The Florida Society of Goldsmiths first met on the campus of the University of South Florida on January 15, 1984, for the purpose of "forming an educational non-profit group to provide workshops, lectures, shows and related activities for interested jewelers and related crafts". Nine people attended and selected Phil London, president, Richard Miller, vice president, Brenda Osborne, secretary, and Edward Borow, treasurer. The group quickly grew to a membership of 40 and the society became a Florida corporation on December 21, 1984. Tax exempt status was acquired the following year, September 1985.
In 1989, the Society reorganized into a state/local chapter structure to better serve the widely separated membership. Seven chapters are now in effect: Greater Pensacola, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast , Southwest, Westcoast and At Large (out of state). These chapters provide workshops and educational programs available for members around the state. Chapters are coordinated by the state organization composed of an Executive Director, an executive committee, and a Board of Directors, consisting of representatives from the individual chapters.
FSG publishes a quarterly bulletin as a service to its membership. Newsletters are exchanged with related groups, including the Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths, the North Carolina Society of Goldsmiths, Washington Guild of Goldsmiths, the Society for Midwest Goldsmiths, the Society for Louisiana Arts in Metal, Metal Arts Society of Southern California, and the Creative Metal Arts Guild. The newsletter includes information on chapter activities, workshops being offered, and articles on technical information and support as well as ones on professional and philosophical issues.
In the beginning, FSG developed a close working relationship with the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center in Belleair, Florida. Collaboration with FGCAC resulted in workshops featuring many of the leaders in the art metal movement. Collaboration with FGCAC also resulted in the first exhibition of art metal jewelry by Florida artists in May 1986. Beginning in 1987, FSG sponsored an annual art metal workshop program at Wildacres, N.C. Located near Little Switzerland, NC, Wildacres is a retreat dedicated to education, the arts, and personal rejuvenation. Facilities at Wildacres include rooms for lodging, cafeteria, auditorium, and complete metalworking facilities. Instructors for these workshops include the best known in the American art metals movement.
At the annual meeting in October 1997, the Board of Directors voted to create a paid part time position of Executive Director. The Director is responsible for publicity, public relations, grants writing, and fund raising. Until this time, member volunteers had conducted all activities. An Executive Director was hired and began work in February 1998. Also in 1998, FSG entered into a unique relationship with Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg. FSG has provided the tools and equipment for the Center's new metals studio and advice on the development of the teaching program. In exchange, Morean Arts Center allows FSG members one day of Open Studio weekly. The Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, FL provides office space for the FSG Executive Director.
In 1999, FSG originated the National Metalsmiths Hall of Fame, to honor metalsmiths with exceptional careers as well as recognizing others for their significant achievements in related fields; also to foster an appreciation of metalsmithing by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and making this information available to anyone interested. The first recipient of this award was Kurt Matzdorf, prominent artist and professor emeritus, SUNY at New Paltz, NY. Nominees can be suggested by anyone interested and must be from North America. FSG has appointed a committee of six, made up of prominent artists, educators, and arts administrators to review the nominations each year and make the selections.
Florida Society of Goldsmiths 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 822-7872 x2128 • FSGmetal@gmail.com