In an exciting and experimental new venture, Florida CraftArt hosted its first virtual opening of “Members’ Show: Contemporary Craft at its Finest 2020” on the evening of May 8. The live video, hosted over Zoom, was attended by more than 70 artists and guests. This juried exhibition showcases the best of handcrafted work by the members of Florida CraftArt. From across Florida, 40 artists created 70 pieces from intricate jewelry to glass sculptures. All of the stunning works may be viewed in an online exhibition book which also includes the biographies and statements from the artists.
“Members’ Show: Contemporary Craft at its Finest 2020” was judged for awards by Alison Schaeffler-Murphy, an art museum professional from St. Augustine. Regarding this exhibit, she says, “Given the caliber of artwork, I am very pleased and honored to have been invited to serve as the show judge and want to commend everyone who participated. This year’s Members’ Show highlights how skillfully engaged Florida’s craft artists are with our natural world and each other while philosophically and wittily taking things in stride as we move through life.”
During the virtual opening, Ms. Shaeffler-Murphy presented the winners of the show’s judging. Best of Show was awarded to Gulfport-based artist Suzy Pease for her dynamic ceramic sculpture, “Hare of Humanity: Lockdown,” a timely sculpture representing a rabbit eager to spring into action during containment. This piece metaphorically mirrors the anticipation and impatience we all feel during this uncertain time of quarantine. For his illusionary wooden chest titled “Tipping Point: A Study in Balance,” Al Bibbero from Venice was awarded First Place. Structured as an inverted triangle, this seemingly impossible sculpture stands stable on a single point. The viewer is put into a state of limbo, unsure of which way the chest might tip. For her intricately detailed, cast class sculpture titled “Spring Moon,” Tampa artist Susan Gott was awarded second place. Third place was given to Pinellas Park-based artist Monica Lara for “Savage Eden II,” a hauntingly beautiful ring made of cast gold.
Four honorable mentions were awarded in this group of talented craftspeople. For her mixed media piece, “The Music Room,” Judy Flescher received recognition. Also given notoriety was Leeann Kroetsch for her seamless, hand-felted dress, “Tundra Tales.” Melissa Menzer’s joyful sculpture, “Cat Person,” and Emilie Pritchard’s asymmetrical geometric necklace, “Circles,” were also awarded Honorable Mentions by Ms. Shaeffler-Murphy.
For her detailed, colorful and wearable piece, “Ocean Motif Shawl,” Barbara Insalaco was given special recognition in receiving the Executive Director’s Award, presented by Florida CraftArt’s Katie Deits.
This virtual opening was a wonderful opportunity for the community of artists and friends of Florida CraftArt to congregate together in a time when we are not able to physically attend an opening in the gallery. As a perfect ending to the event, Dr. Alex Harris, CEO and co-founder of the Arts Conservatory for Teens, performed a stunning rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come.”
A recording of the virtual opening as well as the “Members’ Show: Contemporary Craft at its Finest 2020” Exhibition Book may be viewed and purchased on FloridaCraftArt.org. All works featured in the exhibition are available for purchase on the website as well, they can be found under “Shop.”
“Members’ Show: Contemporary Craft at its Finest 2020” is generously sponsored by Regions bank.
Florida CraftArt is located at 501 Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. For more information, visit www.FloridaCraftArt.org or call (727) 821-7391. Florida CraftArt is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and headquartered in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work. Fine craft art is presented in its 2,500-square-foot retail gallery and curated exhibitions are featured in its adjacent exhibition gallery. Florida CraftArt is the only statewide organization offering artists a platform to show and sell their work.
About the exhibition judge:
Alison Schaeffler-Murphy earned her Master of Arts in History and Criticism of Art, Master of Arts in Arts Administration, graduate certificates in Museum Studies and Art Museum Education, and her bachelor’s degree in art education from Florida State University. She has worked as a curator at several art museums, as a program director and gallery manager with Florida’s Division of Cultural Affairs, served as instructor of art appreciation at Daytona State College, and fulfilled numerous roles for many nonprofit arts organizations. She has been working in glass for over 30 years. Ms. Schaeffler-Murphy recognizes that all arts and craft creations serve an important role in every person’s life.