Up River by Craig Fuller

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Ever wonder what boating enthusiasts do when there is snow on the ground? Well, we plan future cruises. And, while getting “there” is always at least half the fun, another goodly percentage goes to the time spent planning.

With this in mind, I recently found myself among some seasoned cruisers who gathered in the middle of winter to discuss where it might be fun cruise this coming boating season. We talked of boats and cruises past and some new, or newly redone, places we want to visit.

Chestertown Marina

Emerging from the intense review of options, I decided that the Ranger Tug and I needed to head up the Chester River to historic Chestertown this year and visit what I knew to be a 300-year-old working port. My focus was such that I decided a drive north to see the new Chestertown Marina would be a strong element in my own cruise planning process.

While I knew the Town was refurbishing the marina, what I discovered was a virtually new and beautiful facility. The transformation since my last visit over a year ago was beyond anything I could have imagined.

Now, any good plan requires some knowledge of the backstory. And, who better to learn from than the mayor of Chestertown, his honor, Chris Cerino, who responded to an email by saying, “just give me a call anytime!”

While the commitment to rebuild the marina was launched before Mayor Cerino took office, this is one elected official who made a promise to see the marina totally redone and it is clearly a promise kept! Having taken office in 2014, he shared with me that “there is not a single square-yard we left untouched.” And, to think that back in 2011 people actually planned to sell the marina to build condos!

It took a good deal of financial finesse along the way. No single grant could fund the project, but a series of grants were applied for that made the initial work possible. Then, to the credit of the community, private donors stepped up to raise money needed to complete the project thanks to their funds and matching monies. By the way, a little help is still needed. [Link: http://chestertownmarina.com/marina-fundraising/ ]

One look at the new marina tells anyone that the good people have Chestertown have given all who enjoy cruising a fine new destination. And, as the mayor happily points out, “a beautiful historic town is a short walk away for all who visit.” There is no doubt that the mayor, along with the local shops and restaurants, welcome visitors.

Surely a number of slips will be leased for the season, but groups of up to 15 or 20 boats should be able to be accommodated, at least this year. And, there is a commitment to work with any captain who wants to spend some time in Chestertown.

So, a bit of snow on the ground will not prevent those who enjoy boating from getting excited about that next cruise….even if it is still several weeks away.

For more information on the Chestertown Marina please go here

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

The Johnson Card by Craig Fuller

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A Facebook friend and supporter of President Trump ask me for a comment on a review of President Trump’s accomplishments. The request really got me thinking about the path the country is on with this President and now a divided Congress.

The sense I have and cannot shake is that this really is not likely to end well.

Then, I thought about what might change the path we’re on in a way that works out well for almost everyone.

There is really just one option: President Trump needs to repeat the phrase uttered by a wartime President when Lyndon Johnson said, “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president.”

The Johnson Card would be a game changer!

President Trump is kind of a wartime President. There are conflicts around the world to be sure. However, the real war seems to be the one he is waging on Washington with fact-free commentary and virtually no empathy for those impacted by policies formed around the principle of what’s right is what will make President Trump look good.

Proceeding down this path with a certain challenge within his own party, a possible challenge by an independent and then an onslaught of critics from the Democrats, both in Congress and on the campaign trail is fraught with peril for the President. While his base may stay behind him, there is little reason to believe that the base can grow. And, with the wild policy swings bringing volatility to the stock market, not even a strong economy can offset concerns about longer term consequences.

Of course, there is always the wildcard of the Mueller investigation which may or may not change everything.

Here’s the thing, the single best option for the President is to play the Johnson Card. Electing not to seek reelection takes all the energy out of the opposition. It actually opens opportunities for a President, unburdened by any past record or firm philosophy, to work out compromises that will pass the House and the Senate. He actually could get a few things done!

Even though the President’s view is that he has accomplished more than any President in history, his base will be disappointed; but, the secret to the kind of success President Trump seeks is to leave them wanting more. And, he can give it to them! He can have the biggest paid speaking events. He can draw the greatest crowds. He can be the most beloved figure to millions.

