As part of the celebration of its 20th anniversary, in 2010 the Vermont Crafts Council selected 24 Vermont craft galleries, schools, organizations and businesses, museums and historical societies satellite sites to present Showcase Events to complement the flagship State of Craft exhibition at the Bennington Museum. Like the museum exhibition, the showcases offered an opportunity to learn about the careers of individual artists, but also the story of the organizations that have nurtured them. A diverse roster of activities provided a rich view of the historic traditions of craft production in the state, the story of the modern studio craft movement, and their interconnections.
State of Craft Showcase was made possible through an Arts Jobs grant, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Program administered by the National Endowment for the Arts through the Vermont Arts Council. Additional funding was provided by the Peter Backman and Annie Christopher Fund, Robert Fleming and Jane Patrick Howe Foundation, and the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.
Book Arts Guild of Vermont
Celebration of Hand-made Books
May 5-30, 2010, Creative Space Gallery, Vergennes VT
Historically, book arts skills derive from the traditions of calligraphy, hand-made and hand-decorated paper, hand-sewn binding, and pop-up constructions. In this exhibition, 17 contemporary artists interpret these traditions in new and exciting ways featuring 50 contemporary handmade books.
The Henry Sheldon Museum
The Nature of Wood: Vermont Furniture and Woodward, 1790-Present
May 6 – October 23, 2010, Middlebury, VT
This exhibit traced the heritage of woodworking in the lower Champlain Valley, through generations and families. From 1790 to 1855, Middlebury was at the center of a rich furniture making industry, with over 50 craftsmen creating tables, chairs, bureaus, secretaries and other useful wooden objects. Pieces from the Museum's collection presented a broad range of styles, from country simple to metropolitan chic, and highlighted distinctive aspects of Vermont-made furniture. Also on view were historic woodcrafts from an important private collection and a changing monthly display of works by contemporary furniture makers.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
May 22, 2010, Rinehart Blacksmithing Arts Center, Vergennes, VT
This was a one-day workshop for professional and amateur blacksmiths. LCMM also presents ongoing exhibits about the historic importance of blacksmiths in Vermont's agricultural and maritime communities.
Black River Academy Museum
What the Rocker Knows
June 5 – October 31, 2010, Ludlow, VT
This exhibit paid tribute to the artistry and achievement of an important local furniture making business that thrived at the end of the 19th century. It featured a historic Fullam rocker paired with a modern reproduction by master craftsman Brent Karner, owner of Clear Lake Furniture. Vermont hardwood rockers produced by Fullam & Sons were known all over the United States for their comfort, including a high back, wider seat, and broad, flat arms that provided the ideal rest. The company, which offered more than 90 styles, manufactured 150 to 200 chairs a day to keep up with demand. Karner led a special weekend workshop at his woodworking facility that provided participants with the materials, tools, and instruction for building their own rocking chair out of Vermont maple, white oak, or cherry.
Colonial Craft/Contemporary Creations
June 5 - October 31, 2010, Middlebury, VT
Fred and Judi Danforth co-founded Danforth Pewter in 1975, reviving a family tradition stretching back to the pewter workshop that Thomas Danforth II opened in colonial Connecticut in 1755. The Colonial Craft/Contemporary Creations exhibit featured colonial Danforth pewter from the 1700s and 1800s and historical information about those workshops and techniques. This was paired with an exhibit of 35 years of pewter creations by Fred and Judi Danforth, from their origins in the American Studio Craft movement of the 1970s through Danforth Pewter's growth into a nationally known craft wholesaler and multi-unit retailer.
