Artists on view from top to bottom:
Shop Maine Craft presents:
The Ruby Jubilee — Celebrating 40 years of Maine Craft
A group exhibition featuring Maine Craft Association members at Maine Craft Portland.
Opening reception: November 3, 2023 | 4 – 7 PM
On view November 3-24, 2023
This MCA member’s exhibition focuses on the central theme of the Ruby; the gemstone associated with the 40th anniversary representing a lifetime of shared experiences, memories, and growth. A powerful stone and symbol representing devotion and passion, our members and their works exhibited embody the true nature of the ruby through their craftsmanship and artistry.
The Maine Crafts Association was founded in 1983 to support and connect Maine’s craft artists. Over the past forty years MCA has grown to serve over 600 members living and working statewide, offering unique programs designed to help artists grow their creative practices and businesses and engage with the greater arts community. In 2023 we will celebrate this landmark anniversary by showcasing a collection of craft objects created by our members. Over 40 pieces made by MCA members were selected for exhibition.
Ebenezer Akakpo of Akakpo & Co
Ebenezer Akakpo is a remarkable contemporary artist celebrated for his captivating exploration of traditional African artistic techniques in the modern world. Hailing from Ghana, his early years were immersed in a culture steeped in artistic heritage, profoundly shaping his creative journey. Akakpo’s creations serve as a seamless bridge between the past and the present, fusing traditional craftsmanship with a contemporary sensibility. Ebenezer Akakpo’s collaboration with the Maine Craft Association represents a harmonious fusion of artistic vision and a deep appreciation for artisanal craftsmanship. His affiliation with the organization has not only enriched the Maine craft community. Still, it has also provided Akakpo a platform to share his unique creative perspective with a fresh and diverse audience.
Erica Schlueter of Bent Metal Jewelry
Erica Schlueter studied fashion and textile design and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fibers. Realizing early on that it would be hard to make a living as a fiber/textile craft person Schlueter turned to jewelry making, her designs incorporate textile textures and techniques. Given an opportunity to make something for a show that did not have to be jewelry the thought of a silk ruby pillow came to mind. The structures of the pillows are the proportions of a brilliant cut gem stone, 58 facets, the cut that shows off a gemstone, at its best, to reflect light. Because I do no online retail I am grateful to the Maine Craft Association for being a supportive environment for Craft to be seen and touched in the “flesh” and for the well informed and lovely staff that are also educators about craft. The organization is in itself a Craft, from the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary Craft 1: skill in planning, making, or executing.
Otis Baron of OCB Design
Otis graduated with distinction from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, where he studied metalworking, foundry, and mold making, as well as glass blowing, paper making, and many other facets of art – techniques that lend themselves remarkably well to his furniture design. He approaches everything he creates as sculpture with a function, and his lighting is the perfect expression of this ideal. Working with MCA has been an invaluable asset as I continue to pursue my craft as a woodworker and designer. They have been endlessly supportive and a true pleasure to work with over the years.
Lee Gordon of Gordo Glass
Lee Gordon is a talented glass artisan who’s work draws inspiration from the natural environments of his coastal hometown. Working with hot molten glass, he layers earth-toned colors, patterns, and textures using an abstract painterly technique that brings life to the landscapes that inspire him. The results are unique hand-blown works of art. My time as an MCA member over the last 3 years has been incredibly beneficial to my career as a craft artist . MCA has supported and fostered my passion in glass providing opportunities in sales and shows and giving me the groundwork to grow my art .
Larry Clifford of Fly Leaf Gallery
Larry Clifford, After earning a B.A. in Art from Northwestern University then an M.A. in BiomedicalCommunications from the University of Texas, spent 15 years producing award-winning biomedical illustrations, with an emphasis on traditional media like pen-and-ink, carbon dust, and watercolor. At this stage of my career, I’m thrilled to be getting back to my roots as a maker of fine art. I am a recent member of Maine Crafts Association, but I’ve found the group to be very supportive and collaborative.
