Baskets from Cameroon grasslands, textiles from Liberia -- decorative arts from nine different West African countries will be on exhibit starting Feb. 19 in the art gallery on Montgomery College's Rockville campus. The collection of more than 70 items gives a fascinating glimpse of daily life, from cooking and furniture to entertainment (such as a musical instrument from Sierra Leone).
For hours and directions, call (301) 279-5115.
The new American Visionary Art Museum and its Joy America Cafe have gotten most of the press, but don't overlook the museum shop at 800 Key Highway. It's filled with quirky, appealing gifts and home accessories.
"We try to focus on the theme of the current show," explains buyer Juliana Trotta, "so right now there's a lot of wood in here." (The current show is "Tree of Life.") You'll find wood carvings by local craftsmen, trinket boxes, birdhouses, handmade flutes.
There's more: quilts hand-sewn by a husband and wife from Massachusetts. (Check out the husband's whimsical hand-painted saws as well.) Gourd dolls. Wonderful hand-bound journals.
Shop hours are Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Best in a box
Here's something to get you in a spring-like mood. Start planning a creative window box. The result could win you a trip for two to Venice or one of more than $10,000 in prizes. Once your window box is in full bloom, take a photo and choose a category: Best Use of Color, Most Whimsical, Best Use of Trailing Plants, Best "Before" and "After," Best Problem Solver, Best Theme, Best Community or Neighborhood Beautification Project, Best Use of Edibles.
Send your photo or photos and a completed entry form (which you can get by calling  665-4592) or a 3-by-5-inch paper with your name, address and phone number to Sunshine Creative Windowbox Contest, 110-110th Ave. N.E., Suite 490, Bellevue, Wash. 98004. Entries must be received by Aug. 1.