Each year, the Ohio Craft Museum, 1665 W. Fifth Ave. in Columbus, names a juror from another state to select the works for its annual "best-of" exhibition.

This year, Stefanie Kirkland came from the Show-Me State to choose the 88 works showcased in the Best of 2019 display.

Kirkland, director of exhibitions with the Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design in St. Louis, selected contemporary fine crafts submitted by 77 artists for the show, which opens Sunday, May 5, and runs through July 28.

"We always use a juror from far away to get their perspective and a different perspective," said Betty Talbott, director of the Ohio Craft Museum "So many of the Ohio artists who submit work are well-known locally, so it's good to have someone who can look at their work in a fresh way."

Artists can submit up to three works in the annual members competition organized by Ohio Designer Craftsmen.

"All of the artists are members (of ODC) and most of them live in Ohio," Talbott said. "We do have some younger artists who have gone out of state to pursue master's degrees or to take a job, but they continue to have a connection to Ohio."

This year's exhibition is noteworthy for its variety and individualism, she said.

"We have a lot of younger artists who haven't been part of our best-of show before," Talbott said. "We have artists working in glass, metal, wood, fiber and clay and even paper.

"What's so exciting is that their work isn't derivative from other artists. There is such a variety in how they are using their materials and what they want to say in their art."

Kirkland said because art is subjective, there is no right or wrong when presenting creative ideas and personal expression.

Kirkland has selected 16 of the 88 works for special recognition.

The exhibition's top prize, the $1,000 Challenge Award for Excellence, was given to ceramics artist William C. Brouillard of Cleveland for "Steam-Punk Buddha."

The opening reception for Best of 2019 will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. May 5 at the museum.

During the reception, Ohio Designer Craftsmen Outstanding Achievement Awards will be presented to Sharon Kesterson Bollen and Mark Nafziger.

"Our board was really split between the two, so they decided to give the achievement award to both of them," Talbott said. "That happens once in a while. This award recognizes an artist for their lifetime achievement."

Both Bollen and Nafziger are being recognized as educators as well as craft artists, she said.

Bollen, a fiber artist, is a retired professor with Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati.

Nafziger is a ceramist and studio potter at Sauder Village in Archbold.

"When you think about how many people visit Sauder Village, he's giving a lesson about his craft to many thousands of people each year," Talbott said. "And Sharon has impacted and influenced the work of so many young artists through her teaching."

After the Best of 2019 exhibition closes at the Ohio Craft Museum, it will open Sept. 20 at the Springfield Museum of Art.

The Ohio Craft Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 1 to 4 p.m. weekends. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, go to ohiocraft.org.

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