An Interview with the ACE Co-Chairs

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing this year’s American Craft Exposition Co-Chairs, Dana Turban and Leslie Sevcik. Read the interview below!

Question: What first drew you to the American Craft Exposition (ACE)?

Dana Turban: I had been involved with The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals (The Auxiliary) for awhile in various capacities. I was approached by Sandy Miller to see if I would be interested in chairing the show with her.

I didn’t know anything about craft but did know a lot about doing a fundraiser for The Auxiliary. Sandy and I were asked to do it—she handled the artist side of the show and I did The Auxiliary side. I fell in love with the show and the more I learned about the artists and their craft, the more I loved working with them and learning from them.

Leslie Sevcik: The year I joined The Auxiliary, my friend Helen Coleman was the ACE Chair with her friend, Joan Kowing McGregor. I joined the committee to help my friend and I have worked on it ever since. I think this is my 14th show.

Q: What’s your favorite art medium at ACE and why? Do you feel that your love of art has grown since being part of ACE?

Dana: That is hard to answer. Of course I love the beautiful jewelry but have really developed a love for “vessels.” While I started out just liking glass, I have really fallen in love with the vessels created by the ceramicists and the woodturners. I try to get a piece from one of these mediums each year.

Leslie: I know it will sound like a cop out, but my favorite medium at ACE is the artists themselves. Once you get to know the maker and learn about the process, you fall in love with the end product because of that connection. I began naturally drawn to jewelry and ceramics but have since learned about all the other media and learn something new every year. It will be even more of a learning year for me this year as Co-Chair, because in my former role as Staging Manager, I didn’t have as much time to look at the art since I was always troubleshooting the show.

Q: What is your favorite ACE moment? Maybe it was meeting a new artist, or a specific special event. Why does that memory stick out to you?

Dana: The second time I chaired the show with Sandy Miller, Sandy had come up with the idea of our Emerging Artist Gallery. We devoted a good amount of time to developing this idea and when our structure went up and was filled with that year’s emerging artists, it was really a moment of pride for me. The Emerging Artist Gallery was a huge success for the show and has continued on since.

Leslie: I probably have a favorite moment from every show but most of them have to do with the people involved. We have wonderful volunteers, without whom the show could not happen, and fantastic corporate sponsors along with the doctors we are funding. It is also great to witness interactions between artists at the top of their game and customers who truly love their products. My very favorite moments have been the acts of kindnesses done for me while working long hours in the staging area—from Northwestern University security guards escorting me to my car to the gals in the Treasurer’s Office letting me hide for a moment or two!

Q: What are you most looking forward to for ACE 2013?

Dana: I always look forward to that moment at the show when the judging for the awards takes place—it is a quiet time on the floor and I can walk around by myself and view all of the beautiful work in a very peaceful way. It is really quite an experience to view all of the exquisite art with no one else around besides the two judges. I then am always in awe that my committee of dedicated volunteers made this possible and that each year’s show is more beautiful than the one before.

Leslie: I am looking forward to ACE 2013 because it has been a tough year for many of our artists and I know they are going to have a great show with us to cap off their year. We have been working very hard on our marketing this year and have a few surprises up our sleeve!

Q: ACE isn’t just an art show; both The Auxiliary of NorthShore University HealthSystem at Evanston and Glenbrook Hospitals and the entire ACE committee play a role in battling ovarian cancer by supporting essential research. Why do you, personally, feel that it’s important for ACE to help cancer research?

Dana: We struggled for awhile for our patrons to realize that we were raising money for projects at NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore). So, one of our ACE chairs, and passionate supporter, Joan Kowing McGregor, decided that we needed to raise money for a number of years for one cause and we chose breast cancer because we are a committee of over 300 women. We turned each year’s proceeds over and were able to fund numerous breast cancer projects and set up a $2 million endowment that assured that these projects would be funded each year by researchers at NorthShore until a cure is found.

We then decided to take on ovarian cancer—a diagnosis that every woman dreads receiving. We have all enjoyed raising money for Gus Rodriguez, MD, who is passionate about his work and mission. Dr. Rodriguez has had more meaning to us because some of our Auxiliary board members are battling ovarian cancer.

For me personally, I want to be able to fundraise as much as I can to help with women’s cancer research so that one day my daughters will benefit from the advances that were made because of The Auxiliary’s commitment to finding cures.

Leslie: One of the great things about ACE is that it achieves multiple charitable goals all at once. All of us who work on the show year after year truly want fine craft in America to flourish, as well as the wonderful artisans who are helping that to happen all over the country. The fact that we can do that while simultaneously supporting a wonderful doctor, Dr. Rodriguez, whose research and clinical work is about saving the lives of women, is a wonderful added incentive.

The representation of NorthShore’s research work to the public, the goal of helping The Auxiliary to fund his work and the mission to support craft in America are all linked together through ACE. You can’t separate one of those goals from the other; they all intertwined. The fact that some of our artists and some of our volunteers have been touched by cancer in some way makes this even more poignant. We have three Auxiliary Board members fighting ovarian cancer right now and we all know it could be any one of us in the future. Anyone who has met Dr. Rodriguez knows he is literally devoting his life to battling cancer, every day. He is the most wonderful protector of women and I know he is the one to invest in when it comes to funding research. I really believe in his work and in him. I know his patients feel the same way because they come up to us and tell us at the Show.


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