What’s not to like?

He won’t have to endure the scrutiny of voters who delivered a remarkable number of Democrats to Congress. He won’t have to joust with the pollsters who want to study every move he makes. And, the media will inevitably and happily move on to the news around who comes next.

Plus, he can get started on raising money for the greatest Presidential Library any President has ever known…I mean, why wait for this kind of stuff.

Best of all, he can get that Tower built while he can still enjoy it in Moscow.

Yes, the Johnson Card is the single best move President Trump can make. It’s one that friend and foe alike would ultimately embrace.

If it makes so much sense, why do I worry it will never happen?

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Calling Anyone in the Trump Investigation a Rat is Unfair to Rodents

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Lest we forget the right and appropriate role of military officers, lawyers, senior government officials and others caught up in the various investigations swirling around President Trump, his campaign and then his transition into the presidency, we should remember that honesty and integrity must be and, up until now, have been at the heart of actions by people in high office and those who advise them.

This is not a partisan perspective; this is an observation of individuals who were elected as president and those who supported them over past decades. And, I am certain that my shock about the behaviors that many around Trump engaged in is not unique. While those who serve in the White House have differing philosophies and political views, there are shared values across both parties and several administrations. Each day it becomes increasingly clear that the Trump organization operated in a value- and integrity-free zone.

Understanding what happened is critical to bring an end to such aberrant behavior. Those who seek to govern, prepare to govern and hold public office must operate openly and honestly, and an unwillingness or some genetic inability to do so should sound alarms to the electorate in the future, making such lapses disqualifying in an election.

This brings us to how we should view those who are culpable.

While generally compassionate and understanding, I think those who engaged in a pattern of questionable and possibly illegal behavior and then lied about it publicly (and eventually to federal investigators) deserve the proverbial “perp walk.” Not only are they deserving of the spectacle, the treatment is necessary as a deterrent to others.

It is high time for lawyers to say, “We no longer can represent you.” Or, for aides to say, “We no longer can assist you along a path with which we fundamentally disagree.” And, it is time to understand that whatever fallout these principled actions might cause, it is far less consequential than potentially committing federal crimes.

Of course, all this assumes that the people wrapped up in all of this were operating out of some kind of motivation based on their personal view, however perverse, of public service. However, the increasing problem of sustaining such an assumption is that it does not offer a rationale for conduct by those indicted by and cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Even if the notion of an initiative to improve relations with Russia is the basis for questionable behavior, why try to cover it up with serial misrepresentation? That’s something that was at the heart of what Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn reportedly conveyed to the Russian ambassador when he suggested not responding to the sanctions applied by a sitting U.S. president. Though naïve, there would have been nothing illegal about early outreach to Russia once Trump and his team were in office. Then, their approach and foreign policy initiatives could be supported or opposed on their merits.

If there is a “rat” in the middle of all this, it may well rest with the simultaneous commercial and campaign activities engaged in by senior advisers. Dialogue about hotels, towers and other commercial ventures with Russian representatives is a growing dark cloud. And to the extent people around candidate Trump had their eyes on a very different ball than the election, a rationale for obfuscation after the election begins to crystalize. If the campaign for the highest office in the land was even partially a commercial venture, the motive of the candidate would and should be called into question.

Smart, experienced people have engaged in inexplicable behavior, considering their years of experience. Something caused them to do this — and that something, when we discover it, might better fit the characteristics of a rat.

Craig Fuller served President Ronald Reagan from 1981-85 as assistant to the president and head of the Office of Cabinet Affairs, and then became chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush from 1985-89. He co-chaired President-elect Bush’s transition office and chaired the Republican National Convention in 1992. He then led two major associations and was a consultant in Washington. He now runs his own firm, The Fuller Company.

