Western Springs wood arts at Craft Expo
Wood work by Barry Newstat of Western Springs
28th American Craft
2311 Campus Drive, Northwestern University, Evanston
10 a.m.8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday; Aug. 24-26
$13 for adults, three-day entry in advance and online prior to Aug. 20; $15 for adults, three-day entry at the door; $5 for children 10 and under; $40 Friends of ACE Ticket Package
Benefit Preview Party
6:30-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23; Collectors’ Hour: begins 5:30 p.m., tickets are $175
Party tickets are $125 and include three-day pass to the Show and all demonstrations
(847)570-5095, or e-mail email@example.com
The American Craft Exposition, held annually in Evanston, is a gem of its kind. Considered to be among the nation’s leading craft shows, it’s known for an exquisite array of hand-crafted work in 12 media, ranging from basketry to jewelry, furniture to fiber arts.
Now in its 28th year, the American Craft Exposition is returning Aug. 24-26 to Northwestern University’s Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. A highly competitive juried show, the expo is also is also a major fundraiser to benefit breast and ovarian cancer research and care at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
“We’re very excited about this year’s show. The artists are masters at what they do,” said Barbara Weiss, co-chair of the 2012 event and member of the Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Finding the best
To prepare for this year’s expo, which is expected to draw up to about 10,000 visitors, Weiss and her fellow co-chair, Sue Levin, visited two other major American craft events, one in Baltimore and another in Philadelphia, to assess the playing field. They caught up with artists who typically exhibit at the expo to see their latest efforts, and also encouraged others, whose work impressed them, to apply for the Evanston event.
As a result, this year’s show will feature plenty of noteworthy first-time exhibitors.
“They’re new, they’re interesting and fresh, and they’re excited about the show,” Levin said.
Expo artists will be on hand at their exhibits to engage with visitors and discuss their creative vision and craft technique. In addition to viewing exhibits, expo visitors will be able to watch artist presentations, join interactive discussions, bid at an online auction and watch a fashion show (Saturday only).
Woodworking artist Barry Newstat, who has a showroom in Chicago and lives in Western Springs, will be an expo exhibitor for the first time this year, displaying a variety of his furniture, sculptural pieces and decorative objects, such as mirrors framed by meticulously layered varieties of handcrafted wood.
An artist for 25 years, Newstat’s work applies traditional craftsmanship to pieces that highlight wood’s imperfections and natural beauty.
He unsuccessfully applied to the expo four or five times in the past.
“The excitement of finally making it into the show is just as exciting as the show itself,” Newstat said, reflecting on the anticipation he’s enjoyed prior to exhibiting at other major craft events.
“I am attracted to this show because of its quality. You recognize work by artists you’ve seen before and I think: ‘Wow! I’m in a show with someone at this level!’ It’s humbling and it’s exciting,” he said.
Newstat, who sees the expo as one of the nation’s three top craft shows, in league with the Smithsonian Craft Show and Philadelphia Art Museum Craft Show, also welcomes interacting with an audience that’s fully sympathetic to his endeavors.
“There’s a level of conversation you get at this kind of show that’s appreciative and knowledgeable, and that’s energizing,” he said. “My niche is so small. Being with people who are appreciative, you’re on a high all the time.”
Newstat’s goal at the expo is exposing new audiences to his work and introducing established fans to a fresh artistic direction he’s taken recently.
“It’s a little more intricate and a little more playful,” he said.