It’s the holidays in Lake County. The pale winter sun reflects in spots and flashes off Clear Lake. A few bass boats putt along the shoreline, their owners flicking their lures into nooks and crevices, then winding them slowly in. At the nearby park, a couple sits at a picnic bench, eating lunch. And hidden off to the side, tucked like a treasure to the left of the boat launch, sits Lakeside Arts and Gifts.
Wind around the lawn to the front door, where the lake peeks through the shrubs, and step inside. There you’ll discover a new world. Across the walls, photographs and artwork spread, while tables and shelves filled with curios, local crafts, and quality art dot the room. For a small space, it’s got a large selection of gifts perfect for the holidays.
Now celebrating its eleventh year, Lakeside Arts and Gifts is more than just a gift shop; it’s also an art gallery. Started by four artists: Linda Kelly, Gytha March, Toni Stewart, and Susan Laymon, it features much more than just their work.
“We’ve currently got seventeen artists we’re featuring,” says Gytha March, staffing the store for the day. Her rainbow mask, supposedly designed to keep her glasses from fogging, keeps slipping down her face; her glasses fog anyway. “And everything’s priced reasonably,” she continues. Gytha’s kind and gentle-mannered, and she lets the customer wander, discovering all the nooks and crannies of the place.
There’s a broad selection of goods: Photos, postcards, exquisitely painted rocks and platters, ceramics, jewelry, aprons, back scratchers, scarves, hats, gloves, soap. Everything’s locally designed. A peek at a Christmas ornament leads to the discovery of a fridge magnet, which, in turn, leads to a group of necklaces. Underneath the display, a short artist’s biography stands. Turn around, and there’s a wall of ceramics, rocks, and sculptures, begging to be looked at, touched, and marveled. That’s how Lakeside Arts and Gifts works. Each small section is a world of its own, filled with intention and beauty. It’s a place where a person can get lost.
It’s also inexpensive: Handmade ornaments sell for $2.50, detailed magnets for $5.00. Pottery that would cost hundreds other places sells for $50.00. Original framed photography hangs on the wall, priced significantly less than at other galleries.
Gourd birdhouses hang from the vaulted ceilings, drawing the eye upwards. But glance down for a second, and in a small bowl, almost hidden by aprons, are delicate matchbooks, covered in designs and accented with buttons.
“Oh, you found my matchbooks,” Gytha says, a broad smile on her face, as we place a pile of things we discovered near the register. “Those were so fun to make.” She rings us up, carefully wraps our purchases in a bag, and thanks us as we head out.
That’s what makes Lakeside Arts and Gifts so unique. It’s not a big-box store; nothing’s mass-produced. In fact, you’re purchasing work done by your neighbors, and the artist who created it may be the one who rings you up. It’s hard to find that small-town kindness and friendliness in a city.
Lakeside Arts and Gifts is located at:
6195 E. Hwy 20 Lucerne, CA 95458
Open 11-4 Friday through Sunday