 

George H.W. Bush: A Lifetime of Commitment to Family and Country by Craig Fuller

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I join with millions who reflect on the life of one of the nation’s most remarkable individuals. His service to country has few parallels. The same can be said of his 73 years of marriage to Barbara Bush.

Vice President Bush and the author at the UN Security Council in July, 1988

As I met him in 1981, it was clear that if the country sought to prepare an individual for the White House, the path George H.W. Bush followed provided the best possible experience. It was also clear the vast experience, when combined with his strong values, brought great judgment

When he asked this Californian, who came to the White House with Ronald Reagan, to become his chief of staff for the second term of the Reagan/Bush Administration it was a bit of a surprise, but also a very high honor. We would travel to over 60 countries and every state in the nation multiple times as he served his second term as vice president and sought to win a presidential election.

Karen and Craig Fuller with George and Barbara Bush – Kennebunkport 2017

Much will be said as people look back about all he accomplished and the significance of the positions he held. For me, the memories that stand out most are of the thousands who called him a trusted friend. It mattered not where we traveled, there were always people, be they world leaders or a person in a New Hampshire diner, who felt the warmth of true friendship.

While a sad time, my thoughts upon hearing the news were of how much he and Barbara Bush wished to end each day together and how on this day that is exactly what will surely come to pass.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

 

It’s Tuesday….GIVE! By Craig Fuller

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Don’t know about you, but I got slammed this week from organizations I know well and many I’d never heard of….all with the same message: “Dear Craig….It’s Giving Tuesday so send money.”

Now, I really do believe in making contributions and do so all year long to the organizations, both local and national, that make a difference related to things about which I care.

So, I got curious….who decided that the first Tuesday after Black Friday and Black Monday should be Giving Tuesday?

Figured it must be a charitable organization who slyly calculated that many of us would be so overcome by guilt associated with uncontrolled spending during a long weekend that when Tuesday arrived, we’d give to a cause. Well, it turns out in 2012 that is exactly what the United Nations Foundation figured might happen…but, has it?

For me, the overwhelming number of requests on one day yielded nothing. It just seemed like too much of a gimmick this year. If the “it’s Tuesday, so give plea” from multiple organizations wasn’t enough, Facebook friends (some I’d never heard of) took up the cause and began requesting gifts for their favorite charities….because it was Tuesday.

Maybe it’s time to rethink this UN Foundation initiative.

Here’s the thing…with no small measure of jubilance, it was announced last year that #GivingTuesday had raised $274 million online…the most ever since the concept was launched.

Impressive. But, consider this….in 2017, Americans gave $410 billion to charity. Yes, that is over $1 billion a day, every day of the week. This from the National Philanthropic Trust which also tells us there were just over 1.5 million charitable organizations in the country in 2015.

I’ve always thought that giving is an important part of life. But, it usually involves a relationship between a donor and an organization. The gift of money and time help the organization and just as much or more help the individual who gives to feel good about themselves.

While I certainly would not frown on methods to encourage people to give, I wonder whether an overwhelming onslaught of requests on a Tuesday in late November is working for or against the real need to help others. Placing pure annoyance between great needs and generous donors is a mistake in the view of this donor and fundraiser, and I look forward to responding favorably to thoughtful messages from organizations and people I know and trust, but not because they message me on Tuesday.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Star World Competition, We Hardly Knew Ye by Craig Fuller

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Learning that the Tred Avon Yacht Club (TAYC) in Oxford would host the Star World Competition came as a delightful surprise. As an occasional sailboat racer, I knew the Star Class and just how dedicated serious sailors are about racing these boats.

The race this past week brought 62 boats from around the world into Oxford for the six-race competition. Among the racers was a friend from America’s Cup days (that’s another story), Paul Cayard. He summed up the significance of the event early on by saying, “It is an honor to sail in the Star Class because of its 100 year-old history. We are a part of the present and the older generations know about our history. But it is important that we show the younger sailors in our class how significant this is and educate them on the history that is so rich of our Class. If we don’t do it they won’t understand what they are a part of.”

