CraftTexas 2012 has finally opened! It’s the biennial juried showcase of the best of Texas artists working in craft materials, and this year’s jurors are Jean W. McLaughlin, Rachelle Thiewes and Jade Walker.
It’s always amazing and a little overwhelming when the installation of a show of this size and caliber is complete: the last piece has been placed, the lighting is finished, all labels have been nailed to the walls, and the floors have been swept and mopped. A great sense of accomplishment washed over me, but also a bit of melancholy because the wonderful and extremely lengthy project of putting this show together had concluded, and, I suppose when you work on something for long enough, an emotional and personal attachment is inevitable. So, the end of install means the end of one of my favorite parts of this job, the hands-on part of putting together an exhibition. The unpacking, conditioning, helping organize the layout and placement of the works and lighting, and watching the gallery transform into a completely different space, time and time again, elates me.
We had been preparing and organizing for this exhibition for several months, and the large and small galleries were closed for almost a full month for de-installation, gallery prep and installation. So, excitement and anticipation for the opening of HCCC’s beloved biennial juried show pervaded our halls for weeks, and the evening was finally upon us on Friday, September 28th, and what a success it was.
Thirty of the 40 artists included in the show were present for the opening, and we had close to 400 attendees. About half way through the reception, Julie Farr, HCCC Executive Director, presented three artists with awards of merit (which included a $1,000 check for each). Prior to the reception, our three jurors arrived to see, in person, the pieces that they had judged and scored months before via images on a computer screen. They walked around the gallery in search of three artists whose work stood out amongst the rest. Artists who presented traditional techniques or historical objects in a contemporary way seemed to be the underlying theme of the jurors’ selections.
And the winners are… Paula J. Gron, Steve Hilton and George Sacaris.
Paula Gron’s pieces, Milk with Your Tea? and My Toothbrush, are rooted in traditional basket weaving, but the artist has more recently moved towards creating sculptural forms. Her technique and skill, along with an innovative use of found materials and the fancifulness her pieces evoke, all contributed to her being an exceptional contender for the prize.
In his installation, Tea for ?, Steve Hilton quite unexpectedly takes groupings of tea pots off the traditional horizontal plane and situates them vertically on the wall. The tea pots seem to gather and disperse like groups of people at a tea party, reminding us of the social history of the custom. His teapots are also anything but conventional, and much of the inspiration for his work comes from his appreciation for anomalies occurring in the Earth’s natural landscape in the many forms of clay, rock, soil and living specimens.
Lastly, we have the Faux Bois Log and Stumps by George Sacaris. Fabricated from aluminum, copper and bright powder coating, these pieces put a new twist on the traditional French technique of artistic imitation of wood in other media. These hand-formed objects are both sculptural and functional and serve as clever stools or end tables. Sacaris completes these modern forms with the nodules of imaginary, severed tree limbs.
Congratulations to all of our winners!
–Ashley Powell, Curatorial Assistant