Diary of a (Mad) Craft Show Artist

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, officially known as Operation Overlord, but popularly known as D-Day. On June 6th, 1944, the long-awaited offensive began in what may well have been the most meticulously planned and well thought out operation in history. There were, of course, some glitches, mistakes and moments of abject terror; but, in the end, with luck and a lot of prayer added to the supply list, the invasion succeeded.

The ‘D’ in D-Day simply stood for Day, meaning the day of the actual landings. The days leading up to D-Day were numbered in descending order…hence, June 1st was D minus 5. In the decades that have followed, the term “D-Day” has become synonymous with any massive operation including lots of moving parts, logistical challenges, and larger-than-life personalities.

And so, I declare today to be D Minus 42…..42 days until artists from all over the USA invade Evanston, Illinois, creating a barrage of beauty and a hail of fine craftsmanship as they land on the shores of Lake Michigan….or, actually, the parking lot.

ACE Artist Michael Scarborough

ACE Artist Michael Scarborough

Like Gen. Eisenhower, I, for one, can say that I have planned meticulously, thought out and created what I hope are excellent examples of fine craft, and predict that the remaining six weeks before the ACE show will be flawless, with nary a tremor of a nervous hand or a voice raised in frustration. There will be no last minute agita!


OK…so maybe a little anxiety may creep in. A tad, at most.

Yeah….uh huh.

Fact is, it’s an understatement to say that a lot goes into preparing for, getting to, setting up and existing at a fine craft show for a long weekend. And, if for some reason, things are not going well, the weekend can be excruciatingly long and the trip home, even longer.

For most seasoned show artists, the preparation and set-up for a show are pretty similar from one venue to another. One variable, however, is the method of getting one’s self and one’s art to the event. Depending on the distance from home, the choice is whether to drive or to ship the art work to the show site. As we live in NYC, we usually drive to shows in Philly, Boston, Baltimore and D.C. Packing the tables, lighting, chairs, suitcases, etc., etc., etc., (and, oh yes, the art!), into, and onto, a Subaru is always a challenge which must be undertaken with the greatest care, especially with the items in the car top carrier. And, of course, an artist must pack the top of the car with especial attention to aesthetics. A clean and streamlined silhouette is a must; the Beverly Hillbillies look should be avoided at all costs.

Shipping the art to the show, on the other hand, allows one a comfortable two-week period to relax before a show. That would normally be the most hectic period of preparation, when one wishes one were two. But, if the pieces have been shipped off, they can no longer be worked on, said artist need not run around tearing his hair out (assuming he is not bald already), finding, and re-finding, things that need touching up. It really pays not to be OCD at times like these. Of course, during this fortnight, the term carry-on baggage is oft invoked and, inevitably, a piece that didn’t make it onto the truck headed West, finds itself traveling in the overhead compartment of an airplane, hopefully in an upright and locked position.

So, the clock is ticking, and we have not yet decided if we are driving or shipping to Evanston. It’s a choice between emptying the wallet for shipping, or sitting on the wallet for two days of driving through verdant and bucolic mid-west countryside. (I know which one sounds more aesthetically pleasing.)

Regardless of mode of transport, I can assure you, dear reader, that the time remaining, inspired by Operation Overlord, will be “the most meticulously planned and well thought out operation in history.”

Yeah. Sure.

(Actually, if past show preps are any indication, it will be more like Operation OhMyLord!”)

A special thank you to ACE artist Michael Scarborough for this guest post.


The American Craft Exposition Holds Special Meaning for Co-Chair Debbie Hulick

Co-chair, Debbie Hulick’s history with the American Craft Exposition began when she was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer seven years ago. As a patient at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) Kellogg Cancer Center, she received unparalleled care from her doctor, Gustavo Rodriguez, and nurses. In particular, Dr. Rodriguez played a significant role in her recovery by always being compassionate and never making her feel as though she was sick. His upbeat and positive attitude translated to Debbie who always remained optimistic through treatment.

Upon entering remission, Debbie knew she wanted to give back to the hospital and staff who had given her so much. Becoming involved with the American Craft Exposition (ACE) four years ago, was a natural fit as the show supports Dr. Rodriguez’s pioneering ovarian cancer research at NorthShore.

“Dr. Rodriguez’s research is extremely valuable and will affect the lives of women for generations to come,” said Debbie. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that emphasizes the importance of protecting our daughters and their future daughters.”

As an ovarian cancer survivor, Debbie knows firsthand the hardships that women battling cancer encounter and is working hard, through ACE, to help women of all ages overcome the disease. Her advice to women undergoing treatment is to not dwell on the cancer, stay positive, keep moving and always remember to laugh and smile daily.

