For a memorable gift, consider works by the region’s artists

Dozens of award-winning artists live in our midst. And their work isn’t necessarily expensive.

“Driftwood 2” by Molly LeMaster is displayed and for sale at the Schack Art Center in Everett.

“Driftwood 2” by Molly LeMaster is displayed and for sale at the Schack Art Center in Everett.

Got your Christmas shopping done?

Have you thought about buying art — as in fine art by local artists?

Resist the idea that you can run out to a discount store for a cheapo framed print that matches the colors of your sister’s couch.

When you buy art you love, not stuff to match the furniture, it’s more likely to be around for a lifetime. Artwork by artists you know will become treasures to be passed down to younger generations. Camano Island watercolorist Molly LeMaster uses archival paints and paper just for that reason. She wants her paintings to last.

Judy Tuohy, executive director of the Schack Art Center in Everett, agrees that great art will outlive any home decor.

“I love my art collection more as the years go on,” Tuohy said. “And because I know these artists, it’s even more meaningful.”

Snohomish and Island counties are home to dozens of award-winning, well-known painters, sculptors, glassblowers and carvers. It’s easy to get acquainted with these talented folks at gallery exhibit opening receptions, art walks, auctions, festivals and studio tours.

Art for gift-giving doesn’t have to be expensive.

Many painters sell small prints, which, when placed in nice frames, can make lovely gifts. In addition, sometimes artists will allow buyers to set up payment plans for purchases, or will sell unframed work from their studios at much lower prices than you might find in a gallery.

“Artists put everything they have into their work,” LeMaster said. “And what you get is one-of-a-kind.”

It won’t be difficult to find artwork you will feel proud to present as a gift, whether it’s abstract or an impressionistic view of a Puget Sound scene.

“Many artists here are inspired by nature,” LeMaster said. “The beauty of this place is something we all share. And remember that art can freeze time and preserve history.”

Another thing many local artists share is their community involvement, she said. Artists, who depend on the sale of their creations for their livelihoods, often are asked to donate work for auctions that support schools, museums and all sorts of nonprofit organizations.

“So we hope that the community would support us in return,” LeMaster said. “I have a modest art collection. I buy art to support my friends and people I don’t know whose work I love.”

Tuohy echoed the economic and cultural value of buying local art. The Schack represents more than 200 local artists. Many of them have works for sale in the gift shop at the art center.

“When you buy a piece of art here, you support the Schack, the artist, the art supply shop where she bought her materials and you support the culture of our community,” Tuohy said.

Visit the Schack, where through Dec. 31 the annual Holiday Show features works by signature members of the Northwest Watercolor Society. All of it is for sale. LeMaster is one of the artists.

Go to those fundraising auctions LeMaster spoke of. One of the best is the Schack’s annual benefit — H’arts — on Feb. 25 in the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Xfinity Arena.

Look for artwork you enjoy. Go into public buildings that feature the work of local artists. Colleges, hospitals, libraries, cafes and government buildings in Snohomish and Island counties all display art created by local people. The Arlington Arts Council has helped provide lots of outdoor sculpture for that city.

The Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds and the Museum of Northwest Art in La Conner both have wonderful gift shops. And the Seattle Art Museum has a fine art sales gallery on its street level.

There are too many local art galleries to list them all here, but Thursday’s A&E section in The Daily Herald in Everett provides good information. Attend opening receptions to meet the artists.

Take art studio tours, such as the one on Camano Island each May and the one in Edmonds in September. Shop at the Schack’s annual Artists Garage Sale in early June. Watch artists at work during the Schack’s Fresh Paint Festival in August on the Everett waterfront. Enjoy the art walks on third Thursday evenings in Edmonds and Everett.

You might even find a gift for yourself.

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