"Communities that are truly alive are communities that have an appreciation of the arts,” comments Valerie Hector. Hector, a jewelry designer by trade and self-proclaimed “maker of things” in life, has served as both an exhibitor and judge to the American Craft Exposition (ACE) Show over a span of 19 years. The beloved show, entering its 27th year this August, is considered one of the country’s finest showcase opportunities for craftspeople to exhibit their works. Original creations by artists functioning in ceramics, furniture, glass, jewelry, paper, metal, leather, and essentially any other media out there have been passed through a jury and are presented to the public under one roof. And it’s all right here in art-appreciating, alive Evanston.
Bringing this much-anticipated show to the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion on Northwestern’s campus each year is The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals. It’s the dedication and hard work of The Auxiliary that keeps this event fresh. We are always keeping an eye out for artists and new perspectives we haven’t seen before,” noted the ACE Co-Chairs Marge Gambow and Melissa David. It’s this constant search for future trends and a sensitivity to the larger paradigm that brings thousands to the ACE each summer.
To become an exhibitor at the ACE is no small feat. The committee members and judges are committed to delivering to their art hungry public what they want: the most cutting-edge, inspirational pieces in hand-crafted design available today. “It took me five years of trying before I got accepted in 1992,” explains Hector. Each and every year since then (with the exception of 2002, when she was penning her book, The Art of Beadwork), Hector was limited to just five pictures and one artist’s statement to woo a discerning set of judges. When thousands apply, it’s a challenge to not only have a unique perspective in contrast to the other applicants, but to top your own work every time. “Each year, I have to show the judges that I was progressing and innovating,” she says.
In both 2000 and 2010, Hector sat on the other side of the table as a judge. Last year, Hector remembers there being over 200 jewelry applications alone. While narrowing the field down is not easy, the judges, armed with their varied artistic backgrounds, make informed selections. “As it often happens, the really amazing work stands out instantly,” says Hector. “An aesthetic and technical accomplishment achieved in the same piece is what sets an artist’s work a part.”
Funds raised from the ACE go directly to ovarian cancer research at NorthShore University HealthSystem. With Sheridan Road serving as the media sponsor, ACE will host a Preview Party on Thursday, August 25, before the show is open to the public.
The ACE runs from August 26–28 at the Henry Crown Pavilion on the Northwestern University campus. Tickets for the Preview Party are $125. General admission for a three-day entry for adults is $15. Tickets for both can be purchased by calling 847-570-5095.