The Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide 2015

'Twas the night before the night before Christmas, when all through the gallery... stocking stuffers were stirring, ready for your hard-earned salary! With 2 days left before Christmas, you've most likely completed your holiday shopping and are neck-deep in wrapping paper and greeting cards. However, there are always one or two people who you're stuck on—family or friends whose gifts you've procrastinated purchasing because you just don't know what to get them this year. Fear not, Nucleus is here to swoop in with our Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide 2015!

Read on for our stocking stuffer store-picks, curated gift bundles for that particularly specific person in your life. Each gift bundle ranges from affordable to pricey, and keep in mind that you can always swap one thing out for another to meet your tastes. Remember to take advantage of our current SALE discounts, which can be found at the very bottom of this post (and don't forget: tomorrow we close early at 5pm for Christmas Eve). Merry Christmas, happy holidays and thanks for shopping Nucleus!


The Modern Nature Enthusiast Bundle

Do you have a tree hugger friend who loves to hike, camp, take waterfall pictures and post all of the above on social media? Well we have the perfect gift bundle for the modern nature enthusiast, including a log pillow for those high-altitude naps on the summit of Mt. Fillintheblank, a fun tea accessory for the campfire steep session and a beautiful nature print—an indoor reminder of the outdoors.

Clockwise from top: Log Pillow by Kikkerland: $16.95, End of the Triassic print by Brooks Salzwedel: $125, Tea Holder Fishermen by Kikkerland: $14.95, Heartist book by Wendy Hearts: $26.95, Mighty Tree Tops by Karl Zahn x Areaware: $11.95

The Obsessive Cat Lover Bundle

We all know someone who loves their cat. Or maybe they love your cat. Either way, cat love abounds and you're wondering what to give that person for the holidays because you can't regift the 10-lb. bag of kitty litter which came free when you bought that carpet-covered feline tree. Consider this bundle, which includes various cat-themed gifts and enough kitty art to last through the winter!

Clockwise from top: Fruit Cat iPad Mini Case by ECA: $30, Hover Cat print by Mike Yamada: $29, Kit-Tea Infuser by GAMAGO: $9.95, Cactus Kitties blindbox figurine by tokidoki: $5.95, Needle Felting Cat Kit by Woolbuddy: $14.95, Shark Bites vol. 2 book by Megan Nicole Dong: $14.95

The Nerdy Geek Friend Bundle

This is you, isn't it? There's a nerd inside all of us, and we're proud to proclaim it! Whether you're in search of presents for your geek pal or for yourself, this bundle is full of Nucleus-approved gift ideas—from a retro video game system that plays those dusty old cartridges to a wide selection of old school Star Wars action figures, just in time for this season's newest space saga...

Clockwise from top: Naughty Dog 30th Anniversary Shirt: $9.95, Assorted Star Wars Action Figures by Hasbro: $10 or $5, RetroN 3 Gaming Console by Hyperkin: $74.99, Hero Pages book by Julian Callos: $6


Libros de los Muertos

Happy Halloween and Día de los Muertos! Enjoy this fun booklist of ghostly reads, appropriate for the entire family:


Deep Dark Fears is artist Fran Krause’s hardcover assemblage of individual mini comics depicting uniquely superstitious scenarios of paranoia. The book is a comedic combination of user-submitted fears and Fran’s own paneled micro-stories, comprising a bound work of hilarity originating from the darkest reaches of our collective imaginations. Deep Dark Fears may look like coffee table fare, but spend five minutes flipping through random pages and you’ll swear its stories were stolen straight from the mindspaces of your own brain!


Leo: A Ghost Story 
is a story of loneliness wrapped in a delightfully drawn dust jacket. Artist Christian Robinson’s cute paper-cut characters perfectly complement author Mac Barnett’s slim-and-grim story of Leo, a lonely boy ghost who isn’t wanted in his own haunted house… Feeling rejected, Leo sets out into the city in search of meaning and—hopefully—a friend. It's a good thing then that he stumbles across Jane, a sprightly young girl who doesn't seem to care that Leo is a spook! Sometimes friendship is found in the unlikeliest of situations, even if that situation involves wandering ghosts.



