Welcome to the Saint Paul Almanac’s “This Week In Saint Paul,” a new feature to help you engage with our city’s varied and vibrant literature and art events. Each week, we will highlight a few happenings around town, but remember to check out the Almanac Calendar for our full listings.
Gifts that make a difference
Last week we suggested some great ways to avoid the seasonal megashopping madness. This week, we change our tune…or perhaps just tune in differently. The coming weekend offers some fabulous opportunities to support local artists, to see what they have been working on all year, and to snag some quality holiday gifts as thoughtful as the time and care the artists put into their creations.
The first holiday sale event starts Thursday, Dec. 5, and runs through Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Landmark Center. The annual Holiday Bazaar is a marketplace of over 70 exhibits. You will find many unique and special pieces made by local artists. For more information and tickets regarding the Holiday Bazaar call 651-292-3230.
The fourth annual Holiday “Handmade By Us” Sale will feature 20 artists with a wide variety of wares, including knitwear and artisan clothing, upcycled mittens and winter wear, holiday cards and ornaments, one-of-a-kind jewelry, clay creations, homemade treats and much more! This three-day event starts at 10 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 6 until Sunday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m., 5 p.m., and 3 p.m. respectively on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The sale is at 2220 Bayard Avenue.
On Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, Lowertown will host the Lowertown Neighborhood Holiday Bazaar. There are a dozen spots that will be open to spark your holiday gift ideas with their creativity. Be sure to stop by Lowertown Lofts Artists Cooperative to meet Santa Claus for pictures and wishes and Union Depot on Saturday Dec. 7, at 5 p.m. for a tree lighting. Also, Saturday afternoon sees the Union Depot Holiday Bake Sale. This is an art crawl with a purpose. And that purpose definitely includes some eating.
Two other neighboring events will happen at the west end of Grand Avenue on the day of Grand Meander, Saturday Dec. 7. The first place to go for great art to take home is the second annual Tangletown Art Crawl. Thirty-seven artists in seven locations will gather in the Tangletown area of Saint Paul to showcase their work.
Right across the street, at Ramsey Junior High, you’ll find the Art Fair at Ramsey. This event features work by 80 juried artists from the upper Midwest and is sponsored by Highland/Macalester/Groveland Community Education in cooperation with Artists’ Circle, a non-profit art organization promoting fine crafts. Take our word for it: this is the cool end of Grand Meander. Both the crawl and the fair will take place from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.
Books and Literature
Of course, if you are holiday shopping, we strongly endorse the purchase of books. Even better, a signed copy. It has been decades since Saint Paul’s most renowned bookseller and Almanac booster David Unowsky helped establish the Twin Cities as a favored destination for authors across the nation. We also have more than our share of local authors. Signed or not, books are great gifts, and there are many opportunities to see the women and men of letters in our capital city.
Last week started off our roll-out of local history with Kristal Leebrick’s book on the storied Dayton’s store and family. On Monday, Dec. 2, another great gift idea comes from author Larry Haeg, who will read from his new book Harriman vs. Hill: Wall Street’s Great Railroad War for the History Center’s “History Lounge” series. The History Center is located at 345 W. Kellogg Blvd and the event begins at 7 p.m.
Our Saint Paul history theme continues with Karen Melvin‘s Saturday, Dec. 7 visit to Common Good Books to discuss her new book, Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District. The store is at 38 South Snelling Avenue and the event begins Saturday at noon.
Later in the afternoon on Saturday Dec. 7, head over to the Red Balloon Bookshop where local and world-famed master storyteller Kate DiCamillo will read from her new, multi-star-reviewed book, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. (This is a ticketed event. Arrive early or call 651-224-8320 to reserve your book and signing number.) The Red Balloon is at 891 Grand Avenune and the event starts at 2 p.m.
