Gift Guide: Culture

Eric Carle Museum Posters

If you are racking your brains for a gift that will feel special for the family whose kids have everything, even if they don’t live locally, here’s an easy solution: an exhibition poster from the Eric Carle Museum ( Choose from the work of the grand master Carle or the exceedingly whimsical and popular Mo Willems, whose exhibition Seriously Silly: A Decade of Art and Whimsy by Mo Willems is on display through February 24, 2014. Or simply look through the archives for a poster that will delight your gift recipient. Exhibition posters are $11.95.

Alice in Wonderland fans would want you to look no further than the poster from the 2008 exhibition Flights Into Fantasy: The Kendra and Allen Daniel Collection of Children’s Illustration, with this poster featuring illustrations by Jessie Wilcox Smith.

There are most certainly books available to accompany any poster purchases at the Museum Bookshop. The address is 125 West Bay Road in Amherst. The phone number is (413) 658-1100.


Turn it Up/And the Kids

The young indie band And the Kids ( has momentum on its side. With Hannah Mohan (lead vocals, electric ukulele and guitar), Rebecca Lasaponaro (vocals, drums, bells) and Megan Miller (vocals, synth, glockenspiel, woodblock), theirs is a sound they call “accessible unconscious existential indie folk rock glitter popsicle crisis music.”

Patrick Pezzati, owner of Turn it Up! (, reports that And the Kids is the biggest seller among local musical groups in the Valley. The band has played the Shea Theater, the Parlor Room and the Iron Horse over the past few months.

Gifts that are local and glittery can be had at Turn it Up! Most fun is to go to the store, but you can buy online ( There are four bricks-and-mortar stores to choose from: at 5 Pleasant Street in Northampton; at the Montague Book Mill; at 2 Elliot St. in Brattleboro and at 89½ Main Street in Keene.


Music in Deerfield

Imagine the small gift—a ticket—that blooms into a full concert. It’s the 35th anniversary year for Music in Deerfield. In winter and spring, 2014, there are three concerts to choose from, all performed at Smith College’s Sage Hall on Green Street in Northampton. For ticket information, call (413) 774-4200 or visit

On Friday, January 24, Marc-André Hamelin performs. Described as “at once a throwback to the heyday of the virtuoso pianist-composer and a quintessential 21st-century musician,” he will perform his own Barcarolle, a sonata by Nicoli Medtner and Four Impromptus, Op. 142, D. 935. On February 7, orchestra A Far Cry performs a concert entitled Melting Pot to celebrate the diversity found in American music. It includes selections by composers from Ives and Gershwin to Ljova and a concerto written by Kip Jones expressly for A Far Cry, entitled Three Views from a Mountain. Sunday, March 9th brings the acclaimed Jupiter Quartet for an afternoon concert of Beethoven and Bartok. An hour before each concert, audience members can attend a “Concert Conversation” to learn more about the music and the musicians.


Racquet Presses Reformed

Like Sticks and Bricks, the Northampton shop ( where some of Jen Dieringer’s goods are sold, aesthetic and process appear to be one: take things that have been designed for one use and repurpose them. However, refashion might be a more fitting word in some ways, because right along with function comes style. There’s a funky and delightful, capable inventiveness throughout Sticks and Bricks—and Dieringer’s objects, such as a pair of items that offer new life for old tennis racquet presses, fit the store’s vibe perfectly.

Back when tennis racquets were wooden, racquet presses served a single purpose, which was to keep the racquet’s wood frame from warping. Enter technology, and tennis racquets are composed of many other alloys and cutting-edge materials, none of them wooden and none of them prone to bowing. Rather than toss them out or have them lie around without a purpose, Dieringer has refashioned racquet presses. Some she’s transformed into trays for snacks, office supplies or plants. She’s given them flat surfaces by carefully assembling old wooden yardsticks, or by adding cork so that they can be hung as bulletin boards or frames to hold loose photos. The trays are $42, the cork boards are $24 at Sticks and Bricks, 9 Market Street (413-586-1560).


Odyssey Bookshop Book Pick: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Latest

The Odyssey Bookshop ( ) celebrates its 50th anniversary this autumn; that’s good news for area readers. Books—the real thing, with paper pages—do remain a thriving part of the Valley. Owner Joan Grenier suggest this year’s must-read is Pulitzer Prize-winner Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism ($40 in hardcover). “It’s a fascinating, detailed history of major players in the progressive era, like Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft and the ‘muckraking’ press, including legendary editor Sam McClure, and brings up the similarities to our current situation, when wealth is so uneven,” says Grenier. Signed copies of the book will be available at the Odyssey, 9 College Street in South Hadley (413-534-7307).


Writers in Progress Writing Workshop

Every person has a story—stories plural, really—to tell. Help to bring those stories into the world is what author and teacher Dori Ostermiller’s Writers in Progress workshops can offer ( Ostermiller founded WIP in 1992 and, along with other teachers, has enabled many writers to bring their voices into the larger world. Alums include Kris Holloway, Alison Smith, Ellen Meeropol, David Lovelace, Dusty Miller and Sally Bellerose, among many other published authors. Ostermiller herself published a novel in 2010: Outside the Ordinary World (MIRA). The book was an Indie Best Notable pick and an MLA must-read book.

The WIP studio in Florence’s Arts and Industry Building (221 Pine Street) is an inspired place to spend time. The chance to meet with fellow writers and to work together is a big step toward feeling more confident as a writer, whether publication is your aim or not. From “Jumpstart” workshops to manuscript intensives to workshops that focus on the short story form, the gift of a writing workshop is, in a way, the gift of a voice—for the writer and for potential readers. Any writer will tell you that the more you write, the more you appreciate the grace of the written word.

Molly Hatch Northampton Tote Bag

Local boosters, unite! For the friend with big Northampton pride or big Northampton nostalgia, the no-brainer gift this season is a Northampton map tote. The map, designed by Florence artist and designer Molly Hatch, offers a pretty and whimsical twist on straightforward cartography. Whimsy doesn’t detract from the tote’s usefulness—it’s ready for activities inspired by life in 01060. The bag’s particulars: it measures approximately 17.5” wide and 15.5” long. With a gusseted bottom, it expands to 6.25” deep. Its straps hang approximately 14” off-shoulder. It costs $19.95.

The totes are available at Essentials at 88 Main Street (413-584-2327). The store recently launched a new website, with some of its most popular items available for purchase ( This “department store without the departments” sells “all the elements necessary for contemporary life under one roof.” In this era of the reusable bag, this most certainly includes a beloved tote.


Springfield Museums Ties

Give a gift from the Springfield Museums Shop—one that has wheels. This Ragtops silk tie features vintage automobiles. Bright yellow, it’s a cheery gift for the tie wearer in your life, whether a museumgoer or not ( Ties sell for $35.

Classy wheels factor in quite substantively for the relatively new Museum of Springfield History, which was established in 2005. According to the Museums site: “Just two months prior to his death, M. Allen Swift of West Hartford, Ct., donated $1 million for the purchase of the former Verizon office building adjacent to the Springfield Museums campus to create the new museum. Mr. Swift also donated his single-owner, Springfield-made Rolls Royce for display in the museum.” That’s one item on display for this museum that focuses on Springfield’s history, especially in the context of the 19th and 20th centuries. Springfield’s story, from the Industrial Revolution onward, is certainly an American story.

The gift of the tie might come with a museum pass, or might simply inspire a visit to the Springfield Museums over the holidays or in the New Year. The Museums are located at 21 Edwards Street. The main phone number is (413) 263-6800 and the store’s extension is 362.

Author: Advocate Staff

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