May 28 2020

“The PMA Craft Show is truly unique in how it offers direct connectivity with clients and consumers while also being a show with a highly curated approach.” ~ Ben Gillespie

Connectivity is the perfect word to introduce Ben Gillespie, the person behind the light source of the company OVUUD. A Philadelphia-based lighting designer and woodworker, Ben has mastered the art of visually and actually bending light and wood, to create his unique and utilitarian lighting fixtures. Working out of his Port Richmond studio, Ben utilizes locally sourced wood and the latest lighting technologies in how each piece looks as well as functions. The results are Scandinavian-inspired pieces that are individually distinctive yet cohesive as a collection.

Though Ben has been working with light and wood for many years, it’s only in the last three years that he has developed his OVUUD concepts and fabrications. Luckily he found the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show as a place to exhibit and sell his fine craft, to the delight of not only the attendees but the sponsors as well. At last year’s Show, Ben was the recipient of the acclaimed Wharton Esherick Prize for Excellence in Wood, an honor he does not take lightly. “As both a Philadelphian (born and raised) and a woodworker, it was an incredible honor”, says Ben. “The PMA Craft Show has so many extremely talented craftspeople exhibiting. I was genuinely surprised when they called my name. It is a great honor to win in general, but especially among such talented company. Over the years, my work has become more sculptural in nature, and Esherick’s work is a huge inspiration to me. I am very humbled to be the recipient of such a prize.”

Wharton Esherick was an internationally known artist and sculptor whose place among noted 20th century artists is set in stone, with work in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian Institution. The Wharton Esherick Museum has been a longtime sponsor of the Award for Excellence in Wood at the PMA Craft Show.

Ben has always been interested in woodworking, even as a kid. When his woodworking and lighting merged, it evolved into the passionate work he does today. Primarily in private home collections, Ben’s work can also be seen at Condesa restaurant in Philadelphia and he is excited to soon be starting a lighting piece for a public lobby space in center city. Ben’s love of architecture informs his designs. “I am always looking up when walking through center city”, he says. “I love to see how spaces are developed and how they’re filled. Visually, I find it really satisfying - and I think it ultimately gives me inspiration as to how to fill space with my pieces.” This philosophy segues nicely into Ben’s growing clientele. Getting positive feedback from clients means a lot and he says that delivering a piece and seeing and hearing his client’s enjoyment is his biggest achievement. “Being able to conceive an idea and then translate it into a physical embodiment by directly using my hands is incredibly gratifying to me. I am very thankful for each piece that I am able to hand-build and deliver.”

In addition to the Wharton Esherick prize, one of Ben’s favorite aspects of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show was to connect with other craftspeople and potential customers. He also appreciates the impact of social media, especially Instagram where he can curate how pieces are presented and share some of the building process with his audience.

Ben’s work has been featured in national magazines including World of Interiors, House & Garden, and Architectural Digest online blog.

We look forward to seeing where Ben’s light shines next. Take a look around his world here.

 

 

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September 12 2019

(Above: By Mick Whitcomb)

Furniture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show goes beyond most people’s imagination. In addition to the fine woodworking found throughout the Show floor, this year’s representation of fine furniture artists bends the definition of furniture beyond any reasonable expectations.


BENJAMIN GILLESPIE

With the goal to keep design simple yet interesting, Ben Gillespie’s work bends light and wood together in his elegant wood and lighting fixtures that hover in position almost like a dance. As one of the Philadelphia based artists, Ben’s company and studio OVUUD is situated in the Port Richmond section of the city. His background combining carpentry, metalwork, and engineering provides the ideal combination of impeccable design and meticulous planning. Each hand-designed piece is graceful in its curves and aesthetic, adding both a visual and utilitarian accent to any space. Bringing a whole new flavor to what lighting and furniture design can be, Ben’s Scandinavian-inspired pieces are fabricated from local woods including Oak, Ash, Walnut, and Maple.


This is Ben’s second year at the PMA Craft Show and he likes that the Show is in Philly but also has an international reach. A woodworker his whole life, Ben says, “Wood is a pretty forgiving material and you can do a lot with it. I love the fact that you manipulate it so directly with your hands; it allows you to directly control the entire process - from inspiration and starting with a huge slab of board to putting the final touches on a sculpted piece.”  

Inspired from seeing new and different architecture, Ben confesses that he would have been an architect in another life. Ben’s lighting and wood fixtures have been featured in several national magazines including World of Interiors, House & Garden, and Architectural Digest online blog. He considers his biggest achievement so far to be that he is gaining international reach with people interested in his work from around the world.

 


 

RACHEL FULD

2019 will be Rachel Fuld’s sixth time exhibiting at the PMA Craft Show. Also from Philadelphia, she loves having the opportunity to exhibit her work in her hometown alongside some of the most exceptional craft artists in the country. Rachel has been building furniture for most of the last 25 years, with detours into child rearing and volunteer work with the Furniture Society. Her design inspiration comes from objects, nature, people, art, and the everyday experiences of life. Her aim is to create furniture that is clean, fun, and sophisticated.

In her own words, Rachel says, “I love the moment when I’ve pushed through the frustration of wanting to scrap a whole project, throw it out the window, and instead can see the end in sight. It happens almost every time, and invariably, the finished project was worth the effort. Sometimes a piece will form itself fully in my brain and I just need to transfer the design to paper. Other times, I have disparate elements that need to fit together and the project requires more sketching, more time, and more effort to compose the whole. I try to have each new piece of furniture address a perceived functional need and fulfill my desire to create an organized yet elegant and colorful environment.”

