Come the second Sunday in May, many mothers would be unquestionably thrilled to open a velvet box with a sparkling jewel inside or unwrap an impossibly chic Hermès scarf.
Certain others, however, would be more jazzed to rip the kraft paper from a striking work of art or the bubble wrap from a functional object that’s both a pleasure to use and a delight to behold.
If the woman you’re celebrating is in the second camp, what, exactly, should you get such a design-minded mom?
For brilliant suggestions, we turned to the experts. Below, nine artists, gallerists and furniture sellers tell us what they would give — or hope to receive — on Mother’s Day.
“As a mom with a mom, I would want something that inspired me daily, every time I looked at it,” offers antiques dealer Erin Lane, who’s enamored with this mid-20th-century Japanese folding screen, or byobu, by artist Miyata Shizan. “Byobu are so special — just like moms — because each one is unique, and the way they reflect the light throughout the day is so delightful. I love how feminine they can be with the flowers and fauna.”
“This work on paper represents a mother and her daughter kissing her gently on the cheek,” says its creator, Lélia Pissarro, the great-granddaughter of 19th-century painter Camille Pissarro and co-owner of Stern Pissarro Gallery. “A strong bond and connection between the two are apparent, and the gold-leafed branches and abstract forms in the upper left create a circular activity within the work suggesting this could be a dream.”
The two figures are modeled on the artist and her youngest daughter, Lyora. However, for Mother’s Day, Pissarro says, the work can be personalized and customized, making it a special and unique gift.
“The subject of this work is very close to my heart, and the notion of love between a mother and her daughter is very important,” she adds.
“Elegantly designed with a bamboo-motif handle topped by a faux Tong Zhi Tong Bao cash coin, this Chinese silver tea strainer from the late 19th century is not only a beautiful work of art, but also a great utilitarian object,” Francisca Tung, founder of Lotus Gallery, points out.
“It is perfect for the mum who loves tea and likes to feel fancy while drinking it,” Tung continues. “When not in use, it can be displayed as a stunning object. The image of the dragons chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom — and each other — around the rim of the strainer is playfully powerful. Who doesn’t like dragons?”
“This is an original color-block print of a boy and a girl playing musical instruments, done by Frances H. Gearhart, who was assisted by her two sisters, May and Edna,” says art dealer Roger Genser. “It is signed ‘The Gearharts’ and is from the ‘Let’s Play’ series, which consists of 24 block prints, all of children.”
Genser can attest to the popularity of works by the Gearharts, an unusual trio of successful early-20th-century California-based female artists who were also teachers. “I have sold many of these over the years,” he says, “mostly to women.”
“Beautiful antique wabi-sabi stools from Africa, like this one, can also be used as side tables or bowls,” says British-born, New York–based furniture designer Andrianna Shamaris, who is a believer in the Japanese philosophy that finds beauty in imperfection and impermanence.
“I personally like these because there is a history to them and they all have a lovely patina,” she adds. “They are each handmade from a single block of wood — the legs are not joined. I’ve given them on multiple occasions, and all recipients really loved these pieces, as they are versatile, plus so usable and authentic.”
“I love the melancholy of the mood Swedish artist Mamma Andersson captures in the landscape of the print Mother’s Day,” confesses Valeria Wade, director of Crown Point Press. “When she was in our studio in San Francisco, she completed several prints including this one. I imagine a quiet sunset in a beautiful park in a European city, the light and palette of the ground and sky offering a contemplative time to observe this statue of a woman in peace.”
“Interi is an art and design firm that works to restore 18th-century Italian religious and architectural artifacts and transform them into sculptural modern art,” company owner and creative director Jean O’Reilly Barlow explains.
“This angel wing on calcite in sphalerite is one of my signature pieces and is a good option for a Mother’s Day gift,” she adds. “It signifies that mothers are like our guardian angels. Each one of our fragment sculptures carries a lot of history and significance, just as mothers do.”
“Mother’s Day depicts a beautiful lioness and her cub on the prowl together,” Hilton continues. “Just as Mother’s Day asks us to acknowledge the impact of maternal bonds within our own spaces, this work presents us with the influence of motherhood in the wild, suggesting an overlap in the experience.”
“This Mother’s Day, I want to celebrate all the powerful women in my life: friends, artists, colleagues and all the female figures that have shaped culture as we know it,” says Jessica Kreps, a partner at Lehmann Maupin. “One artwork that communicates this exact sentiment is this photograph that Catherine Opie took during the Women’s March in Los Angeles in January 2017.”
“It is intimately scaled but enormously powerful,” she explains. “It shows thousands of people who gathered to advocate for legislation and policies regarding human rights, women’s rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and racial equality. I feel very passionately about women’s rights, and it’s the type of energy I want to bring into 2021. I see myself gifting it to a friend or even receiving it as a gift!”