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ART BEAT: Gift giving made easy at the Hudgens Center for the Arts

As the holidays draw closer, many busy people are anxious to give their loved ones gifts that are unique, creative and useful. That's a pretty tall order for anyone to find, but the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Duluth has a bounty of gift ideas that fit that very exacting criteria.

Located in Gwinnett Center at the Satellite Boulevard entrance to the property, this beautiful arts facility has been serving the community at this location since 1993. The building houses several art galleries and excellent arts education classrooms. A gift shop is also a highlighted feature of the Center, and that is perhaps where the shopping should begin.

The gift shop features many museum quality items and one-of-a-kind treasures. From handsome pottery made at the Center, to silk scarves, glass, wood items, jewelry, and fine cards and stationery, it is easy to leave the shop encumbered by bags full of gifts. Prices are very reasonable as well.

One of the best and longest lasting gifts could be a membership to the Hudgens Center. Family memberships start at only $50. Individuals are $30 with students, artists and seniors being only $20. A membership offers many perks: free, unlimited general admission at any time, invitations to special events, exhibitions and entertainment, discounts on classes, 10 percent discount in the gift shop, and a subscription to the class schedule and newsletter.

Speaking of classes, the Hudgens Center has an abundance of them for every age. Winter session begins Jan. 17 which makes a holiday gift of art classes a timely idea. Adult classes include Life Drawing, Introduction to Photoshop, Jewelry Making for beginners and intermediate students, Basic Photography, Painting Technique in oil and acrylic as well as Masterful Painting in the same media, Pastels, Landscape, Creative Drawing and Painting, and something intriguing called Creativity Unleashed -- Mixed Media Techniques. Classes generally meet for eight weeks.

There is always ceramics for adults including all levels of handbuilding and wheel, and even pottery classes in Korean.

If an eight-week commitment is too much, there are some intriguing one day workshops which teach an assortment of skills from Precious Metal Clay, Oil Painting, Fused Dichroic Glass Jewelry, Fused Glass Wind Chimes and Sun Catchers, Soap, Lotion and Toiletries Making, Sgraffito (clay) and more.

That's just for the adults. There is also a plethora of children's classes that cover drawing, painting, pastels, mixed media, cartooning, watercolor and pottery.

For information about registration and further class details, contact the Hudgens Center for the Arts at 770-623-6002 or visit www.thehudgens.org.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.