How We Got Here: The Birth of the St. Paul Show

How We Got Here: The Birth of the St. Paul Show

American Craft Expo Ad 1987

Advertisement for the first American Craft Expo, presented by American Craft Enterprises, Inc. (a subsidiary of the ACC), in cooperation with the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Minnesota Crafts Council from April 10-12, 1987 at the St. Paul Civic Center.

Long before the American Craft Council moved to its current home in Minneapolis, artists from the Twin Cities were immersed in the world of craft. The problem, according to Sam Grabarski, executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board from 1984-1996, was that the cities lacked a marketplace for these makers to exhibit and sell their wares. That is why in 1987, Grabarski, along with his 11-member board, convinced the ACC to move its Dallas craft show to Minnesota the ACC St. Paul Craft Show was born. With more than 60 of the 300 exhibitors from Minnesota, this first St. Paul Craft Expo featured the largest single delegation from one state. Twenty-six years later, the momentum continues. 

Several artists from Minnesota and beyond participating in the ACC St. Paul show this weekend were present at the first expo back in 1987, including Winthrop and Sandra Byers (ceramics), Lee Ross (ceramics), Hulda Bridgeman (fiber), Deborah Cross (fiber), Elizabeth Garver (fiber), Sandra Miller (fiber), Lynn Yarrington (fiber), Julie Shaw (jewelry), Patty Bolz (jewelry), Susan Mahlstedt (jewelry), Sharon Tuke (jewelry), Tom Turner (jewelry), Erica Zap (jewelry), Richard Davis (leather), Ilze Heider (leather), Greg and Gayle Roche (leather), Mary Ellen Sisulak (leather), Cindy Spolek and Greg Wells (leather), Robert Erickson (wood), and Michael Mode (wood). In addition to providing a directory of show exhibitors, the program from the 1987 ACC St. Paul Craft Expo featured information about the first preview party (a benefit for the Governor's Residence), an article on local favorites (including Tim Harding) and Grabarski's tips on how to care for objects in a craft collection. 

For those of you attending the St. Paul ACC show this weekend, stop by the ACC Library table at the Council Booth to learn more about craft history resources available on-site and online.

Throwback Thursday is a weekly series highlighting visuals from the American Craft Council Library's Digital Collections Database. Check back on Thursdays for more.