As an artist that has chosen to work closely with galleries across the US, one of the adventures/ordeals that I undertake each year is showing at two shows in February. One of them is located in Philadelphia and is sponsored by the Rosen Group. The other show is in Baltimore and is sponsored by the American Craft Council. These are the primary shows where galleries across the country come to meet and select work from a couple of thousand artists.
Not all of these artists are in both shows, partially because they are back to back in two cities. The most stressful day of the year is the day that I must break down my display in Phildelphia at 3PM and be phisically present in the Baltimore convention center by 8PM the same day. Well, that would fall mostly in the ordeal category, but fortunately it went smoothly this year.
The thing that was most apparent this year is the reality that shows are becoming less important in the plans that gallery owners make for finding new artists. That is combined with the fact that the gallery business in the US has been having a number of difficult years, with 2006 being the toughest. under those conditions, galleries are disinclined to take on new artists, and thus the urgency of going to shows is eliminated.
This all ties into the question of where the American craft movement is headed. When the first craft show started in a field in Vermont in the 60's, there was nothing like it. No craft galleries, no craft shows every weekend, no craft artist websites. The artists put their works on a table and after a frantic weekend of selling, went home and bought a house. Yeah, I hate it when the veteran artists talk about the good old days. Yet, it really puts in perspective the current market. We exist in a very saturated market... for our own work. At the same time that we are growing in numbers, the interest in what we make becomes less and less.
One of the greatest controversies is the word "craft" itself. To talk of dropping that description, well those are fightin' words to a large number of craft artists. I am personally ambivalent about the word. I don't neccessarily call myself a craft artist, but I wouldn't deny it either.
So, what I am getting at is the fact that I sense a great upheaval on it's way in the craft world. I have entered the world of shows at their twilight. Is it going to be blogs and websited from here on out. Isn't touching part of the experience of buying handmade objects? Am I anachronistic in my shopping habits as well as my profession??
OK, enough of that. I came home from the shows and made some new earrings. I am still fired up after the projectOBJECT workshop that I took in January. Now that I have digested the experience, I will blog about it soon.
The earrings are 18K gold with beryl: