History of CraftNOW
2015 – Masters of Craft
- CraftNOW Philadelphia was launched in 2015 as an initiative with the mission to showcase Philadelphia as a national center of craft and making by co-founders Clara Hollander and David Seltzer. Hollander’s experience in the field of craft combined with Seltzer’s advocacy for quality of life in Philadelphia established the basis and character of the organization.
- CraftNOW formed a steering committee of institutional directors and gathered even more curators, educators, and makers into a consortium. The University of the Arts became the organization’s fiscal sponsor.
- CraftNOW partners designed and piloted a series of events to complement the Philadelphia Museum of Art Contemporary Craft Show, which has taken place each November since 1977.
- The first ever CraftNOW Create, a friendly hands-on exploration of craft, was held on Saturday, November 14, at the Kimmel Center. Fourteen different stations allowed hundreds of visitors to participate in demonstrations and take home crafted objects.
- Masters of Craft was a four-venue exhibition series branded by CraftNOW and funded by a Windgate Foundation grant. The series honored 14 Philadelphians designated by the American Craft Council as Fellows and international leaders in the field. This series gave emphasis to the fact Philadelphia is home to more ACC Fellows than any other city.
- These exhibitions were documented in the Masters of Craft catalogue made available in print and still available for scholars worldwide online at craftnowphila.org
- Old City Craft Night was promoted on Thursday, November 12, in partnership with the Old City District and neighborhood restaurants and retailers.
- Spanning Generations was a CraftNOW sponsored symposium held at The University of the Arts with a reception at the Philadelphia Art Alliance paring American Craft Council Fellows with younger emerging craft artists they had once taught or mentored now working in the same medium.
2016 – Analog-Digital
- CraftNOW leaders worked with consultants to assess the results of the 2015 program series and continue strategizing future projects. CraftNOW adopted five strategies to galvanize Philadelphia as a center for high quality craft and making:
- Animate Philadelphia, attract tourism, and generate economic activity
- Expand the marketplace to advance the economic wellbeing of artists and galleries
- Support collaboration across sectors of the craft and makers community
- Nurture the development of the next generation of craft artists/makers
- Foster creative expression by a broad cross-section of society
- To support 2016 activities, CraftNOW hosted a fundraiser in September at the recently opened Bok Building in South Philadelphia. Tours of studio spaces and small businesses─which included glass artists, fashion design, woodworking, millinery, and jewelry artists─were followed by a cocktail reception on the rooftop bar with a spectacular view of Center City.
- Analog-Digital emerged as a thematic approach for unifying another multi-venue, concurrent series of exhibitions branded as part of CraftNOW. Visitors were encouraged to consider how craft practices continue to evolve in the twenty-first century. Over the days and weeks surrounding the PMA Craft Show, these were promoted by CraftNOW as complementing opportunities for residents and visitors to see high quality craft exhibitions throughout the city.
- CraftNOW sponsored the keynote lecture and kickoff reception on Friday, October 28, for the Technicalities: Meaning in Methods symposium jointly presented by The Center for Art in Wood and The Clay Studio, with weekend lectures and workshops at Tyler School of Art.
- The keynote by Glenn Adamson, Production Values: The Relevance of Technique in Contemporary Art and Design, was delivered at Christ Church in Old City to over 200 craftspeople, students, educators, collectors and enthusiasts as part of this second annual symposium.
- At the end of 2016, Thaddeus Squire of Culture Works Greater Philadelphia presented a Strategic Model and Business Analysis based on the 2015 and 2016 programmatic offerings to assist in developing a sustainable organization for the coming years.
2017 – Fluid Boundaries
- Early in 2017, CraftNOW formalized its status as an unincorporated association by designating an inaugural Board of Overseers, electing executive officers and adopting a set of bylaws.
- The Board of Overseers organized a team of dedicated individuals in three standing committees for programming, marketing and development. An Honorary Advisory Committee was formed to include nationally recognized leaders in the field as well as other stakeholders such as academics, officials, collectors, and makers.
