an illustration by Chris Van Dusen for his children's book
An illustration by Maine artist Chris Van Dusen, whose children's book "A Very Mercy Christmas" the author found at Royal River Books in Yarmouth. (Photo courtesy Chris Van Dusen)
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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.


The Art of Feminism, by Helena Reckitt
The Art of Feminism, by Helena Reckitt

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.

Nonesuch Books
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). 


A set of "Crow and Moon" Christmas cards by Seattle-based artist Molly Hashimoto.
A set of “Crow and Moon” Christmas cards by Seattle-based artist Molly Hashimoto.

Longfellow Books
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.

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