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Gimme gimme: Art aficionado

Holiday gift ideas for people who love art.

By Lennie Bennett
Published December 3, 2006


Let’s face it: Few people can wrap up an Old Master painting for a holiday gift. But art doesn’t have to be expensive or elite; we can give it regardless of our budgets. Here are some suggestions that are more about creativity than budget.

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On my list: Here’s what I would love for Christmas: the exquisite Wish Box and Pendant, also from Florida Craftsmen, by award-winning artist Marty Whipple, who uses little found treasures for her jewelry and objects. (She has a cool line of cuff links for men, incidentally.) But I fell hard for this piece, an old watchmaker’s box she has embellished. Inside are tiny corked vials, originally for holding watch parts, now filled with wisps of blank paper onto which family and friends can write messages. A small silver box shaped like a book, hung on a chain, contains another vial. It’s $450 (gulp) but hey, that’s what wishes are for.

Membership and a meal: Special people I don’t see enough of would probably appreciate a museum membership with a list of dates to meet for lunch then tour the collection together. Most memberships cost between $25 and $50 and include free admission and discounts at their shops.
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Originality counts:
Bay area galleries sell original paintings and sculptures in many price ranges. Also look for limited edition prints or photographs. For friends celebrating Hanukkah, I would take this mixed assemblage piece, titled Shalom, framed and matted, by Juan Cukier, $60 at Florida Craftsmen, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, (727) 821-7391, as a gift for the host. Remember that having the art framed will add to its cost.
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Art on the bag:
For a traveling art lover, I choose cosmetics bags from the Museum of Fine Arts store, made from bits of past exhibition banners, each one-of-a-kind and only $18. Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg, (727) 896-2667.

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DIY art project: A favorite gift for children is art supplies. For $20 or less, you can assemble a kit that will unleash their creativity. Shop at craft or art supply stores for colored pencils, a set of pastels or acrylic paint and a pad of good, heavy paper. Include a gift certificate for classes at an art center or an art book with big reproductions that will inspire. Give adults, who might be intimidated by paints, good graphite pencils and a nice journal to collect thoughts, quotes, photos and mementos.
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Pepper, the final frontier:
My entertaining friends would love this pepper grinder, shaped like the Jetsons’ spaceship, from the Tampa Museum of Art. It would make a funky, conversational ice-breaker at their next party. $175 at the museum gift shop, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa. (813) 274-8130.