Gary Jackson: Fire When Ready Pottery
A Chicago potter’s somewhat slanted view of clay & play
Categories: art fair

It’s so refreshing to see that the Hinsdale Art Fair organizers are checking to see that the artists here are actually MAKING their own art on display. Apparently, not all of the “jewelers” here at the art fair are making their own jewelry. And therefore, they now have this this big “Scarlet Letter of Shame” posted in their booths! Well, chartreuse. And not just one… there are four, count not them four, signs in their booth!!! The actual artists who make their own artwork are so thankful to have organizers looking out for them. And making an example of those who are not. We love Jan and the Hinsdale committee!!!

There has been a lot of discussion about this. Some people think they should have been forced to pack up & leave. I actually think it was a good idea to make an example of them. Shame on them for trying to pass themselves off as actual artists. I know that the Hinsdale organizers actually spoke with legal council the night before to make sure they could proceed. So they came in this morning with the signs when the “artists-in-question” arrived and opened their booth. They placed one on each of the inside side flaps, and two in sign holders actually sitting on their display tables right smack dab next to their “product.” If they were just forced to leave the customers would not have gotten the message either. We all think it’s important for the customers to learn about the difference between handmade art & “imported-wholesale-products-being-disguised-and-resold-as-art.

It’s a matter of principle. They just want to make sure that the items in the art fair are actually being made by the artists presenting themselves as “artists.” They have no issue with people who use accessories with their art – as long as the majority of the stuff they are selling in their booth is handmade.

They would never disqualify a painter who didn’t make his own paint or the wire that the painting hangs on. As long as the painter is actually painting the paintings.

They would never disqualify the jeweler who uses purchased stones & cabachons that they didn’t drill, grind & facet themselves. As long as the jeweler is actually designing, creating & making their own jewelry pieces.

They would never disqualify a potter who doesn’t make their own clay, mix their own glazes, or attaches pieces & parts to their ceramic-fired creations. As long as the potter is actually making the pots.

But when the “product” is being pulled out of boxes, removed from the cellophane wrappers, repriced and sold off as their own creations there’s a problem. There’s a HUGE difference. And the second sentence just covers them from those people who think it’s “okay” to buy pieces wholesale, and then maybe add a bead or something to it, and then try to pass it off as a fully handmade piece of art.

I’m sure everyone who has done juried art fairs has seen this happen more than once. We all have horror stories to share. I’m just glad that the Hinsdale organizers actually stepped up and took a stand. They are there to protect the actual artists and the quality reputation of their art fair. They do a great job. And if it takes a big “Scarlet Letter of Shame” to do it?…
well then so be it.



June 30th, 2013

In the fifteen years we did art shows, I have never seen a show committee do anything like this. Oh complaints were made, and offenders were not invited back, but by then the damage was done. Hooray for someone taking a stand. I wonder how the public is reacting? If they are paying attention…
Thanks for sharing this!

July 2nd, 2013

Wicked cool. It is nice to see organizers calling these folks out and not just artists. One possible problem. If people see work similar to the stuff being sold at these booths, especially at a different venue that does not use the signs, they may assume it is not handmade before talking to the artist. Not sure if that would actually happen, but it is a potential side effect.


July 2nd, 2013

I think this is a genius solution to the situation. As a customer, I would certainly want this info.

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