As a professional sailor who has competed at the helm of America’s Cup yachts as well as in around the world competitions, today, Paul Cayard, is Star Class Vice President for the Western Hemisphere. And, he knows the class having first raced in Star competitions on the San Francisco Bay 40 years ago.

The week proved challenging, but that is what competition is all about. One day, the lack of wind cancelled racing for the day. Then, with the remains of a hurricane passing through, the wind and water were too fierce for racing.

However, by Saturday morning, four of the six races had been completed and the stage was set for the final two races.

Winds were light but building. Turns out, so was the chop on the Choptank. With strong currents and variable winds, it took more than an hour to set the course. Then, it had to be changed.

The fleet of 62 Star boats and with their two-person crews had been in the water for close to four hours before the first of two races actually was underway. The exciting day racing over almost six hours is well described by Sail World in their story released after the completion of the final racing.

The overall winner of the 2018 Star World competition proved to be Olympic Finn sailor Jorge Zarif. At 26 years old, he is the youngest World Champion since 1981 when Alex Hagen (GER) won as a skipper at the same age.

“I feel really happy! The Star is such a traditional Class full of good people and good sailors.” said Jorge Zarif. “It feels really good to have the opportunity to put my name on that trophy.”

“We had great results and of course we hoped to win.” said Paul Cayard, Vice President of the Star Class. “But Arthur and I won a race and had a second, and 3rd is a great place overall. We are always excited to have the youth in the Class, Jorge is the son of a Star sailor and Josh [Revkin] and Arthur [Lopes] are both young. What we are most interested in is seeing the next generation coming along, so to see Jorge Zarif win the Star World Championship is fantastic. It says a lot for the Star Class.”

And so, the Star Class world competition came to a close. It is one of the oldest organizations in sport history, the second oldest in sailing. It brought with it great and treasured traditions while providing a stage for a young racer to defeat the seasoned competition.

So, I enjoyed a wonderful day on the water as a spectator. Here is a short video slideshow of the experience…

Then, as the week ended and I was returning to Trippe Creek, I found myself wishing I had seen more of the racing and more of the fine people who competed. The TAYC should feel proud of hosting the competition and completing the six races in, to say the least, variable wind conditions. Many hosted racers in their homes and volunteered to work at the yacht club.

Still, it feels we missed an opportunity for the community. A class of boats that have competed for a hundred years, came here to race. Yet, on the final day, I think there were about four spectator boats on the water. To find coverage of the racing, you have to go to sailing sites on the internet. Or, of course, read The Spy!

From Paul Cayard, who started racing Stars forty years ago (and placed 3rd) to the twenty-six year-old winner of the 2018 competition, all the competitors speak of making sure young people get to know the sport and participate in sailing.

Having the Star World competition here was a very big deal….I just wish more people could have experienced the thrill of the competition and the quality of the individuals who compete for hours every day on the water in the toughest conditions we could have provided.

Thanks to all who made this possible!

I wonder, would those who organized this extraordinary event would be willing to share the excitement in some post-race discussions. There are extraordinary photographs and video. There are great Star class racers in the area that could share the excitement of participating in an international competition. Perhaps after the fact, more people can find a way to touch the thrill of Star class racing. Just a thought….

Aside for what you usually share with people….

Craig Fuller is known for his national political experience, but sailing started for him with an uncle and cousins who raced in Newport Beach, California. It continued as he crewed on a cruising class sailboat while in college at UCLA. He has raced sail boats in the British Virgin Islands and was a very active sponsor of America’s Cup racing in the 1990s. Now, he is a frequent spectator and photographer during local race events. He resides with Karen in their home on Trippe Creek.

 

 

Signs of the Time by Craig Fuller

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The elections are just a few weeks away bringing heightened campaign activity to Talbot County. With active local, state and federal races occurring, voters are treated to a wide array of signs to boost interest in one or more candidates.

