Tuesday, March 03, 2009

American Craft Show 2009 - Roundup


Despite Searchlight requiring most of my attention while in Baltimore at the American Craft Show this year, I did get to zip around a bit and explore the vast acreage beyond our perimeter where 700+ craft artists from all over the country were showing their work.

Although not there as a buyer this time, it was great to catch up with artists I've gotten to know over the years. It was wonderful to see Lisa Crowder, Alison Mackey, Holly Lee and Cliff Lee, Wendy Stevens, Erica Gordon, Reina Mia Brill, Erin Wilson... to name just a few. We missed those we hoped to see but either missed or who weren't there (Connie Verrusio, Melle Finelli, Susan Pratt-Smith, Barbara Sebastian, and more) as well as those we knew wouldn't be this year (Chelle Krauss, Andrew Glasgow) and hope to see back in action next year. And we missed Keith Lebanzon, the brush man, who sadly passed away in September.

Some new-to-me artists I noticed this year:

- Loeber Look's refined graphic necklaces.

- Amy Gillespie's wall pieces composed of dyed felted wool strips, wound in tight spirals like paper quilling, then set into rectangular hardwood forms. Unique, tactile, and aesthetically pleasing.

- Brooklyn neighbor Nancy Nicholson takes the urban landscape as subject matter in her stained glass windows and wall pieces. My favorite is the electrical wire design (pictured top).

- Work in the Alt Craft section that caught my eye includes Nicole Licht's quirky, old-fashioned handstitched stuffed animals (Astulabee), the landscaped ceramic vases by Ryan Takaba, Rania Hassan's knitting paintings (shown), and the tiny stitched pillows that make up Raeburn Ink's brooches and rings.

- Jess Wainer's glass vases with clean, decorative carved out (enamel?) designs and ripe, fresh colors.

- Architectural furniture by Peter Harrison is immaculately built from wood, cables, concrete, and stainless steel.

- Marie the Irish couture milliner (Galvin-ized Headwear) knocked me out with her feathered hatbands and highly modern takes on chic chapeaus. Grrrr, love them!

- The shifted color pallet of these soft incalmo and reticello glass vessels (pictured) by Ian Kessler-Gowell really stood out to me. Besides interesting work, Ian is also part of an interesting community called the Energy Xchange, which is a craft center powered by landfill gas.

- Former Searchlight artist Munemitsu Taguchi's sharp, distinctive functional celadon ceramics.

- Each of Pratt instructor Patricia Madeja's fine gold, silver, and pearl earrings, bracelets, and pendants is actually an elegant kinetic sculpture. Gorgeous and curious at the same time.

For more show highlights popping up around blogosphere, check out American Craft Magazine's extensive blog coverage, and the blogs Fully Flummoxed, Ya Betta and The Garbologist's Wife.

(One of my favorite pieces by Reina Mia Brill.)

As for sales, expectations generally were low this year. And while most wholesale vendors reported that their dismal expectations were met, during retails days many reported respectable-to-pretty-good earnings. Some sellers were very upbeat, and some seemed very discouraged, and it's clearly a tough year no matter the mood.

No doubt -- the American Craft Show, for a variety of reasons, was a mixed bag this year. And while the lows were lower than usual, the highs made this annual event more than worthwhile. Looking forward to next year!

Posted by Amy Shaw for Greenjeans.

1 comment:

melania said...

thanks so much for the links to these artists. i found the following really great project on "astulabee"'s blog: http://astulabee.blogspot.com/2009/03/trade-your-ghost-for-ghost-giveaway.html