Craft Culture: Craft is Fluid at the American Craft Council

Minnesota craft breweries to be featured at the American Craft Council show, April 11-13

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Over the past few issues in the Growler’s Craft Culture series, we’ve covered the local maker movement in Minnesota, from a pop-up menswear market to hand-sewn leather luxury bags. But what does “craft” mean? Is it your grandma’s knitted scarves or your neighbor’s handmade bird feeders? Maybe it’s something more—something that’s created and shared, something beautiful, unique and one-of-a-kind. Wait a minute. That sounds a lot like craft beer culture! With this in mind, the Beer Dabbler is partnering over the next few months with the American Craft Council (ACC) to bring craft to an even bigger audience, opening minds and mouths to a more fluid craft culture.

In 2010, the Twin Cities won the bidding war to be the Craft Council’s relocation site. Pamela Diamond, the ACC’s Director of Marketing and Communications, told us that “eight cities were vying to have this asset moved to their city. [The Twin Cities community] has always been known for supporting the arts,” and that helped Minnesota win.

Started in 1943, the ACC mission is “to champion craft.” They do this through a variety of grant-, member-, and donor-funded endeavors including a bimonthly magazine, “American Craft,” and nationwide craft shows. The Baltimore, Atlanta, and San Francisco shows feature the talents of local artists. Each of the juried artists who show their work is a master in his or her field. Lynn Nelson, the event’s PR Manager tells us, “[The artists] are proud to be associated with the craft show. It takes a lot to get in and they’re excited to do it.” In addition to having 80 local artists out of the total 240, the Saint Paul show, at the RiverCentre from April 11–13, will be the only show in the ACC’s history to feature beer as a craft.

At the ACC’s Saint Paul show, the Beer Dabbler will create a kitsch-free craft-inspired 10’x20’ taproom, with the help of Forage Modern Workshop. In 2013, the show successfully debuted its “Make Room: Modern Design Meets Craft” interior design collaboration, highlighting artisan-made crafts in rooms designed around them, rather than designed with crafts in them. This year’s expanded program, with the title addition “Let’s Entertain,” will include the craft beer-focused taproom among its ten-room vignettes inspired by objects ideally suited to entertaining.

Related Post: Craft Culture at J.W. Hulme

The craft-inspired taproom will showcase the talents of nine Minnesota craft breweries, encouraging visitors to sample brews and learn more about the art and craft of brewing. No stuffy vertical tastings allowed—just a casual and comfortable environment in which craft-lovers can gain exposure to some of the more elusive libations, just the special sundries show-goers seek.

Beer-tasting is a unique experience—simultaneously individual and communal. Like art, certain beers resonate with some people more than others. As Matt Kenevan of the Beer Dabbler explains, “Beer is relative; each experience is different, and everything surrounding affects the experience of the beer.”

But there’s another element to craft beer beyond tasty tipples that helps the beer speak—local artists like those profiled in The Growler, who create the designs for labels, posters, and billboards—the graphical language through which we experience beer. To highlight this, the show will pair each featured brewery with a poster, a unique piece of art designed by one of these artists. The posters will be available for sale at the event. More details, such as which breweries and what rare brews will be featured in the taproom, are forthcoming as the ACC’s show nears, but it will undoubtedly be a special event for craft aficionados and newbies alike.

The ACC is opening the event to a wider variety of artists to cultivate a new fusion of creatives. While they are all still masters in their fields, the emerging artists use different mediums, have crazy concepts of the future of craft culture, and—no surprise—use technology in a new and exciting way. Nelson explains why the organization is looking to bridge the gap between younger and more mature artists. “The younger creatives have very different ideas and I think they can all learn a lot from each other.” There is a craft renaissance going on out there, and it’s not just limited to handicrafts.

Craft beer is part of that renaissance. Joe Alton, editor of The Growler and design collaborator for the taproom, explains the inspiration behind the partnership between The Beer Dabbler: “Craft beer has no limits. It’s not for the rich, it’s not for the poor. It’s just for people with a taste for a quality product.”

So stop by the American Craft Council’s show and support your local artisans—craftsmen and brewers alike—who make the quality products we know and those we will grow to love.

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