Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show

(Above:  Steve installing the lights in our booth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.)

My last blog post covered our experience at the Washington Craft Show, November 1 - 3.  While it was a wonderful, high-end show and a great time to meet many super talented craft artists, it was also quite a learning experience.  Fortunately, many of our booth neighbors have been doing these sorts of craft shows for more than two decades.  One loaned us additional lighting.  Another helped with our pricing signs.  (I'd created two different sorts of signs/tags but neither ended up being quite right.) Several made suggestions as to how we could better showcase my artwork in the 10' x 10' Pro Panel booth.  We had to make-shift a curtain on the back wall.  Why?  Because we had no idea that there would be free storage space behind the booth.  Most fine craft artists on the circuit have booth designs with curtains or other openings to this area where bubble wrap and additional artwork is stored.

(Above:  The new booth design ... including new lights and a new curtain!)

We spent our travel day from DC to Philadelphia at FedEx Office making new signs, at Joann Fabrics getting material for a curtain, and at Home Depot purchasing additional lights!  By the time we got to the Philadelphia Convention Center, we were almost like experts! LOL!  The unload was easy because vans were permitted to drive directly on the convention center floor.  Our set up went fast.  Soon staff was laying down red carpeting and setting up massive floral arrangements for the Wednesday evening Preview Party! 

(Above:  Central bar area at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Preview Party.)

By 5 PM on Wednesday night, the entire convention floor had been transformed into a beautiful gala.  Artists and museum patrons were dressed to the nines.  I wore my silk kimono and Steve looked quite handsome in his suit, but I forgot to have photos snapped!  Bummer!  (Trust me, we looked GREAT!)

I guess I was too engrossed in the artful displays of cheese and relishes ...

... or the waffle cones filled with sushi!  (LOVED this!)

There were several areas for seating.  Each table had a great arrangement made from white hydrangea blossoms and fancy cabbage in birchwood covered containers.  Everything was simply gorgeous and I even sold my first piece of artwork!


One of the nicest things about the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is the friendly and sincerely generous committee and its constant effort to make the four days enjoyable for all the artists.  Every morning there were pastries, bagels, hard-broiled eggs, homemade muffins, and GOOD coffee in the artist hospitality area.  There were additional flower arrangements for volunteers and staff to answer questions.  A tax expert was even on-hand one day to help artists file necessary paperwork for doing business in the city/state.

(Above:  Breakfast in the artist hospitality area, including Steve with Natalia Margulis, one of the most talented embroiderers I've ever met!)

(Above:  Mike Libby and his artwork ... Insect Lab Studio.)

I intended to walk the show and capture images of artists with their incredible work.  It never happened.  Why?

Well, the lines to get into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show went from down the convention hall lobby ...

 and clear out the door ... every day!  I was busy!  It was a blast showing my work to so many interested people.  What's more!  I sold very well.  Every time a larger piece sold, Steve had to walk a couple blocks down Arch Street to the parking garage to retrieve another.  I had the smaller works just behind the curtain ... where I'd also stashed a much needed roll of bubble wrap.

(Above:  Ellen Mears Kennedy and her unique paper artwork ... 3D constructions fit into 2D wall presentations.  Most amazing!)

So the only photos I actually got were on brief trips to the bathroom ... where most of the time I had to wait in line too!  This was a great show and it included the nation's top fine craft artists but also ...

... a few booths of the nation's top craft colleges like the Savannah College of Art and Design. (Above)

(Above:  Lucrezia Bieler and her paper cutting.)

I've always admired fine paper cutting (Scherenschnitte) but I swear Lcrezia Bieler's work is the most intricate and has the tiniest little holes I've ever seen.  Plus, she was so nice!

(Above:  Becky and Steve Lloyd. Best of Show winners ... and deservingly so!)

I was truly thrilled for Becky and Steve Lloyd when their work was announced as "Best of Show".  I've admired the shapes and especially the painstaking sgraffito decoration this collaborative husband-and-wife team create since first seeing it.  They do a variety of high end craft shows and festivals ... including last year's Artisphere in Greenville, South Carolina.

(Dakota Pratt of D. Redington Designs.)

Of course my booth was in the 100 aisle ... just two spots down from some of the most amazing (and large) bottle cap covered sculptures ever.  It was a really popular destination for all show goers.  I even got to ride one of the bouncy kiddie-park like figures during set-up!  What's not to like about a million bottle caps ... and he's an Ohio State alum too!

Also in the 100 aisle was Jeffrey Zachman and his Kinetic Sculptures.  There's no photographing this work in a justifiable way.  Only a video will do.  I hope this link works!

(Above:  Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene, one of the guest artists from Lithuania.) 

