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Opportunities for art shopping 

Give the Gift of Art

Who says all holiday gifts have to come from the mall? If you've already reached wit's end trying to come up with a unique gift for all those people on your list who probably have everything they could possibly want anyway, consider this gift idea: a work of art. Not only are you supporting a starving artist, but you're guaranteed to avoid the embarrassment of gift duplication. Unlike a sweater, an artwork never goes out of style. And unlike some gifts, which wear out and eventually become useless, a work of art can actually increase in value, depending on the success of the artist whose work you purchase.

December offers many opportunities for art shopping — and some bargains as well. 1708 Gallery's annual "Small Affordable Works Show" is a must on every holiday art shoppers list. The exhibition features works from 1708's artist board members, emeritus and associate artists and their invited guests. Most works are priced at $100, some for less, and all money raised goes directly to the nonprofit gallery. This year's show opens Friday, Dec. 3 at 8 p.m. Be sure to get there early — these works go fast. 1708 is located at 103 E. Broad St. Call 643-7829 for details.

Also check out Fulton Hill Studios, 1000 Carlisle Ave., Saturday, Dec. 4 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. during its annual holiday open house when its 17 multimedia artist residents open their studios for your browsing — and buying — pleasure. The event will also feature works by guest artists, music, food and entertainment. Call 226-9555 for details and directions.

On Friday, Dec. 10, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Main Street's many galleries team up for a joint open house. Start at Astra Design, 1301 W. Main St., and work your way down gallery row — Uptown Gallery, Main Art Gallery, Reynolds Gallery, Parks Duffy Gallery, www.happytheartist.com, Artemis Gallery and Coincidence Gallery. You'll find every imaginable kind of art available in these diverse galleries — from hand-crafted furniture and ceramics at Astra Design to prints by internationally known artists at Reynolds Gallery.

Also, don't forget about Shockoe Bottom Arts Center, 2001 E. Grace St., where artists' studios are often open to the public. And don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call an artist whose work you admire — they just might be willing to help you out with your gift-giving
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