Jennifer Perkins' Shopping Guide to the Blue Genie Art Bazaar in Austin

If you live in Austin and have a love of handmade goods, then you have heard of the Blue Genie Art Bazaar. This year is extra special because it is the 10 year anniversary of the bazaar.  My name is Jennifer Perkins of Naughty Secretary Club and I will be your host for today's post about Blue Genie and let's go ahead and get the fact that I am biased towards the show out of the way right up front.

Sure I realize not everyone's taste is as eclectic as the kitschy wreaths, cat heads and tin can robots you can find in my booth at the show - but I promise there is something for almost everyone.  Sure there are lots of the things you would expect to find at a "craft show".  Handmade jewelry, T-shirts, baby onesies, soaps - you know the drill.  The things you will also find that you might not have been expecting are ceramics (cool ones), living wall art made from plants, paintings, prints and even giant pieces of sushi.

Blue Genie is a juried show selecting only the best artists in Austin.  Locals might recognize names like Chia, Darla Teagarden, Mark Joiner, Amy Barber, Moxie, Ornamental Things, Baby Bolt, Hot Pink Pistol and of course the Blue Genie guys themselves.  You can't take a driving tour through Austin without spotting a Rory Skagen mural or a large piece of sculpture that the guys did sitting atop a business.  I happen to be the proud owner of one of their larger than life glitter covered popsicles.

The show runs through Christmas Eve so you still have a chance to go and get your shop on.  7 days a week you can bask in the glory of a kitschy Christmas.  Head down to Marchesa Hall at Lincoln Village (6226 Middle Fiskville Rd. Austin, TX 78732) 10am daily.  Be sure to tell em' Naughty Secretary Club and Design Crisis sent ya.

Good Gifts: I Am the $h*t Necklace

Every year Karly and I do an exhaustive, week long guide full of fantastic gift ideas for family and friends. Well, this year instead of exhaustive, I'm just exhausted. Plus I'm all by my lonesome until next year. Nevertheless, I'm still going to post a few goodies when I find them (check out my latest posts on Books I Want, which would make perfect gifts for the visually oriented). Today's gift comes courtesy of Locher's Paris Atelier, home of Nicole Locher, who transforms found objects into unique apparel, jewelry, and bags. This one is perfect for a special someone who needs a jolt of self confidence, or maybe someone who just needs to know that you think they are the shit.

For anyone who may complain that this item lacks, ah, refinement, simply say to them: it's handmade in Paris, bitch.

I Am the Shit necklace, $69, available here.

Fight Fatigue With Lartigue

Ok, I am resolving not to work myself into a tinsel wrapped tizzy over Christmas this year. To this end, I have created something of a seasonally appropriate manifesto. I will: #1. Start buying gifts early.

#2. Avoid the mall at all costs.

#3. Spend my free time enjoying lights and smelling delicious trees (and eating eating eating).

I refuse to make this season about expensive electronics and fancy shit no one really cares about. I will buy vintage, unique, handmade; I will not buy sharp edged, plastic crap. I will not become a holiday hating grinch, despite past performances that speak to the contrary. I might even crack a smile or two.

My current hero and inspiration:

Jacques-Henri Lartigue, a photographer whose career began at the tender age of six and spanned almost 100 years.

There is a certain zany elegance in Lartigue's images. As a young man, he exuberantly captured the moment in a radically changing society.

With works beginning in the early 1900's, Lartigue's photos document a modern era emerging from the sooty darkness of the industrial revolution. Drunk on freedom and the shiny newness of technology, everything is a celebratory event met with wonder and awe.

So, this Christmas I'm going to (try to) lose the jaded cynicism with which I generally approach things.

Don't worry -- I'm sure it will come back sooner rather than later. But I think I just might like to spend the rest of the year doing cartwheels in the yard with Ike.

Buy the book for someone special here. It's the autobiography of a life well lived.