New Florida CraftArt exhibit features top contemporary artists

Though we live in a tech-driven age, there’s no lack of awe for things made the old-fashioned way: with the tender care of human hands.

If you’re looking to find some of the best craftsmanship, most original and creative use of craft techniques, you might want to take the time to swing by Florida CraftArt’s 70th Member’s Juried Exhibition Contemporary Craft at its Finest. Featuring 46 artists -- most Florida-based -- the show opening Friday, Jan. 29, will represent a variety of craft mediums from felted wool to jewelry pieces. You might even think twice about gourd art as it gets a major upgrade here.

Among the Florida artists whose work will be on display: Diane Lublinski of Pembroke Pines, Emilie Pritchard of Panama City, Anne Kantor, Melissa Fair, and Edmund Knudsen of Tampa, Stuart Peterman of Odessa, Melissa Menzer of Spring Hill, Sue Griggs Allen of Sarasota, Maria Saraceno, Sarah Butz, and Maureen Shankey of St. Petersburg,  and Dawn Waters of Gulfport. 
 
Highlighting the best of contemporary craft, the theme is diversity. From these pieces, guest juror Susana Weymouth, the Chief Development Officer for The Florida Orchestra (previously the Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Businesses for Culture & the Arts), will be selecting award winners who will be announced at a Zoom opening reception. 
 
“We also have People’s Choice Award. People can come into gallery and can vote for their favorite piece, or can vote on Facebook and the piece with the most likes will win,” says Katie Deits, Executive Director of Florida CraftArt.
 
Once award winners have been selected, they will be gathering for a Zoom artist talk on Feb. 9 to talk about their work, as well as some other artists that may have some more unusual pieces, like the felted Dali piece, for instance.
 
What’s most important to consider is how the appreciation of craft has gained traction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
“The process of craft itself is of healing, of creating something and putting your focus on something you’re making with your hands. It takes you to another part of your brain,” Deits explains. “People love to look at things that were made with love and caring from an artist.”
 
While the Florida CraftArt exhibition runs Jan. 29 to Mar. 20, make sure to note new COVID hours:
  • Open Tuesdays by appointment
  • Wednesdays.-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
And here's a link for the Zoom artist talk on February 9 at 5 p.m.

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Read more articles by Caitlin Albritton.

Caitlin Albritton is a freelance writer based in Tampa with a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design and a MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art. When she's not looking at art throughout town, she can be found making it. You can keep up with her visual art on Instagram @caitlinalbritton or on her website. Visit her recent line of inlay “wearable paintings.”
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