Author Archive for Don Mertz

Artistry in Wood 2016 – Show Report


By Don Mertz

Photos by Marc Featherly

Since the first event in 1981, Artistry in Wood has been committed to providing the best woodcarving and woodworking show for the benefit of exhibitors, vendors and visitors who come to see some of the best expression of wooden art as well as being able to purchase works of art from the woodcarving and woodworking craftsman and artist.

Every year the Artistry in Wood stays true to this original commitment by sharpening and fine tuning the show so that it continues to be THE show exhibitors and visitors will want to attend time after time.  Each year the quality of competition entries improve as does the growth of vendors and eclectic mix of artistic expressions related to wood along with a steady growth in the size of the show.

The organizers of the event were placed between a rock and hard place when the show location for the prior fourteen years was suddenly closed, and had find a comparable sized show venue in a different location and show date (due to scheduling limits at the new location).  Despite that, Artistry in Wood doubled its efforts to stay true to its original commitment.

So committed are the event organizers to providing the BEST Show possible for all concerned that ihe advertising budget was increased from $19,427.00 for 2015 to $30,225 for 2016 to assure all concerned that “The Show Goes On.”  The show goes on to maintain the high quality of exhibitors, competitors, judges, demonstrations, children’s activities and visitors’ interests for the showing and selling of cherished works of art in the medium of wood.  And just as important, the show goes on so that Artistry in Wood can continue the long tradition and commitment of giving at least $5,000 to United Rehabilitation Services of Dayton and $500 to Partners Against Crime charities.

The only venue that was large enough to accommodate a show the size that Artistry in Wood has grown to be with a convenient location within the radius of Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio was the Roberts Centre near Wilmington, OH.  The only date available for 2016 was for Labor Day weekend.  The Artistry in Wood committee realized that a change of location as well as date change from traditional date of previous shows and especially competing with major holiday activities, a Renaissance Festival and county fair would have an impact on regular exhibitors’ participation as well as visitors to the show.  But “The Show Goes On” in order to make the transition to a new site and a new date for the 2017 and following years’ show dates.  In 2017 the Artistry in Wood show will be October 14 and 15 and the second weekend in October in subsequent years in order to get back to a regular schedule for location and date for the show.

Even though there was the expected decrease in attendance and exhibitors, yet in the final analysis the evaluation by visitors, exhibitors, competitors and vendors was very positive. The Roberts Centre show room is beautifully appointed with superb lighting with more than adequate and convenient free parking and with easy access right off Interstate 71 at Exit 50.  Roberts Centre is located within a fifty-mile radius from Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton. Visitors were very complimentary of the venue, quality of woodcarving and woodworking art on display and the added features of demonstrations, ornament carving contest, raffle of quality prizes, silent auction of donated wooden art.  Although somewhat smaller than usual, the quality of the show lived up to its reputation.  Many first time visitors joined their voices of appreciation with the long time attenders.  

The 2016 show was a bridge from what the show has become to what it will continue to become in 2017 and beyond at Roberts Centre the second weekend of October.

Highlights of the show begin with the competition. 278 woodcarving entries were judged by Janet Cordell, Wayne Barton and Al Fulford judged 278 woodcarving entries.  Woodcarving Best of Show honors were awarded as follows:

  • Steve Baker – Best of Show
  • Terry Brasher – Second Best
  • Harry Limings – Third Best

Sixty wood working entries were judged by Roger Hornung, Jim McCann and Larry Sanders who awarded Wood Working Best of Show to:

  • Barry Todd – Best of Show
  • Scott Hamilton – Second Best 
  • Richard Avram – Third Best. 

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Artistry in Wood 2015 – Show Report

AN ORIGINAL ~ Dayton Artistry in Wood

By Don Mertz

Artistry In Wood is the original show by that name, first used in 1981 with its founding show. Dayton Carvers Guild established a committee to plan their first woodcarving show.  Carol Kunz suggested the name Artistry in Wood for the show’s name as an overall description of the kind of show the committee would develop.  The purpose of Artistry in Wood is to plan and provide the “best” carving show experience for exhibitors, vendors and visitors alike by maintaining the high qualities reflecting an “art show” dedicated to wood. From the beginning the “plan” also included that a charity should also benefit from the proceeds of the show.

Artistry in Wood is very unique in the world of carving shows in that its proceeds primarily benefit United Rehabilitation Services, which is a local charity in the Dayton area, along with Partners Against Crime.  Since that first show, Artistry in Wood has contributed over $145,000.00 to charities.

