By now you should know that local stuff is fresh stuff, and fresh stuff is good. But keep in mind that our local is not your average local. We’re talking about Rhode Island! Home of the world’s best art school, the worldwide phenomenon that is WaterFire and countless other corners of creativity (hey AS220, Steel Yard and Craftland) that continue to inspire. You, too, can be a visionary this season by buying truly local gifts.
Art in the City
To say major talent has come out of RISD is a major understatement. From fashion icons Jill Stuart and Nicole Miller to international prodigies Dale Chihuly and Shephard Fairey, the institution is a breeding ground for creative masterminds. Since it’s just a matter of time before the next RISD “it” artist is crowned, now’s the time to get on the inside track by going to the RISD Alumni + Student Holiday Art Sale. Held on December 5 at the Rhode Island Convention Center, the show features the diverse work of over 200 students and graduates for your browsing and impressive gift buying pleasure. 10am-5pm. One Sabin Street. 458-6000
Local vintage enthusiasts suffer from a uniquely PVD version of SAD when the Providence Flea ends its glorious season at the end of the each summer. Just in time to put some jolly in our holiday, the curated market is returning for the Providence Flea Holiday Market on December 6 and 13 at Hope High School. Get your retro and crafty fix as dozens of vendors showcase their unusual finds and handmade wares. Food trucks will also make an appearance, helping to fuel your hunt for a very thrifty Christmas. 10am-4pm. 324 Hope Street
Crafty in Pawtucket
There’s no denying the DIY vibe PVD is grooving to right now. And while locally handmade is as ubiquitous as farm to table dining at the moment, it wasn’t always that easy – or cool – to buy from unknown artists. In 1985 a group of artists who had studio space in the Foundry building decided to open their collective doors for the first ever Foundry Artists Holiday Sale. Fast forward 30 years and the collection of 60 artists is one of the most revered juried exhibits in New England. The event happens over two weekends at the Pawtucket Armory and includes an opening reception on December 3. December 3-6 and December 11-13, 172 Exchange Street, Pawtucket.
Mad Dog Artist Studios & Gallery offers emerging artists affordable short-term memberships that includes convenient flex time in their large open studio space. Accessible to all types of makers including jewelers, ceramic artists and painters, the downtown space is home to about 40 working artists. The studio is showcasing these artists at its Fourth Annual Holiday Sale during the first two weekends in December, with an opening wine and cheese reception on December 3. December 3-6 and December 11-13, 65 Blackstone Avenue, Pawtucket. 722-7800
Pop Up Art
Tucked away in a natural setting overlooking the Mattatuxet River complete with a flowing waterfall, the Mill at Shady Lea is a historic site that’s also the home of 40 artist studios. Get a peek inside of them and meet the artists behind the various mixed media for sale at the 18th Annual Open Studio on December 5-6. Hand-blown glass, intricate woodwork and custom-made guitars are just a few of the one-of-a-kind finds you’ll uncover here over the weekend. The community of artists is asking guests to bring non-perishable food items that will be donated to the North Kingstown Food Bank in lieu of paid admission. 11am-5pm. 215 Shady Lea Road, North Kingstown. 290-7548
Homegrown talent found a new creative outlet earlier this summer when Field of Artisans debuted in South County. The unique craft show took up residency at a variety of outdoor spaces right through the fall, such as Marina Park in Wakefield, Matunuck Town Beach and URI. The collaborative of local artists moved indoors in early November for their Holiday Pop-Up Market. Housed in an empty storefront in downtown Wakefield every weekend in November and December, the market features a curated collection of affordable handmade wares such as knits, jewelry and pottery. 11am-5pm on Saturdays and Sundays through end of December. 333 Main Street, Wakefield.
Affordable Gallery Art
The Portsmouth Art Guild is a members collaborative of area working artists ranging from printmakers and photographers to jewelers and painters. The multi-function space supports local artists all year long through workshops and classes for artists at all stages (children included!) and their casual open studio drop-in sessions on Sunday afternoons. The exhibition space showcases the works of members and non-members all year long, culminating with a celebratory year’s end Holiday Show. Now through December 20, stop in for an interesting and affordable exhibit of small works (8x10 and smaller) priced at $200 and lower. 2679 East Main Road, Portsmouth. 401-293-5ART
Middletown’s Deblois Gallery is getting in the crafty holiday spirit this month with a mix of ways to enjoy, make and celebrate art. Handmade enthusiasts will marvel at their impressive Holiday Fine Arts & Craft Show running now through December 24. Gourmet sweets made by Jennifer’s Chocolates, colorful quilts by Christine Bagley and delicate stained glass works by Paul Guilday are just a sampling of the eccentric wares on display by over 75 local craft makers through Christmas Eve. For those who are looking to create their own holiday keepsake, stop in on December 13 from 12 to 1:30pm for a Handmade Christmas Ornament workshop. And for those who are looking to raise a glass to the season with like-minded creatives, save the date for the gallery’s Holiday Party on December 18. 134 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown. 401-847-9977