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Picky, picky, picky 

Discerning selections for an artsy holiday season


What better way to perform a double whammy of supporting the arts while nailing a one-of-a-kind gift than by buying local art? Holiday shoppers have an array of artsy gift options when local galleries and shops offer their roundup of "affordable art" shows this season. One of the best is the annual Swan Coach House Little Things Mean a Lot show through Jan. 12 (, featuring an impressive list of talented local artists working small. Also worth checking out is shopSCAD's ( selection of affordable Small Works priced from $500 and below, running Dec. 4-31. Arts for All Gallery ( in the Healey Building is staging a Holiday Art Sale at the gallery through Dec. 21, with profits going to participating artists and the nonprofit gallery, which helps raise awareness and offers a venue to economically and physically disenfranchised artists. And the Telephone Factory Lofts (, home to an array of artists, will stage its 12th annual art show and sale Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 21, which blends the entertainment value in seeing how the other half lives with gift-buying opportunities. – Felicia Feaster


Full Radius Dance, a modern dance company that includes dancers with disabilities, also takes inspiration from the star-studded TV specials of Christmas past. The Full Radius Dance Holiday Spectacular includes "A Nutcracker Suite," a big-band version of the famed yuletide ballet and two other playful adaptations of Tchaikovsky waltzes, "Schmaltz with Flowers" and "That Snow Waltz." Look out for stilt walking, bouts of hay fever, an onstage snowstorm and the vocal stylings of the Von Krapp Family Singers. $15. Fri., 8 p.m.; Sat., 3 and 8 p.m. Full Radius Dance, 7 Stages, 1105 Euclid Ave. 404-724-9663. – Curt Holman


How are your engrams this holiday season? Dad's Garage offers a spiritual alternative to Christmas-themed programs with its revival of last year's uproarious A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant. In the spirit of those grade-school Christmas shows as seen in "A Charlie Brown Christmas," Mary Claire Dunn directs a cast of kids from ages 8-13 (all returning from last year's show) in this sharp, hilarious musical satire of the cult of Scientology's and Dianetics' L. Ron Hubbard. Wait, did I say "cult"? I meant church, of course. Kyle Jarrow wrote the book, music and lyrics of the musical, which is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by the Church of Scientology. We want to be perfectly clear about that last part. $15-$25. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Dec. 16 and 23, 5 p.m. Dad's Garage Theatre, 280 Elizabeth St. 404-523-3141. – Curt Holman


How to fit the town of Bedford Falls – not to mention a supernatural detour to Pottersville – onto a stage for a theatrical version of the classic movie It's a Wonderful Life? Joe Landry's ingenious-sounding adaptation presents the story as if the audience is watching the broadcast of a live radio play, with five actors – and one busy sound-effects artist – portraying George Bailey, Mr. Potter and dozens of other roles from the Frank Capra film. Susan Reid directs a cast that includes the reliably amusing Hugh Adams. $30. Wed.-Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sun., 2:30 p.m. Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie St. 678-528-1500. – Curt Holman


Synchronicity Performance Group's production of A Year with Frog and Toad recently won three Suzi Bass Awards, a local honor for excellence in Atlanta Theatre, for Best Musical, Best Director of a Musical (Clint Thornton) and Best Costumes. In December, Synchronicity presents a restaging of the production, with musical director Bryan Mercer returning to the role of ever-optimistic Frog, while Shawn Knight plays his gloomier best pal, Toad, in Robert and Willie Reale's adaptation of Arnold Lobel's beloved Frog and Toad children's books. While accessible to very young audiences (with Christmas episodes near the end), A Year with Frog and Toad features such charming songs and appealing humor, it's pretty much irresistible to audiences of all ages. $15-$20. Tues.-Thurs., 10:30 a.m.; Fri., 7 p.m.; Sat., 2 and 7 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m. Synchronicity Performance Group, Actor's Express, 887 W. Marietta St. 404-484-8636. – Curt Holman


Some of the richest descriptions of Christmas traditions – as well as nostalgic comedy worthy of the movie A Christmas Story – can be found in Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales. Theatre Gael brings back its lovely stage version of the classic play, with artistic director John Stephens playing the role of Dylan Thomas as the narrator. Jessie Dean directs a production that's sure to savor words such as "All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea" as if they're candy canes. $16-$20. Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 5 p.m. Theatre Gael, 14th Street Playhouse, 173 14th St. 404-733-4750. – Curt Holman


For three decades now, Georgia State University's sculpture department, under the helm of professor of sculpture George Beasley, has been hosting a Holiday Iron Pour and benefit auction. Molten metal from radiators and other scrap iron made liquid are heated to temperatures of 3,000 degrees-plus, and metal casting demonstrations are done by artists. Participants also have the chance to cast their own sculptures along with enjoying an evening of food and fire-watching. $5-$10. 2-9 p.m., Edgewood Sculpture Studio, 184 Edgewood Ave. 404-413-5274. – Felicia Feaster


The starchy foodstuff that got so many of us through college is also the material of art-making for artist Sang-Wook Lee. Bricks of Ramen noodles will be employed by Lee in a solo exhibition at the Emory Visual Arts Gallery ( in December. Noodle Noodle features the Korean-born, Georgia-based artist's large, room-size Ramen installations, which are as filling as they are visually appealing. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sat., noon-4 p.m. Emory Visual Arts Gallery, 700 Peavine Creek Drive. 404-727-6315. – Felicia Feaster


Whether you've got a house loaded with family or you simply long to take advantage of some holiday time off, take a road trip to Athens' Georgia Museum of Art for two shows with broad appeal. Amazing Grace: Self-Taught Artists from the Mullis Collection features an array of folk luminaries including Thornton Dial and Howard Finster. Real Western Wear: Beaded Gauntlets from the William P. Healey Collection is a comparably quirky show centered on the embellished gloves created by American-Indian artists and worn by stylish cowpokes from the 1890s through the 1940s. $2 suggested donation. Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Wed., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 1-5 p.m. Georgia Museum of Art, 90 Carlton St., Athens. 706-542-4037. – Felicia Feaster


Underground Americana is the focus of a show culled from the High Museum's permanent collection and featuring a distinguished group of photographers including Danny Lyon, Garry Winogrand and Susan Meiselas. Subjects include carnival strippers and motorcycle gangs and other aspects of the counterculture in a turbulent time. If it's lively dinner conversations you're after, bring the parents, grandparents or kids to Street Life: American Photographs from the 1960s and '70s. $11-$18. Tues.-Wed. and Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., noon-5 p.m. High Museum of Art, 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-HIGH. – Felicia Feaster

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