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Best Peninsula-Area Artists To Buy From This Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches and names are crossed off your list, you may realize that there are still some hard-to-shop-for art lovers with wall space to fill. While the art movement in the Peninsula offers a wide spectrum of perspectives suited for a range of tastes, the following are a few recommendations of artists who just might have created the gift you're looking for.

Steven J. Backman

Made with patience for art enthusiasts and collectors who enjoy owning pieces beyond the norm, Steven J. Backman's toothpick art has been commissioned exclusively for queens and presidents. The artist explores iconic, miniature, curvilinear and representational art sculptures made from natural wood. Offering itself as an excellent conversation piece, toothpick art is a unique gift for the person on your list who appears to have it all. Each piece is one of a kind. Examples for sale can be seen at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco or on Backman's website. Backman has exhibited his work in Mexico and the United States. Presently, a miniature Golden Gate Bridge constructed with toothpicks can be seen at Ripley's Believe It or Not in San Francisco. His prices start at $500.


ZhaoNan Duan
Little Red Flower Art Studio
7258 Bark Lane
San Jose, CA 95129
(408) 973-1556

Do you have a person on your list with a passion for Chinese culture, theater or dance? Born and educated in China, Mr. ZhaoNan Duan  specializes in Chinese opera portraits. Using ancient techniques to interpret the modern world, Duan's strokes offer joyous colors and uplifting movement. His work makes a good gift because this art is rooted from a technique that has been evolving for thousands of years. According to Zhiyn Pan, an employee at his studio, Duan was a student of Xu Beihong, the most famous Chinese artist in modern history. As a member of the Pacific Art League, Duan believes in nurturing and educating students through teaching. Duan can be reached by phone at his studio to discuss prices.

Related: Best Art Galleries On The Peninsula


Joe Decker
Rock Slide Photography
(707) 456-7625

If you have someone on your list who loves the outdoors—why not consider looking into nature photography? It is not difficult to comprehend and many kinds of people can appreciate it. Joe Decker is an on-demand nature photographer inspired by one of the Bay Area greats, Galen Rowell. His most memorable show was his display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Joe's nature photography makes a good gift because it can provide contrast to the daily routine and a window into other opportunities. Small unframed works start at $100, ranging to $500 framed. Joe can be reached by phone to place an order.


Patricia Dailey
Coastal Arts League
300 Maint St.
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-6335

This physician is a good example of the Sunday potter. Inspired by the American artist and studio potter Beatrice Wood, Dailey launched her artistic education in her 40s. After much hard work, Patricia has developed an individual style. Some influences from her daily profession of psychiatry can be seen in her work. Figures with themes such as mother and child, woman standing alone and goddess are found among her work. Patricia's work can be admired and purchased at the Coastal Art League. Please visit CAL for prices.


Shilo Ratner
(415) 377-0102

This abstract figurative painter, influenced by the Bay Area figurative movement and German expressionism, offers magnetizing pieces presenting the opportunity for personal psychological experience. This is a gift for the person on your list who enjoys art history and has an emotional connection to art. Prices range from $95 to $2,000. Shilo can be reached by phone or e-mail. View samples of her work by visiting her website.

Related: Great Local Art For Less In The Peninsula

For more holiday gift ideas, visit

Kristina Ruiz-Healy is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. Her work can be found on

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