Anyone looking for a holiday gift that epitomizes Old Town Alexandria need look no further than Gallery Lafayette, 320 King St., tucked to the rear of Gadsby's Arcade just across King Street from City Hall.
For the 20th year, artist Todd Healy, owner of Gallery Lafayette, has produced a collectible calendar that depicts 12 colorful watercolor scenes of Old Town. It went on sale Nov. 13 for $16.
The original drawings, beautifully framed, are also for sale. "They are priced at $2,400 each. And three are already sold," Healy said.
"I draw the entire scene in pencil first and then do the watercolor. I hope I'm improving each year," he said.
Healy, a native Virginian, was born in Portsmouth, and grew up around art. His father, a navy pilot, was also an illustrator for the military magazine "Approach."
HEALY STUDIED ART in Southern California and Florida, working in many mediums and styles. His pen and ink drawings and watercolors reveal a simplicity that almost masks the attention to detail that is highlighted when transformed to watercolor. [THIS NEEDS TO BE CLARIFIED.]
After moving to Alexandria in 1976 with his wife Lorraine, he began to blend his style with the subjects that surrounded him in Alexandria and Mount Vernon. Healy has been commissioned by Marriott Hotels, developer Charles E. Smith, and NBC's Today Show co-anchor Katie Couric, as well as others.
But his annual calendar is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to finding a gift that embodies Alexandria. Scenes from the calendar, superimposed on oval porcelain, have been turned into ornaments. This year's depicts Prince Street. The 2003 selection, which also remains available, offers a choice of Gadsby's Tavern, Christ's Church, or a Queen Street scene. They are priced at $26 each.
"I heard a lot of complaints that we didn't really have anything specifically geared to men, except for our art selections," Healy said. "So this year we've added a key ring and wallet with scrimshaw scenes of the Alexandria waterfront." The key holder goes for $22 and the supple leather wallet is priced at $40. The store also sells a money clip for $25.
Calendar watercolors also double as Christmas cards. A full pack of 10 cards retails for $16.
Gift wrappers are often confounded by the need for an attractive and practical gift tag. At Gallery Lafayette, that problem has likewise been solved. A pack of such tags depicting scenes from various calendars is available at $5.50.
Other items with Alexandria impressions, waiting for the holiday shopper include: mouse pad, $12; trinket dish, $15; trivets, $11.50; mugs, $9; tea towel, $9; wine sack, $9; pot holder, $9; note cube, $11; note cards, $11.50; a magnetized shopping list pad, $5.50; beverage napkins, $4.50; gift bags, $5; tote bags, $26; and tee shirts, $18 to $22.
For the really special people on that holiday list, Gallery Lafayette offers the following: serving tray, $35; a box of four glasses, $33; and a clock with an Old Town scene on the face, $88.
Of course, there is always the art and framing. Gallery Lafayette carries the work of many artists and offers a wide variety of framing options professionally done.
But when it comes to that gift that says, "This is Alexandria," the place to shop is Gallery Lafayette. "Almost everything we sell relates to Alexandria," Healy said.