Hampden: Clear winners for annual Window Decorating Contest

Things sure are looking pretty darn holidayish around these parts, and I love it.

The Hampden Village Merchants Association just held its second annual Window Decorating Contest. The winners are as follows:

1st Place: Paradiso

2nd Place: Parisian Flea

These are the other categories and winners: Best DIY Display: Falkenhan's Hardware; Best Purple Nation: Sandy's Bargain Center; Most Philanthropic: Avenue Antiques; Best Old School: Cotton Duck; Hottest Tree: In Watermelon Sugar; Best Disco Window: In The Details; Biggest Balls: Hon Bar; The Showstopper: Hampden Junque; Best Stocking Stuffers: Atomic Books; Best Poinsettias: Spro; Most Fabulous: Kiss 'N' Make-Up; Best Collaboration of Three Business: Missi Kibelbek, LMT and Renew Organic Skin Care (with Dress Party); Nicest Reason for Not Being Ready: Golden West Café; Best Snowfall: Soft and Cozy Baby; Most Stylish: Double Dutch Boutique; Best Wildlife: Milagro; Best Holiday Entrance: Crystals, Candles & Cauldrons; Coziest Window: Lovelyarns; Best Modern Interpretation of the Season: Mud & Metal; Best Window for Ringing in the New Year: Alchemy; Making Baltimore Beautiful: Eye Candy; Best Decorations that You Can Buy: The Ideal; Best Sleigh Ride: Charlotte Elliot and The Book Store Next Door; Yummiest Display: Earth Alley; Most Cosmic: Breathe Books; Most Plush: Hon Town; Best Vacation from Reality: 9th Life; Best Ad to Buy Locally: Studio C Jewelry and Gifts; Most Gorgeous Trip to the ER: Ma Petite Shoe; Best Carolers: Roland Park Bakery & Deli.

Congratulations to everyone who entered, but really, we're the winners because The Avenue looks especially festive.

The Hampden Village Merchants Association will also be bringing Santa to The Avenue on Saturdays, Dec. 15 and 22, and Sundays, Dec. 16 and 23, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

There's also a whole lot of art going on in Hampden right now.

The Free Agency Gallery has opened as a pop-up gallery in the old pharmacy at 801 W. 36th St. The gallery will run through January, and it features a wide array of different local and area artists.

Local artist Ramsay Antonio-Barnes will also be having an art opening on Friday, Dec. 7, at Sixteen Tons (1100 W. 36th St.). This is the same night as Sixteeen Tons' second anniversary show The 2 Year Heavyweight Hoedown. The show will take place at the Golden West Café (1105 W. 36th St.) at 10 p.m. and features music by the Garnet Hearts and Thee Lexington Arrows.

And also on Friday, Dec. 7, Atomic Books (3620 Falls Road) will host a one-night only art show — The Glacktorkulous Artwork of Stephen Blickenstaff from 7 to 9 p.m. Stephen's best known for his iconic cover art for the Cramp's legendary record, "Bad Music For Bad People," but he has also designed record covers and T-shirts and posters for many, many bands.

Minás Konsolas exhibit, ArchiteXture, runs at Minás Gallery and Boutique (815 W. 36th St.) through Feb. 24. It's a new series of paintings that are inspired by architectural drawings of structures that have never been built or restored.

And finally, local photographer Sam Holden has a show of his new work — old school analog photographs — the kind shot on film and printed in dark by hand – on the walls at Rocket to Venus (3360 Chestnut Ave.).

This December, there is plenty to look at in Hampden. Don't miss it!

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