Lisa Houck, “A Bird with Big Plans,” glass smalti mosaic on board, 8″ x 8″, $600, is featured in Cove Street Arts’ animal-themed “Menagerie a Trois.” Photo by Julia Fetheringill Photography

Unless it’s specifically what they crave, why give your beloved sibling or best friend a 49-inch gaming monitor ($1,200) or a Coach handbag ($495), when for an equal investment you can give them an original work of art? It’s a much more personal gift, one that tells them immediately that you’ve thought about them with a deeper regard and creativity.

“No matter which holiday you celebrate, you could be that person who gives wonderful gifts,” said Sharon Dennehy, owner of the recently opened Notch 8 Gallery in the Old Port. For Dennehy, who is offering “8×8,” a show of 8-inch square works by a variety of artists, it’s all about supporting the community. “It was a way of getting to know a lot of Portland artists and establishing rapport,” said the newcomer to Maine, who moved here from Atlanta. But it’s also a way to make art accessible to a wider audience of people. Prices for the small works will average just $150 to $250.

“Affordability is, of course, relative,” said j.e. paterak of Zero Station in East Bayside. “But there will be works from $100 to about $1,000.” She is speaking of her own holiday show, “Murmuration,” which will feature art from the gallery’s flat file, which tend to be smaller or less expensive works on paper.

Zero Station – like Greenhut Gallery on Middle Street and Alice Gauvin on York, or Elizabeth Moss Galleries in Falmouth – use the holidays as an opportunity to show work by the full roster of their artists. Greenhut’s artists are creating new works specifically for the show, while devotees of the other galleries will find work exhibited previously but pulled out of storage and given a fresh presentation. Hence Gauvin’s “back room” show and Moss’s “gifting wall.”

These dozen holiday shows (in Portland, unless specified otherwise) encourage people to think out of the box when making their holiday shopping lists. The selection is by no means exhaustive, so check out other venues locally. But these will get you started.

Cove Street Arts, 71 Cove St.,, 207-808-8911
Price was not the organizing principle this year, though in the past it has been a major consideration. Instead, said Kelley Lehr, co-owner (with John Dano), “I wanted to find a theme that had broader appeal, and animals are something we can all relate to – from younger audiences to grandparents.” The result is “Menagerie a Trois” (Dec. 1 to Jan. 21), which presents images of various fauna by Susan Amons, Lisa Houck and Richard Furneaux Remsen. “They’re full of color and joy. I think we can all use joyful work right now.” Indeed. Prices start at $450 and run into the thousands. There will also be works by glass artist Marty Kremer and wonderful paintings by David Estey, whose current show in an adjacent gallery, “Emergent Phenomena” is up through December. Estey limns a deft and colorful line between representation and abstraction. Though generally over $1,000, there are a few works on the wall that sell for $900.


Alice Gauvin Gallery, 43 York St.,, 207-805-1707
“We’re closing out the year with a show from our inventory,” said Alice Gauvin, “a back room show if you will.” This show, actually called “The Back Room,” opened Thursday and presents a number of works that have been previously on view. “Rather than tie all these works together thematically, we’re content to let them stand out as separate, and maybe even a little awkward as a group. Think power clashing.” In the front gallery will be a smaller works grouping by familiar gallery artists, but also local contributors (Ryan and Rachel Adams, Holden Willard). Both shows run through Dec. 31. “They’re super-relaxed,” Gauvin added, using a word not normally associated with the frenetic stampeding that can happen at some stores around this time of year. Prices start at about $400.

Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St.,, 207-772-2693
Like any venerable tradition, the holiday show at this longstanding gallery has been a season fixture for quite some time – over 30 years. It will present mostly new work from the entire Greenhut stable in a variety of styles and media, from print and watercolor to ceramic sculpture and glass. It’s a great way to see the latest explorations and contemplations of many popular Maine artists, including Chris Beneman, Matt Blackwell, Philip Frey, Tina Ingraham, Tom Paiement and Alison Rector (among many others). Prices will start at $500. It opens Dec. 1 and runs through Jan. 28.

Lynn Karlin, “Flatware #2,” 2015, Archival pigment print, 15 x 15 inches, $600, from Maine Museum of Photographic Arts’ “Twelfth Night Exhibition.” Photo courtesy of Maine Museum of Photographic Arts

Maine Museum of Photographic Arts, 15 Middle St.,, 207-808-8919
In line with her last show, which documented the many ways photography is changing and expanding, Denise Froelich is pulling together “Twelfth Night Exhibition” from Dec. 9 to Jan. 31. You’ll find traditional photography, of course, but also artists’ books and “photo-related crafts” she says, such as “limited-edition silk scarves printed with CE Morse photographic abstractions.” The cost spread is huge here, with work under $200 (those scarves) to tens of thousands.

Elizabeth Moss Galleries, 251 Route 1, Falmouth,, 207-781-2620
“I wanted to do something special for my Falmouth community who has supported me for 20 years,” said Elizabeth Moss. “So, I have put together a wall of small works from my best artists at affordable prices.” This “gifting wall” at the rear of the gallery includes paintings by Ellie Barnet, Morgan Cameron, Liz Hoag, Richard Keen and Hunt Slonem, among others. They range between $500 and $6,500. “I love it when people buy small pieces of art for loved ones and friends because they are unique treasures that symbolize meaningful connections.”

