Each holiday season, the Columbia Art League decks its walls with bountiful beauty — and asks viewers to consider how blessed it is to give beauty away.
Give the Gift of Art, an annual exhibit, focuses on CAL member-artists and works that might make especially meaningful presents. The show is stuffed with goodness, and here are just a few of the pieces — and kinds of gifts — it contains:
3-D work always plays an important role in CAL exhibits. Pieces with genuine function, or those which refresh a space with their presence, offer off-the-wall options. Tables, bowls, necklaces and vessels practically reach out to the viewer.
This time around, Carla McFarland's "Acoma Gourd" presents a rich unity of pattern, color and shape. Norm Anderson marries formal and fantastical qualities in the engaging metalwork "Vulcan Vault."
Steve Epstein's charming, tastefully carved "Canon D Music Box" promises sweet, simple moments. And, in a beautiful balance of craft and narrative, Jamie Carey-Humphreys' clay vessel "The Holding Branch" suggests both present-tense usefulness and a deeper, more mysterious origin.
Gifts for those who truly welcome winter
Several pieces in the show speak to the hearts of those who wish to embrace, not escape, the coming chill.
Dave Walker's mixed-media work "Trekking" shows a slow parade of four people, umbrellas up and unfolded to protect from weather that is gray and white, while Diana Hallett's detail-rich photography of "Ice Buttons" reveals what those sojourners might step to avoid.
Nature's union — even, or especially, amid the elements — is revealed through David Frech's lovely photograph of a "Blue Jay in Snow." Paintings of winter scenes reveal the season's splendor, and prompt an inside-out warmth; these include Dola Haessig's Christmas-adorned "Village of Windsor Train Platform," Linda Hoffman's muted, majestic watercolor simply titled "Winter" and Linda Rubin's gorgeous "Through the Woods," in which a red barn rings out against the white like a different type of oasis.
For every sort of taste
Other appealing pieces within the show include Ramsay Wise's ever-enveloping abstract style as expressed through the spray paint-and-acrylic work "#50 Cracks." Superlative area artist Kate Gray offers "Dancing in the Rain," a soulful exercise in line and color with some of the deepest blues imaginable.
Always vibrant both in aesthetic and subject, Brandy Tiemann's painting "Little Salty" features a woman tying herself in knots for the sake of her pretzel shop.
A romantic sensibility attends Carrie Yonley's black-and-white photograph "Nostalgia of El Train Station, Chicago," each inch of the image testifying to years of purpose composed of one day and passenger at a time. Jami Knight's painting "Seeking the Ineffable" documents the gathering of spiritual seekers as they move through the gray field of the picture plane — and of knowing.
And Deni Cary Phillips reminds us of what just was, and will be again, through a photograph of "Autumn on MKT Connector."
Also on display: Land and Patchwork
Though separate from Give the Gift of Art, Rachel Deutmeyer's remarkable Land and Patchwork exhibit — displayed in the gallery hallway — deserves attention. The photographer captures distinctly Midwestern scenes, each set in Iowa, then breaks the plane into geometric shapes. Each image calls the viewer to consider the relationship of parts to a whole, and transcending mere shape, the ways in which everything and everyone we see is connected somehow.
Give the Gift of Art remains on display through Jan. 6; Land and Patchwork is up through Jan. 3. Both can be viewed in person or online at https://columbiaartleague.org/.
Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at email@example.com or by calling 573-815-1731.
This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Columbia Art League encourages viewers to give artistic gifts