Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

42nd Annual Celebration of American Crafts starts this Saturday at Creative Arts Workshop

Creative Arts Workshop Hilles Gallery
80 Audubon St., New Haven, (203) 562-4927
42nd Annual Celebration of American Crafts
Oct. 30—Dec. 24, 2009
Special reception: Connecticut Artists’ Night: Thurs., Nov. 18, 5—8 p.m.

Press release

Now in its 42nd year, the Celebration of American Crafts at Creative Arts Workshop (CAW) presents an extraordinary range of fine contemporary crafts by more than 300 artists from across the country. The two-story CAW Hilles Gallery is transformed into a one-of-a-kind holiday shopping destination offering an array of items, including ceramics, decorative and wearable fiber, jewelry, furnishings, blown glass, handmade toys and more. On view between October 30 and Dec. 24, the exhibition and sale features handcrafted pieces to entice every taste and budget—from the discerning collector to the weekend shopper searching for a unique gift. Displays change daily as new items are introduced. A special reception, Connecticut Artists Night, is scheduled for Thurs., Nov. 18 from 5 to 8 p.m; screenings of the PBS series Craft in America are scheduled for Wednesday afternoons, Nov. 10 and 17 and Dec. 1, 8 and 15, at 12:30 p.m.

"As we celebrate our fiftieth anniversary in 2010, the Celebration of American Crafts is more meaningful than ever as a signature event and fundraiser for Creative Arts Workshop," says Susan Smith, Executive Director. The Celebration began in 1968 as a one-day craft sale that netted $1,000 for the Workshop. Today, the exhibition and sale runs for eight weeks, draws more than 10,000 visitors, and provides major support for CAW's programs. As the largest fundraiser for the non-profit visual art center, all proceeds benefit the Workshop's community programming, including outreach programs, scholarships, and other community-based activities not covered by tuition fees.

The Celebration is made possible by a dedicated group of volunteers who devote an enormous amount of time, care, and creativity to the selection, organization, and display of the thousands of items featured in the sale. The Celebration Selection Committee works year round to discover fresh new talent to showcase—from classic to whimsical to cutting-edge.


Connecticut Artists Night will be held on Thurs., Nov. 18 from 5 to 8 p.m. "We are hosting this special reception to honor our state's outstanding craft artists who have made this show what it is," notes Smith. The reception will showcase the work of Connecticut artisans, offering visitors the opportunity to meet the artists as they shop.

Screenings of the television series Craft in America will take place on Wednesday afternoons at 12:30 p.m., November 10 and 17 and December 1, 8 and 15. In this Peabody Award-winning documentary, dozens of craft artists reveal what makes their work—and their lives—unique.


The Celebration highlights the incredible diversity of contemporary ceramics - hand-built to wheel-thrown, porcelain to stoneware. Delores Fortuna (Galena, IL) works in porcelain, using basic, wheel-thrown forms as her starting point. She then manipulates the clay by hand, shaping it like fabric into one-of-a-kind vessels. Showing at the Celebration for the first time, Paul Eshelman (Elizabeth, IL) creates functional pieces inspired by Japanese and Chinese crafts, European design and the simple, utilitarian objects produced by American Shakers. He works in red stoneware and contrasts glazed and unglazed surfaces to add visual and tactile interest. Also new to this year's sale, Paula Shalan (Stockbridge, MA) hand builds forms from white earthenware clay using a combination of pinch, coil, and slab techniques. The surface of each piece juxtaposes hand-impressed textures with smooth, polished areas.


Fiber enthusiasts will be wowed by the stunning collection of wearable and decorative items at the Celebration. This year s show features the hand painted silk and velvet jackets of Gloria Lewis (Chatsworth, CA). Says Lewis, "I love the creative development of taking a piece of white silk or velvet, seeing it evolve and finally transform into a beautiful piece of wearable art." Another new artist, handweaver Rebecca Noble-Morales (Pittsburgh, PA) employs jacquard techniques to weave stunning cloth in an array of colors and textures. The material is further embellished by stamping and then pieced and sewn into tailored jackets and fluid wraps.


Each year, the Celebration presents hand-turned objects and hand-built wood furnishings that showcase the skill and artistry of the craft. Tom Raymond (Damariscotta, ME) has been turning wood for more than 50 years. Using contrasting wood grains and colors in segmented, geometric designs, Raymond forms functional bowls that are also true works of art. Woodworker Rich Dowin (Durham, CT) began making furniture as a hobby while working in an electron microscopy research lab. Now a full-time furniture maker, Dowin uses traditional, hand cut construction methods to craft elegant pieces inspired by Shaker and Arts and Crafts styles.


