It takes a lot of people power to produce an event like the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, and each year there is a “Show Chairperson” in addition to the event director, support staff, and volunteers. We thought it would be nice to introduce our 2019 Show Chair, Anja Levitties. Anja has served on the Craft Show Committee for six years and has been a volunteer at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in various capacities for the past 25 years. Her role and responsibilities as Show Chair are largely to support and motivate the 100 dedicated and experienced members of the Craft Show Committee. She also serves as the public name and face of the Show, specifically via outreach to potential sponsors, supporters, artists and more. “I love working with everyone involved with the show”, says Levitties. “Whether they are an artist, a juror, or a volunteer, everyone is so enthusiastic and thrilled to be participating in making the Show a success.” Here’s a Q & A with more from Anja:
How would you describe the show to a newcomer?
The Show takes place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where each craft booth becomes like its own gallery, with plenty of room throughout the hallways to walk around, mingle, and take it all in. All the work is for sale and the artists are present to interact, engage, and answer questions. Beautiful booths of precious jewelry will be next to luminous works of glass and fabulous furniture. Additional activities include artist demonstrations and a fashion show.
What can people expect at this year’s show?
A mix of master craftspeople and returning artists, longtime working artists that are new to our Show, and talented emerging artists. Our loyal visitors who have supported the Show for years like to see the artists with whom they have developed relationships, but they also like to see fresh faces and new work to which they not have been previously exposed. In terms of programming, we have recently enhanced our Meet & Greet tours program - small group guided tours including speaking with three participating artists at their booths., Individuals and or groups may register to attend and there is also a Friday night package that includes a drink voucher.
Can you talk about the International Guest Artist Program and this year’s artists from Israel?
Our Guest Artist Program is a wonderful part of what makes our show special. In addition to our 195 talented American artists, we dedicate a portion of the Show floor to approximately two dozen guest artists from a different country each year. Two years ago the country was South Korea, then Germany, and now Israel. It is a fantastic way to expose our visitors to craft and design from around the world. I enjoy seeing the interactions between the artists. They learn from each other, they buy or trade pieces, and they form lasting bonds. This form of cultural exchange is truly special to watch.
What else do you recommend doing for those staying in Philly for the weekend?
For out of town visitors staying for the weekend, or for local folks who might want to bring friends to come along, there are many other great things to do in Philadelphia. For concurrent craft events, check out Craft Now Philadelphia and of course Visit Philly is always THE place to find the latest information on what is going on around the city, where to eat, and where to stay.
There are even more events, right?
Right! The kick-off to this year’s show will be a gala Preview Party on the evening of November 7th. This event provides an opportunity for our guests to have the first look at the show and to mix and mingle with the artists over delicious food and drink. On Saturday afternoon we will once again be putting on a fashion show featuring fabulous clothing and accessories from artists in the show modeled by members of the Craft Show Committee. This is always a standing-room-only event in our artist demonstration area. Speaking of artist demonstrations, these take place on Friday and Saturday and are a wonderful way to hear directly from our artists about their work-process and inspiration.
Another program that is near and dear to many is our “Craft U” university program. Each year students and recent alumni from craft programs participate in our Show. Encouraging new talent is very important to us. This year’s participants will be Moore College of Art, Drexel University, and SCAD Jewelry Graduate Study.
What is the museum’s involvement with the Show?
The Craft Show is the single biggest fundraiser for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Over its 42-year history the show has given $13 million to the museum in grants to fund community outreach programs, educational programs such as the summer Art Splash initiative, special exhibitions, art conservation projects and more. It is very important for our committee and visitors to realize what an important contribution the proceeds from the show make to the museum every year. The museum helps to promote the Show to its membership through social and print media in the months leading up to the Show. In addition, Timothy Rub, CEO and Director of the Museum, plays a key role at the Preview Party during the award ceremony by first acknowledging our sponsors and patrons and then announcing the recipients of Best of Show awards.
Anything else you would like to add?
There are a wide range of shows out there in which artists can participate – big/small, regional/national, wholesale/retail; indoor/outdoor; etc. Our show is one of the premier Shows in the country and is of a high caliber. Our Guest Artist Program, Craft U program, guided Meet & Greet tours, and Artist Demonstrations all provide unique opportunities to engage with the show. Our size not only allows our jurors to be quite selective in their decision-making process, but also allows our visitors to focus and spend time truly appreciating the work of our artists, speaking with them, and becoming loyal customers. We invite people to explore the Craft Show website to learn more...