Wander over to Milwaukee Av. and you'll discover that Intuit: The Center for Intuitive andOutsider Art contains a shop within its' folds, The Intuit Store.
Here you'll find all manner of gifts and stocking stuffers such as a menagerie of brightly painted animals and insects made from recycled tin (see praying mantis in photo), bottle cap necklaces, unusual handbags, Mexican malagres (good luck healing charms) and more.
There's a huge assortment of books on outsider art and related subjects.
While you're there you won't be able to resist the exhibit running through January 6, "Take Me To The River" featuring a group of "big hitter" outsiders that inspired the creation of Intuit 15 years ago. Included are Chicago's own Henry Darger and Lee Godie together with Howard Finster and many more.
Ken Burkhart has done a fine job of curating so even if you know the field well, expect to be surprised by some of the inclusions. Both galleries are used for this exhibit, and admission, of course, is free.
Intuit now has a well organized study center, a non-circulating library that includes books, catalogs, periodicals, slides, photos, videotapes and archival material, enabling students and scholars to peruse info on an artist or a special area of interest. An advance appointment is needed for the study center. Access www.art.org for details about that and other Intuit info.
Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, 756 N. Milwaukee Av. Hours Tues-Saturday 11-5 (Thursday 11-7:30).
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The shop at the Archicenter, home to the Chicago Architectural Foundation at 224 S. Michigan has swell gift ideas, many related to architecture in Chicago, but others with broader appeal plus loads of stocking stuffers.
Of particular punch are the newly arrived jumbo watches by S.T.A.M.P.S. with a great graphic design sense (see photo at left). Apparently the dial can be used alone as a small wall or desk clock or on one's wrist, more or less like a stamp. All this style for $48, including the watch band. Other watches may be of some interest. They're generally more serious.
Also new is the book, "Richard Nickel's Chicago" by Richard Cahan and Michael Williams, complete with 250 photographs. You may know that Nickel died in the rubble of the Chicago
Stock Exchange, ironically while on
one of his missions to catalog fine Chicago buildings before they were demolished.
The Archicenter at the same address is headquarters for fine tours of the city, exhibitions and educational programs for children.
Chicago Architectural Foundation, 224 S. Michigan, 312.922.3432.
That's it for this year but chicagoTips hopes you have a fine holiday season.
Drag out your sense of humor, useful during this holiday melee, and head to one of my favorite stores, Uncle Fun on Belmont.
You'll find all kinds of treasures, from a small book, Taxi Driver Wisdom
to a packet of 10 (anti) George Bush bumper stickers, or your choice of bendable Simpsons, all at $5.
If you missed the opera "Nixon in China" last year or didn't, you'll want to grab the irresistible booklet of "Richard M. Nixon and his Family" paper dolls. Other paper doll choices too. Look up to the ceiling for the oversize traditional sock monkey toy.
Toward the back of the shop there's always a swell collection of out of print art and art relatedbooks as well as
some carefully chosen children's titles. I found a thick origami tome for my grandson and noted a Leger art book, "New Design Miami", "Art Cuba" (from Abrams) and "Arte Latino," all at low prices. Also "50 Favorite Furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright."
I hope someone I know reads this and buys me one of those cool Mexican wrestler masks (see photo). There's an assortment of styles at $22; one could build a collection on the spot.
Tons of stocking stuffers too, such as the shower cap emblazoned with discreet images of raw meat, perfect for my Argentinian daughter-in-law.
Don't panic at the unusual environment, but look around carefully. Staff is pleasant, funny and helpful.
Uncle Fun is at 1338 W. Belmont. 773.477.8223. Check out Southport to the north for parking if there's none on Belmont.
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While you're in the neighborhood, check out African Safari Imports at 3705 Broadway, festively adorned with holiday lights in an otherwise dull neighborhood. The pleasant owner who has lived in the U.S. for some
time offers a potpourri of items from all over Africa. I spotted a handsome banner from Burkina Faso (see photo) priced under $100 and an impressive assortment of heavily beaded Yoruba tribal headdresses from Nigeria with three dimensional bird motifs, see photo at right.
