Artistry In Wood — A Show of Shows
By Don Mertz
Since 1981 the Dayton, Ohio Artistry in Wood show has gained the acclaim of being “A Show of Shows” in that each year it continues to be the show to visit and experience for the first time over and over again. The 2014 edition hosted approximately 5,400 visitors who viewed over 225 exhibitors’ displays and visited numerous vendors of tools, supplies, wood and books for all who appreciate the creative works of art in the medium of wood.
First time visitors were in awe at the size of the exposition hall, aesthetically laid out with carpeted walkways and curtained aisles that led to rows of exhibitors, with each one offering unique and beautiful wooden art that captured the appreciation of admiring eyes and hopeful shoppers. Many visitors discovered that one day was not long enough to take in all the wonders of creative inspiration. Returning for the second day became an adventure of discovery of a new eye catcher that was overlooked the first day.
One first time visitor who represents the sentiments of many first timers commented on the show through Facebook saying: The wife and I attended the show for the first time. It was Amazing!! The variety of work was overwhelming to a “newbie” like me. Everything from carved Popsicle sticks to a life sized fisherman reeling in a bass! All the exhibitors we talked to were more than willing to share their expertise, great bunch of folks, and with all the vendors in one spot it was like Christmas. (I spent too much!!)
Another good show, was a comment often repeated along with sentiments that the show gets better and better. So whether it was first time visitors or long time return visitors the sentiments were all complimentary.
Why Artistry in Wood is considered the Show of Shows can be answered in a variety of ways. First is the reputation of providing the best venue for exhibitors to display and sell their art as well as entering woodcarvings and woodworking projects in competition that has a full range of categories and classes judged by knowledgeable and respected judges.
Woodcarving judges included:
- Josh Guge, Gilberts, IL
- Rick Harney, Normal, IL
- John Engler, Battlefield, MO.
All together, they judged 327 carving entries.
The top carving winners were:
- Best of Show — Charley Phillips, Newark, TX
- 2nd Best of Show, Sandy Czajka, Troy, OH
- 3rd Best of Show — Dylan Goodson, AL.
Woodworking judges were:
- Roger Hornung, Germantown, OH,
- Lary Sanders, Springfield, OH
- Jim McCann, Brookville, OH
They judged 86 woodworking entries, and the top woodworking projects were:
- Best of Show — Jay Kinsinger, Cedarvillle, OH
- 2nd Best, Deborah Anderson, Carbon, IN
- 3rd Best, Mark Waninger Jamestown, IN.
Accommodating the exhibitor results in artists from all across the United States and some from Canada displaying their best creations as well as competing with those creations. As a result, some of the best carvings and woodworking projects are present to amaze each visitor who comes expecting to see the best of the best year in and year out. Exhibitors want to participate in such a show and if exhibitors are happy, it makes for happy visitors who come to see and purchase one of a kind works of art. Wood artists who have made or are making a name for themselves through their art have become regular exhibitors, who are sought out by visitors who want to meet for first time or renew visits and see the artist’s latest creations.
Vendors of tools, wood, supplies and books also appreciate the venue of the show providing the opportunity to sell their wares in a show that will have a lot of people coming to visit the show, many of which who come to shop from their favorite vendors.
The Western Ohio Woodworkers like to participate in the show because they can host “Hands-On Children’s Workshop.” WOW members assist children in building projects from free kits prepared by the WOW members. In 2014 children built something like 350 items. Few things bring as much pleasure to a wood-person as seeing a youngster proudly carrying through the exhibit hall a three-legged stool, a tool box or a birdhouse that they built. During the two days of the show, WOW members are active in a production workshop where they build toys to be given to patients at Children’s Hospital. Their stretch goal is a “Toy a Minute.”
Woodcarving Illustrated magazine participates in AIW by sponsoring one hour demonstrations through both days of the show by many of the exhibitors. Those who presented demonstrations were: [Bark Carving] Rich Jensen ~ [Caricatures] Don Worley ~ [Caricature Animals] Bob Hershey ~ [Whittling] Tom Hindes ~ [Native Cultures and Carving] Stephan Forrin and Wayne Hill ~ [Caricature Bear] Jan Oegema.
The last two years Woodcarving Illustrated has also honored their “Woodcarver of the Year” at AIW with Rick Jensen this year’s recipient.
AIW invites each year a guest artist for a “Special Exhibit” to showcase their unique art. 2014 Special Exhibit was Patrick and Brenda Wetzel showing their collection of a vintage carved circus animals and parade wagons and circus display carved by five different artists over the years.
A silent auction of circus-themed carvings complemented the Circus display and provided the opportunity to purchase a unique souvenir of the show created by some of the exhibitors.
Three demonstrations are presented each day in a special area which has a large flat screen for displaying close-ups of the work in progress and has seating for a hundred. visitors. Demonstrations are presented by knowledgeable artists on subjects of interest. Presenters at the 2014 show were:
- Vic Hood, “Tips on Carving a Realistic Human Bust”
- Linda Sales, “Wood Burning with Linda Sales”
- Bruce Shea, “Scroll Sawn Bowls”
- Kevin Walker, “Spring Blossom: Deep Relief of Dogwood Blooms”
- Lynn Doughty, “Painting a Caricature: Bringing the Figure to Life”
- Scott Phillips, “New Woodworking Tools and Tips”
An ornament carving contest is hosted on Saturday to add interest to any who watch the carving and painting of an ornament and then observe the result of the judging.
A popular side feature of the show is the magazine and book recycle table where one can select something of interest for a donation. Once again this is an example of how AIW seeks to add the little extra into the show to encourage the advancement of art through wood.
A highlight at the Saturday night banquet was the presentation of the Ron Ryan Award to Scott Phillips of the American Woodshop who has long been a promoter of the art of wood work and carving through his television show as well as being a woodworking presenter in the Demonstrations at AIW. In addition, the fund raising raffle for coveted prizes helps to raise funds for the $5,000.00 gift to United Rehabilitation Services. Everyone who attends the banquet also receives a door prize.
It is the providing of all these aspects of the show that sets the stage for the visitors to the show to complete the process of coming to see the exhibitors’ displays, purchase one-of-a-kind carvings and wood work creations, shop with the various vendors, take advantage of the various demonstrations, visit and converse with exhibitors, and be inspired to continue their own part of the art discovered in wood.
All of these experiences are mixed together to make for a good show. One thing remains that really makes Artistry in Wood the Show of Shows. That one thing above all that is done for the exhibitors, vendors and visitors is the annual gift to charity with $5,000 given each year to United Rehabilitation Services and $500 to Partners Against Crime. Since 1993 over $148,000 has been given as a way to make the purpose of the show, the creative beauty of helping others, a reality throughout the year. Woodcarvers and woodworkers give their creative personality through their wood art and that giving spirit continues with a charity gift beyond any self-interest to help others in their greatest need.
The 2015 Artistry in Wood show will be November 14 and 15 where the next edition of the Show of Shows will begin again. Keep up with Artistry in Wood on Facebook or by visiting www.daytoncarvers.com