- CraftNOW leadership led rebranding efforts and developed a recognizable trademark that would have multi-generational and multi-cultural appeal, and speak to both artists, makers and the general public.
- Bill Gehrman and Chris Mullins along with Ruth and Rick Snyderman hosted an evening at the Snyderman Works Galleries in Old City with spirits, light bites and gallery talks in April 2017.
- A friendraiser on a Sunday afternoon in May was hosted by jewelry designer and artist John Wind in his private studio in Queen Village.
- CraftNOW organized its largest fundraising event to-date at the dazzling studio of Isaiah Zagar in South Philadelphia on September 12. Some of Philadelphia’s finest chefs contributed their talents and catering for the event led by Joncarl Lachman from Noord.
- On November 1st CraftNOW Philadelphia held its annual kickoff event in collaboration with the City of Philadelphia’s Art in City Hall and Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, where Mayor Jim Kenney issued a proclamation naming November as CraftMONTH in recognition of the work being done through the organization.
- With this kickoff, CraftNOW invited participants to explore the art of the handmade and the Fluid Boundaries of contemporary craft practices with a two-week event series.
- Abraham Thomas gave his debut lecture in Philadelphia since becoming The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator-in-Charge of the Renwick Gallery in Washington D.C. His keynote Dissolving Boundaries: Craft in an Expansive Field was hosted in partnership with Moore College of Art & Design and The Galleries at Moore.
- The third annual CraftNOW Create saw record attendance and was complimented by other annual programs such as Well-Crafted First Friday and marketing efforts that canvassed the region.
2018 – Making a Difference
- Early in the year, CraftNOW conceptualized a new website with event details and new interactive features highlighting CraftMONTH while being a useful guide for visitors all year.
- A progressive dinner at three private craft collections in Old City provided a platform for the spring fundraiser to generate programmatic resources.
- A small friendraiser was held at the Bok Building with the jewelry artists of JV Collective including Maria Eife, Emily Cobb and Mallory Weston on a Sunday afternoon in June.
- Patrons were invited to a special evening at Bahdeebahdu with Warren Muller and RJ Thornburg as the main fundraising event of the year in September. Once again local restaurateurs as well as Moore Brothers Wine Company and Quaker City Mercantile donated their talents and offerings for guests.
- Partners helped launched a series of tours with studio artists promoting Philadelphia as an urban center for craft-based tourism as CraftNOW began working with the American Craft Council to help develop their 2019 annual conference in Philadelphia.
- 2018’s thematic approach Making a Difference branded a record two dozen exhibitions across the city and included a daylong symposium with Roberto Lugo as the keynote, the fourth annual CraftNOW Create at the Kimmel Center, and a screening of I am Known as An Artist about the life and work of Wharton Esherick with director Carolyn Coal with support from Moderne Gallery.
2019 – Craft Capital
- The thematic approach Craft Capital, interpreted broadly to include place, economics, prominence, etc., will inform all 2019 CraftNOW programming.
- Jodi Throckmorton led CraftNOW patrons on a tour of the Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
- CraftNOW is hosting guests at Victor Keen’s private collection in Bethany Mission Gallery for its spring fundraising event.
- Michelle Millar Fisher, newly named Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, will be keynote for the annual symposium.
- The publication Craft Capital: Philadelphia’s Cultures of Making edited by Glenn Adamson will have an exclusive release with Schiffer Publishing in October. The book boasts some of Philadelphia’s most important craft and contemporary art scholars.
- CraftNOW is a hosting partner for the American Craft Council conference Present Tense coming to Philadelphia October 10 – 12.
- The Society of North American Goldsmiths will be working with CraftNOW during the development of their May 2020 conference in Philadelphia From Grit to Gold.
- CraftNOW is partnering with Reading Terminal Market to offer vendor carts to local artists and makers as part of an initiative to transform Filbert Street.
- CraftNOW has commissioned Econsult Solutions to draft a study that will begin outlining the economic and social benefits of craft in Philadelphia for the organization to share and grow its vision over the next five years.
Top image: Holly Hanessian, Touch In Real Time (Greenwich House Handshake), 2013; multimedia and video installation