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Accidental Education

Written by , published September 2, 2009

Visits with my 13-year-old niece, Kaitie, tend to be enlightening, and not just about what's going on with teenagers these days. When she comes to Austin, I always try to plan some new experiences for her and often wind up learning something new myself.

On one of her recent visits, I took Kaitie, who's a budding artist, to a small gallery on West Sixth called Haven, which offers a wonderful selection of artworks, from sculpture to jewelry. (The Haven's self-description on its webisite is an eclectic mix of two- and three-dimensional fine art and fine craft.) We were both entranced with the array of large, colorful, freeform glass pieces and some amazing "woven glass," gently curving sculptures that look like pieces of fabric, with irregular strips of glass forming the warp and weft. I fell in love with a periwinkle-blue glass bust that featured a silhouette of a face inside. Kaitie's favorites were a group of bird sculptures, made of antique odds and ends, brass, and other metals (not surprising, since she was sketching birds a lot at the time). Some of the items here are costly, but many others are surprisingly affordable considering the excellent quality, as low as $25. And we're talking handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Something to keep in mind for holiday shopping.

The owner of the shop, Mindi Partee, answered our questions, gave us a minitour, and told us about some of the artists, many of whom are from Texas, which I always find appealing. I don't know if Kaitie was inspired, but I certainly was, if only to add a few special things to my wish list. Haven Gallery & Gifts is at 1122 W. Sixth St.; 512/477-2700;

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