Bryan Hansen of B Hansen Metals
Bryan Hansen is a metalsmith and jeweler originally from the midwest. They use hand fabrication and sand casting to create work that straddles the line between industrial and organic, giving their jewelry an almost ‘lost to time’ feeling. My very first thought when asked to create work around the ruby was of a beautiful ruby red apple. These earrings are sandcast in sterling silver and set with round ruby cabochons. They depicted a swinging hand reaching up into a tree to pluck an apple from its bough. Maine Craft Association has been an incredible opportunity for me as a craftsperson. The shop is amazing and filled to the brim with talented makers and even better are the wonderful staff. In my time as a Maine Craft Association member I have been given wonderful opportunities that have helped me learn so much about my own practice and about my fellow makers’ practices as well.
Carole Crotty Fallon has worn many hats in life but none that has brought out the creative side as much as this wonderful medium of fused glass. It gives me such joy to pick out a piece of glass and turn it into a three dimensional object. Since being a part of MCA I have been inspired and encouraged to expand my skills and to push beyond the functional pieces I have been making to create more abstract art. My repertoire has expanded from just bowls and platters (which I still love to do) to making intricate hanging art and sculptures. I hope you enjoy my pieces, and the exhibition.
Alice Nasto lives and works from her studio in Bremen, Maine, creating wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery intended to bring joy in everyday use. Her work is influenced by the geometric lines and color palettes of Mid-century modern design. She approaches her craft with a sense of exploration and discovery, mixing her own glazes from raw materials and constantly experimenting to achieve bold surfaces with depth and variation. She is a new member of the Maine Craft Association and participated in the Portland Fine Craft Show this year.
Christine Peters is a full time jewelry artist who currently lives in Edgecomb, Maine. She works with silver and gold, as well as precious and semiprecious stones, and fabricates each piece in her home studio. Christine is highly influenced by the natural beauty that surrounds her in Maine and beyond. I have been involved in the Maine Crafts Association for at least 15 years and have been honored to be included in this community of Maine Makers. The support and encouragement in all levels of the organization has truly made a difference in my career.
Bonnie Bishoff and J.M. Syron have been collaborative artists for 37 years, working in furniture, wall sculpture and jewelry, exploring the use of polymer as a decorative surface using millefiori techniques to create highly detailed veneers. They have exhibited in a wide range of venues from galleries – national and abroad to fine craft shows with the Smithsonian Museum, American Crafts Council, SOFA Chicago and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and museum exhibitions including the Peabody Essex, The Museum of Art and Design in NewYork, with work in the permanent collection of the Racine Art Museum. In their work they explore pattern and form: patterns reflecting the exuberance of life force; growth in all its iterations and form defining the beauty of structure and supported interrelationships. We have been working with MCA since moving north from Massachusetts in 2014. We’ve participated in numerous craft shows and several individual and group exhibitions as well as the Stitch runway. It has been an extraordinary pleasure to be embraced so fully as seasoned craft artists upon our arrival in Maine and to work with an organization that has the benefit of artists truly at its heart. We have been impressed with the wide range of projects launched by MCA to help artists get their work out to the public and to network and support each other in our continued growth.
Jaime Wing is a printmaker, artist and designer for the past 12 years and a member of Portland’s own community print shop, Pickwick Independent Press, since 2014. I specialize in traditional relief printmaking, most specifically wood block and letterpress. What inspires me the most is natural forms and animals, as well as my experience as part of the LGBTQ community.
I have been happy to work with and for the MCA since 2018. Both pieces feature red blossoms modeled after a bright, scarlet geranium in a pot on my back deck, the only flower I planted this year that has thrived. Red geraniums are a symbol of determination. After spending a few months this year recovering from acute burnout, my creative fatigue has started to abate. Part of this journey was learning to release past failures and to meet each new moment as a fresh opportunity.
