Datebook: The Art Of Original Gift-Giving | WGLT

Datebook: The Art Of Original Gift-Giving

Nov 25, 2020

Art meets the retail experience at a venerable holiday event hosted by the McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington. 

The 44th annual Holiday Treasures Exhibition and Sale offers gift shoppers an alternative to Amazon. That’s according to Doug Johnson, the arts center's executive director. 

“Handmade objects as gifts, I think, speaks to a different level of caring than an Amazon box coming to someone’s house,” Johnson said. “We have a whole lot of really terrific local artists that are participating in this year’s show.” 

That’s 24 local artists, to be exact. 

“They all have unique talents. And it’s a great opportunity for them to show their work and for people of the community to make a concerted effort to support local art and to give something that is truly unique,” said Johnson. 

Selecting artists and their works to be a part of the Holiday Treasures show involves a different approach than the usual exhibitions hosted by the downtown McLean County Arts Center (MCAC). Johnson said during a regular exhibition, artists are chosen to have a body of their work highlighted. 

“It’s 15 or 25 pieces of works that can hold together cohesively for a show,” he said.  

For the holiday show, the center's galleries need to be filled with a good variety of affordable items in an array of mediums selected to appeal to a wide audience.    

“We’re looking at works that are attractive and thoughtfully produced and at a price point that people could consider for giving. I don’t think we’re going to have people come in and say, ‘I want to spend $5,000 on a painting.’ Although that does sometimes happen. Generally, people are looking at a lower price point and something that is beautiful.” 

Johnson said the selection process mirrors how the MCAC picks artists to participate in the Sugar Creek Arts Festival in Uptown Normal. 

The holiday show is smaller than usual this year, noted Johnson. That’s due to ongoing arts center classes that have been moved into the gallery spaces to allow for social distancing. People visiting the center to shop the show also will have plenty of room, although Johnson conceded there is a possibility that another shutdown could be on the horizon. 

The center is ready for that, he said. 

“If that’s the case, we would make ourselves for appointment-only shopping,” he said. 

The Holiday Treasures Exhibition and Sale runs until Dec. 31.


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