Visual Arts: Buy Local

Featured artwork by local artists at ArtsWestchester's Handmade Holiday Sale & Exhibition

It used to be that December 26th was mark-down day.  The assumption was that shoppers would pay top dollar up until Christmas, after which the flood gates of discounts would be unleashed.  This year, however, with a sluggish economy, the holiday frenzy started on Black Friday. But don’t you worry, those discounts will keep getting deeper and deeper right up to and long after Chanukah and Christmas.

Amidst this background, it’s nice to know that some folks are standing up for the little guy, the small entrepreneuer, many of whom are artists.  So kudos to American Express, which launched Small Business Saturday, giving discounts to shoppers at their local retail stores, among them boutiques, bookstores and galleries. This presumably made local retailers more competitive to chain stores, but alas only for one day.

Holiday boutiques are another way in which community organizations are standing up for the small and local entrepreneur.  These events feature many handmade items by craftsmen, artists, artisans, jewelers, potters and other creative folks in our communities. It may come as an astounding surprise that there are 53,085 arts-related businesses in New York State that employ 335,683 people, more than 13,000 of whom are here in Westchester.

But there is an even more compelling reason to shop where you live. In this era of mass production, plastic and synthetic products and built-in obsolescence, it can be refreshing to consider the alternative.  “Handmade” is “in” this year and not necessarily “Handmade in China.” Handmade in your community is a way of preserving the value of “unique” items conceived and made by hand by the unique individuals in your communities. It is a way of preserving cultural traditions. It is a way of championing innovation. It can be an expression to others of what we value, perhaps in a way, being transformative to both the giver and the recipient.  Most important, it is a way of honoring the artists in your community by supporting their work. Their capacity to stay in our communities depends upon it.

Buy local at: Handmade Holiday Exhibition and Sale, Monday December 13 to Saturday December 18 at  ArtsWestchester’s Arts Exchange, White Plains, NY

Here are some great places to find artist-made gifts for your local holiday shopping.

Blue Door: Small Works. Through December 30.
Mamaroneck Artist Guild: A Gift of Art. Through December 31.
Pelham Art Center: Craft-tastic. Through January 15.
ArtsWestchester: Handmade Holiday Exhibition & Sale. Through December 18.

Support a local artist while you spread holiday cheer!