Smithsonian’s Craft Show Brings Modern Day Craft to the Building Museum

Nicario Jimenez, winner Best in Show 2018

Each year, I relish the opportunity to visit the Smithsonian Craft Show, held in the lofty colonnade of the National Building Museum.  The term “craft show” really doesn’t do it justice–the pieces people bring to show at this juried event are spectacular.  Some of my favorites from Thursday’s Friend’s Night Out include an amazing Cruella d’Ville coat from Daiga Henson (if Cruella d’Ville decided not to persecute puppies and concentrated on her look) and pottery from Marvin Blackmore, “the most intricate pottery in the world.”   I was amazed by the way these pieces come to be, whether they are technically perfect or show the hand of the artist.  Marlene Miller from Illinois leaves her thumbprints in her statuesque figures, making them at once immediate and foreboding.

The show is open all weekend, with leisurely crowds coming in Saturday and Sunday after brunch nearby in Chinatown.  Items are priced up and down the scale.  There are some one-of-a-kind small items for around $25.  On the other hand, I was careful not to touch some small but precious bowls starting at $4,000.

My favorite thing about this annual show is the individual creativity coming to DC from all over the country.  Talking with some of the artists in their stalls is eye-opening, not just because of the beautiful work, but due to the exposure to a completely different way of seeing things. If you visit, make sure to take time to ask questions of the artists.

Marge Margulies, Artichoke Bowls

From the Committee:
The Smithsonian Women’s Committee presents the 36th annual Smithsonian Craft Show, featuring 120 premier American artists chosen from a pool of approximately 1,000 applicants. For the first time, the show will highlight Asian cultural influence on American crafts.  Many of today’s top U.S. artists creating cutting-edge art are reconnecting American modernism to its roots in Asian culture. The show seeks to engage the public through educational and artistic components that complement the theme “Asian Influence/American Design.”

This nationally recognized event is an opportunity to connect with major craft artists who are leaders in their respective media.  Serious collectors and casual visitors alike will find one-of-a-kind works of art in all price ranges.

The selected works represent 12 media: basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood.

Jurors who selected the 2018 artists are Bruce Helander, independent art critic and writer, curator, artist;  Jane Milosch, Director, Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative and curator;  Shoji Satake, Asst. Professor in Ceramics, West Virginia University.

The Smithsonian Craft Show is produced by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee.  Since 1966, the Committee has awarded nearly $12 million in competitive grants funded from proceeds of our craft shows to the Smithsonian’s 19 museums and galleries, nine research facilities, traveling exhibits and the National Zoo.


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