This time of year, Moss Galleries owner Elizabeth Moss gives lots of advice to customers who want to buy art for friends and loved ones, but feel intimidated by the prospect.

She tells them: Trust yourself.

“Have confidence in your own taste to be able to identify things your loved ones or friends would love as well,” said Moss, who sells original art from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars at her Falmouth gallery and later this month will open a second gallery on Fore Street in Portland. “No. 1, have confidence in your own taste, and No. 2, go to a gallery that aligns with your aesthetic. Have a budget before you go anywhere, and try to find things based on that budget.”

Art is a great gift, because it’s personal. And while it can be expensive, it doesn’t need to be. Galleries are becoming more transparent with prices on their websites, so people can browse – and buy – online, and Moss tells people they can spend around $500 or less for an original painting at her gallery.

Kelley Lehr, co-owner of Cove Street Arts and Greenhut Galleries, said original art is undeniably a luxury item, “but it’s a necessary luxury – a luxury that’s sustained, in that it continues to bring joy over a span of many years, and sustaining in its mental health benefits and ability to elicit joy,” she said. “And a piece of art chosen specifically for the recipient, whether the choice is based on the receiver’s known interest in a particular artist or genre, or based purely on the giver’s hunch that a given piece of artwork will resonate, is an incredibly thoughtful, intimate, and impactful gift.”

In Bristol, Catherine McLetchie, owner of The Good Supply, a barn-based shop and gallery that features 100 mostly Maine artists and makers, believes in the buy-local ecosystem because it’s self-nourishing.

“Supporting neighbors is what makes the world go round,” said McLetchie, whose physical store is closed for the season but whose online enterprise is humming. “When people support artists individually or through small businesses like The Good Supply, they are making an economic and moral difference for their community. It empowers people, and it feels good.”

She sells art and objects from $10 to $10,000. From her perspective as a business owner and a liaison between artists and buyers, McLetchie senses that people are interested in self-care in ways they were not before the pandemic and are more willing to invest in art, because art is one way of bringing calm into a life and space. And because Maine represents a place of refuge for so many people who live here and those who live elsewhere, art that evokes Maine or by Maine artists is popular as gifts – now more than ever.

“The collective trauma of COVID has made people realize what is important, and I think that means being supportive of their neighbors and their community. It’s not just economically healthy, but it’s also about finding peace and calm.”

With peace in mind – and with no concern whatsoever for the supply-chain conundrum – here are gift ideas for lovers of art in your life, from the low end of the price range to the upper end, some that can be brought home and wrapped, and others that can only be experienced hands-on.

Cards and stationery by Saturn Press, based on Swans Island and available through the Good Supply. Photo by Catherine McLetchie

In an age of text, email and TikTok, it’s comforting when someone takes the time to send a handwritten note. The Good Supply sells cards and stationery from Saturn Press, which operates antique presses at its Swans Island home and makes fine letterpress stationery and greeting cards. We’re partial to the “Old Son” series, with a smiling sun face beaming down. The “Curve Fern” set offers a more direct remembrance of Maine and the wonder of spring. Six cards and envelopes, $14.

Jeweler Kate Mess using the natural world for inspiration in making her jewelry. Photo by Catherine McLetchie

Midcoast jeweler Kate Mess takes inspiration from nature around her and works with enamels and metals to create eye-catching wearable art. She folds copper in the shape of a barnacle and fuses colored glass for her Bitty Barnacle Earrings ($48), and was inspired by her love of ice fishing to create Tidal Necklace No. 5 Bubbles ($785), with one side colored in yellow and green and the other shimmering in sea greens and rust to look something like fishing lures.

The Belly series by Aidan Fraser, also known as Luster Hustler. Courtesy of Aidan Fraser

Portland ceramicist Aidan Fraser (also know as Luster Hustler) creates functional ceramics focusing on the female form with a message of body positivity and self love. She is best known for her Lady Mugs, full-body mugs with accents of 22-carat gold luster, starting at $70. Working at her studio at Running With Scissors in Portland, she’s also making a Belly series of shot glasses and tumblers – from the belly on down – starting at $24. Find her on Instagram @luster_hustler.

