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Gifts and Thrifts

By Justin Sondak in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 30, 2006 10:50PM

They’re less sophisticated than the big box stores but their merchandise is much more compelling, Chicago’s art shops and fairs are wasting no time hawking their wares. We could use some help after last year’s gift debacle (what were we thinking?), so we’ll be checking out the holiday art show circuit:

20061130_department.jpgThis weekend’s DEPART-ment converts the Open End Gallery to a temporary shop of unique, locally produced, hand-crafted gifts. From oven mitts to hoodies to jewelry, it’s brand-name less, guilt-free shopping.

The Shop at the Cultural Center’s Saturday afternoon Trunk Shows deliver discounted Chicagoalia, from those gems that epitomize what we love about our city to tchotchkes they couldn’t unload over the summer. Find out for yourself which is which.

The Renegade Craft Fair’s enduring popularity suggests crafting like your momma did is more than a temporary fad. Over 150 vendors descend on Pulaski Park next weekend.

20061130_thriftimage.jpgBut if you need a break from rampant commercialism, even from the beautiful and creative people, check out Brian Ulrich’s beautifully textured photos of cast-off goods and thrift stores opening Friday night at Rhona Hoffman Gallery. The Chicago photographer cuts through the hype and helps us reevaluate what it means to be a consumer. We are what we buy, but in ways that we didn’t expect.

Brian Ulrich : Thrift opens Friday at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, 119 North Peoria St. and shows through January 6. More info at