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Philidelphia Museum of Art Craft Show
DAVID NORTON
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show


Celebrating the handmade, the thirty-seventh annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show meets November 7-10, 2013 at the Philadelphia Convention Center.
                

 

 

            

The late autumn of Philadelphia is beautiful of its own accord. As the leaves carpet the city’s parks and streets with yellow, auburn and crimson, the temperature usually is comfortable, with a hint of chill generously couched in sunshine and modest breezes. In this natural beauty, the perfect venue is found for the revelation of more splendor, in this case human-made.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show takes place within the Pennsylvania Convention Center; cozy and warm albeit in a very large space, it offers more than physical respite, but also sensual and spiritual. Imagine walking the carpeted aisles; peering into booths, perhaps brilliantly lit, at times more subdued, depending on the exhibitor’s taste. All the while, taking in a visual plethora, an ornate cornucopia of the senses—fine porcelain of mellow hues; jewelry, both delicate wireworks with minimal decoration, and sumptuous gemmed items of cobalt blues, opalescent sheens, and coruscant precious metals; lustrous wooden sculptures; subtly woven basketry—the sights go on and on. Many of these objects are worthy of being in a museum, but at the Philadelphia Craft Show, the key differences are one can handle them (carefully!), interact with their makers, and, potentially, taken home.

At the Philadelphia Craft Show this year, the foreign contingent derives from Lithuania, one of those shining jewels within the Baltic states of northern Europe. As regulars will know, the Philadelphia Craft Show yearly has a Guest Artist Program which invites craftspeople from around the world to Philadelphia to display and sell their wares. Both an example of international diplomacy and cultural exchange, the guest artists always subtly shift the show’s atmosphere with their particular aesthetic, and more important, bring the human element forth from overseas. Interacting with these artists is a window into another culture, and it is in the people and personalities that you find the true treasure. Lithuania shows a number of jewelers whose work is an interesting twist to American and other European artists. Tadas Deksnys, for example, has an unusual combination of materials: titanium, copper, precious metals, and enamel. Her clean structures with abstract motifs use bold colors to create contrast.  

 

 

 

 

Patrick R. Benesh-Liu
Patrick R. Benesh-Liu has been writing for Ornament Magazine for eleven years and shows no sign of slowing. As Assistant Editor, he writes about museum exhibitions, current jewelers and clothing makers, and ferries the magazine’s mail to the post office. As a regular commentator on the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, in this issue he explains the show’s role as a national curator of craft. Delving into how the craft show provides a platform to elevate skilled artisans to a national stage, he also exhorts visitors in performing their own role as curators, by appreciating the work and, if so enchanted by a piece, purchasing it.

 

  

 

 

This article in its entirety appears only in the print magazine.

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