This past weekend I was able to be at a fine craft show from the perspective of patron instead of exhibitor. It wasn’t your average show either, it was the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show. This is one competitive show with some top names and talent from around the country (both coasts, and north and south). Held the the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philly, the show features about 150 artists working in wood, glass, fiber, metal, paper, leather, clay, and mixed media. My partner and I took our time going through the show, talking with artists as we went.
It was an exciting event with some spectacular work, a great venue, and some engaging artists. I was especially excited to see names like Mary Jackson (basketry), and Cliff Lee (Ceramics), celebrities! But I also discovered several artists I was unfamiliar with. Standouts for me were Joana Mattson (felted wool), Pavel Novak (glass), Melodie Grace (Raku pottery), and Gordon Browning (wood).
Not all the work raised to the level I expected for such a show, but overall I was satisfied with the quality of work I experienced. It was great to be the audience at a show, asking questions, evaluating work that interested me. Some of the artists were very engaging. But, unfortunately, others were disengaged, on their phones, not greeting visitors. It was good for me as a full time artist to see others at work in such a fine setting. Every time I go to a show like this it is full of lessons and confirmation of personal beliefs.