Forget waking up at 3am the day after Thanksgiving to shop at big box outlets in your pajamas. Local museums, galleries, artists and artisans are providing consumers an opportunity to avoid the Black Friday madness and bestow friends and family with locally and hand-made gifts this holiday season.
The Philbrook Museum of Art's Festival of Trees, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is the go-to event for creative holiday shopping.
Local artists make ornaments, wreaths, trees and other holiday-inspired art to sell, and area school children decorate trees and gingerbread houses.
Philbrook's main-level promenade, just outside the gallery that houses temporary exhibitions, is decked out with trees decorated by local artists and students. The trees' themes include Philbrook's silver anniversary, Dr. Seuss, Where the Wild Things Are?, peace and Hispanic heritage celebration. Most of the ornaments adorning the trees are hand-made by the artists who decorated them.
Other trees, such as the one made by Garden Deva's Lisa Regan, called "O Holy Night," aren't decorated trees; rather, they're trees fashioned from another material. In Regan's case, recycled scrap metal.
Also occupying the main level of the museum are ornaments and wreaths made by local artists (you'll find most of those near the gift shop), as well as jewelry and other holiday decorations.
Everything you see is available for sell, and when I visited the event on Sunday, the first day it was open to the public (patrons and members were treated to a "Treeview" party on Friday and a member opening on Saturday), many of the trees had already been sold.
Prices on the trees run from $25 to $800, and ornaments are around $15 to $100.
On Philbrook's upper-level promenade are the gingerbread houses decorated by school children and the Girl and Boy Scouts. Those were the real highlight of this year's Festival of Trees. While the trees and art are always lovely, I'm amazed at how, year after year, the gingerbread houses grow more creative, more intricately detailed and more impeccably built.
I'm impressed by the art children are capable of making out of candy, pretzels and icing. Those, too, are available for purchase and range from $25 to $100.
Adorning the walls of the promenade are more mixed-media and three-dimensional artworks created by local artists. New this year are stockings painted and decorated by Oklahoma celebrities such as former Miss America Jennifer Berry, author Michael Wallis, Mayor Kathy Taylor, model and actress Amber Valletta and artist and author John Brooks Walton.
Downstairs, on the lower level, outside of Philbrook's Villa Restaurant, are two-dimensional wooden cut-out trees, painted by local artists.
Festival of Trees, while providing a festive holiday tradition for Tulsa families, also succeeds in providing novice or first-time art collectors with an opportunity to buy local, original art at more than reasonable prices. In addition, as mentioned before, it offers the opportunity to bequest loved ones with thoughtful, hand-made gifts and avoid mall mania.
Festival of Trees is on display through Dec. 13. On Saturday, Nov. 28, the museum will celebrate its second annual Garden Glow by lighting Philbrook's magnificently pruned gardens with approximately 50,000 lights. The kick-off for the new tradition will include carolers, crafts and a lighting ceremony.
It's free and open to the public from 5 to 8pm Saturday. The gardens will be lit until 8pm Sunday, Nov. 29 and every Thursday and Sunday following, through Dec. 31. On those days, the museum will stay open until 8pm to allow patrons time to enjoy the lights.
On Sunday, Dec. 5, Philbrook will host a children's party from 9:30am to 12pm, with crafts, storytelling, entertainment, pictures with Santa and holiday refreshments. Reservations are required to attend the event.
Because Festival of Trees is a fundraiser, during the event, admission to the museum is $8.50 for adults and $6.50 for college students and seniors. Admission is free to youth under 18 and museum members.
For more information about Philbrook's holiday festivities, visit www.philbrook.org. (And, as you're out on your holiday spending spree, don't forget about Philbrook's gift shop. It's absolutely one of my favorite places to get gifts, especially for children. You don't have to pay museum admission if you just want to pop into the store.)
More Art-Buying Opportunities
Next week, local galleries will open new exhibitions chock full of original art perfect for gift-giving.
Artists exhibiting have created specific items with gift-giving in mind, and you'll likely find something in your price range, perfect for that certain someone.
Gallery exhibits are obviously not your only options for giving the gift of art this holiday season. Also consider tickets to performances by community theatre groups or the local symphony, opera or ballet companies.
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