The ART in Artistry in Wood
By Don Mertz
The Artistry in Wood Show in Dayton, Ohio continues to be one of the premier carving and woodworking shows in North America. With over two hundred exhibitors from twenty eight states and Canada participating, and 4,645 visitors attending the two day show, yet it is not size alone that makes this event so distinctive. All woodcarving shows seek to provide a setting for woodcarvers to show creative work, participate in competition and experience the comradery of carving enthusiasts. But beyond that noble purpose, the greater interest is to provide a format for the encouragement and advancement of woodcarving and woodworking as an art form and to grow that art in other wood artists in whatever level of ability each possesses. All woodcarving shows have their place and purpose. All wood artists owe it to themselves and to the public to support, participate and do anything possible to continue having woodcarving shows.
What makes Artistry in Wood so unique is the many forms of art present in the experience of the show itself. The art in the medium of wood is evident in each and every carving and woodworking project. That is obviously what anyone expects in a show that presents creative works of art for show, for competition and for sale to collectors and gift givers. But what makes Dayton a premier show is the less obvious ART in the Artistry in Wood.
First is the Art of Generosity. Woodcarvers and woodworkers by the attitude that compels them to create beauty in the medium of wood are also very helpful and giving of encouragement, how-to tips, wood, tools, patterns and projects to others who show any interest in the craft and art of shaping wood. That is one of the guiding purposes of sponsoring and working so hard to organize and put on shows and competition. Lots of “labors of love” through the work before, during and after a show by an army of volunteers is generously given. But more than that form of laboring in love is the greater Art of Generosity engrained in Dayton’s Artistry in Wood. In 1993 the AIW committee was in search of a charity to enhance and expand the impact of why such a show existed. They visited a local United Cerebral Palsy agency (now United Rehabilitation Services) and were very impressed with the impact of their labors of love in helping so many children and adults with special needs. The AIW committee decided to make Artistry in Wood the best woodcarving/woodworking show in America and to have the biggest impact on the organization by donating $5,000 each year to URS. URS now serves four hundred children and adults with special needs each day. For twenty-five years AIW has given $5,000 to charity each year and will continue to so do for years to come. This Art of Generosity has enabled AIW to grow each year into one of the best shows of its type. The more one gives, the more one receives in order to continue to give. Thus the reason for the Silent Auction, Show Raffle, Banquet Raffle and after expenses revenue is to extend the spirit of the show into year-round service through United Rehabilitation Services. That puts ART into Artistry in Wood.
Still with the spirit of generosity the Art of Creating a Memory is the next ART in Artistry in Wood. The Western Ohio Woodworkers hosts a children’s hands-on workshop with woodworking projects they can build with the help of WOW members. 180 children created a memory by putting together 280 woodworking project kits. Their memories were as large as the smile on their face as they carried home their own “handmade” project. WOW also assembled 750 toys for local hospitalized children to go with previously assembled toys in the Smile-A-Minute program.
Memories were also created through the demonstrators’ presentations on subjects of interest to show visitors. The presenters included Dave Stetson, Wayne Barton, Diane Soper, Jim Dupler, Tom Drummer, and Scott Phillips. Wood Carving Illustrated hosted at their booth one hour demonstration workshops on various woodcarving subjects with expert woodcarvers sharing their talent.
The ART of Competition is enhanced because AIW draws together carvers and woodworkers from across the nation who enters some of the best quality carvings and woodworking projects to be evaluated by respected and knowledgeable judges. Each year there is a sense of awe and amazement with the quality, variety and excellence of these creative works of art in the medium of wood. This year was no exception as can be seen in the photographs presented with this article. Woodcarving Competition considered 331 entries while in Woodworking there were 53 entries. Besides ribbons, 70 cash prizes totaled $5,125 were awarded. Judges in woodcarving were Stu Martin, Gary Denzler and Wayne Barton and woodworking judges were Roger Horung, Jim McCann and Larry Sanders. Best of Show in Woodcarving was Josh Guge, Second Best of Show, Josh Guge and Third Best of Show, Susan Dorsch. Best of Show in Woodworking was Bruce Burkholder, Second Best of Show, Jay Kinsinger and Third Best of Show, Mark Waninger.
The ART of Serendipity becomes evident in the unexpected discoveries of the AIW experience. First time visitors and first time exhibitors are like children in a candy store, having any expectations surpassed by all the wonderful things discovered down each row and at each table. The variety and quality of carvings and woodworking creations are awe inspiring while at the same time sparking imagination and dreams of being able to create similar creations by one’s own adventure into the art. Collectors and gift givers have plenty from which to choose as well as personally getting to know the artists. Exhibitors and visitors alike enjoy the impromptu conversations that develop as well as the mutual help with questions like “How did it you do this?” or “How can I get started in doing what your do?” There are thirty vendors offering knives, tools, books, wood, rough outs and supplies for the art and craft of working in wood. Vendors not only have well stocked items but are eager to offer helpful answers and suggestions to each patron’s needs.
The ART in Unexpected Places is many and varied. Almost every hour of the show a free door prize of donated carvings is offered to visitors. The Silent Auction of carving and woodworked projects on any subject depicting a Winter Holiday between November and March was a bonus of surprises. Two Raffles offered donated items by several artists in wood which also included a tree loaded down with carving ornaments. Then there was the Ornament Carving Contest on Saturday afternoon in which the participants were observed putting the finishes touches on each ornament. Judging of the ornaments resulted with top three winners of ribbons being Vic Hood, Wayne Shinlever and Tim Jackson. All participants were eligible for the drawing of $35 cash prize, which went to Steve Fowler, Tim Jackson and Bob Minton. The Show’s Special Display of Decoys showed examples of the history and development of Duck Decoys. The Banquet Celebration for participating exhibitors was a relaxing respite from a busy first day. Following a delicious catered meal and delightful table conversations the fun part began with purchasing “stretch of the arms” strips of raffle tickets as the main fund raiser to ballast the URS donation. High-end prizes were offered to sweeten the pot of possibility for each winner while each loser still was a winner in having given to a good cause. The highlight of the banquet always comes with the surprise announcement of the annual Ron Ryan Award to the person who most exemplifies the encouragement and advancement of woodcarving. 2012 recipient is Stu Martin who has instructed thousands in his seminars over the years as well as creating a special style of art in his rough out blanks. All banquet participants received a donated door prize at the conclusion of the evening.
It has often been said, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and it can also be said that “art is in the eye of the beholder” of all kinds of art, the seen, the expected, the unexpected and the serendipitous. Artistry in Wood is promises to be rich in all kinds of Art for visitors and exhibitors on November 9 and 10, 2013. Visit www.daytoncarvers.com to refresh the memory of the last show or to be introduced to what to expect for the next show.