The art revolution will be televised
Art:21, the excellent PBS documentary series on contemporary art has managed the difficult task of engaging the converted while informing the curious. The biennial program launched in 2001 and all three series are available on DVD. It's perfect for those who love art, those who want to love art or those who fell asleep during art lectures despite their affinity for the subject matter. Art: 21 introduces viewers to the art makers of today, from Louise Bourgeois to Kara Walker. Segments are introduced by cultural luminaries, from Laurie Anderson or John Waters. Available at www.shoppbs.org; seasons 1 and 2 $49.98, season 3 $34.95.
Locate your inner holiday spirit
Have some friends over for cocktails to celebrate the season and protect your furniture with a limited-edition work of art. Really. Only 1,000 sets (25 in each) by the artist Nancy Dwyer were made, and their sales benefit one of Chicago's stellar contemporary nonprofit art spaces—the Renaissance Society. Available at www.renaissancesociety.org; packet of 25 napkins, $20 plus $2.50 shipping.
This 468-page follow-up to 10x10 (the other essential architecture book published in 2000 by Phaidon) presents 100 of the most active and important emerging architects in the world today—selected by ten international architectural critics, including Harvard lecturer and New York architect Toshiko Mori. Available at Prairie Avenue Bookshop, 418 S Wabash Ave between Van Buren St and Congress Blvd; $75.
A Chicago native who chairs the photography department at Columbia College, Bob Thall has been documenting our urban landscape since 1971. This collection of quiet and minimal views along the edge of Lake Michigan, which he began in 2000, is published by the Center for American Places and Columbia College. At City's Edge: Photographs of the Chicago Lakefront is available at the Museum of Contemporary Photography book shop, 600 S Michigan Ave at Harrison St; $45.
New York artist and obsessive record-collector Christian Marclay draws from his 1980s DJ roots to produce video installations and sculpture that are music to our eyes. This 160-page monograph (published by Phaidon) includes lush images on nearly every page along with an interview of the artist by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. Available at Museum of Contemporary Art bookstore, 220 E Chicago Ave at Mies van der Rohe Way; $39.95.
Greetings for a good cause
Marwen is an innovative visual-arts and youth-development organization that offers free after-school classes to city teens. For the past ten years, the gifted students have created cards as part of an arts entrepreneurial program that teaches them about the business of art, helps them build a portfolio and earns funds in support of Marwen's programs. Available at www.marwen.org; a pack of 12 cards, $18.
The massive, 19-pound survey of architecture from Phaidon (since 1998) spawned this compact and affordable minibook for the wanderer. The same 1,052 buildings are featured in rather condensed, but readable, form. Available at Archicenter, 224 S Michigan Ave at Jackson St; $19.95.
Fine art dining
Maybe your pockets are a little deeper than most. If so, consider getting this combo work of art/necessary household object and help out a great arts organization in the process. The late Ed Paschke created an edition of 100 of these plates in 1997 for the Renaissance Society and there are some left in stock. Available at www.renaissancesociety.org; set of four plates, $750 plus $25 shipping.
We've been rooting for local cartoonist Chris Ware for years—beaming with pride at his first New Yorker cover and his success with theacclaimed graphic novel Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. Ware fan or not, the oversize Acme Novelty Library (published by Pantheon) is perfect for people who love graphic design, cartoons or the book arts. Available at Quimby' 1854 W North Ave between Wolcott Ave and Wood St; $27.50.