I have attended all but one AAW symposium since 1992. Since then, the number of demonstrator rotations, the tradeshow, and the Instant Gallery (IG) have been steadily growing. I have participated in symposiums around the world: England, Ireland, France, and I just recently returned from TurnFest in Australia. The most noticeable difference is the number of turned objects that are displayed at other symposiums compared to the AAW’s Instant Gallery.
At TurnFest, the 550 attendees exhibited 100 pieces in the Instant Gallery. This would mean that about 20 percent of the turners were represented, if each attendee had brought one piece. At the AAW symposiums, the total IG numbers work out to be about one-and-a-half times the number of attendees! And this has been true for the past 10 years. The quality and quantity of works exhibited are growing at a fast pace; I could spend an entire day there and still not have the chance to admire everything.
I will moderate the Business of Business panel in San José, and I invited Thomas Riley, owner of Riley Gallery, to participate. While discussing gallery business, he and I came up with the idea of his gallery renting space at the convention center where special exhibits are located adjacent to the Instant Gallery. He will have a gallery-quality booth set up to display the work of artists that he represents. This addition to the AAW symposium is important for a number of reasons:
- Many of the woodturners who attend AAW symposiums do not regularly have the opportunity to visit gallery exhibitions of contemporary woodturning. Displayed in the manner of contemporary sculpture in museums, this means of exhibiting the work is inspirational. It is an opportunity for attendees to see work from leading figures in contemporary woodturning displayed under gallery lighting in a walled-off environment.
- Many collectors and museum curators attend our symposiums, and it is important for them to see high-end works, displayed in a gallery setting, along with the work of attendees in the Instant Gallery. This will both assist in growing the marketplace for contemporary woodturning and may also result in works being acquired for museum collections that can be enjoyed by the larger public.
- There are many woodturners who produce high-end work exhibited in museums but who aren’t able to travel to every symposium. Many will be represented by Riley Gallery, offering us an opportunity to view works in person that many attendees might not otherwise see.
- Many symposium attendees are happy to enjoy woodturning as hobbyists; however, there are some who are interested in exhibiting in galleries, nationally and in their hometown. Gaining knowledge of how works are displayed in this setting and learning more about the gallery business will assist these individuals with exhibiting and promoting their work.
This may prove to be the beginning of a new venture for the AAW, and if it is successful, I hope other galleries will join us at future symposiums. We will then be able to enjoy a “tradeshow” for the finished product, as well as a tradeshow for tools, wood, machines, and instructional materials, which are vital to the creation of the work. I am pleased that the AAW can assist and support a growing market for contemporary woodturning for the collectors and museum curators who seek to share it with an even larger segment of the public.