Jim Murphy & Sons

When It’s all about making someone happy, make it, bake it, buy it or even create it yourself

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Cherry Babcock's Art Emporium on the Square in Carthage is a destination gallery featuring regional artists from the Ozarks.

Cherry Babcock’s Art Emporium on the Square in Carthage is a destination gallery featuring regional artists from the Ozarks.

The reason for the season has a nice ring to it, and for many of us, it reminds us that it’s all about the faith.

But the test is often the stress you encounter trying to find the perfect gift for a loved one or friend.

Our solution, quit looking in all the wrong places far, far away, and look at the talented artisans craving out a living in the Ozarks. No pun intended, but the Ozarks is home to just about any art form you can imagine if you know where to look. Galleries and museums abound.

 John Reger (Ozarks Living Magazine, June/July 2014) is a retired mason who turned to carving downed wood. He “listens to the wood” for guidance on turning a chunk of wood into fine art. The wood must enjoy the conversation, because now his work is available for purchase in two new venues. One is at Cherry’s Art Emporium on the Square in Carthage. The other is Locust Grove Decor, where Lisa Garrison Branham markets the creations of Ozarks artists as well as her own. You can find her fabulous still life photos and other creations on Facebook.

John Reger (Ozarks Living Magazine, June/July 2014) is a retired mason who turned to carving downed wood. He “listens to the wood” for guidance on turning a chunk of wood into fine art. The wood must enjoy the conversation, because now his work is available for purchase in two new venues. One is at Cherry’s Art Emporium on the Square in Carthage. The other is Locust Grove Decor, where Lisa Garrison Branham markets the creations of Ozarks artists as well as her own. You can find her fabulous still life photos and other creations on Facebook.

Springfield and the Ozarks are blessed with countless artisans who have devoted their talents to bringing the beauty out of mundane things. The Springfield Art Museum, the Between Friends Gift Shop at The Library Center, the Botanical Boutique at our own Springfield Botanical Gardens.

The Fresh Gallery, 400 W Walnut St. is a cooperative run by artists who take turns volunteering their time. Waverly House, 2031 S Waverly Ave, specializes in regional art. Both are in Springfield.

If you like to explore the Ozarks, take a drive to Carthage where Cherry’s Art Emporium on the Square has created a destination for browsing (and perhaps investing) in the artwork of native Ozarkers. The emporium is located in a vintage former Ramsey’s Department Store on the west side of the Carthage square.

You can also find great gifts at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center Shop or at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online Nature Shop.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) online Nature Shop makes holiday shopping a breeze for anyone interested in nature-themed gifts (MDCNatureShop.com), or at 877-521-8632.

Three of the most popular holiday gifts from MDC are the annual Natural Events Calendar ($7); Cooking Wild in Missouri cookbook ($15); and A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri $8). All three are loaded with stunning photography and graphics.

Since 2012, Global Crafts has been showcasing the work of indigent people in 40 nations. The artisans get fair trade compensation, usually 50 percent of the selling price. In return for fair trade compensation.

Unfortunately, the wholesalers who supply these creations have not always played nice, selling many of the same creations online for less. The result is that this is likely to be the last holiday season to shop there.

Leather purses from India have the look of high fashion. They're created from the leather labels off of recycled blue jeans.

Leather purses from India have the look of high fashion. They’re created from the leather labels off of recycled blue jeans.

“Sales have dropped by about one third compared to 2013,” says Dr. Gary Jones. “Volunteers are hard to come by so we see no other options than to close Global Crafts. We strongly believe in the concept of ‘helping others help themselves,’ and would have liked to continue.”

The store will close at the end of January, with discounts ranging upward from 20 to 60 percent over a five-week period following the holiday shopping season. Unless, as we wrote in Urban Campfires (see page 8), the community steps up and creates a miraculous solution to prevent the loss of this remarkable shopping adventure.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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