You may not be familiar with the Hand Workshop Art Center, but you’ve probably heard of its successor.
Sixty years after being founded as the Hand Workshop in Church Hill, the Visual Arts Center of Richmond is alive and well, helping tens of thousands of people each year explore their creative side through classes, exhibitions, workshops and other events.
On Friday, Nov. 17, the organization will continue another tradition it has championed nearly since its creation: Richmond’s annual Craft + Design Show. Now in its 59th year, the exhibition showcases the work of more than 150 artists from around the nation at Main Street Station’s glass-enclosed train shed.
“It’s grown to be this event that brings 8,000 or more people every year to come see it,” says Jordan Brown, executive director of VisArts. “It’s one of the biggest art events of the year in Richmond and it’s a way to see what artists are making from all over the country.”
The weekend-long event kicks off with the patrons’ preview party on Friday. Not only do attendees get to hob nob with the artists and have first dibs on buying their works, but they also get to enjoy the people watching: partiers often dress fantastically. The price of a ticket includes beer, wine, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
- One of the biggest local arts events of the year, the Craft + Design Show draws around 8,000 people to check out work from over 150 artists from around the country.
“It’s our biggest party of the year,” Brown says. “Patrons’ Preview is basically a giant cocktail party where folks get dressed up, they come see their friends, they can have drinks and food and see all the work before it opens the next day for the public.”
The following morning, VisArts hosts its Rise + Shine brunch where visitors can enjoy a light breakfast then get a second crack at the artists’ wares. “Folks can grab a mimosa, get some food, then shop the show before it gets really crowded the rest of the day,” Brown says.
The rest of the weekend is open to general admission at $10 a ticket.
- Artist Angela Humes' vessels.
Brown, who has worked at VisArts for 11 years and was recently named its new executive director, says that this is the first Craft + Design since the pandemic that will take place in November, where it formerly fell on the calendar.
“This year it’s back to its weekend-before-Thanksgiving timeframe, which we always say is a great way to kick off the holiday season,” she says. “It’s a great place to buy gifts.”
Brown says that the event has grown over the years mirrors the way that VisArts has grown as an organization.
“The number of artists and the quality of their work is an amazing thing so see,” Brown says. “There’s only a handful of craft shows in this country that rise to this level.”
The Visual Arts Center of Richmond’s Craft + Design Show runs Nov. 17-19 at Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St. For more information, visit craftanddesignrva.com.
Full disclosure: Steve Humble, Chief Content Officer at VPM, which owns Style Weekly, is a member of the board at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.