Saturday, December 08, 2007

Wow. This list took me a lot longer than I thought it would to put together. Thanks to everyone who pointed me in the direction of some great locally made artsy-gifts. That said, these are just a few of my (and your) favorite things. If you're still not satisfied with this list, check this exhaustive list of local artists and contact them about gift ideas directly. And tell everyone that you saw it on venangago-go. Please. And thank you.
Without further ado:

The 2007 Venangago-go Gift Guide Part 1 (Books, Music, and Art)

Improved self-publishing has opened up a whole new world for writers and readers. In Venango County, we have a bounty of talented people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to publish directly.

For the local history buff, you can't go wrong with any of local, teacher, blogger, musican, thespian and all around Ren Man Peter Greene. Venango Tales($22.99 2002), Musical Service: The Life And Times of the Franklin Silver Cornet Band (24.99 2006), and A Good Idea At The Time: More Venango Tales ($21.99 2004)

A little bird told me that Venango Sci/Fi fantasy author Eric Day is the subject of a local student's senior project. I'll choke down my envy to recommend his book The Fifth Crystal for the nerds on your list ($22.99 2004).

Nothing says Christmas like steamy romance. With that in mind, pick up some stocking stuffers in the form of local Harlequin romance writer Jamie Denton ($4.00-$11.00), and, although you probably won't get it in time for the holidays, you can send a self addressed stamped 9x12 envelope with $1.14 postage to Jamie Denton, PO Box 39, Rouseville, PA 16344 for a free autographed bookplate, cover flats, magnet, bookmarks and other fun goodies.

Imagine a book of poetry that managed to enthrall a group of college first years as they dug deeper and deeper into the form and meaning of an artist's craft. Yeah, I wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't used Southern Venango County resident Philip Terman's latest collection of Poems, Rabbis of the Air ($12.95 2007)this semester in my Comp I classes. It's sure to delight both black wearing absinthe sipping aesthetes and red blooded he-people with poems about life, death, and raccoon feces. In fact, why not put together a Terman box set and pick up his other books, Book of Unbroken Days($10.95 2005), and The House of Sages ($10.95 2005)

Thanks largely to the efforts of Oil City Arts Czar Joann Wheeler, local visual arts have a high profile than ever.
Whose office wouldn't look better with a local artist creating art of local landmarks in a distinct and delightful style? I'm speaking of course of my favorite local visual artist, Thomas Shreve. His City in Abstraction series continues to thrill me every time I look at it.

the great thing is that although some fo the original artwork is still for sale (I'm saving for El Santo, so hands off) Shreve is smart enough and business savvy enough to offer prints, tee-shirts, the whole sweet merch plum (multiple prices $10-$500.00).

In the same way that self-publishing has allowed local writers to reach a wider audience has allowed artists and crafters to reach a world-wide audience from the comfort of Venango County. My name would be mud if I didn't mention that my daughter and I use etsy to sell upcycled projects and her jewelry and button projects($0.75.-$50.00)

But beyond the self serving, other local etsy users include Judy Leasure (who has a perfect artist name - it sounds like someone from Warhol's Factory) She specializes in pet portraits from photographs. You can also find her work at Slater's in Franklin and in the Transit Fine Art Gallery in Oil City(~50.00).

Meanwhile two Franklin area jewelry artists have found a home on etsy as well:

Allysart creates beautiful metal clay pieces($20-$167.00).
while Marybird creates cabochons from fused glass, enamels, ceramic and stone($45.00-$78.00).

Dr. John Karian's local nature photography makes a fine addition for the fine art lover and the outdoors person ($25-$135). If you don't want to order online, you can head to Slater Custom Framing & Fine Arts, 1252 Liberty Street, Franklin, PA 16323, (814) 432-8608 ;or Victorian City Art & Frame, 1273 Liberty Street, Franklin, PA 16323, (814) 437-9509; or Brown Stone Studio, 104 Diamond Street, Titusville, PA 16354, (814) 827-1277.

Spiritual gifts are often...well, tacky. But having Christians on your list doesn't mean that you are relegated to giving glow in the dark rosaries and (another) study Bible. Jim and Jessica Kronmiller not only take fantastic shots of local environs ($25-$135)but also offer prints with Bible verses printed with said photos, making them the perfect choice for the curmudgeon in your family who wont stop talking about how people left the "Christ" out of Christmas.

and I'd be remiss of course if I didn’t mention Jerry Sowden's book of photography that just came out ($22).


For the New Agey naturopath on your list head to Jill Mattson's site, Jill's Wings of Light. Jill is another local polymath (undoubtedly there was something in the water at Allegheny when both she and Greene attended). Jill sells it all, books, music, and art. You could complete your holiday shopping here alone (multiple prices).

The now defunct band Big Jack Earl probably has as much to do with this blog as I do. It was my stumbling upon one of their live shows that made me quit complaining and start gobbling local arts and culture. Their self titled first album (2004 $10) as well as their final album Peppercorn Rent (2006 $12) are both available from Meat and Potatoes Records. Meanwhile, Oil City's Jerome Wincek who was one third of BJE started The Old Hats. The album Astral Road ($10 2006) is also available from M & P records and all three discs would make a great gift for the intelligent roots music lover who enjoys some Fitzgerald references with his PBR.

Show the teen on your list that there is a scene in Venango and darn it, they should be supporting it. Although it's hard to track down, (and slightly out of Venango County), Titusville's Newmen have three albums of beautifully crafted pop soundscapes of the Oil Region ($5). Likewise worthwhile but difficult to track down is Remora Deign's album ($7). But, find them all, throw in a Newmen tee-shirt and a black hoodie and you've made some little emo kids Xmas a little brighter. Which will probably make them sad. Which is good. I guess.

Phew! Email me if I missed anything and next Saturday we'll conclude with Food and the ever poplar Misc section, so keep the ideas rolling in.

The NYTimes profiles a place where I misspent a good deal of my mid twenties - Webster Hall

Will Radiohead's pricing strategy change the industry?

It's the 7th Annual year in ideas. the good (Braille tatoos) the bad (indie rock muscials)
Spoken-word stocking stuffers

Drowned in Sound interviews Sufjan Stevens about Christmas Music

The Allegheny Chamber Singers will present a potpourri recital of solos, duets, trios and quartets from a repertoire of art song, opera and oratorio on Sunday, Dec. 16 at 3:15 p.m. in Ford Memorial Chapel at Allegheny College.


John M. said...

By the way, one of the best gifts you can do to anyone who lives in Venango County is turn them onto the Venangago-go Blog, if they haven't found the blog already.

Thank you Michael for the excellent job, all year long, of letting us know what's going on, and where. Your insights are most appreciated . . . Happy Holiday my friend

Dittman said...

You're too kind! Happy Holidays!

Crystal P. said...

I agree, you have a great blog here. Half the stuff going on around here I wouldn't know if it weren't for your writings (: Thanks!