After temporary closures due to the pandemic, Freehand Gallery is open with an expanded website and renovated retail space on West Third Street, offering expertly crafted, one-of-a-kind objects made by artists from around the country.
Carol Sauvion opened Freehand Gallery in 1980. For 42 years, she has welcomed customers and made the gallery an essential destination for handmade items.
Sauvion grew up in Philadelphia and is a craftsperson herself. As a potter, she spent 12-hour days at the wheel, giving her an understanding of the skill required to master a craft. She learned under the mentorship of artist Toshi Seeger, who gave Sauvion a start.
Sauvion sold her work at galleries and craft shows for years, but eventually realized her calling was promoting the craft and work of other artists. She has built relationships with all types of artists including ceramists, jewelers, woodworkers, fiber and glass artists. California master jeweler Michael Bayes has sold exclusively through Freehand since the store opened. Massachusetts studio Fritz Glass’ handblown tumblers are also a longtime customer favorite. Sauvion has created a supportive, inspiring environment for local artists.
In 1996, after 16 years of selling contemporary crafts at Freehand, Sauvion noticed that craft was still an underrecognized art form. To further promote the art, she created the Craft in America series. After years of planning, the first episode aired on PBS in 2007 and received the Peabody Award. As of 2022, the series has produced 27 episodes, taking viewers on intriguing and often emotional journeys through the lives, histories and processes of American craft artists. The series is a celebration of handmade items and their impact.
Sauvion continues to oversee Freehand Gallery, the Craft in America series and the Craft in America Center, located next door to Freehand Gallery. The space hosts exhibitions, events and educational programs.
Since the pandemic, craft has seen a resurgence, with makers of all levels creating everything from masks to quilts to furniture, Sauvion said. She believes it is a uniting force in a time of division, and a meditative activity in a time of increased anxiety.
“Craft is universal; craft is us,” Sauvion said. “Whatever happens, the handmade endures.”
Freehand Gallery is located at 8413 W. Third St. For information, call (323)655-2607, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit freehand.com.
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