The owner has lived here for about 15 years and paints when things are quiet, converting the shop into a makeshift studio. You can view some spare landscapes on the
wall in back that he says are reminiscent of his former homeland.
There's jewelry, fabric, handbags, clothing, small gifts, etc. here and a range of tribal musicCD's that you're not likely to find easily elsewhere.
African Safari Imports, 3705 N. Broadway, 549.2744.
"The Art Institute is currently displaying what's got to be one of the ugliest
Nativities ever painted by "the Master of the Historia Friderici et Maximilani." We're lucky our local museum owns it, and that they're actually showing it."
It's in gallery 209, along with other early European works.
As Bill says, "I think it's well worth a visit to the museum just to see the really ugly Mary, the unpleasant Jesus and the quite irritated angels and animals. Oddly, they chose to feature this painting in their Christmas book, Glad Tidings of Great Joy, even though the virgin is the only thing in the painting that seems undistressed."
I went over and gosh he is right on! Think of the travesty. Bad art in a good museum. My personal yuck is directed at the hairy looking "hay" at the top of the painting. The whole thing is a dreary affair and it's fun to return to the entrance of the gallery again how easily this stands out against the other works displayed. I'm guessing the artist was trying to depict Jesus, Mary, etc. as local folk, i.e., of the masses and we surely know we'd never want to reincarnated during such dreary times.
I'm a dedicated shopper so I wouldn't consider leaving you in the lurch at holiday time. This year the offerings will be added piecemeal. I plan to include items for men, women and children. Since our household is pet free you'll have to find these things on your own. When I've finished "shopping", I'll let you know.
An intriguing place with a wide variety of possibilities is P.O.S.H. They carry dishes and vintage silver and many,
many accoutrements relating to serving food and beverages. Some are reproductions of vintage items and there are originals and "flea market finds" to check out too. I liked the tiny worn looking silver Xmas ornaments one could wear on a ribbon or yield to a tree.
Lisa, the store manager deserves a rave. She's one of the most pleasant and helpful people I've encountered in many, many years of shopping. She knows everything about P.O.S.H.'s merchandise, no kidding. Ask her the significance of the name., P.O.S.H.
The store has commissioned Chicago dinnerware, made of heavy-duty commercial china in white with the skyline in black. Pieces include dinner (shown in photo), salad and appetizer plates, soup and cereal bowls and mugs. You can purchase all six pieces for $55 or buy them individually.
There's a bin of reproduction antique maps from far away places which sell for just $5 and would look great framed. (Bring Paris to your Francophile!)
A collection of vintage French
pastis bottles are $40 each, (see photo). Pastis is a decendent of absinthe, now banned in France. Both have anise flavor. After WWI pastis replaced absinthe. It is sweet and has a lower alcohol content. The custom was to put some liqueur in a glass and pour ice cold water (from these cool old bottles) over a sugar cube suspended by an absinthe spoon, sweetening and diluting the pastis (or absinthe).
P.O.S.H. is at 613 N. State in the historic Tree Studios Building. Hours: M-Sat 10AM-7PM; Sun 11AM-5PM. 312.280.1602.
It's your one-shot chance to snag some very special artist made gifts for the holidays. This Sunday from 10AM to 5PM about 60 artists will participate in a brand new fair in the vastspace of Architectural Artifacts at 4325 N. Ravenswood. (It's being held concurrently with A A's annual sale but the two events aren't affiliated).
This sale hasn't been publicized in Time Out so you might have a shopper's advantage. This is a juried show, meaning quality will be high
and imported items will be excluded. Craftspeople will be right there to chat about their work which includes jewelry, accessories, ceramics, fiber, paper, wearables, paintings and lots more.
Additionally a silent auction of donated items from each participant will fund the purchase of a permanent public sculpture for the playground at Holstein Park. Maria Mariotini, the event co-ordinator promises that the sculpture will be so child-friendly that kids will be able to climb all over it.
My friend Sara Julsrud, a talented fiber artist will be showing her work at the fair, including handmade felt scarves and bracelets pictured above.
The Holiday Show at Architectural Artifacts, this Sunday, 12/10 from 10AM til 5PM, 4325 N. Ravenswood. 773.263.5882.