Currently, Debbie is working around the clock to ensure that this year’s ACE is the best show to date. She is especially excited for artist Thomas Marrinson to join the show as a first time exhibitor. His brightly colored ceramic bowls create a stunning display and are sure to “wow” attendees – Make sure to check out his booth at this year’s show!

2014 ACE Co-Chair Susan White, Gustavo Rodriguez, MD, NorthShore University HealthSystem, and 2014 ACE Co-Chair Debbie Hulick

2014 ACE Co-Chair Susan White, Gustavo Rodriguez, MD, NorthShore University HealthSystem, and 2014 ACE Co-Chair Debbie Hulick

Save the Date for ACE 2014

Mark your calendars! This year’s American Craft Exposition will be celebrating its 30th anniversary August 21 through 24.

ACE 2014 kicks off with a fabulous Benefit Preview Party on Thursday, August 21 from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Guests will enjoy delicious fare and cocktails while getting a first glimpse at this year’s show.  

ACE officially opens on Friday, August 22, from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and continues on Saturday August 23, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Sunday, August 24, from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. The event will take place at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion on the Evanston campus of Northwestern University.  

This year, we have some new and exciting programs lined up and we are looking forward to sharing them with you all in the near future. Stay tuned for the ACE 2014 artist list that will be live in a few weeks! 

A Recap of The American Craft Council Show

ACE 2014 Co-Chairs, Susan White and Debbie Hulick, and 2015 Chairs Debbie Kerr and Liz Dauten recently visited the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore. During their trip, they both enjoyed discovering new trends, meeting new artists and viewing exquisite pieces.

One trend that jumped out at both Susan and Debbie was “Going Green.” They came across many artists embracing the use of recycled materials to create one-of-a-kind pieces that truly stood out amongst the rest. One artist, who will be exhibiting at ACE this year, used Tyvek and FedEx envelopes to create fun, edgy jackets. Another artist used recycled copper and steel to create bowls and sculptures.

For Susan and Debbie, the best part about visiting another show was the opportunity to speak with new and emerging artists about ACE. Debbie was able to gather new ideas on how to promote ACE and its artists by speaking to other artists about their experiences. They both encouraged emerging artists to apply to ACE, and with the help of Ashley Buchanan (an emerging artist and award winner from ACE 2013), they were able to increase the number of emerging artists that applied to this year’s show.

Ashley Buchanan

Inside & Out by Ashley Buchanan

Among Susan’s favorite pieces from the show were Devta Doolan’s new work, which incorporates meteorite and David Paul Bacharach’s large sculptural pieces. Debbie’s favorite pieces were that of ceramicist Thomas Marrinson, who makes vibrant colored bowls and will exhibit at ACE for the first time this year.

Devta Doolan

Jasper Necklace by Devta Doolan


Overall, the trip to the American Craft Council Show was a success as the ACE 2014 Co-Chairs were able to catch up with artists who have exhibited at ACE, encourage new artists to apply and see some of the finest craftsmanship around.

The 2014 ACE Artists Have Been Selected!

We are excited to announce the completion of jurying for the 30th Annual American Craft Exposition (ACE)!

This year’s jurors have selected an extremely talented group of 160 artists, some of whom are emerging artists, from an application pool of more than 500 applicants. We look forward to seeing them in August as they display their handcrafted works in Evanston, IL.

Stay tuned for a full artist announcement in June!

Time Is Running Out

This Friday, March 14 is the last day to turn in your late application for our 30th annual exposition.

ACE will be held at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, Illinois. The jury will accept approximately 150 craft artists.

Go here to apply to this year’s ACE: http://www.juriedartservices.com/index.php?content=event_info&event_id=754

An additional $25 late fee will be applied.

Don’t forget that proceeds from ACE support ovarian cancer research at NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Good luck and hope to see you in a booth this year!

Deadline to Apply to ACE Is Tomorrow!

Calling all artists! Still need to apply for the 30th annual American Craft Exposition?

The regular application deadline is tomorrow, February 28. There will be an additional $25 late application fee for applications submitted from March 1 through March 14, 2014.

ACE will be held at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, Illinois. The jury will accept approximately 150 craft artists.

Click here to apply for this year’s ACE: http://www.juriedartservices.com/index.php?content=event_info&event_id=754

Don’t forget that proceeds from ACE support ovarian cancer research at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore). Ovarian cancer is often dubbed a silent killer because it’s diagnosed at a late stage. At NorthShore, Gustavo Rodriguez, MD, and his research team are taking findings from the laboratory and implementing them to use today to help save lives. The Auxiliary and the entire American Craft Exposition committee are proud to play a real role in the battle against ovarian cancer by supporting this essential research.

Good luck and hope to see you in a booth this year!