 


 

MICK WHITCOMB

New to the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this year, Mick Whitcomb is a Missouri based artist specializing in one-of-a-kind furniture and lighting made from architectural and industrial salvage. Excited to be among his fellow artists, Mick says, “The reputation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show instills a confidence among collectors in the caliber of artists showing their work.” Traveling the world sourcing unique materials, Mick is captivated by the machine age and early electrical lighting, A recipient of numerous awards for his work, Mick converts 19th century machines and instruments into utilitarian works of art, creating unique and functional light fixtures from obsolete machines. Mick says, “My artwork provides an amazing opportunity to seek out the most notable innovations of the 19th century. Through my conversions of those objects, I am able to bring renewed relevance from what would otherwise be obsolete innovations of the past.”


Seek out these artists and all the rest at the 43rd Annual Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Get your tickets by clicking HERE.

 

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April 10 2019

SAVE THE DATE FOR A SHOWCASE OF CONTEMPORARY CRAFT AND DESIGN

Friday, November 8 – Sunday, November 10, 2019

Gala Preview Party – Thursday November 7, 2019

 

When it comes to the art of fine craft and design, did you know Philadelphia is the place to be? In the heart of Center City in the middle of autumn is one of the most highly regarded events of its type in the country, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. Celebrating its 43rd year this November, The Craft Show is held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and is a sight to be seen. With over a dozen categories ranging from ceramics to jewelry to furniture to fiber, 195 juried exhibitors will descend upon the city, bringing their fine contemporary craft, ready for all to see, experience, and purchase.

Paz Sintes Textile Jewelry

The three-day Craft Show is not only a feast for the eyes, it’s also the biggest single fundraiser of the year for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Presented by The Women’s Committee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the event has raised over $13 million dollars in its 42-year history. Proceeds from ticket sales help to purchase works of art and craft for the permanent collection of the museum. This has allowed the museum to acquire more contemporary craft, thus broadening the reach of this important category of art. In addition, proceeds from the Show have helped fund education and publication projects, state-of-the-art equipment, and special exhibitions.

For nearly 20 years, the Show has featured a guest artist program from countries around the world including Japan, England, Ireland, Germany, Finland, Canada, Korea, Scotland and Lithuania. This year, the Craft Show is honored to welcome over two-dozen craft artists from Israel. The Show has something for everyone, from finding unique treasures for yourself to one-of-a-kind gifts for others. Beyond the aisles of the main show floor, guests will experience events including artist demonstrations, Meet and Greet tours with artists, student exhibitions, and a fashion show of clothing, jewelry and accessories from the Show floor.

Dana Bechert Ceramics

Save the date to be inspired by museum quality contemporary craft and design. Whether you’re a fine craft aficionado or new to the genre, we invite you to explore the 2019 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, where there is more than meets the eye.

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Image 1: James Pearce
Image 2: Paz Sintes
Image 3: Dana Bechert

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The 2019 Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show artists will be announced on July 1st, 2019.

Still want to apply to the show? The official application deadline has passed, but click here for an extended deadline. Last minute applications will be accepted through midnight on April 15th 2019.

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October 24 2014

Newstat, who holds a degree in industrial technology from Illinois State University, has nurtured an interest in woodcraft since shop class at age 12. After a brief stint as a teacher, he has been making furniture since 1987. Today, his studio is located in Chicago. Click here to read more from an article about Newstat’s 2013 Craft Show win of the Wharton Esherick Museum Prize for Excellence in Wood. Follow the artist on Facebook and browse his website to see updates on his work.

What first interested you in working in your medium?
I started working with wood in 7th grade in an industrial arts class. We were given a block of Honduras mahogany to turn on the lathe--luckily Honduras mahogany works easily. Had we been given a difficult type of wood to work, things could have turned out much differently. I was hooked immediately, so much so that my dad bought me a lathe and together, we started buying wood from around world. We'd take an occasional Saturday morning trip to Craftsman Wood Service on the south side? of Chicago where they had barrels filled with blocks of exotic hardwoods, sold by the pound. I was fascinated with how many of the types of wood had deep, rich colors and intense smells--far more intense than any domestic hardwoods. That feeling has never gone away. So really, my woodworking career started in about 1970.

What is special about the medium you work with? How does it inform the work you create? 
I'm fascinated with the intricate grain patterns and shapes of each board. I've always had trouble describing my process--how a lot of the time a specific piece of wood can dictate the direction a piece of furniture takes. The wood doesn't necessarily "speak" to me, but it often points me in the right direction. One of my clients once said, "I love how you take what you're given in a piece of wood and guide it to an interesting place." She described it way better than I could.

What do you love about your workspace? 
My studio is about 700 square feet, a small space. It's probably impractical in a lot of ways. It's behind my house and I built an addition onto it and the front doors, trying to recreate an agricultural work building.

I love to work outside--I have a bench I can roll outside and I'll do that until it's around 50 degrees. The plants and trees have matured and are almost wild, which I like. In the fall it's fantastic. Inside, the area around my bench is separated from the rest of the studio with a lower ceiling, so my music playlist sounds spectacular and I'm sort of cocooned in a little space.  I have interesting boards lined up along the wall that I like to look at while working at my bench, developing ideas of pieces I'll make from them.

I've had a fantasy for a long time of converting a building in the country into a studio space. I'd slide open the big door in the morning with long views of meadows and forest in the distance. I'd play music as loud as I'd want to and make plenty of noise, with room to spread out and work
outside. Someday.

What was your inspiration for a recent piece?
My work has gradually evolved from functional/technical to functional/sculptural. I made a series of asymmetric tables that were completely inspired by the specific pieces of wood I used for the tops. I wanted them to be flamboyant, make a statement and grab attention. Then, I made a follow-up piece but completely symmetrical, still letting the wood determine the design.  Two different points of view, but what is becoming more and more clear to me is that the exact and specific pieces of wood typically are the inspiration behind my pieces.

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