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Western artists show off their best

A boost in attendance highlighted the 19th annual Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Nearly 1,200 people walked through the Sept. 8-11 exhibit of furniture, fashion and jewelry created by Western artists and displayed at the Pavilion Conference Center at Snow King Resort.

A desk by Andy Ward of Ophir, Colo., winner of a best artist award at the 19th annual Western Design Conference.

“We’re very pleased with the attendance of this year’s event. Plus, artists in the event reported an increase in sales this year. Most of the artists left very happy,” says conference director Nancy McCullough-McCoy.

The Western Design Conference is the foremost exhibition and celebration of what is happening in the world of Western furniture, fashion and home accessories, according to McCullough-McCoy. The four-day, multimillion dollar event featured one-of-a-kind works of museum-quality functional art. Designers and artisans from across the country apply to be a part of the more than 100 juried exhibitions on display, to show their handmade works in woodworking, leather, metal, home accents, jewelry and fashion.

This year, for the first time, five past award winners donated new works of art to the Winners’ Circle Art Auction. All of the proceeds benefited the conference’s annual Design Excellence Awards fund. The auctioneers were Wyoming state Sen. Leland Christensen and Mary Schmitt of Cayuse Western Americana Gallery.

The 2012 Western Design Conference is scheduled for Sept. 6-9.

Mastery Showcase

The Northwest Woodworking Studio presented select furniture pieces from the school’s mastery students Oct. 6 at its annual Mastery Showcase exhibition.

The exhibition also included an open-house event at the school in Portland, Ore. Visitors were encouraged to tour the workshop and discuss design, building and theory with the studio’s featured builders.

The school attracts woodworking students from across the nation who are looking to turn a passion for aesthetics and quality workmanship into a viable and realistic way of living. During their time at the studio, students are taught to develop a signature style all their own while producing gallery quality furniture, according to founder Gary Rogowski.

Next year’s showcase and open house is scheduled for Oct. 4.

Design in Wood call

The San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association issued a call for entries for its 31st annual Design in Wood show, scheduled for June 8- July 4, 2012, at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, Calif.

The competition is open to all woodworkers. A theme for the show, “Space,” has been selected. Two new competition categories were added for 2012 — work designed and executed by computer (laser and/or CNC) — and awards of more than $21,000 are up for grabs.

The organizers say they are particularly looking for entries in the carving, clocks, made for children, and traditional furniture categories.

The entry deadline is April 27, 2012.

Milwaukee winners

The top exhibitors at the recent Fine Furnishings & Fine Crafts Show in Milwaukee were honored by show producer KL Communications and Rockler Woodworking & Hardware.

A panel of industry professionals reviewed the work and booth layouts of 50 exhibitors and selected the following Best of Show winners:

• Best Furniture/Traditional Piece: “Giselle” by A.K. Artistry, Pleasant Prairie, Wis.

• Best Furniture/Contemporary Piece: ‘Lil’ Bench” by Joe Custom, Milwaukee, and “Loop Bench” by Red Iron Studios, Frederic, Wis.

• Best Furniture/Traditional Body of Work: “Kowata Tree” by Gregory Kirby, Milwaukee.

• Best New Product: “One-Piece Table” by Jarvi Furniture, Lake Bluff, Ill.

• Best Student Furniture/Single Piece: “Coffee Table” by Eric Grzetich, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

• Marc Harrison Award for Marketing Excellence: Nancy Kennedy Designs, Eureka, Calif.

The judges included Sebastian Schmaling, founding partner of Milwaukee-based Johnsen Schmaling Architects; Mel Buchanan, assistant curator of 20th century design at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and Fo Wilson, assistant professor at Columbia College in Chicago.


Fine Furnishing & Fine Crafts Show.

Northwest Woodworking Studio, 1002 S.E. 8th Ave., Portland, OR 97214. Tel: 503-284-1644.

Western Design Conference, P.O. Box 7889, Jackson, WY 83002. Tel: 307-690-9719.

San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association.

This article orginally appeared in the December 2011 issue.

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