If you liked the sequel film to Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania, you'll enjoy this art book. The Art of Hotel Transylvania 2 is a handsome hardcover collection of movie concept art, character and location designs, as well as interesting narration to accompany all of these art goodies. It's like Halloween between two covers, except there aren't any tricks on these pages... It's treat after treat of behind-the-scenes artwork, from colorfully beautiful spreads that begin each and every chapter to intriguing storyboards which shed light onto the story's production process!


Zombie in Love 2 + 1 comes to us from the creative duo that is author Kelly DiPucchio and illustrator Scott Campbell. In this zombie family story, Mortimer and Mildred are new zombie parents who are perplexed by the mysteries of raising a baby. This colorful sequel to the popular children’s book of the same name picks up right where the first Zombie in Love left off, and it's full of memorably humorous moments interspersed with adorably gory parenting scenarios. Teething babies and squishy brains, anyone?




Neil Gaiman calls this one a masterpiece. It's right there on the cover of Anya's Ghost, a uniquely modern ghost tale written and drawn by LAIKA storyboard artist and Portlander Vera Brosgol. Anya is a regular teenage girl who attends Hamilton Private School, and her life is full of everyday teenage girl problems (annoying mom, pesky little brother, low self-esteem, BOYS, etc.). But when she accidentally falls down a well one day and discovers an unburied skeleton at the bottom, her list of high school issues gets just a little bit longer with the addition of a ghost who won't seem to leave Anya alone!



The Art of MARVEL Superhero Films

For every modern MARVEL comic book movie that graces the planet, an Art of book comes with it. These limited edition hardcover volumes come packaged with great looking slipcases to protect the book inside it and make perfect gifts for anyone who is a fan of the superhero films or the comics they're based on. Here's a breakdown of the three editions available at Nucleus:

➲ The Art of Iron Man 3

One would think that an entire book centered around Iron Man movie concept art would quickly get old, but it doesn't. It's actually very interesting. With 280 full-color pages featuring Stark technology at its outlandish best, there's A LOT to flip through—and a lot to like. Chapters two and three highlight War Machine, Iron Patriot and all the other Iron Man suit variants shown in the flick, including the Mark 38 heavy-lifting "Igor" suit which seems to have been the forerunner to Tony Stark's Hulkbuster armor that made its cinematic debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron earlier this year. These sections alone make the book worthwhile!

The Art of Iron Man 3 is text-heavy, a good thing for those wanting to brush up on their Iron Man movie knowledge, but at times there is so much copy that words end up clashing with the artwork. This isn't so much a detraction as it is a nuisance; chapter six's Iron Legion foldout—a sort of on-page nod to the fan favorite Hall of Armor that appears in several of the Iron Man films—more than makes up for it.

➲ The Art of Thor: The Dark World

This book does justice to its MARVELized mythological Norse content; the beautiful concept art within its covers is magnified by enjoyably thematic page design. One wishes that the runes and patterns would light up with an Asgardian glow with each turn of the page! It's an experience-enhancing detail that the other two books featured in this article are somewhat lacking... The Art of Thor: The Dark World gets really good in the book's second chapter, "Born of Eternal Night." This section sheds light on the Dark Elves and their eerily mystical world, successfully conveying the same uncomfortable darkness to which the film's title alludes.

With all its content must come supplementary text, and this volume isn't short on it. This is the same quirk that the Iron Man art book runs into: copious amounts of text that is great for fans of the lore, but at the expense of some of the magnificent art spreads. It doesn't happen often though—the book strikes an appropriate balance between artwork and information, and does so especially well when it treats us with storyboards and fun references to the comics. Certain throwback sections, for instance, offer fans the opportunity to cross-check specific movie scenes with the comic books and pinpoint when they occur in the overall Thor timeline.

➲ The Art of Avengers: Age of Ultron


Whereas the other two MARVEL art books end with promotional marketing material for their respective films, this one begins with it. Maybe we'd be giving the book editor a little too much credit if we understood this as a referential metaphor to the drama-loaded superhero dream team itself and their undeniable marketability to which The Avengers are almost certainly self-aware, but the book nevertheless begins with this strange misstep. Flip past this awkward introduction and the volume comes into its own, granting readers with a fantastic inside-look at character concepts, weapon art and machinery featured in the summer blockbuster (weapon and machine designs never get old—these sections need their own book!)... the pinnacle of which is Ultron's spotlight.

