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Smithsonian Gets Crafty

Annual Craft Show Starts Thursday

The 2005 Smithsonian Craft Show will celebrate the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian during its preview gala beginning at 6:30 p.m. today at the National Building Museum.

NMAI Director Richard West Jr. and his wife, Mary Beth, are the honorary chairmen for this year’s show. West, the founding director of the NMAI, is the son of an American Indian master artist.

The 23rd annual show will continue Thursday through Sunday at the Building Museum.

Among the artists displaying their works for this year’s show are two American Indian ceramists, Lisa Holt and Harlan Reano from Albuquerque, N.M. They will be making their first trip out of the Southwest to display their work and to give the NMAI one of their pieces, which will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

The couple learned of the craft fair at the famous Indian Fair and Market in Santa Fe, N.M., where they saw a call for entry announcement.

Holt is described by craft show representatives as a “promising young potter” who uses the old Cochiti Pueblo tradition of figurative forms. The Cochiti Pueblo, a modernized Indian Reservation, lies south of Santo Domingo, N.M., and is known for its artists. She learned the craft from her grandmother, Seferina Ortiz, her mother, Juanita Ortiz, and her uncle, Virgil Ortiz, all Cochiti Pueblo artists. They encouraged her to develop her own style in addition to modeling the traditions.

Together, Holt and Reano work to create traditional pueblo pottery, which is formed in clay and fired outdoors, and Reano does the painting.

“I use traditional Santo Domingo and Cochiti designs on our pottery, but I try to give them my own twist and a more contemporary feel,” Reano said in a statement.

In 2003 and 2004, Holt and Reano won first and second place awards for two of their works at the Indian Fair and Market, along with an award for excellence in traditional arts at the market in 2004.

After the show, Holt and Reano will remain in D.C. a few extra days to give demonstrations on creating pueblo pottery at the NMAI.

Also unique to the show this year is a highlight on demonstrations in woodcrafts. Seven exhibitors specializing in wood will take time from their booths to perform demonstrations throughout the four main days of the show. The demonstrators have expressed enthusiasm about the opportunity to display their craft in public.

“My objects are an attempt to tell stories. They give glimpses of possibilities or act as metaphors serving as a transport for ideas and things alike,” Christian Burchard, a wood demonstrator, said in a statement.

Produced annually by the Smithsonian Women’s Committee, the Smithsonian Craft Show bills itself as the nation’s most prestigious juried exhibition and sale of contemporary American crafts. Some 120 master artists and emerging talent from across the country were chosen to exhibit and sell their works in 12 categories: basketry, ceramics, decorative fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, wearable art and wood.

Admission for the craft show is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and Smithsonian Resident Associates and free for children 12 and under. A group rate (12 or more) is offered at $10 per person by advance purchase only.

Proceeds from ticket sales benefit educational, outreach and resource projects within the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit www.smithsoniancraft

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