Shelburne Art Center
The New Legacy of Aileen Webb: Tradition and Innovation of Craft in Vermont
June 18, 2010, Shelburne, VT
A founder of the American craft movement, Aileen Osborn Webb, was honored at this benefit held at the Shelburne Vineyard. Webb in her lifetime was also a benefactor to what was then the Shelburne Craft School and her influence can still be seen today. Shelburne Farms' curator of collections, Julie Eldridge Edwards, spoke of Webb's life, her accomplishments, and her passion to elevate craft into an art form. This philosophy has been a huge part of the Shelburne Art Center's Legacy. At the benefit, Shelburne Art Center unveiled their "New Legacy" in building a new "green" campus that will nurture contemporary craft.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Native American Encampment
June 19-20, 2010, Vergennes, VT
LCMM presented discussion and demonstrations by members of the El-nu and Mississiquoi Abenaki of craft traditions of the region's indigenous people, from 11,000 years ago to the present. These Native craftspeople have combined archaeological evidence and experiential reconstruction with individual expression to create a wide array of beautiful and utilitarian objects that has enriched the diversity of contemporary craft in Vermont. Among the craft traditions that have been revived and renewed are quillwork, netting, twining, basket making, bone carving, hand built pottery from local clays, jewelry making, feather work and stone tool production. Frederick M. Wiseman, PhD, author of Champlain Tech and Baseline 1609, discussed the sophisticated crafts and technologies dating back centuries.
Southern Vermont Art Center
Marion McChesney – Life is a Journey
June 19 – July 20, 2010, Manchester, VT
This exhibit featured works by Marion Waldo McChesney, the Pawlet Potter, who portrays events and emotions both personal and universal. Molds of hands and faces played an important role in the pieces shown. A self-taught ceramist, Marion has studied with some of the best clay artists in the country including Toshiko Takaezu, Warren Mackenzie, Karen Karnes, and Akio Takamori.
Fletcher Farm School
June 26 – August 29, 2010, Ludlow, VT
Instructors at Vermont's oldest residential arts and crafts school offered lectures on elements of the history of Fletcher Farm School for the Arts and Crafts, celebrating 63 years in 2010.
Kingdom Craft Alliance
Northeast Kingdom Art and Crafts Showcase
July 3 – July 11, 2010, Greensboro, VT
The Kingdom Craft Alliance, a newly formed organization of artists in the Greensboro area, premiered with this satellite State of Craft exhibit at The Miller's Thumb, an historic grist mill in the center of Greensboro village. The Miller's Thumb has a long association with craft as it was renovated by the Corwin family, (longtime summer residents) into a craft center in l966. Representing forty artists, the exhibit highlighted the living heritage of rural traditional crafts and the growth of the studio craft movement in Northeast Kingdom towns and communities since the 1960s.
Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers
A Step Beyond: Collaboration and Innovation
July 9 – 18, 2010, Burlington, VT
This exhibit at the Firehouse Gallery featured new and innovative works by more than 20 master level furniture makers. Some of the works incorporated elements, such as forged steel and stained glass, made by other craft artists from Vermont.
The Brandon Artists Guild
Artists with Tools Revitalize a Small Vermont Town
July 10 – 18, 2010, Brandon, VT
This exhibition at the Brandon Town Hall focused on the State of Craft theme of “Communities and Connections”, showing how the interaction between a group of energized artists and the community at large sparked the revitalization of a small Vermont village. This created an environment which drew many more craftspeople and artists to settle in the town, turning Brandon into one of the most vibrant art communities in the state and lifting the town up by its bootstraps in the process. The exhibit focused on the role of the crafts in the seven annual fundraisers, starting with pigs and progressing through birdhouses, rocking chairs, palettes, cats & dogs, boxes, and stars. Accompanying these artworks were panels with a retrospective history of the projects and what they have accomplished.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Celebrating Champlain's Small Watercraft
July 16 – October 17, 2010, Shelburne, VT
This small watercraft festival at the Hazelett Center included a new permanent exhibit featuring the legacy of hand-crafted wooden boats, from indigenous canoes to the work of contemporary boat-builders. The exhibit tells the stories of the craftsmen who built small watercraft that were essential to the region's agricultural and maritime communities for hunting, fishing, transportation of goods and people, and recreation
Billings Farm & Museum
Finding Common Threads:
Historical Inspiration and Modern Interpretations
July 31 – September 26, 2010, Woodstock, VT
The 24th annual regional quilt exhibit included this special display featuring "challenge quilts" inspired by historic quilts from the museum's collection and made by members of the Heart of the Land Quilt Guild living in surrounding Windsor County. On view were both hand-quilted pieces and machine-quilted textiles utilizing the latest technology.