The glass artists featured in the Celebration explore the expressive forms and jewel-like colors of glass. One of this year's new artists, Jane Uzwiak (New Milford, CT) was initially drawn to fused glass by its endless color palette. Using transparent, opalescent and iridescent shades, she crafts vibrant plates, bowls and art pieces. Loretta Eby and Jeff Jackson of Loretta Eby Hot Glass (Watkinsville, GA) focus on mouth-blown glass techniques. They collaborate to create ornaments and vases with stunning swirls and spots of pure, deep color.


The Celebration is proud to present a stunning collection of finely crafted jewelry, ranging from high-end pieces to everyday wear. Sarah Katerina Suloff (Mill Valley, CA) works in gold, silver and precious stones to create narrative pieces inspired by the places she has visited throughout her life. By contrast, Armando Suarez (Onancock, VA) works with authentic horseshoe nails to craft unique earrings, pendants and necklaces. Each steel nail is hand tooled and then combined with recycled glass, handmade ceramics and pearls into contemporary pieces of jewelry. The jewelry of Andrea Janosik (Brooklyn, NY) explores interactions between very different materials—how leather lines rubber, how rubber protrudes from openings in silver, how wire and pearls can squeeze soft leather. "My work unifies opposites: soft materials and hard, smooth surfaces and rough, literal shapes and abstract," she says. Mindy Jackson-Jefferys of Stray Cat (Brookfield, VT) designs pieces in polymer clay that are inspired by the natural beauty of leaves, wood, animal skins and stones. Jackson-Jefferys describes working with the clay as sculpting with paint—the vibrant colors in her necklaces come entirely from blending shades of clay. For those preferring a more minimal style, Katherine Rudolph (Nashua, NH) crafts necklaces, earrings, brooches and cufflinks in simple shapes inspired by modernist design. Working mainly in precious metals, she unites geometric forms into larger compositions that are lightweight yet have a distinct presence.


Whimsical toys, quirky sculptures and fanciful cards add to the overall air of fun and festivity during the Celebration. New to this year's sale are the remarkable mahogany puzzles of Jay Hollis of Bogarts Wooden Jigsaw Puzzles (Wayland, MA). Influenced by the early jigsaw puzzle makers of the Great Depression, Hollis strives to create the finest and most imaginative puzzles available anywhere today. Hand cut with a scroll saw, each puzzle contains several pieces cut in the shape of whimsical figures, including one signature piece—a silhouette of Bogart, the Portuguese Water Dog for whom the company is named. Sally Prangley (Bainbridge Island, WA) returns to the Celebration with her spectacular wire baskets. Incorporating wire, found objects and beads, Prangley compares constructing her ornamental baskets to "drawing elegant, three-dimensional pictures in air." Mixed-media artist Aileen Ishmael (New Haven, CT) presents a series three-dimensional figures and collages. Says Ishmael, "I love creating pieces that are drenched in colors and textures. I also like to throw in a dash of whimsy—it's important not to take ourselves too seriously!" Always a customer favorite, Janet Brodie (New Haven, CT) is back with her delightful paper cards and dolls. Collaged from a variety of papers and embellished with rubber stamps, these original and amusing pieces add the perfect finishing touch to a special gift.


Each year the Celebration is proud to feature work by local and regional artists, including many with ties to CAW. CAW Board member and renowned potter Hayne Bayless (Ivoryton, CT) collaborates with CAW Printmaking faculty member Liz Pagano (New Haven, CT) on an exceptional series of lamps. This collaboration, dubbed "Sideways & Askew," explores what happens when paper and clay collide. Each lamp is constructed with a ceramic base by Bayless and a shade by Pagano that incorporates papers, monotype and collage. Bayless' nationally recognized stoneware and porcelain, hand-built using slab techniques and extruded elements, are also featured in the Celebration. Jewelry instructor Connie Pfeiffer (Chester, CT) presents hand-hammered silver rings, bracelets and earrings. Her highly textural forms create an ambiguity of material, transforming metal or paper into peeled tree bark, skin, roots, and bones. Pottery Department Head Stephen Rodriguez's (New Haven, CT) hand-thrown stoneware and porcelain reveals a connection to nature and history. His vessels fuse his deep knowledge of contemporary ceramics and love of ancient Japanese and Chinese pottery. Pottery faculty member Anita Griffith (Madison, CT) creates brightly colored items with clever functions for daily use in the home or office. She uses a combination of wheel-thrown, coiled and slip cast parts, with hand-building and appliqué to add surface interest to the forms. Her signature face pieces stem from "the keen impression a human face leaves on the mind, the memory." Also on display will be handwoven pieces by Weaving instructor Lucienne Coifman (North Haven, CT), small watercolor paintings and monotypes by Painting instructor Judy Atlas (Orange, CT), and metal work by Sculpture Department Head and CAW founding member Ann P. Lehman (Bethany, CT).

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