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July 19th, 2001
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show Presents 25th Annual Exhibition and Sale

From Thursday, November 8 through Sunday, November 11, 2001, The Women's Committee and Craft Show Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art present the 25th annual Craft Show. This premier exhibition and sale of contemporary craft, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, includes 195 of the finest and most adventurous craft artists in the United States, selected from more than 1500 applicants. In addition, 20 craft artists from Japan will display their work, adding-for the first time in the history of the Craft Show-a fresh international dimension to the annual exhibition.

The 12 categories of works exhibited in this year's show embrace a striking variety of forms and functions. Wood crafts range from intricately designed reliquaries to ironwood and coconut shell ladles. Unusual materials such as coiled sea grasses and recycled copper wire are woven into baskets on display. Fiber wearables reflect a myriad of styles, among them the contour couture of topographical map dresses. Other lively sections are glass, jewelry, metal, paper, leather, furniture, clay, mixed media, and fiber-decorative works.

This year, the artists selected represent some 35 states across the nation. Many of them, including Charleston, South Carolina-based Mary Jackson whose baskets have been on view in the White House, are renowned in the craft world and are represented in major public and private collections. Forty exhibitors are new to the show, including John Rais of Layton, New Jersey, who will display his forged steel tables and Frances Smersh of Seattle, Washington, who will exhibit her sterling silver and fresh water pearl necklaces. Artists based in the Philadelphia area include ceramist George Johnson and furniture-maker Jack Larimore, both of whom are represented in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's craft collection.

Five craft experts served as jurors, including Helen Drutt English, Founder/Director, Helen Drutt: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA; Holly Hotchner, Director, American Craft Museum, New York, NY; Nancy Yaw, Director, Yaw Gallery, Birmingham, MI; Stuart J. Kestenbaum, Executive Director, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Deer Isle, ME; and Darrel Sewell, the Robert L. McNeil, Jr. Curator of American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"I was looking for work filled with vitality-work that stands out and grabs its viewer," commented Mr. Kestenbaum following the selection process, adding that he was especially impressed with the "sense of discovery" found in many of the works.

The work of the 20 artists from Japan represents an intriguing cross-section of the country's contemporary crafts scene. The rich variety ranges from stainless steel jewelry to vessels painted with Urushi, the traditional vegetable lacquer applied to wooden objects in Asia for centuries. Many of the artists are well known in Japan and have exhibited internationally.

Sleight of Hand, The Artist's Magic Wand, is the annual theme installation planned for this year's show that is devoted to the idea of the artist's hand and sponsored by the Philadelphia Hand Center. "We are thrilled about this show-within-the-show," said Elissa Topol, Chair of the 2001 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show and an avid collector herself. "The artists are invited to submit a work inspired by the theme for inclusion in this installation. Our initial impressions are that it's shaping up beautifully, not least because hands are such an integral part of the arts. In many ways, we expect that Sleight of Hand will capture the very essence of craft making."

Living with Crafts, another annual display within the Craft Show, will feature several uniquely furnished rooms composed entirely of works selected from among the artists' booths. The installation is expected to underscore in surprising ways the exciting role that hand crafted objects can play in daily life. "Crafts are works of art that you truly live with and use," explained Judy Pote, President of The Women's Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "It's wonderful to be able to enjoy the tremendous variety of the craft exhibition and to take something home and live with it, and to know that while you are enjoying it, you are also supporting a worthy cause."

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is presented annually by The Women's Committee and Craft Show Committee for the benefit of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Committees' largest single fundraising event for the Museum, the exhibition and sale drew some 25,000 visitors to the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia over a period of five days last year. Funds raised are used to purchase works of art and craft for the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to contribute to conservation and publication projects, and to support exhibitions and education programs.

Show dates and hours are: Thursday, November 8th and Friday, November 9th, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, November 10th, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, November 11th, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. General admission is $10.00 for adults (two-day passes are $15.00) and $3.00 for children under 12; tickets may be purchased at the door, or in advance by calling the Craft Show office at (215) 684-7930. Group admission can be arranged for 10 or more, also by calling the Craft Show office. The Pennsylvania Convention Center, the site of the Craft Show, is located at 12th and Arch Streets in Philadelphia. The Preview Party (tickets are $150 each) will be held on Wednesday, November 7th, 6 p.m.-9 p.m.; call (215) 684-7930 for tickets.

The 25th annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is organized and coordinated by Elissa Topol, Chair; Katharine Padulo, Vice-Chair; and Nancy C. O'Meara, Show Manager. For more information, visit the show's website at

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