37 Years and 121 Artists – Smithsonian Craft Show

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Ceramics by Gillian Parke.

Each spring, some 8,000 visitors from across the country flock to the National Building Museum for the Smithsonian Craft Show, one of the most prestigious juried exhibitions and sales of fine studio arts and crafts in the United States.

This year, the 37th annual Smithsonian Craft Show will feature works by 121 artists representing all facets of contemporary craft and design: basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood. The pieces on view will be for sale. Collectors and visitors will find one-of-a-kind works of art in a variety of price ranges.

Following the Preview Night benefit on Wednesday, April 24, the show and sale will take place Thursday, April 25, through Sunday, April 28, at the museum, 401 F St. NW. Show hours are 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Preview Night tickets are $250. Show admission is $20 at the door, with discounted tickets available in advance at smithsoniancraftshow.org. Visitors to Thursday’s “Friends Night Out” from 5 to 8 p.m. can take advantage of extended shopping hours, snacks and a cash bar at the general admission price.

Among the international talent represented at the show, a number of local artists are generating buzz for their sensational new work.

An innovative new basketry artist based in Washington, D.C., Tenisha Dotstry recently burst onto the craft scene. Her pieces are made by simultaneously coiling and hand- forming unbleached cotton rope while sewing them with colored threads. A recent piece, titled “Life is a Basket of Cherry Blossoms,” has been appropriately garnering a lot of attention in local news.

North Carolina-based ceramicist Gillian Parke’s vibrant and eye-catching work explores the fusion of rough and fine textures and surfaces. The roughness is embodied in the Japanese aesthetic of wabi- sabi, which finds beauty in the natural imperfections that arise when throwing and firing clay. The fineness emanates from traditional Western manufactured porcelain ceramics. She also incorporates open-stock decals and metallic lusters, which have often been overlooked by modern studio potters as feminine hobby materials.

Ring by Melissa Finelli.

Jewelry artist Melissa “Melle” Finelli finds something satisfying about moving metal. Through fabrication and forging, she manipulates the metal to create form and space, capturing movement in solid form. Like small, intimate and wearable sculptures, her jewelry luxuriates in delicate feats of engineering. According to Finelli, she loses herself in the obsessive process of creating these minute compositions, all the while seeking a balance of precision and chaos in each design.

Also during Thursday’s “Friends Night Out,” the Craft Show’s “Convo With the Visionary” at 7 p.m. will feature this year’s Smithsonian Visionary Artist Award recipient, Joyce J. Scott.

Born in Baltimore, Scott uses off-loom hand-threaded beads and blown glass to create beautiful and arresting jewelry, as well as figurative sculptures and wall hangings. She will be in conversation with Stephanie Stebich, director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, then take part in an audience Q&A. “Convo” tickets are $45, which includes all- day admission on Thursday to the Craft Show and one complimentary drink.

Basket by Tenisha Dotstry.

The Smithsonian Craft Show offers D.C. residents and visitors the chance to enjoy a dazzling exhibition of creativity, innovation and technical mastery while meeting artists who represent the finest contemporary

American crafts and design. It’s also a truly rare opportunity to walk into a Smithsonian- branded art exhibition and buy the art. Good luck trying that at the Renwick!

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