Don’t empty the wallet! Find great buys at the Art Center at Fuller Lodge

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By Special to the Monitor

The day after Thanksgiving, sometimes called Black Friday, is known as the busiest shopping day of the year. Fueled by leftover pumpkin pie, hordes of shoppers will travel down the hill to invade the malls and department stores. This year you have another option: stay home and visit the opening day of the Affordable Art sale at the Art Center at Fuller Lodge. Affordable Art offers gifts for everyone on your list.


Doors open at 10 a.m. to reveal a gallery full of unique items crafted by Northern New Mexico artists and affordably priced between $1 and $250. This year many artists are focusing on under-$100 items to meet the needs of cash-strapped shoppers. The gallery, staffed by volunteers including the displaying artists, will have extra personnel on hand to assist you in the festively decorated Art Center. Regular hours are from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Holiday lovers will find dozens of items to decorate their homes or give as gifts. Ornaments to hang on trees or in windows run the gamut from stained glass snowmen to carved gourds, Washi paper figures and ceramic bells. Scented lotions and soaps, hand-rolled beeswax candles, glass trays and decorated spoons will liven up any home and also make nice stocking stuffers.

Many of the paintings, prints and photographs portray both the beauty and the spirit of New Mexico, available in frames or ready-to-frame. Watercolors, pastels and oil paintings capture the sentiments inspired by our landscapes. Photographers Christine Brown, Kenneth Hanson and David Tubbs add their selections to the bountiful collection of photographic prints in the Gallery Shop. Other excellent photographers help round out the collection with both prints and cards.

Ceramics include ever-useful coffee mugs as well as plates, platters and other beautiful functional items. Barbara Yarnell has three distinct design lines, each of which includes everything from plates and mugs to toothbrush holders, tiled trivets and pencil stands. Pottery by Sandra Garcia and Cheryl Hoagland was very popular last year; both have returned by popular demand.

There’s good news for regular customers of the Art Center Gallery Shop. Cricket Messersmith provided an extensive assortment of her Japanese Washi (handmade paper) covered boxes. Trays to hold eye glasses are new in her collection this year.

Handmade clothing always makes a special gift. Artist Valentina Devine returns to the Art Center this year with her extraordinary sweaters, shawls and mittens. Offerings in the fiber arts include hand painted silk scarves and prints by Sande Anderson, weavings by Carol Hanson, and unique primitive-style cloth dolls by Heather Wheat.

Small metal “robots” by Garth Tietjen are a totally delightful addition to the show this year. Tietjen, who works full-time as an artist at Los Alamos National laboratory, creates these desktop figures, as well as small statues and watches with bead bands.

Clare Villa fills the Portal Gallery with her retablos, in a variety of sizes. Retablos are colorful, spiritual symbols, generally featuring pictures of saints. Villa mounts hers on traditionally styled tin frames.

If you don’t finish your shopping on opening day at Affordable Arts, you can come back for the Grand Opening celebration on Saturday, Dec. 5. Enjoy hot cider and homemade cookies from 10 a.m. until the Parade of Lights begins at 6 p.m.

Gift Certificates to The Art Center at Fuller Lodge are available to purchase as gifts.

These can be redeemed in the Gallery Shop, or used toward the price of art classes. The proceeds of the Affordable Art sale benefit both the local artists and the Art Center, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the visual arts and art education in Los Alamos and the surrounding areas.

The Affordable Art Sale runs from November 27 through January 2. For more information stop by the Art Center at Fuller Lodge, 2132 Central Avenue, call 662-9331 or visit the Website at www.artfulnm.org.