As you’ve undoubtedly realized by now, if you’ve started your Christmas shopping, some of the most sought-after gifts for 2021 are not only extremely difficult to find since the Delta variant of COVID reared its ugly head, but also terrifyingly expensive. That’s especially true of electronic gadgets, due to the chip shortage caused by backlogs in the supply chain from the countries – mainly in Asia – where such things are manufactured. Gamers are pining for the new PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch, but you won’t find any of them for less than $400, and a pricetag of $1,000+ is not unheard-of. And that’s if you can get them at all.
No wonder people are looking to source their holiday gifts closer to home this season. Comparatively speaking, suddenly commodities that previously seemed too luxurious for the average person begin to sound much more reasonable. For example, how about giving that special someone an original work of art? Ulster County has long been renowned for having the highest percentage of artists per capita in New York State, and many of them have artwork for sale for far less than you’d pay for one of those gaming consoles. There are even skilled artists among us who will do a commissioned portrait for a couple of hundred dollars or less.
This article spotlights a few of the fine artists in our neck of the woods whose creations can be acquired at prices to fit a working-class budget. We’re arbitrarily choosing $150 as the top of our price range, with a fair few items available as low as $10 or $20. Buying from these folks keeps the local economy humming and helps enable artists to make at least part of their living off their art.
Facebook: Carol Zaloom Illustration
If you can’t immediately figure out why the name sounds familiar, flip the page of this Gift Guide back to the cover. Carol Zaloom has participated in the Saugerties Artists’ Studio Tour for 17 years now. You might even remember a classic Garlic Festival poster she created some years back, depicting the Headless Horseman chucking a giant head of garlic instead of a pumpkin at Ichabod Crane.
Heavily influenced by the forest environment surrounding her home, Zaloom’s charming linocuts often feature such wild creatures as owls and foxes. “I have done portraits from photos, both human and animals,” she says, so getting something bespoke with her signature look is not out of the question. It might even be affordable; prices for unframed prints at her upcoming Winter Sale and Open House range from $20 to $90. It takes place on December 4 and 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 302 High Falls Road in Saugerties.
At the same Open House, you can also pick up some visual treats from Zaloom’s significant other, performance artist Mikhail Horowitz: baseball-related collages and altered cards, leaf prints with haiku-like fragments of text and naïve linocut prints. “The collages are not Photoshopped, but created by old-school manual cut-and-paste with scissors and straight-edge blades.” Horowitz reminds us. A binder of color copies of his altered baseball cards goes for $20 and a copy of Ancient Baseball, his book of collages and bogus historical texts, for $15.
Better-known as a writer, and locally as the stepson of sculptor Harvey Fite and longtime keeper of his legacy at Opus 40 in Saugerties, Richards is also a prolific producer of digital paintings that resemble watercolors. Nudes are a frequent subject, and there’s a long-running series of “San Miguel Dogs” from his sojourns in Mexico. Most recently, he has begun a series of tarot images reimagined from the Rider-Waite deck.
Richards sells the paintings as signed prints in limited editions of 15, mainly through his online MoleGallery. They can also be viewed by appointment at 60 Grant Street in Kingston. Prices typically run $60 to $70 for prints in the 5” x 7” range, $75 to $100 in the 8” x 10” range and $100 and up for sizes over 8” x 10”. He will also do commissioned portraits of humans or pets from photographs.
Sasha Sun Shining on Everyone
Instagram: Sasha SUN
Kingston-based art teacher Sasha Sun is a Midwesterner by birth who claims in her blog that the sight of a lightning bug at her grandparents’ home convinced her to stay on in New York State permanently. She goes in mostly for small acrylic and watercolor landscapes and portraits in a naïve style, with originals on cardboard available as low as $75. She will do commissioned portraits from live sittings or remotely for under $150.
