Patrons walking into the halls of the American Craft Exposition (ACE) in Evanston this August will enter a world of passion and artistry—as more than 150 of the finest local and national craftsmen share their latest works and discuss their creative techniques.
Aaron Macsai, whose works have been seen at the juried show for at least 20 years, will return with a new series not yet seen by the public. He’s working with raw diamonds to create jewelry in “tendril and spiral forms—very simple and elegant. I’m really excited about these pieces,” says the Morton Grove resident.
“ACE rivals any other in the country, including the juried Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington D.C. and the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show,” says Aaron, who has exhibited at both venues. The highly competitive ACE showcases one-of-a-kind pieces made in 12 different media—baskets, ceramics, fiber decorative, fiber wearable, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, and wood.
Presented by The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore), ACE raises funds for pioneering ovarian cancer research. Artists who apply to be accepted into the show are selected by a jury and often choose to donate some of their proceeds. Aaron, in fact, participates annually in the Craft for a Cure program, donating pieces to an online auction that’s part of the show.
“This is the one show I do, no matter what it takes. My heart is in this show. This is the show that really cares about medical research,” he says.
Aaron says he himself has benefitted from medical research, which recently enabled him to receive treatment for debilitating headaches at the Mayo Clinic, a partner with NorthShore.
Fellow artist Jonathan Rutledge of Evanston will reveal his latest jewelry designed with 22K gold and gem stones using a technique called granulation. Ten years ago, Jonathan was accepted into ACE’s emerging artist gallery. A former firefighter, Jonathan says that first show gave him the courage to become a full-time artist.
“This is a receptive audience,” Jonathan says. “They want to know about your technique, and the people at ACE are so responsive and encouraging.”
The 30th Annual American Craft Exposition begins with a Benefit Preview Party, Ssponsored by Sheridan Road Magazine, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Thursday August 21. The show, open to the public and held at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion at Northwestern University in Evanston, runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, August 22; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, August 23; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, August 24. Tickets are $15 for a three-day pass. For more information, call 224-364-7270 or visit americancraftexpo.org.