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MAP’s (sort of) Annual Gift Guide

Amazingly enough, the Holidays are here. I probably marvel at the passage of time every year, but the current time space continuum seems wildly off its axis. 

This season, as a transplanted, born-and-bred Angelino, I am looking forward to having true winter weather accompanying my neighborhood walks during which I happily ogle the festive Holiday light displays. In these strange times, it’s the little thing, eh?

I haven’t done a Holiday gift guide in a while and decided ‘twas time. I had fun delving back in, surfing high and low for regional and national treasures and artsy gift ideas. 

Here’s what I came up with.

The perfect scent or book for the bibliophile in your life.

With the weather cooling down, heard it was even “cold” in Los Angeles recently, snuggling up with a good book, preferably by a fire, is fitting. And thanks to Powell’s City of Books (in Oregon), you can now smell like a book. Even their product description makes for a jaunty read.

There are plenty of artist monographs cataloguing oeuvres and studio practices, but few books include artists’ contribution to the creative economy and their role as catalysts of change within and outside of the cultural community. For the artist, collector, or art appreciator in your life, The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life features a collection of up-close-and-personal essays by 40 contemporary visual artists on these very subjects. Does not come with a scent, however. 

The more conceptual-leaning types might appreciate something from X Artists Books, a small publishing house founded by artist Alexandra Grant, designer Jessica Fleischmann and actor Keanu Reeves, offering “thoughtful, high-quality, artist-centered books” that cover and crisscross genres.

If there are young ones on your giving list with a passing or devoted interest in art, Danielle Krysa of Jealous Curator fame has a new book, How to Spot an Artist: This Might Get Messy, written to “help kids discover and nourish their inner artist.” 

Let’s not neglect the parents of said kids who need activities to keep them from bouncing off the walls between bouts of home-schooling. Fortunately, there’s Art at Home: 200 Activities for Kids.

It’s Hammer Time Holiday.

On that same page/paper/press vibe…

I love me some letterpress and one of my favorite shops is Hammer Press in Kansas City, MO. For those that prefer handwritten sentiments over emoji expressions, they have lovely hand-pressed boxed sets and city-centric holiday cards (see post thumbnail). I encountered HP when curating a show in KC (shout out to KC pal Barry Anderson) and have been a fan ever since. 

Dahlia Press in Seattle can complete the writing thought with some cheeky and/or feminist pencils. (Caution: They use the naughty “S” word.) As a text-free alternative, The Seattle Museum shop has some funky Brancusi/African sculpture-inspired pencils from the Swiss husband/wife design team Tät-Tat. 

What’s Cooking, Good Looking?

Between Door Dash, Hello Fresh and being effectively cloistered at home for nearly nine months, home cooking may have been put on the back burner. Perhaps Dinner with Georgia O’Keefe can reignite the ole home cook fire. Or maybe a more Mexican flavor can tempt with Frida’s Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frida Kahlo

For a more curated culinary grouping, The Modern Art Cookbook features foody thoughts, inspirations and recipes from visual luminaries such as Vincent van Gogh, Helen Frankenthaler, Man Ray, Paul Cézanne, and David Hockney.

And no dinner is complete without limited edition Cindy Sherman cloth napkins, right? Sure! 

Before, During and After Thoughts…


What’s for dessert, you say? Glad you asked. It’s Wayne Thiebaud and Richard Avedon-inspired confections from Modern Art Desserts: Recipes for Cakes, Cookies, Confections, and Frozen Treats Based on Iconic Works of Art from pastry chef Caitlin Freeman (Miette bakery and Blue Bottle Coffee).  

And when pairing wine with artisan cuisine or port with sweet masterpieces, that certain someone might appreciate the help of a quirky beetle corkscrew to let the seasonal cheer breathe.   

Wearable Ideas & Good Causes

For chilly winter nights, I love this Sam Francis wool scarf produced by Australia’s Third Drawer Down Studio x Sam Francis Foundation. Kinda uni-sex-ish-y? 

The Guerilla Girls are also on the scene with their Conscience of the Art World Scarf.

Or how about a geometric patterned Barry McGee bandana for a COVID cozy look? 

If you LOVE hoodies, the aforementioned Alexandra Grant has you covered. Accompanying her current show at Orange County Museum of Art, she’s hosting grantLOVE x OCMA pop-up shop to raise funds for grantLOVE x OCMA Fund for Artists aimed at bringing a more diverse “women-identified or non-binary artist” population to the museum’s collection. I love her, her work and you can love giving love to someone you love that will return love to those that need love. 

And to stir up even more love, the artistic duo of Fallen Fruit has a Love is My Superpower Spoon. Fallen Fruit do good work through their Public Fruit Parks aimed at enhancing the urban landscape through community gathering and activation. They remain one of my top picks.

Be well and safe, Friends. Thanks for tuning in. Hope the Holidays are happy ones.

Yours from the chilly PNW,

xx McLean 

The above images were gathered from various online sites promoting the described objects and are intended solely for the purpose of educating readers as to their availability. If there are any concerns with the use of the images, please email me and I will readily remedy the situation.

Some of the photos are my own and are dedicated to honoring my parents, both of whom I lost this year. I will miss them this Holiday season. 

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