|Lineage of Bead|
Garan-Beadagio LLC produces five shows annually, under the direction of Anna Johnson, they have become the most innovative bead & design events in the US. The shows are praised for their promotion of artisanship and their elegant presentation of artisans, workshops, emerging artists, and established bead merchants.
Anna brings many life experiences, as an art student, bead maker, and merchant, to the job of promoting these shows. From childhood, she was captivated with sacred textiles, mosaics, and tapestries, and later, as a young women, she became a traveling merchant, buying and selling rare kilims, embroideries, tapestries, rare antique and vintage beads. She also became a self-taught glass bead maker, reviving lost techniques, and working with antique tools, at a time when there was no artistic bead scene and few other bead makers around.
Having worked and lived as an artisan merchant and bead maker, it was a natural process for Anna to want to promote artisanship, and she threw herself into promoting the first bead shows ever seen in the US, and in the course of putting them together, learned the importance of being resilient and patient, and turning experience into knowledge. Anna wanted to produce an event that went beyond the usual trade show model. It required a working knowledge of artisanship including beadmaking, lapidary, jewelry design, weaving, millinery, clothing, and fiber arts, and an understanding that artisans are artists in the truest sense of the word.
In 2005, having learned from her experiences as a merchant and bead maker, Anna elevated the field to a new level, by producing To Bead True Blue in Tucson. Exhibitors were chosen by invitation and by juried application, which allowed for an elegant, balanced, quality-oriented show, without a lot of exhibitor duplication. This level of production was very time consuming, but at a much deeper level, it is what made artisanship the inner creative life force of To Bead True Blue and gave it a vibrant, magical touch.
To Bead True Blue was a new approach to the trade show model. Anna equated artistic bead making, traditional handwork art, and old-world craftsmanship, with fine art. She regarded artisanship and exhibitor professionalism to be essential to the success of any trade show. The first To Bead True Blue was a great success and within a few short years, To Bead True Blue has become legendary, growing to 500 exhibitors and workshops, becoming the most important bead & design event in the US.
Today, Anna is joined by her daughters Casey Meliana and Josie Wood. Following in the family tradition, working as a team, they produce and promote To Bead True Blue and The Tucson Bead Show; as well as Pasadena Bead and Design Show and San Francisco Bead and Design Show. Each of these shows has its own distinctive exhibitor list and selection of artisan booths, galleries, and merchant displays.