Kentucky Crafted: The Market is returning to Lexington for an encore and hoping for a repeat of last year's surprising smash hit.
In 2012, the state-sponsored art market, which is open to wholesale buyers and to the public, came back to Lexington after decades in Louisville.
It opened to rave reviews from artists and buyers alike, said Emily Moses, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Arts Council, which organizes the market.
■ Attendance was up 67 percent, to 10,000 people from 6,000.
■ Sales for artists were up by an estimated $85,000.
■ Artists planning to come for 2013 jumped 16 percent to more than 200 total.
"Word got around," Moses said, explaining the increase in participation.
"In every single way, last year's event was a success," she said. "It was a real pleasant surprise."
For many artists, even those who had been with the Kentucky Crafted program for many years, 2012's market was an economic boon.
"We had artists in the program who had their best year ever," Moses said. "There were people who did enough sales for the entire year at that show."
Staci McKnight Maney, a mixed-media artist in Lexington, said her show last year was "wonderful."
She said that Saturday morning there was a wait at the door to get in.
"That invigorated all the artists," she said. "You could see all the exhibitors getting excited."
Her work is all one-of-a-kind, so she uses the market to generate solo shows at galleries.
In the weeks leading up to this year's market, she was "in frantic mode, trying to get it all done," she said.
Sales generated from last year's market were equal to the best year she had ever had in Louisville but without the expenses of an overnight stay or a road trip.
"The energy of the show was so good," she said. "For me, this is my biggest show of the year. Most of us get all of our new products, designs and ideas ready to introduce at the market."
Maney has talked it up to her fellow artists at the Lexington Art League's Loudoun House. "I have heard from a lot of people who said they didn't go last year but definitely plan to go this year," she said.
For Rachel Savané, of Savané Silver on Broadway and Short Street in Lexington, Kentucky Crafted: The Market is the only show she will do all year.
Known for her high-dollar pieces with amazing stones, she will this year launch her sixth "Elements" line of less expensive jewelry.
"It was the first show of my career in 1997," Savané said. "It launched my career. I was on hiatus for many years when I opened my gallery, but now I've come back. ... It's so well put on. It's big. The vast majority are Kentucky artists, so I'm proud to be part of it."
Still, last year was an eye-opener.
"It was something I've never seen before," she said. "That's exciting."
Her sales at the show were strong, but the dividend didn't end there: She got gallery business all year because of it. Even at Christmas, shoppers were mentioning that they had seen her work at the market and remembered her at present time.
Mick Shambro, a woodcut artist with a shop on Maxwell Street, also got year-round business from the market last year, including an order for 60 of his small wood horse clocks.
"When you move a show, it can be iffy," he said. "But they advertised it well and the crowd was tremendous. On retail day, the place was slammed. There were bodies there, and the bodies were buying."
Perhaps even more surprising: The market had huge turnout despite the tornadoes that hit the area that weekend. One of the days open only to wholesale buyers, Friday, was the day of the tornadoes, and much of Lexington and Central Kentucky shut down early; the first day the market opened to the public was the day after the tornadoes that ravaged West Liberty and other communities.
"The people of Lexington and the surrounding counties turned out in full force for the event," Moses said. "In spite of all those terrible things, the people in Fayette County and people from all over the state came out."
Central Kentucky has embraced the market, which features primarily Kentucky artists and musicians, as well as Kentucky-crafted food products, Moses said.
To capitalize on that, this year's market will have only one day limited to wholesale buyers; two days will be for public sales.
"Right now in Lexington there's a real resurgence in the downtown cultural scene, and the market fit into that so well," she said. "There was so much support from downtown merchants."
Joe Fields, director of convention management for the Lexington Convention Center, said they were thrilled to get the market back to Lexington in 2012 after 30 years in Louisville, and just as excited to have it this year.
"It was a leap of faith for them to move," Fields said. "I think they wanted to evaluate it and see how it played out. ... Then they committed not long after to come back this year. Hopefully, we make it a long-term thing."
IF YOU GO
Kentucky Crafted: The Market 2013
When: Open to the public 9 a.m.-6 p.m. March 2; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 3. (Trade-only day is March 1.)
Where: Lexington Convention Center, 430 W. Vine St.
Tickets: One-day tickets are $8 online, $10 at the door. Two-day tickets are $12 online, $15 at the door. Children 15 and younger are admitted free with a paying adult. Advance tickets can be purchased online through Feb. 27.
Learn more: Kycraft.ky.gov
These acts will perform on the Kentucky Stage.
March 2: Carla Van Hoose and the Kentucky Traveler Band, 9 a.m.; Richard Goering, 10; Mitch Barrett, 11; Arthur Hatfield and Buck Creek, noon; Made to be Played, conversation with Kentucky luthiers, 1 p.m.; Hog Operation, 2; Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers, 3; Stirfry Musette, 4; and Appalatin, 5.
March 3: LaMay & Reese, 10 a.m.; Kyle Meadows with Tisa McGraw, 11; Greg Schaber, noon; Reel World String Band, 1 p.m.; OslandDailey Duo, 2; Heath and Molly, 3; and No Tools Loaned, 4.
Made to be Played: Traditional Art of Kentucky Luthiers : Special exhibition of the art and tradition of Kentuckians who are masters in the making and repairing of guitars, fiddles, banjos, mandolins, dulcimers and other stringed instruments.
Architectural artists : Work by Kentucky artists who work closely with architects, designers, builders and individual clients to incorporate unique handcrafted fixtures into homes and businesses.
Emerging student artists: Work by young artists who are currently students in art departments at area colleges and universities.
Living Arts and Science Center: On Saturday, repurpose T-shirts into beaded market bags. On Sunday, create one-of-a-kind artworks through the fun and tactile process of wet-felting. Noon-3 p.m. both days.
Explorium of Lexington: Take a swing on a paint pendulum to create art and learn about the laws of physics.