The 34th annual Group Show and Sale, held November 18 and 19 in Rhinebeck, is no ordinary craft show. Held at the Beekman Arms’ Delamater Conference Center on Route 9 – next to the Delamater House, a landmark Gothic mansion, dripping with gingerbread – the show will have the cachet and aesthetic draw of an art exhibition. All of the 18 exhibitors are by-invitation-only, chosen not only for the quality of their craftsmanship but also for the originality of their creations, according to Grace Gunning, a Rhinecliff-based metalworker who is one of the show’s three principals. Visitors travel to Rhinebeck from as far away as Connecticut and New York City; Gunning said that she does some advertising, but the strong following mostly results from word-of-mouth. Good value is also part of the draw, with most of the items priced at under $100 and a few of the artisans selling their goods below wholesale prices, said Gunning.
The items range from Melissa Martins’ felted animals and repurposed wool to Frank Dobai’s exquisite wooden cutting boards to Mary Ann Williams’ willow-and-wood baskets to Beverly Eichenlaub’s shiny fused-glass jewelry. Other highlights include Ethel Berger’s whimsical paper cutouts and cards, Sally Lyon’s pearl earrings, Stephen Fabrico’s ceramic birdhouses, Lynne James’ works in clay, Bard Kato’s beautiful stoneware and Annette Mackrel’s felted scarves and intricate beaded jewelry. If you have an empty wall, shelf, earlobe or neck begging to be adorned with something beautiful, chances are that you’ll find it here.
Gunning said that for her, the show is an opportunity to do something different. She normally specializes in copper boxes – sold from coast to coast, they earn her a credible living – but at the show she will be selling resin jewelry incorporating a tiny rabbit, piece of wood or other object, like an ancient insect preserved in amber. She’ll also be selling her galvanized steel thermometers, topped by a printed graphic, including a special Sinterklaas edition in honor of the town event (proceeds from the sale of these will benefit the December 3 festival). Tom Stoenner, who is also a principal, will be showing his hand-blown glass wine cups, tumblers and drinking glasses. (Like Gunning, he also sells his products in stores throughout the country.) Gretchen Lytle, the third principal, will return to the craft world for this once-a-year-event with her woven chenille scarves and hand-knit hats.
The show will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 18 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 19. There is no entrance fee. For more information, call 876-4151.