlier, buy more thoughtful gifts and have them beautifully wrapped before Thanksgiving. Alas, time got away from you again this year; the turkey is just a memory and you still haven’t begun to shop! The urge to give up, drown your sorrows in eggnog and just buy everyone a gift card is overwhelming.
Take a deep breath, back away from the online mall, and let us help you with your Santa duties. The Mid-Ohio Valley is home to a multitude of unique shops where you can browse in peace and embrace your holiday spirit. At the Riverside Artists Gallery on Second Street, you can find distinctive gifts that will surely bring joy to the lucky recipients.
Inside the curated Gallery, collections from local artists provide an ever-changing inventory of original and handcrafted items. With over a dozen featured artists at any given time, the pieces range from mixed media art to origami, pottery to original water colors. Hand crafted jewelry and abstract paintings share the floor with iron sculptures and note cards.
One of the long time “residents” of the Gallery is Betsy Cook, who creates ornamental ironwork using a forge and contemporary welding processes. Inspired by nature, Betsy uses iron, glass and cast-off metal to produce sculptures and décor for both indoors and out. Through her company Garden Forge, Betsy has created the Tell Tale Tower, a perfect gift for anyone. The iron frame has an ornamental top, and you can choose from a wide array of tiles that can be inserted into the frame. The tiles are accented with glass or metal, and can commemorate a special occasion, hobby or passion. Think of them as charms for the home or garden that can be added to or re-arranged.
If you like the idea of giving life, an ornamental air plant is a great idea. Mike and Ann Trembly of Earth Star Greenhouse and Gardens elevate this little plant to art, with their beautiful terrariums and hanging vases. Since the plants need no soil, there’s no limit to the creative ways they can be displayed. For the person with a green thumb, Mike also has quirky garden sculptures guaranteed to make someone smile.
On a budget? No problem, you’ll find gift ideas for all price points at Riverside Artists Gallery. Boxed note cards with charming scenes, delicate origami ornaments, one-of-a-kind jackets and purses, original artwork…it’s all here. The artists themselves each spend time working behind the counter, so you can chat and maybe even visit with one working in the studio. On a recent tour I had the pleasure of meeting Akemi Matsumoto while she deftly crafted little origami birds and ornaments. Akemi’s ink and water color art features bright minimalist images of flowers that will add beauty to any décor.
This is just a sampling of the artists and their work—I wish I could do a feature on each one! After spending some time in this quality gallery you will likely have a new favorite or two (or ten). If you have a budding artist on your list, why not treat them to a class? The Gallery offers classes in different methods and mediums, so you can encourage someone to express their own creativity for a gift “that keeps on giving”.
With only about a week left to finish your shopping, do yourself a favor. Stay away from the crowds and the mass produced goods that will be tossed aside before Valentine’s Day. Take some time to shop in Marietta, to savor the sights and sounds of Christmas in a small town. Spend some of that time at the Riverside Artists Gallery, and your “to buy” list will shrink while your holiday joy grows.