Art makes a wonderful gift, but it takes a lot of nerve and money to buy an original work of art for someone else. So I’m more apt to shop for art lovers in bookstores. I figure I can’t go too far wrong if I buy for others things I want for myself.
Herewith a holiday shopping trip I took last week.
Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shops
251 U.S. Route One, Falmouth
For several years I purchased Seattle artist Molly Hashimoto’s Christmas cards at what was then The Book Review in the Falmouth Shopping Center. When I went in search of Hashimoto cards I discovered that The Book Review has become the ninth store in the Sherman’s chain. (It also had moved several doors south, so I missed it the first time I went.)
No Molly Hashimoto Christmas cards, but Sherman’s did have her Trees notecards ($17.99). And I made a note to shop Sherman’s for great stocking stuffers, including Liberty Graphics tea towels ($15.99).
Royal River Books
355 Main St., Yarmouth
When the girls were little and we still lived in Yarmouth I bought a lot of children’s books at Royal River Books, especially Christmas books. This year I found “A Very Mercy Christmas” ($18.99) written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Maine’s own Chris Van Dusen. DiCamillo and Van Dusen have teamed up on a whole series of books about Mercy Watson, a lovable but self-centered pig.
Gulf of Maine Books
134 Maine St., Brunswick
At my hometown book shop I didn’t find Molly Hashimoto, but I did find a rich selection of books about women in the arts I intend to read, among them “The Art of Feminism” by Helena Reckitt ($45), “The Women Who Changed Architecture” edited by Jan Cigliano Hartman ($50) and “Northern Exposure: Works of Carol A. Wilson, Architect” ($50). Gulf of Maine also had the catalog for “Flying Woman: The Paintings of Katherine Bradford” ($45) which I have read as it documents the best Maine art show of 2022.
430 Gorham Rd., South Portland
I shop BAM primarily for magazines. But art journals like Art in America ($15.95), ArtNews ($19.95) and Artforum ($16.99) cost as much as a book these days, so a trip to the mall is rare.
What I found in the art department of BAM, however, was a collection of Taschen art books, including an updated edition of “Her Majesty” ($70), an elephantine photo history of Queen Elizabeth II that I actually made a small contribution to in the form of 100-word bios of all the featured photographers.
Mill Creek Plaza, South Portland
As much a gift shop as a bookstore, Nonesuch Books is a great place for cards, magazines and calendars. My favorite gift idea was an oversize 2023 calendar ($34.99) consisting of woodblock prints by Portland artist Blue Butterfield.
Print: A Bookstore
273 Congress St., Portland
Print has a huge selection of literary fiction, fitting since co-owner Emily Russo is a daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Richard Russo. But what I found for art lovers at Print was not as novel but a book by an artist about how to look at art. “Seeing Like an Artist: What Artists Perceive in the Art of Others” ($28.95) is a collection of 16 essays by painter Lincoln Perry of Maine, Virginia and Florida. It may be a little too inside baseball for casual art viewers, but serious art lovers will love Perry’s insights.
Portland Museum of Art Store
7 Congress Sq., Portland
I look to PMA’s store for boxes of notecards (George Bellows, $20) and for the museum’s own publications, such as “Presence: The Photography Collection of Judy Glickman Lauder” ($50). “Presence” is on view through Jan. 15. I also recommend the eminently affordable “The Collection: Highlights from the Portland Museum of Art” ($15.95).
1 Monument Way, Portland
I was studying pictures of painter Lois Dodd’s home in Cushing in the hefty tome “The Maine House” ($50), which features gorgeous photographs by Maura McEvoy and text by Kathleen Hackett, when, eureka! There at last was a box of Molly Hashimoto’s Crow and Moon cards ($15.95) offering season’s greetings. Reader, I bought it.
Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen feature.