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Ornament Magazine, Spring 2001
Smithsonian Craft Show: 2001 A Craft Odyssey, by Carolyn Benesh

Within the craft milieu, artists consider the Smithsonian Craft Show to be physically located in the most elegant atmosphere for all the various craft show sites now available, for the exhibition and sale of their works. Over the years, artists have come to prize the Smithsonian Craft Show and value it not only for the standards, quality and excellent reputation that represent the Craft Show, but for its encouragement and nurturance of contemporary craft in the United States. In one of its surveys, the National Association of Independent Artists awarded the Smithsonian Craft Show a perfect score for the quality of artworks that are represented. Also among the most highly regarded by the general public, the annual event prides itself on a rigorous jurying process, generally selecting one hundred twenty artists from a field of more than sixteen hundred submissions. Admission into the annual Craft Show is only by juried acceptance and artists must produce their work in the United States and be residents of this country in in order to be eligible.


Jurors are chosen each year to represent wide-ranging viewpoints, training, experience and geographic locations. For this year, jurors Jean Efron (coporate art consultant), Glen Kaufman (art professor and fiber decorative artist), and Signe Mayfield (curator) drew from a diverse field of twelve categories- baskestry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood. Work is judged by the artist's originality and innovation in the medium, the force of personal expression and creativity, technical expertise and consistency of quality, and must be either one of a kind or limited edition pieces in order to qualify. Jurors are also instructed to not consider balance in the show, by medium or price of the artwork.

Nearly twenty thousand attendees congregate for the four-day show, spending approximately two million dollars on works from established artists, who may repeat their appearance over the years, as well as emerging artists for whom this is a first time venue. Sales reported by the Smithsonian Craft Show and other craft show productions strongly indicate that there continues to be a fundemental appetite for contemporary studio arts and crafts and that with the passing years, new records of attendance and sales are exceeded.

 

The Smithsonian Women's Committee, the Craft Show sponsor, is a volunteer organization that supports the Smithsonian Institution through fundraising and public relation activities. The Craft Show 2001 chair is Annelise Brand, and Harriet Fraunfelter is chair for the Smithsonian Women's Committee. Started in 1983, the Women's Committee has raised more than four million dollars to benefit the Smithsonian's educational, outreach and research programs. The Craft Show profits for the Women's Committee are drawn from the application and booth fees, ticket sales, the silent auction and the preview party. The monies raised are used to support all the museums that encompass the Smithsonian Institution. With yearly proceeds at more than three hundred thousand dollars, the Women's Committee funds numerous projects- such as the preservation of nitrate film for the National Air and Space Museum; a production of a third video in a series of five, profiling contemporary craft artists and their work for the Renwick Gallery, a photographic documentary on Fort Belknap Reservation for the American Indian; digitalization of the Lewis and Clark Collection for the National Museum of Natural History; and educational material for students for the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. The thirty-six jewelers plus one artist in mixed media- Kathleen Dustin- are regarded as a vital component to the success of the 2001 show. Some of these jewelry artists include Myron Bikakis and Mark Johns, Jaclyn Davidson, Peggy Eng, Sandra Enterline, Paz Fernandez, Matthew Feldman, Pat Flynn, Geoffrey Giles, Christina Goodman, Thomas Mann, Joan Michlin, Dennis Nahabethian, Jayne Redman and Sharon Sauerwald, Cheryl Rydmark, Irena Stein, Kimon Wang, Carol Webb and Martian Windels. Wearable artists include Randall Darwall, Peggy Gandy, Tim and Kathleen Harding, Diane Harty, Gordon Heinel and Deborah Cross, Michelle Murray, Susan Neal and Steve Thurmond, Mary Sly and Jeffrey Weiss.

 

On April 25 from 6:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M., collectors and others gather for the opening night ceremonies at the gala preview, at which time more than five thousand dollars in prize money are awarded for artistic excellence. Beginning this year, Ornament Magazine will select the artist for excellence in jewelry. The Craft Show also features a special exhibition of porcelain, silver and glass by Royal Scandinavia. The Smithsonian Craft Show takes place in the National Building Museum, at the Judiciary Square Metro Station (Red Line), 401 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Public days are from April 26 through April 29. For general information, the telephone number is 202-357-4000. Hours for the Craft Show, titled this year as 2001: A craft Odyssey, are Thursday, April 26 and Friday, April 27, 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.; Saturday, April 28, 10:00 A.M to 6:00 P.M, Sunday April 29, 11:00 A.M to 5:00 P.M. General admission is twelve dollars for adults, ten dollars for senior citizens and Smithsonian members, and free for children under twelve.