Louisa Wickard’s July 2021 Tea Towel design featured loons. Photo by Gillian Britt, courtesy of Eat Drink Lucky

Louisa Wickard, a painter and printmaker from Cumberland, is among a dozen Maine artists participating in the second year of Eat Drink Lucky’s 12-month Artist Series Tea Towel subscription ($165), with each artist designing a custom-made towel that ships monthly. Wickard, who suggested the idea and participated in the first year, is on tap for the April 2022 design and is mulling her options. For the 2021 series, she created a stalk of Brussels sprouts for February and a loon for July. Other 2022 designers are the Faithful Hound, Freckled Fuchsia, North Circle Studio, Pretty Flours, Sea Rose Studios, Tröskö Design, Erin Flett, Emma B. Garcelon, Allison McKeen, Zaz + Moe, and Hearth & Harrow.

Artist Arnold Skolnick worked with master printer David Wolfe to produce a limited-edition series of Skolnick’s poster from the Woodstock music festival in 1969. Courtesy of Moss Galleries

For fans of rock ‘n’ roll who like memorabilia, Moss Galleries in Falmouth is selling limited-edition prints of the original Woodstock poster, signed by artist Arnold Skolnick, for $1,800. This summer, Skolnick came to Portland to work with master printer David Wolfe to create 200 silkscreen prints of his poster, which has come to represent both the landmark 1969 music festival and a generation of music. Skolnick is a longtime friend of gallery owner Elizabeth Moss, who arranged the collaboration with Wolfe.

Tim Greenway, “Climbing Out Of The Blue Room,” digital photograph on aluminum, available in various sizes. Photo courtesy of the artist

Photographer Tim Greenway’s abstract images of Portland and its built-up environs, on view through Dec. 11 at Cove Street Arts in the exhibition “Refined Resurgence,” are garnering attention for their ability to capture the beauty and architectural poetry of a city and region on the move. Cove Street is selling 18-by-20-inch prints of all images for $825, and prices range up to $2,500 for a 40-by-60-inch print. Cove Street’s sister gallery, Greenhut Galleries in downtown Portland, hosts its 27th annual holiday show through January, with prices ranging from $275 for gorgeous little oil-on-burlap landscapes paintings by Alec Richardson to $22,000 for a Maurice Freedman oil on canvas from 1959.

Robert Shetterly’s “Portraits of Racial Justice.” Courtesy of New Village Press

For readers, one must-have book about Maine art this year is “Portraits of Racial Justice: Americans Who Tell the Truth” by Brooksville painter Robert Shetterly, ($34.95, New Village Press) which brings together a collection of his portraits of people of courage who are working in pursuit of equality and social justice. The paintings are part of his ongoing “Americans Who Tell the Truth” series, and include writer and Civil Rights spokesman W.E.B. Du Bois, seamstress and Civil Rights leader Rosa Parks, and human rights activist and Penobscot tribal ambassador Maulian Dana.

“Take It Easy: Portland in the 1970s” by John Duncan. Courtesy of Islandport Press

The other must-have book is “Take It Easy: Portland in the 1970s,” a collection of photographs by longtime Portland-area photographer John Duncan ($19.95, Islandport Press). Duncan spent his younger years driving a cab and hanging out in Portland with his friends, always with a camera. His black-and-white photographs frame Portland as it was before the city became a destination for food, beer, and shopping – before its refined resurgence – and serve as a bookend for the beginning of the current growth era.

Waterfall Arts in Belfast offers glassblowing classes starting at $75 an hour. Photo by Chris Battaglia, courtesy of Waterfall Arts

For do-it-yourselfers with a sense of adventure, Waterfalls Arts in Belfast offers glassblowing classes in its newly opened glassblowing studio. Participants learn to make glass objects in hot ovens, under the supervision and tutelage of instructors. The studio has been a huge success – a hot date-night, for sure – and Waterfalls Arts continues to expand classes. Prices start at $75 per person per hour and go up to $375 for a three-hour class for five, with group rates also available.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.