Chapter three's Ultron pages are as interesting as it gets and when it follows that with chapter four's Hulkbuster pages, one get's the sense that The Art of Avengers: Age of Ultron hits its stride when it's highlighting the movie's metal and armored characters. The fifth chapter's storyboards on the final battle in Sokovia keep the excitement streaking along, though it would've been nice to see more storyboards throughout the entire book. Get past its almost excessive amount of content—at over 330 pages, this is a THICK art book—and scattered flow to reap the true reward of this action-packed opus: a chance to revisit the film without actually having to watch it.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are just as irrelevant in the art book as they are in Age of Ultron!


Nucleus Nods to MOD

Earlier this year we unveiled the modernist-inspired artwork of local artists Chris Turnham and Loris Lora, both of whom showcased their Mid-century Modern themed pieces for our California Modernists show. New, hand-pulled silk screens by Chris Turnham debuted alongside original paintings from Loris Lora's recently published book—Eventually Everything Connects—for a dual exhibition which not only took us back in time but also glimpsed a nostalgic version of The Golden State and its influencers.

Nucleus recently followed that event with another modernist-inspired solo exhibition which we strongly felt was the spiritual successor to California Modernists. Under the alluding title Cathedrals, artist Elle Michalka debuted a wonderfully popular body of work that hinted at modernism's abstract expressionisms in the form of colorfully lush landscape orchestrations. 

When asked to ponder their most admired symbols of Mid-century Modern, a handful of Nucleus team members offered up their personal local favorites:

Ben Zhu's favorite Mid-century Modern artist 
is Alexander Calder. 

"His work is distinctly Mid-century but still looks incredibly timeless to me. I never really cared for his work until I saw his mobiles in person, witnessing the subtle and serene movements of his artwork within the environment, whether it was in a gallery space or a garden."
  • Three Quintains, 1964, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles
  • Four Arches, 1974, Security Pacific National Bank, Los Angeles
  • Button Flower, 1959, UCLA, Los Angeles

Kevin Chan thinks of Randy's Donuts when 
prompted with the Mid-century Modern topic.

Falling under the architectural sub-genre of the overall Modernist movement, Randy's iconic giant donut sign is an example of the era's participation in programmatic / roadside architecture: building design which reflected the contents within—in this particular case, donuts!


Risa Vargasfavorite Mid-century Modern
landmark is Pann's Restaurant & Coffee
Shop in Inglewood.

"I <3 Inglewood—City of Champions! You cannot go wrong with a place where you can have any diner cuisine you can imagine, sip a mimosa and enjoy some real Googie architecture. I'm pretty sure this place has only been kept up, but never changed, in the last 60 years." Still hungry? Risa has another Modernist recommendation: "I also love Brolly Hut."

Kenneth Azurin looks to the stars for his
selection: the Griffith Observatory.

"While not inherently Mid-century Modern, the Griffith Observatory hails from a precursory era and sort of graduated into the '50s with an analogous mission plan; I like to think of it as a cornerstone of Modernism." John C. Austin's historic L.A. landmark is not without its Space Age contributions. "Apparently the planetarium was used during the 1960s to train astronauts in celestial navigation for the Apollo program's first lunar missions!"


Line Weight: The Elegance of the Drawn Line

Line Weight began as an idea wherein talented artists from inside the fine art and entertainment industries could display their artwork in a single exhibition dedicated to the mastery of line work. Debuting in November of 2008, the successful show spurred an encore exhibition four years later, bringing artists both new and old into the mix in February of 2012.

Nucleus is proud to reprise its customary exhibition series in the gallery’s inaugural show of the new year. This third installment welcomes a new roster of widely diverse and notable talents exploring the versatility of the line in compelling ways (the 2015 artist list can be found here). Pulling from among the most prolific individuals in the illustration, animation, and visual development industries, we are excited to present the next in a series of exhibits strictly devoted to the art of drawing with Line Weight III.

The event will feature a selection of artists who excel in crafting engaging and expressive images with the most simple of visual elements. 
This year the only returning participant is animation artist Robert Valley, so guests of the exhibition will discover a collectively fresh body of work that will surely have fans asking for a fourth showing. 



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