Still need some Christmas gifts or want to buy yourself a present? Art, especially local art, is abundant, and several shops make it easy to find.
The Baum School of Art in Allentown has works by more than 50 artists in its Holiday Gift Gallery, including ceramics, glass, paintings, ornaments, knits, mosaics, sculpture and jewelry. There’s holiday and greeting cards by Jamie Greenburg, porcelain pottery by Kathy Hooper-Milositz and beaded jewelry by Gloria Leight, to name a few. The gallery is open Monday through Saturday through Dec. 21, when a closing reception will be 6-8 p.m. during Allentown’s Third Thursday event.
Just down the street, the Allentown Art Museum Store has artful accessories for your home, creative playthings for children and gifts inspired by the museum collections. Featured items for December include Franz Kline mugs inspired by Franz Kline’s “Lehighton” mural and jewelry made from recycled aluminum cans by Merideth Young. The store is open during the day Tuesday through Sunday, and until 8 p.m. Dec. 21 for Allentown’s Third Thursday.
In Easton, the Brick + Mortar Gallery is hosting a Buyer’s Market Art Show featuring more than 100 works of art by more than 25 artists and all priced at $200. The market continues through Dec. 23. The gallery is at 1247 Simon Blvd., Unit 101.
Also in Easton, the Gallery at St. John’s Holiday Art Show, running through Dec. 17, features fine arts and crafts. The church is at 330 Ferry St. And the Arts Community of Easton is holding its ACE Unique Artisan Market juried show and sale this weekend, wrapping up 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 17 at the Grand Eastonian Hotel, 140 Northampton St.
On Main Street in Bethlehem, the Star and Candle Shop of Central Moravian Church has unique items such as handcrafted jewelry, folded German stars, Moravian star items and more. The shop is open Thursday through Sunday (closed Christmas Eve).
Of course, Christkindlmarkt, ArtsQuest’s German-style shopping market on the SteelStacks campus, and Christmas City Village, with vendors in wooden huts in downtown Bethlehem, are packed with handcrafted items. Christkindlmarkt is open Thursday through Sunday, through Dec. 23; Christmas City Village is open Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 23.
The Lehigh Valley’s longest running production of “The Nutcracker” continues through Dec. 17 (2 p.m.) at Lehigh University’s Zoellner Arts Center in Bethlehem.
The Pennsylvania Youth Ballet production, in its 49th year, features more than 100 professional, pre-professional and student performers. Among those are guest artists that include principal dancers from Ballet West: Beckanne Sisk as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Chase O’Connell as her Cavalier, and Aynsley Inglis as the Snow Queen.
The production also features a 48-piece orchestra, the Southside Sinfonietta, under the direction of Eugene Albulescu of Lehigh University, playing the original Tchaikovsky orchestration. More than 80 area students will sing for Waltz of the Snowflakes and sing holiday music in the Zoellner lobby before each performance.
Tickets are $35-$50; $27-$45, seniors and ages 4-12. Info: zoellnerartscenter.org or 610-758-2787.
Think about this: an instrument played without touching it.
That’s the wonder of the theremin, an electronic musical instrument that has mental antennas that sense the relative position of the theremist’s hands. The thereminist harnesses the electricity in the air to create an electromagnetic field.The electric signals are amplified and sent to a loudspeaker. It’s truly science meets music. The result has been described as ethereal, mesmerizing, hypnotic, eloquent, breathtaking and magical.
Mano Divina is a master of this instrument and he leads the Divine Hand Ensemble, which performs at Sellersville Theater at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 21. The group, which features harpists, violinists and violas, performs classical compositions, chamber music, opera arias and sacred choral music.
Divina is an Italian American from Philadelphia who started his career as a punk rock musician. The Divine Hand Ensemble, founded in 2010, brings something of that punk sensibility to classical music. One of its missions is to bring classical styles of music to crowds who would never consider listening to it. The group has performed all over the world and played for Pope Francis when he visited Philadelphia in 2015.
Tickets are $21.50 and $29.50. Info: st94.com, 215-257-5808.
For holiday entertainment that’s both fun and meaningful, Touchstone Theatre presents its 18th edition of “Christmas City Follies,” a holiday-themed vaudeville show filled with jolly mischief, merry melodies and holiday cheer.
The show features original sketches, characters and songs performed by a cast of seven in the company’s black box theater at 321 E. Fourth St. in south Bethlehem.
Returning favorite characters include Touchstone founder Bill George’s cantankerous persona “The Old Guy” running for office and Mary Wright’s silent clown “Little Red” looking for love. “The Shopping Cart Ballet” is back but with a new Hannukah twist. This year’s show reflects on the idea of “home for the holidays” — whether that home is your family's living room, Santa’s workshop, or seated in the audience at Touchstone. It includes tributes to the cultural heritage of the cast members.
Jp Jordan, Touchstone artistic director, has been ringleader of the “Follies” for 10 years. “While we’ve certainly seen reoccurring ideas pop up over the years, it truly amazes me how deep this well is — it continues to feel fresh for both our performers and audiences.”
“There’s much to say about the holidays because more than any other time of year our senses and emotions can become overwhelmed with the memories of a lifetime of holidays lived, and, quite simply, the spectacle of it all,” says Jordan. “The season, in many ways, highlights what it is to be human.”
Shows run through Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 8 p.m. Dec. 20. Tickets: $25; $15, students and seniors; pay-what-you-will, Thursdays. 610-867-1689, touchstone.org.
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