Downtown art

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November 29, 2004 // UPDATED 4:46 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

Dowtown holiday shopping relief

I've got holiday shopping anxiety. Seriously, who said Christmas was about giving? It's about shopping, my annual nightmare. First, while I contemplate what to get so-and-so, a merry time bomb prophetically ticks away. It gets stuck in my head. No wonder "my true love" needed 12 days of Christmas, there's no way he or she could've decided between all of those gifts. Tick. Then I get mad at myself for being unable to discern so-and-so's familiar preferences. Tock.

I continue to berate myself for postponing the decision-making part. When I finally make my maiden voyage to The Mall I discover that there are others, many others who've become akin to The Fugitive running for their lives against the stampede of colleagues combating potential Christmas party shame. To top it off, squeaking grocery carts, screaming kids, ringing cell phones and pattering feet get awfully noisy. Don't they realize I'm trying to think?

Now, hear that heavy breathing? That's me, panting through too-long lines after wading through thickets of merchandise picked over by other bloodthirsty shoppers. A shortage of available oxygen is exactly the kind of thing that's aiding and abetting my premature collapse.

Finally, I escape the panicking multitudes and hone in a potential gift, the questins kick in: did I find what I was looking for? Is this what so-and-so likes?

I suddenly realize that I don't actually know any of these people on my guest list, people I've known my entire life. I can't even deduce what size they wear or whether they own something or other already. How utterly unobservant I must be! What a bad friend/sister/daughter/human being I am!

Then, one day I received word on mall-free literary/art sales. Ah, no nasty long lines or time-consuming decisions (there's no way they already own stuff like this).

Coffee House Press

First, Coffee House Press' 20th birthday book sale and reading combo offers deals for the bibliophile on the prowl. Author Greg Hewett kicks off the celebration when he reads from his latest poetry collection, "Red Suburb" that depicts the fate of suburbia in shades of stoplight red. His cul-de-sacs, parking lots, manicured lawns and other domestic signposts reveal the psychological conundrum of success.

Hewett talks about his experience as a visionary, a gay and a dreamer seeking spiritual and physical fulfillment. Other reads on the hour include: Yuko Taniguchi, "Foreign Wife Elegy," Wang Ping, "The Magic Whip," Emily Carter, "Glory Goes and Gets Some" and Steve Ealey, "Earthling."

Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., E.P. Atelier, 609 10th St., Free. 338-0125.

Outsiders Bazaar

Secondly, the artful Outsiders Bazaar sells original artwork, fuzzy scarves, scented sachets and other one-of-a-kind finds. Hunt for pieces from your favorite local artist or discover a new favorite craftsman.

Saturday, Dec. 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Outsiders and Others, 1010 Park Ave., Free. 338-3435.

Walker on the Web

Don't feel like leaving your desk, you don't have to. Try the Walker Art Center's online shop, still up and running even though the museum's doors are closed for construction.

Stocked with countless art/design books, handcrafted jewelry, home/office accessories, toys, tools and stocking stuffers -- there are some pretty innovative updates of trusty standbys. Items like the Billboard Bags representing the enigmatic billboards that have carried Walker Without messages Downtown, a lunch bag that zips into a placemat, a rubber and stainless steel necklace, designer trading cards, Groovetubes (that transform your TV into a disco party), books that feature pixilated celebrities and much more.

Anna Pratt can be reached at