When all 50 states join together for a celebration of craft,
artisans and handmade in America, the echoes reach the far
corners from small towns, rural backwaters to bustling cities.
American Craft Week (ACW) surfaced about 7 years ago because
there is so much creativity and excellent crafts produced in the
U.S. but the industry did not have a special way to highlight
the work. Not surprisingly Diane Sulg and Sherry Masters, the
driving forces behind the event, live in North Carolina, an
artisan state if ever there was one. Apart from all the town's
celebrations listed on the ACW website, they also hold a vote in
poll for the Top Ten Art Towns and this year a list of nominated
"Rising Stars, 30 under 30" heralding young crafters on the up
and up, will be announced later in the year.
ACW is a project of CRAFT (Craft Retailers & Artists for
Tomorrow) and is held annually in October. This year it's an
'extended' week - 1-16 October, and why not? There is much to
celebrate. The diversity of crafts made in every one of the 50
States, the US Territories and even some U.S. army bases aboard,
is impressive. This is a snapshot of some of the creative places
you should include in your trip planning during the October
celebrations - and for that matter, all year long.
The Purple Pomegranate in
Whitefish, Montana. Photo courtesy of gallery.
Remote and Big Sky aptly describe the lovely state of Montana.
Nestled in it's Northern reaches is the picture postcard town of
Whitefish, a self-described artisan town. Here you will find a
gallery with the rather tropical sounding name of The Purple
Pomegranate. There's a fabulous array of art and craft on offer
and the place has character - including the two "owners,"
pooches Hardy and Symphony. I'll come clean, when I spoke to one
of the owners, Ruth Lane, she did say I needn't mention Hardy
and Symphony but as an animal lover, I couldn't resist.
During the ACW celebration The Purple Pomegranate will shine the
spotlight on local jewelry artist Dona Miller. Miller works
mainly with recycled silver putting some accents of copper and
gold on various pieces. If she includes stone, they are either
left in their natural state, polished, cut into cabochon or
faceted. Miller credits her travels, learning about other
cultures and their connection with nature and the spirit world
as the main influence on her work
Montana artist Dona Miller at work in her studio. Photo
courtesy of artist.
Delaware might be the second smallest state but it's big in art
and Milford, in the center of the state focuses a lot of
attention on the arts. In the historic district downtown artist
Marcia Reed's Gallery 37 carries a treasure trove of fine art
and crafts. Over the October celebration she will be
highlighting a number of unique crafts, such as clocks made from
found objects and handmade cigar box guitars.
The clock maker, Boss Brown Clocks, is well known Massachusetts
artisan, Mark Brown. Brown and his wife, quilter Susan Brown,
run their dual studio from a large studio behind their home. The
eccentric artifacts that make up the clocks and the bright
colors of her quilts make their two-story studio a wonderful
place to create.
Musician David Reed not only builds the unique cigar box guitars
but also plays them, is a songwriter/performer and was a
founding member of Max Creek in 1971. The band is still jamming.
Max Creek's music is also credited as an inspiration to bands
such as Phish, moe and String Cheese.
Massachusetts musician David Reed's handmade 3-string
cigar box guitars in Gallery 37, Milford, Del.
Not to be outdone, Mispillion Art League & Gallery, just across
the street will also host various exciting craft events. There
are mini workshops planned throughout
the week highlighting a few of their member artisans such as
Jack Camarote, woodcarving; Zelma Nicholas, Jewelry Designs; Bea
Whitehead's Baskets and Pottery by Mimi Galligan and Maria
Sadler just to name a few. The Art League plan to have their
13th Annual Fall Members show up in the gallery during the week.
Plus there is an idea afloat to
partner with the local craft brewery for fun and different craft
ideas, including a Growler Decorating Contest and a sample
night, where participants can sample craft beers as well as
different art media.
Pottery by Mimi Galligan at Mispillion Art League,
Milford, Del. Photo courtesy of artist.
