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Good Buys: the fine art of holiday shopping

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A lot of the pleasure of giving can come from the shopping. It's the giver, after all, who gets the immersion in the wide sea of possibility--who cruises, eyeballs, caresses, sniffs, and finally chooses, not so much judging as falling in love.

Some of the best opportunities for sensuous shopping come at this time of year, when artists open their homes, studios, and galleries for holiday sales. Here are some you can visit this weekend, for an antidote to mail-order flannels and a glimpse of the bohemian life. Don't count on being able to use a credit card, though. Checks may be OK; cash is king.

Mask maker Joan Riise hosts the 14th annual environmentally and spiritually conscious holiday sale at Anima, her home and studio at 3635 N. Mozart. A dozen other artists will join her, offering everything from totems to buffalo hide vests (the buffalo died natural deaths). Hours are 5 to 10 Friday, 10 to 8 Saturday, and noon to 7 Sunday. Other times through Wednesday by appointment. Call 267-2413.

Artful Angles, a collective gallery tucked into the alley behind 614 Dempster in Evanston offers a selection of reasonably priced work by emerging artists. Our favorite example: Itala Langmar's wispy, crocheted tube scarf, dramatic enough for Ophelia. Price: $25. Open daily, 11 AM to dusk. Call 708-866-7109.

Take in letter-press and paper-decorating demonstrations while you browse through blank books, artist's books, broadsides, prints, and cards at the holiday sale at Artists Book Works, 1422 W. Irving Park. Hours are Saturday and Sunday 12 to 5. Call 348-4469.

Former English teacher and now full-time starving artist Phil Bakula is selling his own urban sculpture (and eclectic collectibles), ceramic jewelry by Susan Forner-Reid, and drawings by Dan Longyne, in his home at 3046 N. Leavitt, this weekend and next. Hours are 10 to 5 Saturday and Sunday and 1 to 5 Friday, December 17. Call 871-8835.

Chicago Printmakers Collaborative, 1101 N. Paulina, is a full-service print-making facility where artists share lithographic, etching, and book presses. Here's a chance to buy small prints right where they're pulled, along with handmade papers, hats, jewelry, and more by workshop members. Open Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5. Call 235-3712.

Purchase baubles, bangles, and beads at the Contemporary Wearable Art jewelry exhibition and sale at Columbia College's art gallery, 72 E. 11th St. Pieces by faculty members and others will be sold from 5 to 7 tonight; prices start around $40. Call 663-5554 for more information.

Over the past half dozen years, the Cornelia Arts Building Holiday Sale has built a reputation for high-quality art and artist-made products at great discount prices. Thirty-one artists will open their doors and line the halls of this studio building at 1800 W. Cornelia (enter on Ravenswood), 11 to 5 Saturday and Sunday. Leda Lorenzo's handmade wool jackets for dogs and Judy Lichtenstein's hand-painted furniture, floor mats, quilts, and clothes for kids are among the bargains. Call 935-8094.

Dearborn Station, 47 W. Polk, hosts a sale of jewelry, clothing, and gifts by ten Illinois artists in the main atrium. Among them, Barbara Nelson's antique beadwork and Christine McEwan's hand fused and blown glass. Saturday, 10 to 4; Sunday, 10 to 3. (If you shop on Sunday, you can take in a nativity tableau with live animals.) Call 554-4408.

It usually takes an appointment to get into Flatlands Pottery, 1800 W. Berenice, but during its holiday sale the studio is keeping regular visitors' hours. You'll find pottery (both functional and sculptural), paintings, wood sculpture, and more. Most items are priced under $50. The sale opens with a reception tonight from 6 to 11 and continues through December 19. Hours are 11 to 6 Saturday and Sunday; noon to 5 weekdays. Call 327-1518 for more information.

The studio of sculptor Fredrick Holland, 1742 W. Haddon, is the site of a one-day sale of gifts by 17 artists and craftspeople. (Holland will contribute only his services as Santa Claus.) Selections include Jesse Hickman's painted wooden birdhouses and Lois Grimm's willow trellises. Also, handmade books, clocks, jewelry, and more; noon to 6 Sunday. Call 772-5194.

The ninth annual All Chicago Designers Flealess Holiday Market blooms at the HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee. Look for jewelry, clothing, ornaments, and more, all handmade. Hours are 5 to 9 tonight, 11 to 5 Saturday and Sunday. Also, 11 to 5 Saturday and Sunday, December 18 and 19. Call 235-2334 for information.

Work by 31 artists will be sold at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5307 S. Hyde Park Blvd. Ceramics are the strong suit, but there's also jewelry, fiber art, prints, and more, mostly under $50. Noon to 5 for Saturday's opening, then 11 to 5 Sunday and 10 to 5 Monday through Saturday, December 18. Call 324-5520.

A seven-inch crystal vase, hand cut and signed by master glass cutter Kurt Strobach, is just $28 at the Illinois Artisans Shop, in the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph. The shop is a treasure chest of beautiful work by Illinois artists. Hours are 9 to 6 Monday through Friday; 11 to 4 Saturday, until Christmas. Call 814-5321.

Lill Street Gallery and Studios, 1021 W. Lill, is stocked with lots of pots and other good stuff for its 18th annual holiday show and sale. For example: a gleaming, palm-sized, oval ceramic box with a cobalt blue lid and a green bottom by resident artist Ildiko Repasi sells for $30. Hours are 10 to 8 Monday through Friday, 10 to 7 Saturday, noon to 5 Sunday. The sale continues through December 31. Call 477-6185 for information.

An amazing technicolor kid cap of hand-spun, hand-dyed, and hand-knit wool by Veronica Wagner is $21 at the Holiday Artists' Market at the Textile Arts Centre, 916 W. Diversey. It's just one of the many handmade fiber-art gifts--including clothing, baskets, jewelry--offered by their makers. Hours are noon to 6 through Sunday. Call 929-5655.

If you can wait till December 27 to take it off the wall, you can purchase an evening dress made of paper clips or any of a variety of other extraordinary garments from the Wearable Reality fiber-art show at Triangle Gallery of Old Town, 1763 N. North Park. Prices range from $55 to $1,600. Hours are 8:30 to 4:30, Monday through Friday. Special weekend hours, December 18 and 19 only, 1 to 5. Call 337-1938.

The art tends to be traditional, but why not? This is the 98th annual Small Picture Auction at Palette & Chisel Academy of Fine Arts, 1012 N. Dearborn. The sale benefits the not-for-profit academy; the gavel falls Sunday, December 12, at 2 PM. Bids start at $100. Call 642-4400.

Providence, the Serbian Artists Association, is holding a holiday sale at a member's loft at 1378 N. Wolcott. Icons and other traditional pieces will mix it up with a range of contemporary work, from paintings to pillows. It opens with a reception tonight from 6 to 10 and continues Saturdays and Sundays only, from noon to 6, through December 19. Call 862-6759 for more information.

Finally, Peter Jones and a half dozen other artists who work at the Ravenswood Studio, on the second floor of 1806 W. Cuyler, will open their space from noon to 6 Saturday to sell photographs, drawings, sculpture, and other work. Call 472-6725.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Peter Barreras.

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