THE SHOWS will go on—even though they’ll be virtual and merged into one. Because of the pandemic, Smithsonian’s blockbuster spring showcase at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., was postponed until fall, and now it will combine with Craft2Wear’s wearable-art boutiques for two weeks. The works of the selected top craft and wearable artists will be for sale on Bidsquare through October 25.
The event kicked off yesterday, October 13, with a special Smithsonian Visionary Award given to 80-year-old Seattle ceramicist Patti Warashina. The craft show gala, also virtual, will be held October 21 at 8pm with host celebrity chef Carla Hall and Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, Lonnie G. Bunch III. The evening continues with an online live auction, featuring 37 lots, including Warashina’s humorous and surreal ceramic container in the shape of a cat and a set of three porcelain cups, one of Lady Liberty in Tears.
LEFT: In Smithsonian Magazine, Patti Warashina says it was the material that hooked her. “It was the challenge of trying to overcome the physicality of the clay, controlling it on a wheel.” The Renwick’s Nora Atkinson says Warashina uses humor and poignant social commentary “to address serious personal, political, and social subjects, from feminist critiques of the art world, to the internment of the Japanese during World War II, to the absurdity of contemporary social media.” The bidding for Warashina’s Catbox begins at $2,750. CENTER: Designer Mary Lynn O’Shea’s lush upholstery fabrics are sewn into handbags in her Middlebury, Vermont studio. This Molly Bag in Red Wine, lined in contrasting cotton, is durable and can withstand the weight of books, laptops and other heavy items. It is $245. RIGHT: Stephanie Wheat’s Rebellion Bag in taupe Tibetan wool would be easy to, er, warm up to. It comes in a weekend-size tote for $1,450 and also as a wristlet for $375.
TOP LEFT: “Weaving metal perfectly marries my desire for beauty, function and cleanliness of design,” says jewelry artist Linda Bernasconi. These whimsical, handwoven sterling silver earrings are $375. BOTTOM LEFT: There is something so satisfying about moving metal, notes Boston-based jeweler Melissa Finelli. The bidding for Finelli’s Sparkle Nuggets Ring, made from 18k gold and diamonds, begins at $800 on October 21 at the Smithsonian Craft Benefit Auction. RIGHT: Erica Rosenfeld’s work is made from blown, hot-worked and carved glass. The Brooklyn, New York-based artist’s jewelry is inspired by mid-century modern design and turn-of-the-century Viennese design. This carved glass necklace on a nylon cord is $160.
Categories for the virtual 100-plus artists shops remain the same as in past years—ceramics, fiber and basketry, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather and metal, paper, wearable art and wood. Prices range from $100 for a pair of Francesca Vitali’s paper, gold leaf and stainless-steel earrings to $30,000 for Pavel Novak’s Pinnacle, a piece of multifaceted art glass for the serious collector. The holidays are coming. No matter the size of your budget, you’d be hard pressed to find such an abundance of handmade and unique pieces of superior craftsmanship in one place.
The 38th Smithsonian Craft Show will be held online through October 25. Although the Oct. 21 gala is free, it requires pre-registration on the website. Proceeds fund research, education programs and exhibitions at the Smithsonian Exhibition.