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Government Shutdown Threatens Opening of Exhibit Featuring Work by Allen County Basket Maker

Beth Hester

Two Allen County basket makers are in Washington D.C. to see their work featured in a new exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution.

But their plans could be ruined because of the government shutdown.

Scott Gilbert and Beth Hester are a husband-and-wife basket making team from Scottsville. One of Gilbert’s baskets is part of a Smithsonian exhibit scheduled to open to the public this Friday. That opening is in jeopardy unless Congress passes a measure funding the government.

Gilbert told WKU Public Radio he and his wife walked to the exhibit gallery Tuesday morning, only to find all the doors locked.

“Well, for a little while I was really mad about it. But when you’re standing here—we’re at the corner of I and 17th Avenues—and everything is hustle and bustle, and life goes on and the city goes on. I really don’t think they care much about the government here in Washington," Gilbert said with a laugh.

Much to his surprise, Gilbert's basket is featured on one of two large banners hanging from the Renwick Gallery, where the exhibit is being held.

Gilbert says he and his wife are staying in Washington throughout the week regardless of whether the government opens back up or not.

Gilbert is one of 63 contemporary basket-makers whose work is featured inthe Smithsonian exhibit called "A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets." It's scheduled to be open this Friday through December 8.

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