So it’s been a year of drama – personally, globally – and blood will be spilled if the holidays somehow leave me endowed with yet another self-help book or – the devil save you – a Navy SEALS workout guide to a guaranteed Big Round Butt. You’ll wish you hadn’t, mister.

This is the year to raise the white flag of my soul and surround myself with muses that can muster the catharsis needed to purge my earthly frustrations. Give me art – large and small, traditional and fringy – whatever can remind me that I may be mortal, but I’m not dead yet. And I’d feel guilty if that art didn’t pour more than thankfulness into the pockets of our local artists who inspire us at great cost to their financial comfort. Give to them, and give generously. One can’t go wrong when supporting the arts. There are no right answers in art, Fred Brummer. Here are but a few of my favorite things.

Give Doug money: Artist Doug Rhodehamel is a genius and his Spore Project is brilliant. He turns brown paper bags into mushrooms that can be planted into an art installation after scientific study of the fungus. Get the free educational lesson plans from his website ( and send a donation, so he can continue his “ongoing effort to promote awareness for the support of art education.” Then join his e-mail list, and when the moon is right, you’ll get a message to come to one of his art events, where something strange and wonderful will happen. Also visit the virtual Spore Store on his site to buy T-shirts, mugs, magnets and buttons. Possessing a Doug doodad is like sunshine on a cloudy day.

Morgan Steele: An inspiring artist friend of mine, Lorraine Lax (, swears that Morgan Steele is the hottest thing going in this town, and she thinks people are nuts not to be picking up his pieces by the handful. The Dandelion Communitea Café (618 N. Thornton Ave.; 407-362-1864;, which is dressed in his colorful paintings on canvas and any other object he feels like splashing, serves as his home-base gallery. Steele’s part of the Keith “Scramble” Campbell ( axis of self-taught expressionists, along with Carl Knickerbocker (, Tony Garan, Joe Jackson and Regina Smith. Dandelion itself carries an assortment of local crafts and Fair Trade gift possibilities.

Cottage Industry Co-Op at Infusion Tea: Our hip, friendly College Park teahouse has another side to its steaming enterprise to become acquainted with during shopping season. In fact, come to the Go Green for the Holidays open house Thursday, Nov. 15 (1600 Edgewater Drive; 407-999-5255; The event at the Cottage Industry Co-Op ( sharing space with Infusion shows off its souped-up inventory of locally made creations in addition to live entertainment. Find headbands for humidity by Ever After Designs and handmade jewelry by Elena and Jennifer Cora. Adorable giraffe T-shirts and knit caps sold there in kid and adult sizes by Coco & Milkweed can also be found at Etoile Boutique, a closet full of locally designed or scavenged fashion statements (2436 E. Robinson St.; 407-895-6363;

May our artists eat cake this holiday season.

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