You can stuff many a stocking with prints of Sun’s work, which she markets freely and inexpensively via the Sun Shop tab on her website. Find an image you like in her gallery? You can get it on canvas prints, notecards, tee-shirts, hoodies, mugs, water bottles, backpacks, yoga pants, iPhone cases, laptop sleeves…you name it. Prices start at $11 for a scrunchie, which would make a truly special stocking-stuffer.
Rita Bolla ART
A Budapest native who got her MFA from the Hungarian Academy of Fine Arts, Rita Bolla now works from home in Rosendale. Bolla’s specialties are ready-to-purchase watercolors (animal portrait, plants, landscapes) as well as made-to-order human and animal portraits using either watercolor on paper or oil-on-canvas techniques. Pricing is on a sliding scale, depending on the size, material and number of people or pets portrayed, and she’s offering a holiday special on commissioned portraits from photographs up until the end of this year.
Human watercolor portraits in 9” x 12” and 12” x 18” sizes can now be ordered in the $100 to $150 range, with a two-week turnaround time. Watercolor portraits of pets in the same sizes go for $75 to $100. Bolla also sells small watercolors of plants, animals and landscapes in the $25 to $50 range; check her social media for updates on what’s available.
A new children’s book featuring Bolla’s illustrations, Nimita: The Firefly Girl by C. F. Lapinel, was released this year by BlueStone Art Collective, and printed postcards of images from the book are also for sale.
Gabriela Mayr is a registered nurse and world traveler based in New Paltz, who creates much of her art from assemblages of unusual materials including seaglass and yarn. All pieces are affordably priced between $25 and $100.
Normally, you can find her work on her Facebook page, but on Saturday, December 4 or Sunday, December 5, depending on the weather, she will have a booth in the courtyard of the Water Street Market in New Paltz. Not only will your purchase help support the arts in the community through the maker, but 50 percent of the proceeds this time will be donated to the Denizen Theatre. So, you’ll get double the karma points while taking home something aesthetically pleasing. Win/win!
“Sharpie drawings of animals that are unique and funky” is how New Paltz artist Camryn Dluginski describes her eyecatching and extremely affordable work. The furry and feathered subjects are set against swirly backgrounds that sometimes evoke a Van Gogh sky.
For as little as $5, you can get a 4” x 6” print of an existing work, but a custom drawing of your pet from a photograph can be ordered in the $50 to $75 range.
Audrey Brand Studio
Highland-based Audrey Brand creates oil paintings, digital art, watercolors and drawings. Food is a favorite subject, often rendered in a small format that’s not too hard on the pocketbook.
Brand’s 8” x 10” original oil paintings are available in the $100 to $150 range. Prints of the same size can be had for under $25. E-mail the artist to inquire about made-to-order commissions.
“I have been painting my entire life,” says Barbara Masterson, a retired art teacher whose work has been widely exhibited and collected. In 2015, while painting on a local farm, she became fascinated by the lives of migrant farmworkers, and set herself to the task of alleviating their invisibility in our society. She has dedicated her work in recent years to capturing their images in both paintings and drawings.
Matted 8’ x 10” pencil drawings from Masterson’s “Hands that Feed Us” series can be purchased for $135. She encourages visits to her Studio on the Farm, located at 561 Old Indian Road in Milton. She’s also available to do portraits from a live sitting or photographs.
Willing to travel a little farther afield for your affordable art fix? You might want to check out the stream-of-consciousness artworks of Peekskill-based Elizabeth Bram, which she describes as “happy, uplifting, nourishing and full of spirit.”
“I was born with a crayon in my hand. I wanted to draw all over everything. My parents did not interfere,” Bram writes. Starting her education in the ‘70s at an alternative art school with a very flexible curriculum, Silvermine College, she went on to travel in France, publish children’s books, study acupuncture, Hawaiian language and flamenco dance. Eventually, she even “took some courses in art, which did not interfere with my artistic ideas.”
The prices for Bram’s original oil paintings on her Fine Art America page start at $600; prints of same go for $17. But she informs Hudson Valley One that she currently has some 8” x 10” paintings available for $50 each. E-mail her for more information.