This weekend, the Lexington Convention center will be crowded with booths — some stacked high with sculpture or jewelry, others strung with tapestry and weavings, while yet others serve as the display for deft and vibrant watercolors. This marks the 34th annual Kentucky Crafted: The Market, which is the Kentucky Arts Council’s signature event, produced each year featuring art, craft, literature, music, film and food found in the Commonwealth.
More than 200 Kentucky Crafted and select out-of-state artists, musicians and artisanal food producers make their finest work available to wholesale buyers and the general public during the three-day event.
Tom Musgrave, the communications director of the Kentucky Arts Council, says that all the artists who are invited to exhibit are in a special league.
“This is a juried program,” Musgrave says, “meaning that all the artists who are participating have been invited to do so because of their technical skill. Those are the artists who are considered ‘Kentucky Crafted.’”
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One of the artists setting up a booth is Grace Wintermyer, a Kentucky printmaker whose work deals with the natural world, often focusing on elements that fall beneath our notice. Like many of the exhibitioners at Kentucky Crafted, Wintermyer utilizes artistic practices that seem out of a different time.
“In my mind, printmaking is a glorious combination of the industrial and the delicate,” she says. “I'll spend over 15 hours sketching, revising, tracing, transferring, and scribing a design onto a zinc plate, etch the lines with copper sulfate, cover the plate in thick oil-based ink, polish away the excess, blanket the plate in cotton paper, run it through the press, and out of all that chaos pull a clean print with precise lines.
“Its a great fit for my favorite subject: botanical illustrations that highlight the beauty and symmetry of often ignored plants or weeds.”
This will be Wintermyer’s second year exhibiting at Kentucky Crafted, an opportunity that was originally made possible by another Kentucky art institution, the Berea Arts Accelerator program. The Berea Arts Accelerator Program — housed out of Gallery 123 — is a 16-month fellowship managed by the city tourism commission. In an effort to preserve the working artist culture of Berea, young craftspeople are selected to receive artistic and business development courses, including a fast-track business course, a shared studio and gallery space, opportunity to teach workshops and school groups, and public exposure at community events.
Wintermyer completed her fellowship with the program in October of last year and has since been renting her studio space from the city and continuing to sell her work in local galleries and by commission.
“I was one of the first five artists to pilot the program,” she says. “So I feel a deep gratitude and ownership of the resources the program provides. Last year the artists at Gallery 123 were invited to exhibit as guest artists; it was very much a group effort to manage the booth and support each other through the three days of whirlwind conversations.”
According to Musgrave, the camaraderie fostered between artists during the three-day exhibition is one of the best outcomes for the participants.
“There are a lot of things to learn — how to set up and arrange your booth, how to best sell and price your artwork,” Musgrave says. “In my time there, I have seen the artists really embrace this sense of community and helping each other.”
This year Wintermyer will be sharing booth space with the current program fellows, but with the distinction of having juried into the Kentucky Crafted program as an independent artist.
“Looking back at our first show, I realize that my artistic style and subject has changed very little, but my ideas of presenting and placing value on my work are much more refined,” Wintermyer says. “As a beginning professional artist, exhibiting at Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a very steep and very efficient learning curve. I have gained confidence in my work and our local craft industry which otherwise I could not have anticipated.”
If You Go
Kentucky Crafted: The Market
What: Event featuring art, craft, literature, music, film and food from more than 200 Kentucky artists, craftspeople and vendors.
When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 5, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 6. (Marh 4 open only to wholesalers.)
Where: Lexington Center, 430 W. Vine St.
Tickets: $10 one day adult passes, $15 two-day passes, free ages 15 and younger.