10 Great Places to Shop at Crafts Galleries

Anyone who thinks American ingenuity has faded hasn't visited a craft gallery.

Dec. 11, 2011— -- Anyone who thinks American ingenuity has faded hasn't visited a craft gallery. From vibrant quilts to such edgy creations as handmade decorative robots, artisans are constantly at work. Galleries are everywhere, says Wendy Rosen, editor of American Style magazine. "Craft galleries have things that people have wanted all their lives and they just didn't know where to look." She shares some favorite shops with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea

Berea, Ky.

This center is part of the legacy of Phyllis George Brown, a former Miss America and Kentucky first lady who championed state crafts. "Her influence was felt nationally," Rosen says. "Not every state can afford to build Disney World, but every state can afford to support its creative people." She recommends the wood carvings, pottery and quilts. 859-985-5448; kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov


Beckley, W.Va.

This state-run craft store was one of the first to be located at a highway rest stop and helped popularize the concept. Now many states require rest-stop shops to carry locally made merchandise. "Tamarack is one of the biggest that has been built in the last 30 years," Rosen says. "It has become a wonderful tourist attraction." You'll find everything here from jams and jellies to wood-turned bowls. 304-256-6843; tamarackwv.com

Oregon College of Arts and Crafts

Portland, Ore.

Art schools are great places to purchase works from faculty, alumni and staff members. Rosen particularly likes this school's shop for the cutting-edge designs. "You see so much work that really isn't in the mainstream craft gallery world yet," she says. Among her recommendations are the ceramics and jewelry, including pieces made from silk, leather and even paper. 503-297-5544; ocac.edu/#/about-ocac/campus/galleries

Volcano Art Center Gallery

Volcano, Hawaii

This gallery in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers mainland visitors an overview of island art. "You'll see wonderful carvings out of koi woods. The color palette will be bright, and a lot of things will have a tribal flair as well," Rosen says. "You get a whole different sense of style there." 808- 967-8222; vacgallery.com


Abingdon, Va.

Just 6 months old, this regional craft center and restaurant is convenient to Interstate 81. "You can get something to eat and do some great shopping as well," Rosen says. She suggests checking out the walking sticks, fiber art and furniture, which only large stores such as Heartwood have the space to carry. 276-492-2400; heartwoodvirginia.org

Illinois Artisans Shop


This state-run shop is in the downtown James R. Thompson Government Center. Despite the unlikely setting, Rosen says, you'll find handmade merchandise here. "Chicago has a long tradition of loving arts, crafts and architecture." She suggests checking out the ceramics and art glass. 312-814-5321; www.museum.state.il.us/ismsites/chicago/geninfo.html

Mississippi Crafts Center Gallery

Ridgeland, Miss.

This state-sponsored gallery is run by the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi and features the work of more than 400 artists. (An affiliated shop is located in the state capital, Jackson.) It's one of the country's top non-profit galleries, Rosen says. "They're having a banner year." She suggests looking for folk art, recyclables, dolls, glass and pottery. 601-856-7546; mscrafts.org

The Art Studios at Spanish Village Art Center

San Diego

Home to hundreds of artists, this sprawling studio and gallery in Balboa Park lets visitors watch the creative process in action, including painting, glass-blowing and pottery-making. "You can meet almost every artist you want to buy from," Rosen says. She suggests looking for enamel jewelry, which is going through a resurgence now because of the high cost of gold and silver. 619-233-9050; spanishvillageart.com

Indian Pueblo Center


Manufacturers in other countries are quick to copy popular U.S. designs, which means shoppers should ask about the country of origin when buying crafts, Rosen says. But at this tribal-run shop, you can be assured you're getting the real thing. Still, don't feel bound to traditional items. Indian artists are modernizing and developing new styles, she says. "Some are doing the most exciting contemporary design in the country." 505-843-7270; indianpueblo.org

Center for Maine Craft Gallery

West Gardiner, Maine

With its cold winters keeping people inside for months on end, it's no wonder Maine has a rich craft tradition. "They have a lot of time to develop their skills," Rosen says. The end result is displayed at this state-run gallery with multiple locations. Rosen loves the pottery, jewelry and the unique buoy bells — outdoor garden gongs that are tuned to sound like ringing ocean buoys. 207-588-0021; mainecrafts.org