Attention, shoppers: do you suffer from Holiday Seasonal Allergies? Do your eyes dry in their sockets at anything red and green, ears shrivel at the sound of chirpy carols, fingers exhibit with more will to tie a noose than another gift-bow?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, Montreal’s holiday art fairs just might be the cure. Providing exposure to local artists, encouraging creative and thoughtful gifting, and dissociating the buying experience from the soul-crushing, fluorescent halls of the Eaton Centre or Fairview, our city’s countless fairs offer the perfect gift for nearly anyone, and at any price range.
So if you’re looking for a gift that’s more ‘art fair’ than ‘mall fare,’ you might want to take this guide with you as you make the rounds.
Taking its name from the word for a traditional North African or Middle-Eastern market, Souk@Sat rounds up Montreal’s best fashion, accessory, jewellery, toy and decorative arts designers under one roof. Held in the Society of Arts and Technology’s loft-like space, the fair for those who “hate shopping in chain stores” urges shoppers to forego the cookie-cutter mall experience and to support local talent in purchasing gifts that are “useful, decorative, innovative, and exclusive!” Now in its eighth year, the fair gets better every time, catering to every budget and niche: from chic toddler “petite couture” from Pompon to innovative furniture and sculptural
chairs by Bluecony, to jams and preserves from Preservation Society. It runs Dec. 9-11 at the Society for Arts and Technology, 1195 Saint-Laurent Blvd. See souk.sat.qc.ca for more details.
Puces Pop: Holiday Craft and DIY Fair
Quirky and fun, Puces POP is well-known to Montrealers whose tastes run a little to the indie side. Offering locally-produced products from over 85 vendors, Puces POP has it all at very reasonable and varied prices, boasting both $10 miniature stuffed animals for your recent acquaintances or bigger gifts for heavy-duty friends. “Wooden furniture, knitted mitts, silver jewellery, pet toys, original photography prints, chocolate truffles,” and yes, even “vegan cupcakes,” are on the fair’s roster. If you’ve got kiddies, drop them off at the supervised DIY-craft table as you shop, then stop for a coffee, chai tea, or hot apple cider as you wait for your gifts to be wrapped at the by-donation gift-wrapping station. It’s on Dec. 10 and 11 at St-Enfant Jesus Church (5035 St-Dominique St.). See www.popmontreal.com for more information.
Old Skool Crafts: Winter Fairs of the Artisan Elves
Anyone who has received hand-knitted slippers or a home-baked pie knows it: there’s nothing like something handmade. Old Skool Crafts speaks to that truth, featuring over 110 artisans and their wares, ranging from “classical or elegant” to “quirky and whimsical styles of handmade creations.” Offering all the standard fair goods as well as more unique piecesâ€”think pieces made by skilled wood-workers, hand-crafted toys and natural bath, beauty and baked goodsâ€”Old Skool Crafts is both hip and nostalgic. Running a canned good and gently-used clothing collection alongside CTV’s Spirit of Giving campaign and offering a children’s craft area and workshops for adults and children, Old Skool Crafts brings back the old school sense of community, handmade goods, and charity. It will be open Dec. 10 and 11, at St. Michael’s Church (105 St. Viateur St. West). Visit www.oldskoolcrafts.webs.com for more details.
PrÃªt Ã Emporter IV
Montreal is full of young artists whose talent often outweighs their reputation: if you’d like to snag one of their pieces while you still can, check out Atelier Circulaire’s PrÃªt Ã Emporter IV, the yearly fundraiser that gives shoppers the chance to pick up prints from upcoming Montreal artists for $100 or less. Focusing its repertoire on print-based artists who work with techniques such as lithography and engraving, Atelier Circulaire will be putting the money from the sales towards a new website and better printing facilities for artists to useâ€”so everyone wins. Free gift-wrapping and framing consultations will be available on-site, making carving this fair into your calendar a no-brainer. It runs Dec. 2-17 at Atelier Circulaire, 5445 de GaspÃ© Ave., espace 101.
Go to www.atelier-circulaire.qc.ca for more information.
Cease Art Collective: Holiday Flea Market
After their successful installation CEASE IT 2, Montreal art collective Cease brings local artists and craftspeople to Fresh Paint Gallery for their second annual Holiday Flea Market. “Rather than getting a mass-produced canvas from IKEA,” said organizer AJ Korkidakis, “Cease’s Holiday Flea Market offers original art, photographs, high-quality prints and “local art that most people wouldn’t otherwise access, at really affordable prices.” Featuring fund-raising gift-wrap services by Eleven Eleven Animal Rescue and some of the best talent in town, Cease’s fair is your best bet for something good to the soul and easy on the eyesâ€”and the wallet. Check out the action on Dec. 17 and 18 at Fresh Paint Gallery (180 Ste-Catherine East St.). Visit Cease Art Collective’s Facebook page for more information.
Salon des MÃ©tiers D’art du QuÃ©bec
A little more conventional than some of the other fairs in this guide, the SMAQ has been a tradition for Quebec and Montreal artisans and their customers since 1955. Held in the giant Place Bonaventure and featuring 450 local painters, furriers, jewellery studios, clothing designers, and many more, shopping rounds in the SMAQ require time, determination, and most importantlyâ€”where was Kiosk 1700 again?â€”their exhibitor table map. With offerings as varied as high-quality chocolates from Douce Soeur to watches with watercolour-like hand-painted faces from Diane Balit, this fair will put the SMAQ-down on your shopping list, if it doesn’t tire out your legs first. It runs Dec. 2-22, at the West Exhibition Hall of Place Bonaventure (800 De La GauchetiÃ¨re St. West). See www.metiers-d-art.qc.ca/smaq for more details.