Last but obviously not least, Star Tribune books editor Laurie Hertzel reminds the Twin Cities that the Saint Paul Almanac is an excellent holiday gift. In Saturday’s piece “Holiday books: 10 that reflect Minnesota and the region”, she says, “This appealingly fat paperback is a work of genius — many geniuses, actually.” Grab a copy here.
And the Almanac is just one of Hertzel’s Minnesota book suggestions. Don’t forget that it’s always worth a trip to one of our local book shops where there will be wonderful suggestions for gifts for all of your favorite people. Remember, books are way more easy to wrap than fish.
There are too many happenings on the stages to mention every performance here but, as the holidays are underway, these stages are filled with some worthy shows.
The Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company begins its run of “The Magic Dreidels” at the Hillcrest Center Theater at 1978 Ford Parkway. The Chanukah show runs Dec. 5 through Dec. 20. More information and showtimes can be found here.
“The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” returns for the 22nd time to SteppingStone Theater, from Dec. 6 through Dec. 23. Join the madcap crew of baby angels, church ladies, and firefighters in this work by Barbara Robinson based on her popular book. This year, Santa is coming to the 4 p.m. performance on Dec. 8.
Back for it’s third year at the Historic Mounds Theater, “A Christmas Carol – Radio Broadcast Show” is a throwback to the Christmases of the “greatest generation.” This live show runs Dec. 6 through Dec. 22. The theater is located at 1029 Hudson Road. Find showtimes on the Mounds Theater website.
The last theater event to highlight isn’t necessarily holiday-related but the History Theatre’s Sample Night Live is a treat that is worth taking in to start off the busy month. Back after a hiatus, this monthly variety show presents previews of upcoming arts performances in the Twin Cities. Each show features samples of our rich local arts scene’s theater, music, dance, vocalists, puppetry, wonder kids, comedy, jazz, independent film, spoken word, performance artists, local bands, and novelty acts (escape artists, magicians, lightbulb eaters, etc.). Sample Night Live features the house band, The Smarts, and this month’s emcee is Greta Grosch. Check out the lineup on their website. This month’s performance is at the History Theatre, 30 E 10th Street. Performances are on the first Wednesday of each month and begin at 7 p.m.
Kids and Family
We already mentioned a couple of events above, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” at SteppingStone and Kate DiCamillo at the Red Balloon, but there’s more.
On Thursday, Dec. 5, Santa will be at the Red Balloon for the launch of this year’s “Be an Angel” book drive for the holidays. Santa will be telling stories and you can donate a book to a child or teen in need. Red Balloon will match your donation and deliver the books to local shelters in time for the holidays.
Later on Thursday, Dec. 5, at Addendum Books for Young Adults and Children, Mary Logue will discuss her two nonfiction books, Wild Boy and The Fairy Ring. The event starts at 7 p.m. and Addendum shares its space with SubText under Nina’s at 165 Western Ave. N, Suite 14.
On Saturday, “come to the Rondo Outreach and Community Library to draw, make art and create your own anime or manga character and more.” “Drawing with See” is an opportunity to experience these and other forms for making art. This event is held in meeting rooms A and B and starts at 1 p.m. The Rondo library is located at 461 N Dale Street.
Back at the Red Balloon, children’s book illustrator Jennifer A. Bell will be on hand for the launch party for her new holiday story, My Pen Pal, Santa. In this book, young Ava brings us back to the tradition of letter writing by holding a year-long correspondence with Santa. It’s a great holiday story and maybe a bit of inspiration to share one of the most precious gifts that anyone can receive—a letter to loved ones—during the holidays or—as Ava shows us—at any time of the year.
Hopefully, these suggestions will get Saint Paul off to a holiday season that is a bit warmer—and a little closer to home and our hearts. This is Saint Paul, so remember that there are many, many, other events listed on our Almanac arts calendar.
Just remember, like the calendar, we are all busy but these days are for enjoying ourselves and those we love. Hope this helps. Stay warm and be good to yourself!