Every year the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show invites artists from another country as guest exhibitors.  This year they came from Lithuania.  All were very, very talented ... but Severija's work truly won my heart.  She drills holes in all sorts of found objects and does cross stitch across the surface that is at once playful and perfectly suited to the aged patina of the object.  I can't find a photo of her cast iron frying pan ... but it had three over-easy eggs stitched right through the metal.  Conceptually perfect and done in a way that the almost sloppy stitching enhanced the years of use that frying pan had seen.  LOVE IT!

(Above:  Jackie Abrams and me!)

Another highlight of the show was getting to meet Jackie Abrams!  She's a "big name" in fiber circles!  She's been a juror for several shows I've entered.  One of her baskets was featured on the publicity material for the Textile Museum's Green: A Color and a Cause exhibition ... in which I also had a piece.  Until this show, she was just a cyber name I knew and respected ... now, she's a face and a friend!  Her work is as amazing in person as it is on-line.

(Above:  Amy Gillespie and her framed felted artwork.)

Another fiber artist whose work is simply wonderful is Amy Gillespie.  She's also such a nice person! 

 (Above:  Kathleen Dustin and her jewelry.)

Generally, I don't gravitate to the jewelry booths but Kathleen Dustin's work is more than jewelry.  Each piece was like a miniature sculpture.  They were even displayed on painted canvases.  Here the line between art and fine craft is entirely blurred.  I would have really loved to snap picture of a lot of other artists and there work.  Each aisle was a visual treat.  Being part of this show was remarkable. 

(Above:  Artist BINGO.)

Many of the other artists have been honored with multiple acceptances into this annual fine craft show.  There's no guarantee, no reserve spaces, no seniority ... just a yearly review by a panel of experts and a thrill if admission is granted.  Still, many of the artists know one another and have been friends for years.  They swap stories of commissions gone wrong, miraculous sales, and the silly things potential clients say and do.  On the second day, every booth was asked if they'd like to play BINGO.  I took the page but didn't actually play.  I just saved it.  What a hoot!  So funny and so often so true (I could have easily been one of the three winners.  Within two hours I could have checked off the entire N column! LOL!)  Being on the fine craft circuit is wonderful ... and also hilarious.

(Above:  Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale, Port Shark Attack Ale, and Sinebrycoff Baltic Porter.)

Steve and I also enjoyed being in Philadelphia.  We only went out to eat twice though.  Once to a place called Smokin' Betty's where we had a warm apple and pear tart smothered in homemade vanilla sauce and topped with Gorgonzola ice cream ... had to try it ... delicious.  One to Strangelove's Craft Beer.

(Above:  Steve using the self-check out equipment in a grocery store.)

Most of the time, however, we ate dinner in our hotel room.  Steve occasionally went to the grocery store but most often just shopped at the Reading Market across from the convention center ... a place for absolutely GREAT deli food, Amish cooking, bakery items, and even an olive bar.

(Above:  Me enjoying Magic Garden.)

The only other thing we really did in Philadelphia was to visit Magic Garden.  It was AWESOME.

The colors, designs, incorporated found objects and various levels of this site are so inspiring.  Wild and wonderful!  A delight for all ages.  There are other mosaic murals throughout the entire neighborhood.  I highly recommend the place for anyone coming to the Philadelphia area!

I took photos until my camera's battery finally died.  126 were saved and are now on a Flickr! set.  Click here for some of the magic!

I am linking this post to Nina-Marie's "Off the Wall Fridays", a site for sharing fiber art!


Ellen Kochansky said...

Now you know why I miss that world so much! We've all been in the trenches together forever, and this tribe will hold you up! Sorry you didn't call for a guidebook on show protocol, I could have saved you a few headaches, but you seem to have solved every problem and come home rich and famous! SO proud of you. Brava!! Now REST!!

Els said...

I'm glad you had a great show Susan !!!
And thanks for showing us around at least a bit ;-)

What a fantastic garden !!!

Oh boy : you will be tired !

Margaret said...

Reading this late of an evening; so much eye candy that I have to come back tomorrow and re-visit with fresh eyes!

Wanda said...

I am SO happy to here about this! Actually, I've been WAITING to hear about it! Congratulations on everything. I am so very proud of you. The Images are so tantalizing, so wonderful. Such awesome art everywhere! Wow...I know you got home, your feet running Vista Lights is what, this Weekend? That marks your busy time! ha ha

Sylvia said...

Wow! I loved this post! What a wonderful experience! I have never been to Philly, but have put the Magic garden on my list of must sees!

John said...

Most fine craft artists on the circuit have booth designs with curtains or other openings to this area where bubble wrap and additional artwork is stored.............
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