Whether you're shopping for people who have everything or who are bored by the mass-produced, there's no better place to look this year than in an art gallery. Here are five places to get original gifts for all budgets.
WALL TO WALL at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography (401 Richmond West, unit 120, 416-979-3941) to December 16 If you missed last weekend's Holiday Marketplace blitz at 401 Richmond West, don't fret. Until tomorrow afternoon, you can pick out works by Gallery 44's talented member photographers. Magnets, armbands and cards with original images from many of the gallery's member artists start at a mere $5. For deeper pockets, framed prints by Jennifer Long, Katherine Knight, Simon Glass and others go for between $100 and $300.
PARTRIDGES AND PEAR TREES at Magic Pony (694 Queen West, 416-861-1684) to December 24 Holiday group show Partridges And Pear Trees features around 50 artists. The Pony asked each to create one-of-a-kind gifts complete with original packaging. Seth Scriver's Wine Spirits turn the cardboard dividers from wine boxes into totemic owls with some clever silkscreen work, for $30. Or pick up Trudie Cheng's narrative hand-embroidered Poor Wormy Napkin Set, complete with crocheted napkin rings. Two worms fall in love and are eaten by a bird that is eaten by a cat.
CHRISTMAS SPICE at Paul Petro (980 Queen West, 416-979-7874) to December 24 Setting the Christmas spirit alight, Andrew Harwood and Allyson Mitchell team up as their new incarnation, Hardware & Mitchcraft, to produce a kitsch tableau with nine three-foot strobe-lit plastic candles surrounding two plastic elves who are having an uncommonly tender moment. In the centre of the room Dennis Day's No Christmas Tree is being eagerly undecorated as people pick off his hilarious creations. What tree could be complete without a stuffed fun-fur cigarette, $20, a grey camouflage and fun-fur cross, $40, and a 3-D Dick, one of Day's bright plush male genitalia, $40? And Will Munro's felt Death Metal Stockings ($60) would warm the coldest hearth.
J'Adore X-MAS at S.P.I.N. Gallery (1100 Queen West, second floor, 416-530-7656) to January 15 Here find smaller works and limited editions by some of SPIN's favourite artists. Fiona Smyth's small, bright paintings of large-eyed girls with bright purple, blue and green faces and heart-shaped bindis go for $100. Photog George Whiteside offers limited-edition prints of the beautiful faces of famous models and thesps. His close-cropped portraits of such luminaries as Kate Hudson and Daria have been altered to look old and distressed, and are more intimate for their earthy texture. Also find watercolours of people with trees for noses and flowers for mouths by Balint Zsako, for $450.
GIFTS BY ARTISTS at Art Metropole (788 King West, second floor, 416-703-4400) to January 7 With over 40 artists, from Christine Baigent to Andrew Zealley, if you can't find what you need at Art Met, just go home. Either you've succumbed to a critical state of shopping ennui induced by ubiquitous Santa hats and inane, repetitive tunes, or your giftees are impossibly picky (or possibly lame). Sandy Plotnikoff has expanded his ever-popular snap bracelets into a line of guitar straps. Printed with colourful pop references to Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and, of course, littered with more bright snaps, these art-rock fashion statements go for $150. A mere $6, Meghan McKeown's knitted cellphone cozies come in various sizes and colours. But the best buy by far is Jon Sasaki's Underdeveloped Transformer. Riffing off the iconic 80s robot toy, Sasaki has simply glued a face on a cheap plastic ambulance and stood it on its tail lights. The helpless-looking thing even comes with a marketing picture and goes for a mere 10 bucks - but hurry, there's only one left.