Traveling along highway 50 in Trappe, two signs caught my attention. On one property owner’s land was a sign for Democrat candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 1st District, Jesse Colvin; and, next to it was an equally large sign for Republican candidate for Governor, the incumbent, Larry Hogan. Curious? Maybe not.

I sense support growing not for the candidate of one party or the other, but for individuals who bring leadership to their respective offices and a desire to find solutions by working together.

You should know that, like the property owner hosting these signs, I believe Governor Hogan and Congressional candidate Jesse Colvin possess these qualities and therefore will have my vote on Election Day!

Voting ought to require us to do a little research, made easier by extensive online descriptions of the candidates and the positions across a wide range of issues. What I was most taken about were the individual descriptions of Hogan and Colvin on their respective campaign websites. These descriptions are carefully crafted and approved to reflect the nature of the candidate…it’s how they want to be seen.

You can look at both sites yourself (the link is at the bottom of the column). But, here is an easy way to compare the two:

 

Notice how, when they introduce themselves, they choose words like “state/people,” “country/people.” They refer to “policies” and to “problems” and they speak to “leadership” and “courage.”

We would, I believe, be well served by these two individuals, Hogan and Colvin, working together to protect our precious environment, to fight the dreaded scourge of opioid addiction, to work on economic growth with job training and expanded employment opportunities, and to insure our citizens have the health care they need.

Just imagine how you and I and our communities would benefit by having our state and federal representatives putting party aside to focus on the nations’s needs, the state’s needs and the needs we have in Talbot County.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

No Perry Mason Moment; but Important Teaching Moments in Ford vs. Kavanaugh by Craig Fuller

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We all want one, but when the week concludes we are not likely to have either a confession or a recantation in the presentations by Professor Ford or Judge Kavanaugh. What Perry Mason coaxed out of a witness on the stand was more clarity about reality than we are likely to see in real life. Why? Because both of the principals involved here have a very clear view of their own reality.

I hasten to add; it is evident that inappropriate behavior decades ago left a deep scar in one individual. It is equally clear that the accused party has led a life that honors and respects others and thus created for him a reality where inappropriate behavior is not now or ever part of his reality.

While there can be only one truth, Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh believe in realities that, while in total conflict, are real and totally convincing to them.

I’ve witnessed this before. During investigations into alleged wrongdoing in government, I experienced people I knew stating what they believed to be true. The thing was, it wasn’t. When I asked counsel how this could be and why would misstate facts, I learned something interesting. The explanation was that they had been telling themselves a story about an event over and over to the point where the only thing they believed is what they created in their own reality. And, they believed it so totally, they would easily pass a lie detector test.

It turns out; there is a name for this: the Rashomon Effect.

One online summation reads in part:

… every time you remember something, you rewrite it in your brain. If that recollection contains errors, you’ll strengthen those errors until you’re positive they’re correct.

The last thing I would suggest is that a traumatic event never occurred. But, lacking corroboration by witnesses, friends who had the story shared contemporaneously, or evidence gathered at the scene, we are left with two realities believed with equal conviction and articulated in ways that only solidify the preconceived views of those who will hear the testimony offered by two people locked in a conflict.

So, as much as we want to see a moment when, as in the Perry Mason show, one party cracks and only one reality remains as “the truth,” we are unlikely to experience such a nice neat result.

My assumption is that a vote will occur in the Senate on the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh consistent with where people were before this eleventh-hour revelation came to pass.

However, even without a moment where a single truth is revealed, it would be a mistake to avoid taking a few teachable moments out of this wrenching experience.

For some reason, I’ve found myself engaged in numerous discussions about the Ford/Kavanaugh situation. Some were sensitive, and several were anything but. It strikes me that there are three distinct groups of people: those who engaged in some form of inappropriate behavior; those who experienced inappropriate behavior; and, then, a group (which I believe I am in) who experienced neither of the above. What I find a bit shocking is that the “none of the above group” may well be the smallest of the three.

