Showcase celebrates masters of craft
Colorful, handcrafted jewelry by JoAnn Baumann of Glencoe
28th American Craft Exposition
2311 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24-26
$13 for adults, three-day entry in advance and online prior to Aug. 20; $15 for adults, three-day entry at the door; $5 for children 10 and under; $40 Friends of ACE Ticket Package
Benefit Preview Party
6:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23; collectors’ hour begins 5:30 p.m., tickets are $175
Party tickets are $125 and include three-day pass to the Show and all demonstrations
(847)570-5095, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
The American Craft Exposition, held annually in Evanston, is a gem of its kind. It’s known for an exquisite array of handcrafted work in 12 media, ranging from basketry to jewelry, furniture to fiber arts.
Now in its 28th year, the American Craft Exposition is returning August 24-26 to Northwestern University’s Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. A highly competitive juried show, the expo is also a major fundraiser to benefit breast and ovarian cancer research and care at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
“We’re very excited about this year’s show. The artists are masters at what they do,” said Barbara Weiss, co-chair of the 2012 event and member of the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Finding the best
To prepare for this year’s expo, which is expected to draw up to about 10,000 visitors, Weiss and her fellow co-chair, Sue Levin, visited two other major American craft events, one in Baltimore and another in Philadelphia, to assess the playing field. They caught up with artists who typically exhibit at the expo to see their latest efforts, and also encouraged others, whose work impressed them, to apply for the Evanston event.
As a result, this year’s show will feature plenty of noteworthy first-time exhibitors.
“They’re new, they’re interesting and fresh, and they’re excited about the show,” Levin said.
Out of about 700 applications received by this year’s expo, 154 outstanding artists were selected plus 10 showcase “emerging artists” — those who’ve practiced their craft for six years or less and demonstrate exceptional promise.
Expo artists will be on hand at their exhibits to engage with visitors and discuss their creative vision and craft technique. And in addition to viewing exhibits, expo visitors will be able to watch artist presentations, join interactive discussions, bid at an online auction and watch a fashion show (Saturday only).
Two artists exhibiting at this year’s event, JoAnn Baumann, a 38-year resident of Glencoe, and Valerie Hector, a Wilmette native who now lives in Evanston, both specialize in beaded jewelry but arrived at the expo by different paths.
Baumann, who’s practiced for more than 20 years, will exhibit for the first time after applying once before, two decades ago. A regular attendee of the expo for its quality, she describes being part of it as a “feather in my cap.”
“It’s a show I’ve always liked to go to because it has some of the best artists in the country,” she said. “I’ve lusted after pieces I’ve seen there for so many years, it’s exciting to actually be part of the event.”
Baumann’s work includes beaded jewelry and hand-dyed scarves adorned with her own handcrafted beads. A particular technique she employs is making beaded beads; larger beads created by weaving smaller ones together.
Hector, by contrast, uses Czech glass beads and sterling silver, balancing spareness of form with a richness of surface finish. She unites her beads in various ways with netting or layering techniques and adds clasps of her own design and fabrication.
Hector, who opened her studio in 1988, first exhibited at the expo in 1992 and has returned every year since.
“I look forward to the American Craft Exposition because the audience understands my work so well,” she said. “That doesn’t happen in every city.”