Other shows may use this catchy title for their carving show but there is none that equals the ORIGINAL Artistry in Wood.  The 2015 show display area was expanded to accommodate 18 additional exhibitors who would have otherwise remained on a waiting list.  Always planning and working to continue this show of excellence, the AIW committee is open to making innovative improvements for the benefit of exhibitors as well as visitors to the show.  We want to make each show a “once in a life time experience” that can be repeated each year with an ongoing parade of memories. Over 5,000 visitors experienced the once in a life time experience of the 2015 show.

New Location and Date For 2016

As “An Original” Artistry in Wood continues its tradition of excellence as it moves to a new location for the 2016 show.  The new location is the Roberts Centre at exit 50 off Interstate 71, half way between Columbus and Cincinnati and approximated 45 miles south east of the previous show location.  The reason for the move is because the Dayton International Airport decided to use the Expo Center for only airport purposes.  The Roberts Centre is large enough to accommodate the size in which Artistry in Wood has grown to accommodate the number of participants and visitors.

The Roberts Centre includes a Holiday Inn with 115 rooms, a Max and Erma restaurant, concession services and adequate onsite parking. The convenience of location in an attractive and spacious Roberts Grand Ballroom will be an inviting new location for the Dayton Artistry in Wood Show.

The date for the 2016 show is September 3 and 4 (Labor Day weekend), the only available opening for the coming year. The change of date and location may present some inconvenience for participants and visitors during this transition time, but be assured that Artistry in Wood is still dedicated to maintaining its original purpose of planning and providing for the best and original woodcarving and woodworking show of its kind and benefiting its charity of choice.

Vic Hood was the Guest Artist of the 2015 show Special Exhibit.  You’ll find a photo gallery of Vic and his work elsewhere in this issue of WOM.

The 2015 edition of AIW had exhibitors from 24 different states plus Canada along with over 5,000 visitors who came from all over the United States as well as Canada to view the display tables of 221 exhibitors and 26 vendors in 313 spaces.

AIW sponsors a competition in the divisions of Woodworking and Woodcarving. There were 377 entries in the Woodcarving division in 22 categories containing 65 classes. The division of Woodworking had 87 entries in 9 categories containing 23 classes.

The Best of Show winners in Woodcarving were:

  • Terry Brasher from Petersburg, TN., first
  • Steve Burelison from Bradford, OH, second
  • Kathy Mitchell from Windsor Ontario, Canada, third

Woodworking Best of Show winners were:

  • Mark Waninger from Jamestown, IN, first
  • Weston Hirschfeld from New Bremen, OH, second
  • Mike Allen from Bellevue, OH, third

Judges of Woodworking division were: Roger Hornung, Jim McCann and Lary Sanders and judges of Woodcarving division were Al Fulford, Janet Cordell and Rick Harney.

Visitors had the opportunity to attend educational and informative woodworking and woodcarving Demonstrations on both days with Mark Waninger, Charley Phillips and Debbie Anderson demonstrating on Saturday and Jim Willis, Don Worley and Scott Phillips demonstrating on Sunday.

Other attractions included:

  • The Woodcarving Illustrated hosted series of mini Spit and Whittle Seminars
  • Western Ohio Woodworkers facilitated a Youth Program of hands-on woodworking projects
  • A silent auction of a variety of carved and wood worked art pieces
  • An ornament carving contest where visitors could watch a new piece being created
  • A magazine recycle table of wood related magazines available for a donation
  • The main raffle of 124 carved ornaments, 3 donated carvings of past winners, a Gerstner Tool box and a box of 500 $1.00 gold coins

One of the special highlights of Artistry in Wood shows is always the banquet for exhibitors at which time the winner of the Ron Ryan Award is announced. Mulie Sheets was the 2015 recipient as one who exemplifies the passion and advancement of wood carving in the example of Ron Ryan.  Also during the banquet a fund raising raffle is conducted for a variety of donated prizes with the proceeds helping with the $5000 gift to United Rehabilitation Services as the show’s designated charity.

The Caricature Carvers of America will hold their annual meeting in conjunction with the Dayton Artistry in Wood Show on September 3-4, 2016 and carvers and visitors alike will have the opportunity to meet and greet these caricature carvers.

The best of the 2015 show along with the best of previous years will continue in a new location and a new date for 2016 because Artistry in Wood is committed to continue all that Dayton Artistry in Wood has come to mean as “An Original.”  

2014 Artistry in Wood Show Report

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.

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Artistry in Wood 2012

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 to refresh the memory of the last show or to be introduced to what to expect for the next show.