American Craft Week recognizes Queenstown artisan
QUEENSTOWN — Local artisan Michael V. Pivec of Queenstown has been recognized as an exceptional craftsperson under the age of 30 by American Craft Week. Now in its seventh year, American Craft Week is the nation’s largest celebration of handmade American craft. It will take place this Oct. 1–16 in galleries, festivals, museums, libraries and artist studios across the country.
For its 2016 artist focus, American Craft Week chose to search for exceptional craftspeople under the age of 30. The 30 winners, including Pivec, comprise the spotlight exhibit, “Rising Stars.” American Craft Week said the purpose of this year’s artist focus was to discover great craft and foster the careers of talented and creative artists.
When making their selection the ACW National Committee looked for these characteristics: excellence in design and skill level, an impressive body of work, a strong commitment to working as a craftsperson, work exhibited and/or offered for sale to the public, and a commitment to community and social values.
Pivec graduated from Kent Island High School with a completed cluster in fine art, which included a primary focus in clay works and sculpture, but said he had no formal schooling in the art of wood craft. His desire to work with his hands landed him in the plumbing and carpentry trades, and he learned plumbing skills through vocational training at KIHS.
After high school, Pivec began work for PRS Guitars, in the Chesapeake Bay Business Park, where he was trained in the craft of guitar making. It was here that he was introduced to the “artsy side of wood work,” Pivec said, adding that it was how he fell in love with working with the fine woods and decided to branch out on his own.
He is self-taught in lathe turning, and most recently has begun wood carving. Pivec’s company, MVP Woodcrafts, creates each design, each concept, from start to finish.
MVP does not use purchased segmented blanks, only recycled rare woods and wood from trees harvested in Maryland that includes walnuts, Osage orange and cherry.
Pivec said he uses as much reclaimed wood as possible and has even created designs from old, cast-off wood furniture.
For native Maryland wood, Pivec has a resource that is close to home. His brother is an arborist and is constantly on the look out for unusual pieces that Pivec might be able to craft. These natural resources that could have ended up as waste or in a chipper creatively come together to make functional art, said Pivec.
Pivec, 28, is the son of Michael and Barb Pivec, also of Queenstown. His natural talent and full-time career as an artisan is, he said, in part a tribute to the legacies of his great-grandfather, Edward L. Christle, an artist at the Baltimore Sun, and his grandfather, Harry W (Bud) Shenton Jr. a Realtor and real estate appraiser who was once a wood shop teacher.
Pivec said cherry burl is one of his favorite woods to build with. Burl is a rare instance in a tree that creates a unique pattern, explained Pivec. Often he chooses to showcase the burl in a bowl or flower vase.
Pivec’s salt wells — a small bowlshaped object with fitted lid — are by far the most popular item he sells, but he also crafts mugs, kitchen utensils, rings and bangles, wine stoppers and jewelry boxes to name a few. Occasionally, a piece will feature an inlay of turquoise, a unique and unexpected balance to the wood, he said.
Pivec spends three to four days each week in his wood shop, crafting and creating the pieces he will sell. The rest of the week, he said, he spends with partner Ashley Garland, also an artist, selling their goods at fairs, festivals and farmers markets across Maryland.
Pivec said he and Garland have worked together on projects, and “we really complement each other.” Their work together is marketed under the name Returning Tide.
MVP Woodcrafts has been honored as the 2015 local artisan — Queen Anne’s County — to provide the Stories of the Chesapeake Awards and is also a juried artist in many shows on the Eastern Shore, including the 2015 Academy Art Museum Craft Show.
Congratulating the winners, American Craft Week said of the 30 artists recognized, “Their works are an outstanding testimony to the promising future of handmade American craft .... Join us in encouraging and supporting the young artists in all our communities.”
To support these artists or learn more, visit americancraftweek.com. Pivec’s work can be found on Instagram and on Facebook at MVP Woodcrafts and Returning Tide.
Michael V. Pivec and partner Ashley Garland.
The perfect accessory for a locally crafted brew, one of Michael Pivec’s mugs.
Hand crafted wine stoppers feature one of Michael Pivec’s favorite materials to work with, cherry burl.