Elizabeth Moss Galleries, 100 Fore St., Suite B,, 207-804-0459
Jaap Helder, a beloved Damariscotta-based abstract painter, has a glorious show up at this gallery’s Portland location for six more days. Most works are above $1,000, but there are two or three small works that are quite lovely and, because of Helder’s strongly expressionistic style, make a big impact even at a modest scale. Next up is “Constellations” (Dec. 3 to Jan. 8), a show of paintings by young emerging artist Nick Benfy. His work is exciting and original. Here, the lowest price is $1,500 (climbing to $7,800), so it fits less within our theme. But it’s worth contemplating.

Notch 8, 52 Center St.,, 207-358-9433
Sharon Dennehy is new to the Portland art scene, though not to the gallery world. She hails from Atlanta, where for years she offered works largely rooted in street art – graffiti, public murals, etc. She brings this point of view to her “8×8” holiday show (through Dec. 30), which, as the title indicates, presents 8-inch square paintings by a bevy of artists from Maine and beyond. Rachel and Ryan Adams, Maxx Feist and Spenser McLeod are familiar, even prominent, names in this segment of the art world. Some, like Maine-based Kevin Xiques, hail from outside the street art genre. And others are unfamiliar. The work skews colorful, graphic and mostly light-hearted. The press release’s artist statement from Bee Daniel is a good indication of general tone: “bee daniel is a 33-year-old opinionated Italian bimbo with great eyebrows, absorbing the world and painting through a fried lens.” Who wouldn’t want something with that sensibility on your wall? Works will average $150-$250.


Portland Art Gallery, 154 Middle St.,, 207-956-7105
“Evergreen,” a show highlighting the work of the gallery’s 59 represented artists, opens Dec. 1 with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and conversation with many of the creators, who will be in attendance. “If we have learned anything over the past few years, it is that being in community with one another, and celebrating the beauty of life, are as essential to us as breathing. Evergreen opens a space for both of these, and a time for collective rejuvenation,” said Lisa Belisle, host of the gallery’s weekly podcast, “Radio Maine.” This gallery tends to have works that are conceptually accessible, which means newcomers to the art world will likely find something they like. Styles run the gamut, from figurative to abstract, and prices start at $800. The show runs through Jan. 6.

Speedwell Projects, 630 Forest Ave.,, 207-805-1835
The annual fundraising auction for this gallery that promotes female artists has, for years, been a highly anticipated event. However, this year, Speedwell is changing gears, building a small shop within the gallery to the right of the entrance. “We’ll be featuring prints, some ceramics and original works by artists in the Speedwell community,” said Managing Director Annika Early. “Catalogs featuring the works of Katarina Weslien, Ling-Wen Tsai and Abby Shahn will also be available.” Pricing wasn’t available at press time, but there are sure to be pieces under $1,000. You can find Speedwell under Charlie Hewitt’s 28-foot long “Hopeful” sign on Forest Avenue, itself a resonant message for the holidays if there ever was one.

Jill Poyourow, “Full Belly,” 2018, acrylic and flashe on linen, 10 x 8 inches, featured in “The More The Merrier.” Photo courtesy of the artist and Grant Wahlquist Gallery

Grant Wahlquist Gallery, 30 City Center, 2nd floor,, 207-245-5732
“I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the state of the world we live in and considering how I can best leverage the gallery’s platform to enter 2023 with a feeling of optimism and resilience,” said Grant Wahlquist. Drawing on his experience as a former lawyer representing female-identifying and LGBTQ refugees, as well as his background as a theologian, his response is “The More the Merrier,” an exhibition for refugee relief that runs Dec. 2-17. An impressive group of heavy-hitter artists have contributed works, including Leon Benn, Katherine Bradford, Alison Hildreth, Tessa Greene O’Brien and Jimmy Viera. “Artists will retain their portion of sales,” Wahlquist said, “and the gallery will donate 100 percent of its proceeds to organizations supporting refugees nationally and locally.” Prices for these modestly scaled works will range between a few hundred dollars to the low five figures.

Zero Station, 222 Anderson St.,, 207-347-7000
“Murmuation: Murmurings from the Flat File” champions the lesser-seen work of many artists who have shown at this pioneering East Bayside gallery. The name literally comes from the flat file that stands at the center of the gallery and houses small works on paper by 20 women, including Nancy Blum, Annika Early, Jessica Gandolf, Anna Hepler, Rose Marasco, Margaret Nomentana, Andrea Sulzer and owner j.e. paterak’s own jewelry. The show is open and runs through Jan. 6.

River Arts, 36 Elm St., Damariscotta,, 207-563-6868
The top price for a piece of art at “Celebration,” the non-juried holiday show at River Arts this year, is $400, and many works fall far below this marker. So “Celebration” is an eminently shoppable event by design. To put you in an extra festive holiday mood, it’s timed to coincide with the town’s “Parade of Lights” festival. “Celebration” runs from Nov. 26 through Dec. 30.

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