In 1967 a group of five women, led by Mrs. Emma Carter, sat down at a kitchen table to discuss how they could sell their crafts to make a little extra pocket money. At the time, the exclusive “arts” groups in town would have nothing to do with what was considered “crafts”. But these five women knew they had handmade items that were worthy to exhibit and sell.
They came up with the idea to have occasional small craft fairs in some of the local clubhouses. To no one’s surprise people came, and people bought. Word spread, and people couldn’t wait for the next craft fair. They became so popular they decided to include some of the local “hobby” artists. That is when it was determined they had to come up with a name for the group so that they could better promote themselves.
The group became The Naples ArtCrafters, a self-governing grass roots art community. They held monthly meetings, sometimes in the lobby of a local bank, sometimes in the hall at Grace Lutheran Church. The purpose of the meetings was to get the community involved either as an artist/artisan or as someone that would support the arts.
Each year the group grew larger. They had a loyal following of local residents who spread the word to the seasonal residents. After several years the Naples ArtCrafters show became too large to hold in a clubhouse. Along with gaining more artists and artisans, they were gaining more patrons. In the 1970s and 1980s, the shows were
held at the old Central Mall, Grand Central Station and the Cove Inn Auditorium.
In 1976 the Naples Artcrafters donated a portion of their proceeds to help the city purchase the old train depot. It was thought at the time that the depot could be used as a venue for community activities like art shows.
Sometime in the 1990s the decision was made to hold outdoor shows at a venue that could hold more people. The logical place was Cambier Park in beautiful downtown Naples.
What could be better than a stroll in the park surrounded by beautiful objects of art? By this time the world of crafts had gained a degree of sophistication and the combination of art and crafts in one show gave people the variety they were looking for. The idea of an outdoor show had also gained popularity and nowhere is there better weather
in the winter than right here in sunny Southwest Florida.
In 2015 the Naples ArtCrafters became a 501(c)(3) corporation. The mission of the Naples ArtCrafters is to support local artists and artisans in the development of artistic endeavors and to promote and advance artistic expression through visual arts and fine crafts. In addition to producing seven fine art and craft shows each year, the Naples ArtCrafters support local area programs, including instructional programs and exhibitions, through grants and scholarships from funds derived from its activities.
This year, the Naples ArtCrafters has about 120 members. All of them have one thing in common. They have all been subject to a rigorous jury process in order to exhibit their art. Gone are the days of sitting around a kitchen table creating handmade items. Yesterday’s “craft ladies” have morphed into “artisans”, and the men and women of the Naples ArtCrafters now offer the best selection of fine arts and crafts in Southwest Florida.
For more information on the Naples ArtCrafters please visit their website: www.naplesartcrafters.com.