Following discussions with women for whom I have great respect, whether in person or in reading what they are writing, it seems that most recall with varying clarity inappropriate actions by another person. Certainly, there is a wide range of degree, and most suggest they just moved past the experience. But, the teachable moment here is that the experience remains an unpleasant memory with a life impact that is hard to judge.

Notice should be taken by all people, that inappropriate acts and unwelcomed advances have consequences. People want to connect with others. But, inappropriate actions can do harm, and those actions should never be excused as “well everyone does it.” Truth is, that is not true.

These days, inappropriate actions don’t just occur at parties. They happen online in the virtual world. These, too, are damaging forms of interaction that can have long-lasting effects.

We clearly need more focus on respect when it comes to human interaction. This needs to be the underlying value when developing a relationship with others. Whether casual or something else, mutual respect will get people past something that does harm for decades.

There is another teachable moment….

It goes to the process that has us where we are today.

Contemporaneous reporting really is important. I understand how people hesitate, I think. But, time works in no one’s favor, least of all the individual who has experienced the inappropriate behavior.

Then, public officials have an obligation to take appropriate action when they learn of the alleged offenses. Again, in my experience during government service, people did come to me with allegations of improper actions. It was always my policy to indicate that if provided with information suggesting wrongdoing, I had an obligation to take an action. I simply refused to be entrusted with information about improper conduct of any kind without doing something as a public official.

I have known Senator Diane Feinstein for decades since our days in California. The determination to withhold an allegation of wrongdoing by a nominee to the Supreme Court makes no sense. The timely and confidential consideration of this issue could have provided the best chance of learning the truth before the public uproar we are now experiencing.

When someone takes the time to document a recollection of wrongdoing, that individual deserves to be heard, and the allegation should be investigated and resolved if at all possible. In any FBI background check (and, I’ve participated in dozens of them involving other people) the question is always asked along the lines of, “is there any reason you know of that might make the appointment or security clearance inappropriate?” And, the answer given really is confidential.

When a public official has knowledge, even if it is not from direct experience, they have an obligation to inform the proper authorities.

Wherever you settle on the question of confirming Judge Kavanaugh, I think you will have to get there without the truth of a high school incident being fully unmasked. But, I hope we take the time to reflect on some of the important elements this debate has unmasked that impact the lives of so many. Today, we need to focus at least as much attention on what appropriate, mutually respectful conduct means as we focus on the breaking news around the tragic allegation of improper behavior in decades past.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

A Campaign for Craft by Craig Fuller

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Readers of the Spy know full well that an election is approaching this November. Our airwaves will fill with political ads and street corners will see signs for candidates filling all space available.

Into this environment those of us engaged in launching the 21st Annual Craft Show at the Academy Art Museum must bravely go. Rather than resist, we decided to embrace the spirit of the time with early stickers for car windows and store windows (Thank you Piazza for being the first!). Later look for our Meet the Artist lawn signs!

When we ask people to Vote Early! And, Vote Craft! we want you to do two important things: vote with your feet and attend the Craft Show on October 19-21; and, check out our first-ever online version of the Show, Dazzled Online.

The Academy Art Museum Craft Show celebrates the 70 artists who are coming to Easton from around the country bringing the product of their creative talents. We will be reaching out over the weeks ahead through Dazzled Online to tell the stories of our featured artists and to show people the quality of the work that will be available at the Craft Show and through the online auction.

You can stay in touch with developments over the next few weeks by registering now at Dazzled Online and when the auction goes live on October 1st, we hope you will consider placing a bid or two.

All proceeds from Dazzled Online and from the Craft Show go to the Academy Art Museum to assist in the fulfillment of the mission.

Craig Fuller remains a regular commentator at the Spy, but he is taking time to serve as Chairman of the 2018 Academy Art Museum Craft Show. He is also a Trustee of the Museum.