Further North in historic Newcastle, charming Penn's Place is
run by Esther Lovlie with enthusiasm and love for her historic
home. It's a coffee shop, crafts emporium and there's an outdoor
area. It's a popular spot for food, wine, live music and
This year they are creating an internship program to develop
soft skills for budding high school art students, and also
incorporate other departments within the school such as
accounting students, to help build marketing and business plans.
They will be welcoming William Penn High School students for the
first internship. Students will bring in their own items to sell
and work side-by-side with Penn's Place existing artisans to
gain retail and work knowledge, while also allowing them to
build their resume. This is an excellent educational experience
to include in ACW.
Penn's Place in historic Newcastle, Delaware. Photo
courtesy of Penn's Place.
Art is practically a way of life in New Orleans, La., and when a
group of diverse local artists and artisans get together to run
a co-operative, you get the vibrant and intriguing gallery,
RHINO Contemporary Crafts located in The Shops at Canal Place.
One of the missions of RHINO is education, so all the artists do
demonstrations of their craft throughout the year and work with
other non-profit organizations to bring the arts to the
community. The quality and variety of the craft on display is
excellent with artists such as Barbara Roberds, a mixed media
artist and jewelry artist Maria
Fomich on their roster.
RHINO Contemporary Craft
Gallery in The Shops at Canal Place in New Orleans.
Photo courtesy of RHINO.
Roberds combines photography and recycling. Her photographic
images are paired with pieces of salvaged
architectural items, sealed to preserve the image, to
form a unique piece of art. One of her favorite architectural
elements to use is screen doors. Her eye is drawn to familiar
images and many of her architectural subjects are of New
Orleans. Some of her work focuses on the simple small town
scenes reminiscent of her childhood days.
Carol's House - photos encased
in salvaged wood by Louisiana mixed media artist Barbara
A New Orleans native Fomich graduated from the Cleveland
Institute of Art in Cleveland Ohio, with a degree in
Jewelry/Metal Arts. She pulls inspiration from nature and
culture for her jewelry designs. Her work is whimsical in form,
expressive and often depicts a story of growth. She uses
traditional metal smithing techniques from sweat soldering to
cold joining to transform raw mixed metals into art.
Riveted cuffs by NOLA artist
Maria Fomich at RHINO. Photo courtesy of artist
The Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City, Okla., is home to 22
galleries within walking distance of each other on a two block
street that has kept its Spanish revival architecture with
original stucco buildings and clay roof tiles. Intermixed with
galleries are several restaurants, art schools, art classes,
boutiques and other businesses.
The galleries in the Paseo Arts District will join the ACW
celebration with demonstrations in glass blowing, jewelry,
pottery and other special events and exhibitions throughout the
month of October. Highlights
at A Jeweler's Art
Oklahoma artist James Huelsman.
by rock carvings and drawings made thousands of years ago. The
piece was designed, forged and formed by hand, and the flush set
diamond, ruby and sapphire stones add punctuation and dazzle to
the intricate pattern.
One of the driving forces for the area arts, is
Sheridan Conrad owner of
at A Jeweler's Art
is working with the Will Rogers airport, to host an artwork
exhibit at the airport. Conrad is also working with the metro
libraries with an Outreach program for young adult services to
exhibit work from the artists in many of the Paseo galleries.
Artist Gayle Curry's art can be found at Kasum Contemporary Fine
Art in the Paseo's neighbor, the Plaza District. She has worked
in variety of media and subject matter but she found encaustic
wax has taken her to a new level of discovery in her journey as
an artist. Curry says the fluid nature of encaustic, with its
diverse character and individuality, is the ideal medium to
capture unexpected concepts and emotions.
Glyph Bracelet by Oklahoma artist James Hueslman, Photo
courtesy of artist.
An excellent place to start looking for something close by, go
to the American Craft Week website. There are artists studios,
galleries and organizations from all 50 states listed by state
in their archives and for the current year. Their listing
changes each year depending on who participates but it is a
resource of magic. Also be sure to note the dates of the week
long celebration, 7-16 October 2016, and go to any near you. It
is a wonderful guide to support local arts.
Encaustic Monotype Flowers by Oklahoma City artist Gayle
Curry. Photo courtesy of artist
American Roads and
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