Written By Sandy Oxx

The children are nestled all snug in their beds and the stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Legend says you should then be donning your kerchiefs and caps to settle down for that long winter’s napÉ.but you’re not through shopping! You’ve thumbed through dozens of catalogues and stalked the aisles of every big box retailer in the County, surfed the internet until it becomes a blur, but you still haven’t found the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

Gift selection can be much less painful if you use your “right brain” to think creatively.

Giving a gift of art ensures that those on your list are treated to a unique and thoughtful present that always fits, is always the right color and is easy to wrap and ship.

Downtown Westminster provides a colorful palette of artistic gift giving options. A good place to start might be the Carroll Arts Center, the restored art deco theatre on West Main Street. It’s not just the hottest spot for classic, independent, and foreign films, it’s a venue
for art exhibits of the highest caliber and an interesting source for fine crafts by local artisans. The gallery currently houses an exhibit featuring thirteen artists who took the top awards at the Arts Council’s annual outdoor festival. Melinda Byrd’s one of a kind Rya rugs and custom floor cloths, Gary Carvers wildlife decoys, Phil Grout’s moving photographs, contemporary glass jewelry by Chris Niles and Carol Allen, and masterful paintings by Sherrill Cooper, Darlene Jones, Karen Trimble and Paula Waterman round out this eclectic holiday exhibition. While purchases during most art exhibits can’t be taken home until the end of the show, due to the timing of this exhibit, the folks at the Arts Council will let you take home your intended gift that dayÉ.they’ll even wrap it for you!

If you can’t find a work of art that fits the bill, the Arts Council also can prepare handsomely packaged gift certificates for memberships, art classes, movie passes and bus trips. Those on your list will adore receiving a gift that can be redeemed at their leisure. Shoppers will find notecards, poetry collections, hand-made journals and CD’s by Carroll County’s musicians displayed near the box office.

You’ll be able to satisfy the bibliophiles on your list with a treasure trove of books by local authors at Locust Books. Owner Tim Bryson can skillfully advise you as to the perfect selection for any reader. I was amazed to see such a substantial collection of works by writers from this community. T.J. Perkins has published an intriguing set of mysteries for young readers including “Trade Secret,” “The Secret in Phantom Forest,” and “Fantasies are Murder.” Susan White-Bowden shares her story of overcoming the loss of a child in “Returning: Duski’s Story.”

Photography and local scenes are featured in “Photographers & Photographs of Carroll County 1840-1940” by Bob Porterfield; Finksburg photographer Phil Grout’s work is iridescent in “Harvest of Hope” and “Images of America: Taneytown” is rich with historical shots of this Carroll County hamlet. The residents of Carroll Lutheran Village have published a lovely selection of poetry and artwork entitled “Living Abundantly.” It’s available at Locust Books, yet it would be right at home at Borders or Barnes & NobleÉit is that professional.

Tucked in near the counter at Coffey Music you’ll find dozens of CD’s by local musicians and bands. “The Big Stir,” “Delirious Tremor,” Eric Byrd, and Christopher James’ latest releases are available for a song. CD’s by these up and coming talents will be perfect stocking stuffers!

If you’re finally convinced that the gift of art is the way to go, take it one step further and create that work of art yourself!

The Pottery Loft and Artworks on East Main Street have studios where you can create personalized gifts. Their staff will help you make masterpieces. If you’d prefer to do your creating at home, stop by Myers 140 photo, Westminster’s only full service art supply destination. Their small shop is bursting with paints, papers, easles, frames, mats and other tools of the artistic trade.

Remember, buying works by local artists not only satisfies those on your gift list, but is also a welcome gift to its creator. Your purchase represents a vote of confidence that inspires artists to keep creating. And with certainty, the smiles on the faces of those receiving these artistic treasures will inspire you to keep givingÉart!