(Columbus, OH)—Twelve artists were honored with awards of excellence in Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s 26th annual juried members’ competition, “Best of 2009.” Opening May 3 and continuing through June 21 at the Ohio Craft Museum, the exhibition features 110 works in clay, glass, metal, wood, fiber and mixed media by 79 artists. Juror Wendy H. Outland, an independent curator, arts consultant and president of Who Knows Art, from Asheville, North Carolina, chose the work from over 332 entries by 131 artists.  “Within this group of selected images, some artists were chosen for their dedication to time-honored traditions, others for bucking all constraints and offering something new and refreshing,” Outland commented.

“It is a challenging task to whittle down scores of images so the resulting exhibition (not too big, not too small) fits neatly into a predetermined number of square feet,” she added. “Knowing that virtually two out of every three pieces must be eliminated, and that there needs to be a balance of scale and media, the juror sets to work.  An enjoyable process for experienced visual arts administrators, this time it was particularly so because I had arrived from the Southeast and was unfamiliar with most of the artists.  Try as we may to be impartial, jurors’ brains still present background info about a known artist when we view his/her work.”

Outland chose award winners as well: The $1000 Challenge Award for Excellence—the exhibition’s top prize—went to metals artists David and Roberta Williamson for a body of work. “David and Roberta Williamson are outstanding in their field, the composition of every piece a marvel,” Outland stated. Ceramics artist William Brouillard of Cleveland received the Watkins Printing Poster Award for Excellence for Red Octopus Fish Bowl, and Toledo glass artist Monica Chapon received the Postcard Award for Excellence for Some Days are Good. Winners of cash awards are (name, title of work, award): Lisa Wilson, Particle Wave No. 2, Pamela Morris Thomford Award for Excellence in Metals;

Mary Pearse, Feeding Desire, To Have and To Hold, and One Pearl, Many Pleasures, Jane H. Zimmerman Award for Excellence in Body of Work; Susanne Gregg, The Gathering, Ruth Lantz Award for Excellence in Fiber; Susan  Shie, The Food Scales/Justice: Card #11 in the Kitchen Tarot, Quilt Surface Design International Ltd. Award; Derek Reeverts, Hen House, Brian Lonsway Memorial Award for Humor in Craft; Sandra Gross, Continuum, Dominick Labino Memorial Award for Excellence in Glass; Caroline Kelley, Leaf Bowl, Barbara Robinson Award for Excellence in Traditional Craft; Sumiko Takada, Inlaid Vase #3, Friends of Phyllis Clark Award for Excellence in Functional Ceramics; and Chelsey Radabaugh, Reflections, Banded Cups Overseas, and Ephemeral Pleasures: Blue, Emerging Craftsman Award.

Award winners will be honored during the exhibition’s opening reception, to be held May 3 at the Ohio Craft Museum from 1 to 4 p.m. At this time, we will also present Ohio Designer Craftsmen’s annual Outstanding Achievement Award, which acknowledges the craftsmanship, leadership or patronage of an individual or institution in the field of fine craft.

This year’s recipient is Tom Muir, a metals artist and chair of the jewelry and metalsmithing department at Bowling Green State University. Since the beginning of his teaching career, Muir has actively supported his students in their pursuit of a career in metals. In fact, several former students’ pieces, along with Muir’s own work, will be shown in the “Best of 2009.” For his efforts, Muir was recently nominated for the Distinguished Teaching Professor Award at Bowling Green. While busy with teaching, Muir still finds time for his own work, which can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution; and the White House Collection of American Crafts, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. He is the recipient of an Arts Midwest/National Endowment for the Arts Regional Artist Fellowship, Michigan Council for the Arts Fellowship, and a number of Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship Awards.

After closing at the Ohio Craft Museum, the exhibition will travel to the Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth, where it will be on view July 3–August 26, then on to the Mansfield Art Center, where it can be seen from September 13–October 25, and finally to the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, November 12–December 19.

The Ohio Craft Museum is located at 1665 West Fifth Avenue, Columbus, Ohio 43212. Hours: Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 1–4 p.m., during exhibitions only.  Admission and parking are free. Telephone (614) 486-4402, or see our website www.ohiocraft.org, for further information. The museum is owned and operated by Ohio Designer Craftsmen and receives ongoing funding from the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ohio Arts Council and the Columbus Foundation.