A few years ago I wrote a review of Blue Genie Art Bazaar in Austin. Blue Genie is still there and going stronger than ever, in fact this year they’ve added additional space and a bunch of new artists. and in just a few years it has come to offer some real competition to Austin’s classic Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.
As Austin grows in population and affluence the market for quirky handmade gifts is clearly growing. Blue Genie offers one stop shopping for hipsters and soccer moms in the Monarch Event Center, a converted movie theatre in the Lincoln Village Shopping Center in North Central Austin at the intersection of Highway 290 and IH-35. It’s scheduled for the whole month of December and stays open late (9pm and then midnight Christmas week). The unusual name comes from the Blue Genie Art company which is the main sponsor, a company which does large-scale art installations for advertising and signage — giant chickens, vegetables, jackalopes, dinosaurs and the like.
The selection of vendors this year was a little different from last year, though there was a similar mix of jewelry, crafts, printed works and original art. Some of the standouts from previous years were still represented. For example Nakatomi which has provided its bizarre toys and objets d’art since Blue Genie first opened its doors.
For the ladies there were “crush” pillows, a cute concept of a handsome man to take home and cuddle with – suitably non-threatening since each pillow only features the head and upper chest – all romance, no sex.
Another interesting new addition of really unusual items were John Self’s Garage Sale Artifacts, bizarre sculptures made of junk put together to make whimsical faces and creatures. I can’t see putting one on my wall, but I can certainly admire the ingenious creativity which went into making them.
Another cool item was the collection of belts and wallets made from used bicycle tires by Ruthless Reuse. A good use of something we have a lot of in Austin, the home of discredited bike hero Lance Armstrong.
I also found Gypsy Harte’s collection of felted animals appealing, because they were so much more ambitious than any I’d seen befo
re, especially Bottom in full jackass form. It was a bit pricey at $650, but the price reflects the enormous amount of work which likely went into the piece.
Laura Schultz offered some amazing designs in cut paper. including a detailed black and white set of Deorative Initials with a dance of death theme.
There were also t-shirts and bags and posters, plus endless jewelry and a surprising profusion of silk-screened hand towels. There was far too much to take in and too much to recount here. In fact, I spent my whole time wandering around browsing and plan to go back to Blue Genie at some time when it is less crowded to make my holiday purchases.
If your in Austin I’d say it’s not a scene to miss, plus it has a full bar and a theatre running classic Christmas films for the kiddies while you shop.