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Shop, drink and be merry

Blue Genie offers a festive way to buy gifts while supporting local artists

Dana Younger and four other co-founders started the Blue Genie Art Bazaar in late 2001 after someone suggested they hold an annual Christmas show.

That first year, Younger said, he was shocked to see so many people come out and support Austin artists. Since then, the show has continued running and has seen constant growth as it has built strong bonds within the community.

“People really look forward to supporting their local art community by buying holiday gifts here,” Younger said.

The show, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. now through Christmas Eve (show closes at 6 p.m. that day), has become a holiday tradition for both artists and Austinites seeking unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. Unlike past years, when Blue Genie was held at Marchesa Hall and Theatre, this year it opens in a new location at 6100 Airport Blvd.

Younger said the new location was necessary because the event had outgrown the old space. He said he and his team took a “leap of faith” on this venue and have dedicated a great deal of time to getting it ready.

“We’ve worked very hard to make sure it feels like the Blue Genie Art Bazaar that everyone knows and loves,” Younger said.

For many artists — this year 210 artists will participate — the bazaar offers an incredible opportunity to reach larger audiences.

The application process for the show opens in the summer and lasts for three months. Younger said any type of artwork is accepted; the only requirement is that it is hand-crafted. No resale items are allowed.

Blue Genie looks for unique, beautiful and unusual items when assessing each application. Younger stressed the importance of quality and added that Blue Genie’s goal is to have a range of items that are accessible for every budget.

“We have artists that sell paintings that are worth thousands of dollars,” Younger said. “But we also have artists that are selling a bar of soap or a candle for $5.”

Some other items to expect at the show: photography, woodwork, sculptures, handbags, wallets, jewelry, greeting cards and stickers.

“You can get a new piece of art to decorate your house or stocking stuffers for everybody at your workplace,” Younger said.

Younger said he has the local community to thank for the success of the show. He said starting up this showcase was a risk, but he now sees what he and his team are doing as an important part of the community.

“It’s a privilege for us to get to sit at this confluence of art and commerce and community,” Younger said.

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