Branching out

Dreaming of an art-filled Christmas thanks to Art Etc. in downtown

Most Saturdays, after taking a stroll through the farmers’ market, I find myself with a cup of coffee in hand staring up at the walls of Art Etc., glancing through the Dave Simcox prints, treating the retail store as an art gallery. Thankfully, Dave and his wife, Anna, who own the store, allow me the indulgence with grace, never annoyed by my lingering presence.

Every time I walk out of the downtown Chico business, I’m left pining for a place with infinite wall space where I could hang every piece of artwork that has stolen my heart. Dave’s imagination dreamt up something far better and much more realistic: a Christmas tree.

Dave, who is also a clay tile artist, realized his talent in tile work was easily transferable to Christmas ornaments and spent the past year designing pieces to release this holiday season. The new line of artwork requires no additional walls and can be hung by the dozen. No imaginary home needed.

Together with son Dean, Dave has created 83 designs for the clay ornaments, under the name Prairie Bungalow, with each ornament handmade by the duo. Dave described the designs as ranging from “really cute to funny to absurd,” with my favorites being the farm animals: cows with ornaments hanging from their horns and a horse in a Santa hat. Dean and Dave have made 800 individual hand-carved and -painted ornaments so far.

Though the ornaments have been wildly popular with locals—some designs are already sold out—Dave is actually targeting a market outside Chico. He sees an opportunity to design lines of ornaments for certain industries and interests, having retailers outside of Chico sell the small pieces of artwork.

For those in Chico looking for an addition to their Christmas tree, or a perfect solution for an exchange or gift, you can pop into Art Etc. (122 W. Third St.) and snag one of the $15 ornaments—an affordable way to bring fine artwork into your home. A line of music-related ornaments is available at The Music Connection (973 East Ave., Ste. V).

And if the design you’re really after is sold out, don’t worry. Art Etc. is donating a tree to the Torres Community Shelter Christmas Tree Auction, featuring each of the 83 ornament designs. The 12th annual benefit takes place at the Chico Masonic Family Lodge Dec. 6, and includes music, a silent auction and live auction of entire trees being donated by a number of organizations. Tickets ($30) are available at the shelter, Art Etc., Made in Chico and STAR Credit Union.