Thanks to one of my nine-to-five jobs, I was able to attend the 2018 American Art Craft Show held at the Baltimore Convention the last weekend in February. It was amazing and very inspirational being in the presence of “real” artists.
I work as a promotions assistant at Entercom radio for the 80s, 90s, and today’s pop hits station Today’s 101.9. My job had the pleasure of being press at the craft show on Saturday morning. We did our usual at the show; assist our radio personality Fran Lane with the spinning wheel and gift giveaways. So I didn’t do anything that was out of the norm workwise. But I’m grateful, to say the least, that I was working in surroundings in which capacity I’m not familiar.
When I go to these events with my job, we have only a few moments where the promotion staff can walk away to take a look at what’s happening throughout the show. But this time our press appearance was only for 2 hours. So I didn’t have the time to see what the featured artists had to offer until later in the afternoon when I came back to walk the show off the clock.
The American Art Craft Show is a popular traveling art convention sponsored by Visit Baltimore, where emerging artists from all different crafty backgrounds come to one mutual space to sell their work. Like a traditional merchant’s market or flea market, the American Art Craft Show is a high-class version of original arts and goods show made available for any shopper who’s into scavenging for unique pieces not found anywhere else.
I snuck into the exhibit using the American Art Craft Show press pass given to me earlier for my work shift because I felt it necessary for me to have a deeper look into what was at the show. I needed to know what drew me to what I saw while there. Why did it feel like my spirit was suddenly lit seeing all the unique things? It was like a strong magnetic force between my eyes and the artwork, just something about it that made me fall in love with that moment. I wanted to know what made these artists work so hard and achieve such success to be placed in such a popular arts convention.
The American Art Craft Show is quite a pricey show as the quality of the artifacts in the show exhibits each artist passion through sincere detail in the craftsmanship. I saw sculptures of every medium from stone, metal, glass, and traditional clay. I saw clothing designers use unique and expensive fabrics from basic cotton to rich leathers. The jewelry pieces were to die for as I literally choked off my drink of water when told what the price tag said on a pair of stunning earrings. There were immaculate paintings of mixed media forms utilizing fabric embroidery and infused clay on large canvases. Any observer could tell the artists put their everything into their work, and each piece was argumentatively worth what each price tag listed.
These artists were seasoned with their expertise. I witnessed only techniques I see online when I watch art videos on YouTube for inspiration for my own crafting. The techniques were those that people dig for when yearning to add that extra oomph to their “art baby.” The techniques were ways of the art world that makes the observer ponder how did something turn out a particular way. Ways that I could not resist having mini-interviews with the artists on how they achieved such beautiful masterpieces.
I went into journalists mode interviewing the artists from my favorite booths. One particular artist that I had the pleasure of speaking to, Natalya Aikens, creates architectural structures using fabrics and threaded stitching. She references photographs from her own collections and experiments with replicating her images by following traditional shading and coloring techniques.Her work comes off as abstract because of all the vibrant colors being used that aren’t naturally present in the original photos. Mihira Karra, who’s another artist similar to Aikens utilizes the same technique but instead recreates portraits of celebrities, landscapes, and influential figures.
Artist Kathleen Scranton shares her creativity quite uniquely as her booth was unlike any other during the craft show. She takes her favorite novels and children’s books and turns them into small purses or wallets. Her station was one of the booths that had the most traffic because her idea was the most unique. She ran with the theme “Everyone reads.” The booth had to be the most recognizable because most books she used were classic American literature. The interior walls were draped with Dr. Seus, Star Wars, and The Great Gatsby. What made it even better was the buyer got to take home a copy of the novels, as well, after their purchase.
I met many ambitious artists whose main focus while working on their art was to enjoy it. None of the artists I spoke to envisioned themselves as experts. Most didn’t think they’d be selling their art when they started. I bring this up to talk about my usual theme for Baltimore artists. With examples as those spotted at the American Art Craft Show, artists in this city could visualize true talent with purpose. It’s not about the social climb like mentioned in my blog series Quality vs. Quantity (Part 1). These artists monetize using pure passions where the love or their work comes first and everything that precedes it comes afterward. At showcases and in the work done here, we only see this reflection of that in prestigious art shows. I write about it to awaken the people who want it to more prevalent in Baltimore’s Art culture.
View more photos from the 2018 American Art Craft Show.
The biggest take away from this event was that it made me feel inspired. That’s what an artsy event suppose to do. They spark the creative soul within and changes the atmosphere around you. The American Art Craft Show did just that. It was due for my soul to feel that awakening.
What artist do you think should have attended or exhibited at the 2018 American Art Craft Show? Leave your comments or tag an artist below.
Have you read any of the Quality vs. Quantity Blog Series? Catch up on it on Doc’s Castle Media.