NAMTA 2008 in Reno

At the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and littered with casinos, chain restaurants, and strip malls, Reno may have seemed an unlikely place for a National Art Materials Trade Association (NAMTA) convention, but exhibitors and retailers alike proclaimed the success of the 2008 show. More than 200 exhibitors set up shop in the vast Reno/Sparks Convention Center April 30 through May 2. In addition to the booths showing all of the vendors’ wares, the Art Café, sponsored by Golden Artist’s Color, exhibited a range of works; most notable, at least for me, were intriguing prints by Karin Schminke. Among the many festive moments at the NAMTA trade show were a high tea, a tradition at Col Art; an open bar at Texas Art Supply, and a champagne toast at Daler-Rowney, which will celebrate its 225th year in business by launching an international art competition later this year. 

Notebooks in hand, Jessica Canterbury, associate editor of The Pastel Journal and Watercolor Artist (read Jessica’s own cool blog about our trip), and I roamed the aisles. It was a thrill, as always, to see artists at work: at Speedball, Franz Spohn was cutting and inking linoleum blocks; at Golden, Patti Brady showed how Golden’s Open acrylics stay wet for a longer period of time; at HK Holbein, painter Sean Dye and printmaker Pam Hudson demonstrated different uses for Holbein’s water-soluble oils. It was a delight, too, to come upon Wendy Hollender, at Faber-Castell, and look over her shoulder as she, reviving the English botanical tradition, used Faber-Castell colored pencils to draw tulips and lilies from life. At Logan Graphics, Eileen L. Hull was deftly cutting foamboard with an array of FoamWerks shaping and cutting tools,  designed for artists, architects, framers, photographers, 3-D model makers, and crafters.

A recurrent theme among manufacturers was the imperative to be eco-friendly, encapsulated in the saying, “Green is the new primary color.” At the retailers’ round table breakfast on Saturday morning, the talk was of ways companies could go green—in packaging, as well as in manufacturing products that do the environment and the artists who use them no harm. On the exhibition floor, two young artists created a dramatic mural with Plutonium G aerosol paints, which contain 70 percent pigment and 30 percent propellants and thus are considered “ozone-friendly.” Shawn Richeson of Jack Richeson & Company showed us a new line of easels made of lyptus wood imported from Brazil. In contrast to oak, lyptus, after being harvested, continues to grow. Indeed, the advantages of discovering renewable resources were manifest everywhere. Years ago Martin F. Weber introduced turpenoid natural and odorless turpentine; Strathmore Artist Papers, also a pioneer, introduced its first line of recycled artists papers in 1972. Strathmore’s newest paper, designed for use with charcoal, contains the tree-friendly fibers, cotton and hemp. In August, Fabriano will ship a beautiful white paper labeled “post-consumer product”—composed of recycled papers, manufactured using hydropower, and incorporating no animal sizing.

Canson won the prize for the best (large company) display. Arttogo won a prize for the best new product: snazzy jewelry and ornament kits for kids. Among the other marvelous new products were Caran d’Ache’s lightfast colored pencils, Luminance 6901; Crea Arts‘ framed canvas that pops out of its frame; Da Vinci’s fluid acrylics; Golden’s digital gel medium that makes transferring images easy; Gamblin’s six  colors of etching inks; Richeson’s eight-piece-problem-solving pastel sets; Staedtler’s latest modeling clay, Efaplast Microwave; RGM’s versatile palette knives; Derwent‘s tinted charcoal, Liquitex’s acrylic inks, and Chroma‘s Atelier Interactive acrylics. At the Color Wheel booth, Jessica and I paged through an advance copy of Dan Barges’s Color is Everything, a guide to color in theory and in application, with a question and answer format enhanced by analyses of master painters’ palettes.

The day before the trade show opened, our own Tim Langlitz presented a lecture and demonstration entitled “The Nuts and Bolts of Online Marketing” to a packed house. Characteristically lucid and straightforward, Tim outlined concrete ways manufacturers can go about producing newsletters and launching sweepstakes. He also described how to find and use systems that measure and monitor online success. Sharing his Web expertise, Tim exemplified the collegial spirit and generosity that are everywhere apparent in the industry, but perhaps, most apparent at NAMTA convocations. Advertising director Jim McIntosh summed it up: “Great energy, great people, great new products—a fantastic industry.”



From our hotel’s entrance the Sierra Nevada Mountains
were visible. Photo by Jessica Canterbury.

Daler-Rowney, celebrating 225 years in business, hosted a
champage reception on the convention floor.
Photo by Jessica Canterbury.

Jessica and I escaped to the Nevada Museum of Art,
which was showing Frank Lloyd Wright’s interior designs.
Here I am at the entrance of the museum.

At the Nevada Museum of Art, Jessica stands in front of a
signature Deborah Butterfield piece that had weathered beautifully.

In front of Grand Sierra Hotel, Kristin Roark, display advertising representative, Jim McIntosh, advertising
director, Maureen, and Cherie Ilg Haas, advertising sales coordinator,
in our about-to-embark-on-an-all-day-plane-trip-home clothes.
Photo by Jessica Canterbury.

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One thought on “NAMTA 2008 in Reno

  1. Maureen

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment and kind words, Marilyn. I welcome a continuance of the discussion on political art; we’ll print more letters in the September issue.