For the 60th year, Guilford Art Center (GAC) will bring its Craft Expo to the Guilford town green, featuring a line-up of more than 180 artists with talent that is dazzling GAC’s new Craft Expo coordinator, Dawn Tiscia.
“I’m just in awe of the artists who are going to be on the green,” says Tiscia. “The amount of talent that is coming to Guilford is just incredible.”
More than 7,000 people will descend on the Guilford Green during the three-day event, which takes place Friday, July 14 to Sunday, July 16. Gates open at noon on July 14, when the event runs until 9 p.m. Hours on Saturday, July 15 are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the show on Sunday, July 16 runs from noon to 5 p.m.
But before the gates open, anyone who wants to help Tiscia, GAC Executive Director Maureen Belden, and the rest of the GAC team at the Craft Expo is invited to volunteer now by signing up in advance with GAC.
“There are a lot of volunteer positions we need to fill, because it’s such a big event,” says Tiscia.
Once GAC’s 60th Craft Expo opens, guests can expect to spend hours being entertained with browsing, buying, artful activities, and stops at the food court. This year’s food court offerings include wine, beer, and food from The Marketplace at Guilford Food Center, as well as goodies from Perk on Church and still more food from popular vendors from around the area.
Admission is once again just $9 per day ($7 for seniors) and $15 for multi-day tickets. Savvy savers can download GAC’s $1 off admission coupon at www.guilfordartcenter.org. As always, the entry is free for GAC members, active military members, and kids younger than 12. All gate proceeds benefit non-profit GAC’s community programs and year-round educational programs for students of all ages and skill levels. GAC’s classrooms, offices, and gallery/shop are located at 411 Church Street.
GAC’s Craft Expo is one of the top-ranked and longest-running craft shows in the Northeast, Tiscia notes. The show celebrates the arts by bringing in an extensive array of handmade crafts by American artists.
“It’s really amazing when you think that this has been held on the Guilford Green annually for 60 years, since 1957,” says Tiscia. “It’s always been a really wonderful opportunity to connect with artists one-on-one and to see all of their handmade, high-caliber work.”
New Artisans Booked
Tiscia says more than 50 new artisans will be joining the expo this year.
She says she loves all of them, but that several “must-see” vendors include Autumn Chip, selling women’s handcrafted shoes from mixed materials that are made in the U.S.A.; Chris Williams, who creates life-like metal sculptures including a garden octopus and a magic dragon; Steve Gresham, who lives in Guilford, will be offering his natural bowls, trays, and cutting boards from local hardwoods; Melissa Rocklin, who will be selling hanging mobiles with an interesting combination of mixed materials; Wendy Stauffer will have a booth full of beautifully patterned quilts; Jorge Gill will bring his colorful leather belts and purses; and Jamie Lausier is a candle maker to uses her own custom molds and creates her own scents.
Among the one-of-a-kind works at every turn will be high-quality crafts of ceramics, wearable and non-wearable fiber, metal and non-metal jewelry, glass, leather, metal, mixed media, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, and wood. Design styles range from decorative to functional and traditional to contemporary.
“There’s not only a lot to see—you can also learn a lot,” says Tiscia. “You can watch our demos or you can talk directly to the artists and find out more about what they do. What a great opportunity to bring kids and high school kids to talk to the exhibitors and find out how they do this. Their stories must be phenomenal.”
Tiscia has a penchant for teachable moments, thanks in part to her 18 years with Madison Public Schools as a paraprofessional, including the past 10 years working with students in the Daniel Hand High School library. Tiscia and her husband, Gary, raised their three children in Madison, where the family still resides.
A crafter in her own right, Tiscia works in fabric and wood and purveys her pillows, quilts, and beach bags at holiday craft shows. Tiscia has long been a fan of GAC and its Craft Expo.
“I knew about Guilford Art Center and the Craft Expo on the Green, and I think that’s what drew me in to this job,” she says. “I’ve been in local craft shows for over 30 years, mostly at churches and schools. Expo is completely different. These are definitely fine arts crafts, by phenomenal artists, dedicated artists. These people are all in. They’re incredible.”
Food, Craft Demos, and More
Tiscia said the food court will be packed with numerous different cuisines including:
• Caseus Cheese truck
• Calandrelli Kettle Corn
• Naples Pizza
• Ashley’s Ice Cream
• and The Market Place at Guilford, which will be offering grilled chicken wraps, sandwiches, salads, and more.
Just talking about it gets her “hungry and excited about the show,” she says.
Other special features over the three-day event include craft demonstrations by GAC instructors including clay and painting, live music, a silent auction of exhibitor donated crafts, a family art tent with craft projects for kids of all ages, and a sale of GAC student work.
Tiscia joined GAC in late March. While Craft Expo 2017’s professional, peer-juried selection had been completed months earlier, Tiscia’s work was just beginning. Among other responsibilities, she’s been busy helping to promote the event, acting as a daily liaison for the artists and finalizing the placement of each crafter to create just the right mix under the big tents and booths.
“It’s a huge job, but it’s kind of fun,” Tiscia says. “I get to look at all the crafters who are coming and get an idea of what you’re putting together on the green.”
Guilford Art Center presents Craft Expo 2017 on the Guilford Green Friday, July 14 through Sunday, July 16, rain or shine. Visit www.guilfordartcenter.org for information on tickets, a discount ticket coupon, events, artists, and other offerings; or call Dawn Tiscia at 203-453-5947, ext. 13 for general show information. To volunteer, contact Maureen Belden at 203-453-5947, ext. 12. Pem McNerney contributed to this article.