- Yumiko Kakiuchi, student winner in the Jewelry: Fine category, pictured with her father and NICHE publisher Wendy Rosen. Credit: Jim Burger Photography.
Neither snow, nor sleet nor gloom of night could keep the country’s finest artists and retailers from gathering at the 2010 NICHE Awards on Feb. 12. Despite record-breaking snowfall across Philadelphia and much of the Northeast, a large crowd gathered to celebrate the best in fine North American craft at the ceremony, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center as part of the Buyers Market of American Craft show.
“Two days ago, I would have never imagined there would be this many people here tonight,” NICHE publisher Wendy Rosen said at the beginning of the evening, in reference to the snowstorm. “I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has contributed their time, energy and passion to this awards program.”
Nearly 2,000 entries poured in from professional and student craft artists throughout the U.S. and Canada for this year’s competition. A panel of judges, including gallery owners and art advocates, selected a group of finalists, which were announced last December. The top-scoring pieces in each category were revealed at the ceremony.
Renowned jeweler, gallery owner and arts consultant Bruce Baker entertained the group as the evening’s emcee. “The NICHE Awards are the Golden Globes and the People’s Choice Awards put together, for the American craft community,” Baker joked. The ceremony honored many craft all-stars, as well as plenty of emerging talent.
“I was beginning to feel like the Susan Lucci of the NICHE Awards because this is my fifth nomination,” said jewelry artist Patricia Tschetter, who accepted the professional award in the Jewelry: Gold with Stones category for her “Daisy Tri-Finger Ring.”
As always, a great deal of inspiration came from the winners in the student categories. “Remember back to when you were students, and how much hope you had, and how much fear you had. This is such a big moment for these student finalists,” said Jean Thompson, director of marketing and circulation for NICHE magazine.
It was definitely a big moment for Yumiko Kakiuchi, who was the student winner in the fine jewelry category. “My father came from Japan just for this,” she said as she accepted her award onstage.
One of the men charged with shaping the minds of tomorrow’s craft artists was honored as the 2010 Arts Educator of the Year at the ceremony. Of the 150 educators nominated, Don Miller, a professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, was honored for the passion, commitment, energy and guidance he shows his students.
It was a proud evening for the craft community, and a promising sign for the future of the industry. “Your work inspires us and expands our appreciation of craft,” Baker told the honorees at the close of the ceremony. “We are honored to celebrate your achievements tonight.”
Click here for the full list of professional and student NICHE Awards winners.