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Gifting unique Twin Cities art for the holidays

There are a list of holiday art sales happening right now in the Twin Cities that include all kinds of mediums.

MINNEAPOLIS — It is time to start checking off your gift list!  But instead of buying from a box store, why not give something unique from talented Minnesota artists?

Artist and creator Jade Huynh knows a little something about the art scene in the Twin Cities. She used to work for the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association, or NEMAA.  

Huynh was born in Faribault, and said she learned about origami in 4th grade and shortly after, she began to find every book about origami in the public libraries so she could fold all kinds of shapes.  

Huynh calls her work "elevated origami."  "What I really wanted [was to] bring something to life that no one really thought would be possible with folding and creasing paper," she said.

But Huynh takes her work to another level. She is integrating origami on items like canvas to make it functional and decorative. 

"To really mount it as a majestic wall piece, that's why I put it on canvas because it kind of makes your boundaries a little bit more unlimited," she said.

Huynh's creations caught the eye of producers with HBO's Craftopia. She recently competed in an episode.

"It was really surreal to think that I'm being highlighted to showcase a craft that I really love doing, a piece of work, a piece of art," Huynh said.

Huynh recently moved to Connecticut after a stint on the West Coast, but her work is just one of the mediums and caliber of art coming out of the Twin Cities.

Cassie Garner knows that. She is the director and co-founder of Gamut Gallery. The gallery walls are exploding with more than 50 Minnesota artists' work, as part of their holiday sale called Raging art on.

Garner explains what kind of art you'll find.

"Original artworks to digital prints, to jewelry, to fiber, art clothing, to apothecary, health and wellness items," she said.

Garner said there's an unfortunate stereotype with the art market: It is unattainable and you have to have a lot of extra cash to own original art. But she said that's what Gamut and many other local galleries hope to squash for emerging collectors with affordable price points.

"So many folks I think still have the idea that if you're going to buy art you need to go to the West Coast or the East Coast and that's the happening spot to do it, or Chicago," Garner said. "We have so much of that same talent right here in the city that I think it’s just really important to start tuning in instead of tuning out."

Talent like Interact artist Virginia Townsend, whose paintings are also part of a the Great Big Holiday Sale at the nonprofit's gallery right now.

"Since I combine nature with abstraction I want the viewer to feel like a kid and have a sense of awe," Townsend said.

When she found Interact, a progressive visual arts studio in Saint Paul that incorporates the arts while supporting people with disabilities, she said it was life-changing.

"When you can't work a traditional job your purpose is taken away and to live without a purpose is a painful experience," Townsend said. "Coming to Interact, it's just given my life back," she said.

When Virginia puts it that way, gifting any original art is more than just art.

"They see our vision they see what we saw when we were making that art," Townsend said.

It's also something you can't find in a chain store. Huynh said what you're giving to someone is handmade and it can't be replicated. 

Garner adds, you're supporting someone's dreams.

"But you're also supporting their life," Garner said. "You’re putting food on their table, you' re putting clothes on their back, it’s so much more valuable to know that you’re encouraging somebody, like, 'Go buy more paint.'"

Gamut Gallery's Raging art on sale is open to the public. The last in-person shopping day is Dec. 22.  Garner said they will be closed for January but you can still purchase pieces online until Jan. 10 and you can pick up in store. You can find more information on Raging art on and Gamut Gallery here.

Interact's holiday art sale is also underway. It's too late to get orders delivered by Dec. 25, but you can shop in person by appointment through Dec. 22. If you're looking to come another time outside of regular hours, you can email gallery@interactcenter.com.  For more information, head to Interact's website.

To check out more of Huynh's work, visit her website.

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