Mark Hutton has been a Potter for 40 years and has worked in High Fired Stoneware and Porcelain since 1988. For much of that time he has focused on Copper Reds. Having been a member of the Maine Craft Guild for 35 years, he became a MCA member when the two organizations merged.
Amy Smith, a handweaver, working on non computerized looms, weaving in eco-friendly Tencel. I gather fistfuls of the changing light and colors all around us, locating them for a moment within my weavings. I hope my pieces are worn so these colors can continue their journeys. As a member of MCA and the mentor program, participating in my first national show with the MCA booth was an important gateway for me. I’ve gone to lots of places since, but that experience was crucial. Thank you, MCA!
Emily melds a rebellious spirit with a sophisticated sensibility in her metalwork, combining precious metals and gemstones to create edgy and wearable accessories. She first discovered metalsmithing at the age of 15 and has continuously sought out ways to evolve her practice and skills. Emily joined MCA in 2018 and has participated in numerous events since then. MCA has assisted in the evolution of her practice by providing opportunities for growth and development, as well as by fostering a strong community of makers.
Robert Sheckler of Redmond Philbert
In my practice, I create modern brooms and brushes by exploring color and material within the techniques of a heritage craft. I use simple tools to create my work: tension is generated by pulling cord from a stick under my feet, and brooms are held for stitching with a clamp made of wood and thumb screws. Finding simplicity in the process allows me a lot of room to play with color, style, and material, resulting in work that is as joyful as it is functional. For me, membership in the Maine Crafts Association is first and foremost inspirational. I am inspired by the work that I see, the stories that I read, and most of all the conversations that I have with fellow artists and makers.
I make useful pots for two principal reasons: because I love to make them and because I believe using handmade things can enrich the lives of the users. I explore color, pattern and symbols, often sprung from nature, in collaboration with the form to increase a sense of beauty and mystery. I see my pots as a bridge between art and daily life. I’ve been a member of Maine Craft Association since it’s early years in the mid-1980’s. It has grown so much and become an amazing resource for Maine craftspeople in so many ways, and I am hugely grateful for it’s existence. Thank you MCA!
Mary Spencer of The Potter’s House
I have been a potter for almost 40 years now. Of all the functional ware I make, bowls are my favorite to throw on the wheel. I could have a studio called just bowls.I recall sitting in a room at the Maine Arts Commission in Augusta talking about the Center for Maine Craft with members of MCA and the Highlands Guild. This is when I became involved with MCA.
Cathy Heinz of Cathy Heinz Designs
A longtime lover of jewelry, Cathy Heinz is a thoughtful maker focused on clean, workable, elegant creations through timeless feminine forms. Based in her Maine studio, Cathy creates a series of production work that is loved around the state but her true passion may be in custom design. “I want my jewelry to be fresh, interesting, beautifully crafted, and unique: a reflection of my personal desire to continually learn and grow as an artist. I seek out new skills and techniques that will improve my pieces and lead to deeper creative insights. My body of work is constantly evolving with new designs and materials.
Whitney Gill of Maine Crafts Association
With a focus on function, Whitney Gill throws white clay on the wheel into simple forms and decorates with bold brushstrokes, stencils, and sgraffito. Her surfaces hold intuitive movement and gentle repetition with hints of bright color. The irresistibility of clay led to her first introduction to the Maine Crafts Association in the spring of 2013: During a college ceramics course she became acquainted with visiting MCA artist-members, and a few months later took a gallery position at the Center for Maine Craft in West Gardiner. In the ten years following, Whitney has built her creative career alongside the growing organization and is honored to now serve as its executive director.
As we usher into the next chapter of craft and community, we are honored to showcase this group of our wonderful members and their devoted practices. Thank you for supporting the Maine Craft Association and making this milestone possible. Join us in celebrating during First Friday the evening of November 3rd from 4-7pm at Maine Craft Portland. This exhibition will be on view from November 3rd to the 24th, 2023.
Exhibition curated by the Maine Craft Portland Team.