Holiday shop at GPAC adds artful touch to the season

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 8, 2012

 Harrison Township artist Heather Ann Brush created whimsical birdhouses, many featuring Michigan license plate roofs, which are now for sale at the Grosse Pointe Art Center’s annual holiday shop.

Harrison Township artist Heather Ann Brush created whimsical birdhouses, many featuring Michigan license plate roofs, which are now for sale at the Grosse Pointe Art Center’s annual holiday shop.

Photo by K. Michelle Moran

GROSSE POINTE CITY — The halls are decked with gifts galore for family and friends at the Grosse Pointe Art Center, which opened its annual holiday shop with a reception Nov. 2.

Unlike regular exhibitions, the holiday shop isn’t juried, although the works still must meet certain artistic criteria for inclusion. And while GPAC visitors can always find reasonably priced original art, that’s especially true at the holiday shop, where works are priced from $5-$500, with many at the lower end of that scale.

Open through Jan. 7, the holiday shop features cold weather and fashion scarves, ceramics, smaller paintings, jewelry, pillows, Pewabic pottery, small home furnishings and sculptures, sachets, glasses, hand-painted dishes, cards, bookmarks, Christmas tree ornaments and much more. Wine goblets painted with angels and other seasonal images are $20, coaster sets made from recycled tires and featuring the Detroit skyline are $10, and natural-scented candle and soap sets are less than $15. From presents for party hosts to gifts for teens or teachers, shoppers will find something for everyone on their list, say GPAC holiday shop organizers.

They didn’t have an exact count at press time, but organizers say visitors will find work by dozens of local artists

“There’s hundreds of pieces,” GPAC Director Amy DeBrunner said.

GPAC Board Vice President Wendy Schmidt, who co-chairs the Exhibition Committee, said they had submissions from GPAC members and nonmembers alike. When hanging and organizing the work, she said they created groupings.

“We tried to look at works that complement each other and show well together,” Schmidt said. “Everybody brings their eye and their talent to make sure it displays well.”

Hala Besmar, who heads the youth art education program at the GPAC, said even the window displays look inviting.

“From the outside, you feel like you want to come in,” said the artist, who created special jewelry just for the holiday shop.

Visitors can expect more of everything. The GPAC moved into a new space a few months ago, and its larger home is proving to be a great place for the holiday shop.

“I think it’s even bigger than usual because we’re in a bigger space,” said GPAC Exhibition Committee member Nina Goebel, an artist whose design for the holiday shop postcard — a shopping bag-toting snowman — inspired one of the window displays.

The artists are excited to be celebrating the holidays at the GPAC. Heather Ann Brush, of Harrison Township, made a number of whimsical painted birdhouses with Michigan license plate roofs and beaded accents. They aren’t for use outdoors, but are instead for indoor display.

“They’re just doodles,” she said of the colorful painted designs on the birdhouses, which were built from recycled wooden shelving. “I just like to make things that make people smile.”

Linda Allen, an artist and member of the Exhibition Committee, was among those taken with Brush’s playful creations.

“We’ve got quite a wide variety of gifts, as usual,” she said. Those items include “some beautiful purses (and) blown glass ornaments … (and) just fun, fun things.”

She also noted that these are “one of a kind … made in Michigan” items.

“That’s what makes it nice,” Allen said.

And shoppers should plan return trips.

“There’s a lot of art that’s not out that will be out,” Schmidt said.

The GPAC is expected to again be the official site for free gift-wrapping of items purchased in the Village, although that isn’t slated to start until December.

The GPAC is located at 17051 Kercheval in the Village. Hours are noon-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. There will be an ugly sweater party from 6-9 p.m. Dec. 7. For more about the party or the GPAC, call (313) 881-3454, email or visit