It's a whole lot easier to buy original art than it used to be. I love galleries (most of them) but I REALLY love the fact that they now are one option for artists rather than the only game in town. And because artists are finding ways to jump the middleman and bring their work directly to you, you have more options too. I've just started putting up my art on Etsy, the online wonderland of creativity where you can wander from shop to shop, browsing handmade art and objects, most at amazingly reasonable prices. In my shop, Gregorgrace (www.etsy.com/shop/gregorgrace) you can find cards and prints with my drawings, and my handmade books. Take a look - I've just put up some new designs for the holidays! It's a real pleasure to be part of the Etsy community - I admire the ingenuity of everybody involved. Plan to spend some time - you'll find a lot to love! Leave me a comment after you visit Etsy.com telling me about favorite things you found! Another, even more direct way to encounter art and artists is to go to their natural habitat - their studios. Open Studios have been around in some places for a long time (there's a great tradition of Open Studios in Berkeley, CA where I used to live, where the idea started more than 25 years ago.) Some people are timid about going into an unknown artist's studio - what will I say? Do I have to buy something? Will they look at me funny if I don't understand their art? - but once they've tried it they usually keep coming back year after year. Artists who open their studios are looking to be generous - they want you to ask questions, and let them tell you about their art. During a recent Open Studio weekend in Philadelphia I went to the studio of Dolores Poacelli, whose work I wrote about here when she exhibited at AXD Gallery. It was fun to climb the steep creaky stairs in the old out-of-the-way building where she - and about a dozen other artists - have studios. Her space was neat, tidy, and full of bright color and interesting work - well worth the trip. I found a whole other side of her work that I hadn't seen in the gallery show - and bought a tiny handmade collage for $6. How generous - but fairly typical - of a respected, serious - and very good - artist like Dolores to have a range of work available to buy. She had medium range pieces - gorgeous quality prints of some of her paintings for $50, as well as big canvases and assemblages that were naturally a good deal more. I put Dolores's piece in my own studio and delight in it every time I see it. Art is like that - it gives back to you all the work you put into it, whether you made it or bought it. Have some fun - buy some art!