American Folk Art Museum Promotes Patriotic Purchasing

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By Laura Shanahan Looking for that elusive "Made in U.S.A." label? Whether for ecological or ideological reasons, increasing numbers of consumers are searching for domestically made wares. While stores have sprouted across the country boasting exclusively U.S.-made everyday items, who you gonna call when you want some charmingly offbeat novelty items, folk-art crafts and classic examples of Americana? Why, you can't do better than to call on our very own-accept no substitutes-American Folk Art Museum gallery, at 2 Lincoln Square, which is on Columbus Avenue near 65th Street. (You can also gawk at the sheer perfection that is Liz Cho as she and co-anchor Bill Ritter do their Channel 7 newscast just a scant block or so north in their glass-walled newsroom.) Among the current standout items at AFAM gallery's ever-varied offerings are the reproductions of original collages created by Ian Nicholas, a self-taught, British-born artist. In case you're thinking, "British? Why that's positively un-American," be advised Nicholas now lives in Georgia-yes, the one here; not in Eurasia-and his works are proudly declared to be "Handmade in U.S.A." "We do not change as we grow older, we simply become more clearly ourselves," one of the artworks discreetly reads. The quote captions a stunning print on a painted canvas stretched over a wooden frame ready for hanging. Pictured is a lovely, graceful white-gowned woman with a vintage countenance (1920s-1940s?) who, improbably, sports giant butterfly wings. She stands, arms outstretched, against a vivid turquoise background that includes, also improbably but delightfully, the Eiffel Tower, flowers on the vine, a canceled "Paris" postal stamp, a faint but fanciful foreign script and more. If this approximately eight-inch-square work speaks to you, be advised it can be yours for-I would have guessed more-$29. Other pieces in the variously-sized collection include enchanting visuals based around such quotes as "When it is dark enough, you can see the stars" and "Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold." Going from the poetic to the playful, here there are all sorts of classic childhood games, such as-made in U.S.A.!-$10 sets of dominoes and marbles in vintage-look reusable tins featuring happy children. The marbles are meant to be used in "shooting games;" but don't worry if you or the kids don't yet have the skill-included with the set of 48 glassy orbs and two large shooters is a 20-page handbook. Hey, if you didn't find a Slinky at your local thrift shop (as per last week's column), fear not-they're here, as you might expect "a family classic since 1945!" to be. Need I add this retro-priced $7 "original walking spring toy" is made in the U.S.A.? Tattoo you-your hands, that is. For kids of all ages (well, three and up is advised), there are Robot Hands temporary tats, featuring colorful high-tech gears and stuff for decorating digits so that the index finger and thumb form a robotic, moving "mouth." More traditional Animal Hands are also available; your choice, $7. As an example of the range of goods here, consider now the chanchitos, golf-ball-size three-legged pigs that look like they're crafted of wood, but are actually ceramic. Villagers in Chile-a country in South America, so we won't quibble-believe the critters bring good luck. At only $4 per for genuine folk art, what's to think about?

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