Vermont Artisan Designs & Gallery 2
Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers—the Early Years
August 6, 2010, Brattleboro, VT
Vermont Artisan Designs presented a panel discussion with members of the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers in conjunction with its annual month-long exhibit of exquisitely hand-crafted furniture by members of the Guild. The discussion included the history and standards of workmanship within the Vermont furniture community.
The Crafting Life: Discussion and Demonstration
August 12, 2010, Waitsfield, VT
This was the first of three (October 9, December 11) special programs examining the careers of three generations of studio craft artists in rural Vermont, 1960-present. Interactive discussions with six artisans from the 1960s -70s, the 80s and 90s, and 2000 to the present, probed the history, traditions, values and inspirations that have shaped their craft making and livelihood.
Frog Hollow State Craft Center
A History: Forty Years of Vermont Craft
September 1 – September 30, 2010, Burlington, VT
This exhibit chronicled both trends in Vermont's contemporary studio craft movement and the evolution of the first state-recognized craft center in the country through representative artists' work.
Vermont Artisan Designs & Gallery 2
Pioneers of the Studio Craft Movement
September 1 – 30, 2010, Brattleboro, VT
This was a showcase of crafts by early exhibitors at the gallery including potters Malcolm Wright, Ken Pick and David Mischke; glass artists Robert Burch, Josh Simpson and Lucy Bergamini; weavers Lucy Gratwick and Carol Schnabel; woodturner Alan Stirt; blacksmith Ian Eddy; and jewelers Robert Borter and Ed Levin. An evening discussion program on September 3rd, "Remembering Our Roots," featured several of the early exhibitors.
Gallery at the VAULT
The Land, The Art, The Artist
September 1 – October 31, 2010, Springfield, VT
Vermont's rugged scenery has attracted many individualistic craftspeople, seven which were showcased in "The Land, The Art, The Artist." Demonstrations, talks and biographies answer questions such as - Was the landscape of Vermont influential in your decision to relocate? How has the landscape provided inspiration for your work? The exhibit began with a talk on September 2, Journey to VT - Exploring the Creative Path, featuring Susan Leader who explored the connection between her pottery making and the influence of the back-to-the-land movement of the 60's and 70's. Cheryl Flett, fiber artist, spoke of her move from Chicago's mean streets to Vermont.
The Artisans Hand
Then and Now
September 12 – 26, 2010, Montpelier, VT
This exhibit was a retrospective for this craft gallery, begun as a craft cooperative more than 30 years ago. It paired craft items created 3 decades ago with what is being produced by the same professional craft artists of today.
Vermont Artisan Designs & Gallery 2
History and Future of Craft in Vermont
October 1, 2010, Brattleboro, VT
Vermont Artisan Designs presented a panel discussion about the history and future of craft in Vermont. This was paired with the opening of a special month-long exhibit honoring the work of living older artisans, all of which kicked off a local celebration of the first American Craft Week.
Collective – The Art of Craft
Living Vermont Treasures: Danforth Pewter
October 1 – December 31, 2010, Woodstock, VT
This exhibit explored and honored the work of living older craft artisans who have excelled in their fields of work over several decades.
Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild
Continuous Threads – Legacies of Creativity in the Northeast Kingdom
October 2 – November 20, 2010, St. Johnsbury, VT
This exhibit featured the work of 10 noted regional artisans and their place-based inspirations. The Northeast Kingdom's enduring culture of self-reliance and living traditions, as well as its inspirational landscape, drew many to the region during the l960s 'back to the land' and crafts revival movements. Participating artisans presented their own work alongside an example of folk art or other creative work from the Kingdom's distant and more recent past.
Vermont Hand Crafters
November 17 – 21, 2010, South Burlington, VT
One of Vermont's oldest craft organizations chronicled its history with a display of photographs and objects during its annual holiday craft show.
32nd Annual Putney Craft Tour
Art Work Evolution
November 26-28, 2010, Putney, VT
The 26 craftspeople in the Putney Craft Tour showed their evolution as artists by exhibiting current and earlier work at their studios.