Saturday, August 23, 2014

Body Conscious: A fiber show at Craft in America Center

Today is the opening of Craft in America Center's contemporary fiber show, Body Conscious: Southern California Fiber. Featuring nine artists operating in and around the framework of the human body, this exhibition ventures to capture the aura of fiber art in Southern California, as well as to chart the region's potential impact on the craft.

We are thrilled to have Miyoshi Barosh's site-specific installation in our window— a whimsical group of legs made from machine-knitted found sweaters, polyester and cotton filling. Her work is not only 
inevitably cheerful, but an achievement both technically and conceptually. We welcome you to visit the Center to see her work along with other examples of some of the most exciting work in fiber today.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Paul Marioni leads sand casting course at Palos Verdes Art Center (June 23-25)

Calling all glass students, inexperienced, practiced, and everything between: Paul Marioni is leading a three-day course in sand casting glass at the Palos Verdes Art Center, from June 23 - June 25. 

Paul Marioni with molten sand cast mask
Courtesy of Glass Alliance of Northern California

From the flier:

Sand casting is a process that is thousands of years old, known best in the metal working industry. Glassmakers have taken this knowledge and applied it to the hot casting process. One of the major benefits of this process is the immediacy and ease of manipulating the molds, including spontaneity and adding undercuts.

This workshop will focus on these aspects. We will be constructing molds from styrofoam and using ready made objects. We will discuss the process from making of molds, the preparation of the sand, ladling of glass and annealing. In addition to the technical aspects there will be lectures, demonstrations, and slide shows on  the aesthetics of cast glass and its implications as object and architectural elements. 

Open to all, no experience is necessary.

Monday-Wednesday, 6/23, 6/24 & 6/25, 10am-4pm
$630, Members $600

To register:  visit or call 310 541-2479
5504 W. Crestridge Rd. Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Last Chance... Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass closing June 28

The Craft in America Center had its first foray focusing specifically on the medium of glass, where our current exhibition, Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass, is on view through the end of JuneFeaturing the work of Paul Marioni and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, the show is testament to the boundaries the two artists have broken: flat glass panels bedeck the walls like paintings; a conceptual approach infuses almost every work. While the strength of their work can stand alone, their historical backdrop makes them even more significant. Marioni was a pioneer of the studio glass movement of the 1970s; later that decade he inspired Stinsmuehlen-Amend to join the club. Both artists shared a mutual interest in challenging aesthetic trends and infusing their work with personal narrative, approaches that were unheard of in the historically-entrenched glass medium. Their use of glass as a form of expression, and their long friendship, are what brought this show to fruition.

Left: Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, Grocery Nude To-Do (Calendar Girl), 2013, enamel fired on glass
Right: Paul Marioni, The Visitor, 1984, painted and blown glass

Paul Marioni's impact on studio glass is inestimable. By the time he was invited by artist Dale Chihuly to teach at Pilchuck Glass School, he had already earned his reputation as a rebel of sorts. Glass was a medium that rested comfortably as a decorative art form, and Marioni was pivotal in repositioning it as a conceptual medium. Glass did not have to come in the form of a window or fragile sculpture; it could be expressive; figurative; political.

Here are a couple highlights from the show:

Self-reflection recurs throughout Marioni's work. In Looking Back, it manifests quite literally as a portrait of himself as a skeleton, staring back at his own, living face. The skeleton and man, friends, smile back at each other. What could be a macabre memento mori comes off instead as a happy form of introspection and a graceful acceptance of the inevitable.

Paul Marioni, Looking Back, 2001, enamel fired on glass
Marioni continues to challenge our expectations in Mad Man, a portrait of himself as a devil. Although he is bathed in red and flashes a ferocious set of canines, he looks anything but mad; just a little mischievous. Nor does the devil of his “rocker” portrait, Lickin, look fiendish. As the kinetic sculpture rocks back and forth, its outstretched tongue boasts playfulness and sexual energy.

Paul Marioni, Lickin, 2005, kinetic cast glass
Collection of Susan Steinhauser and David Greenberg

Stinsmuehlen-Amend's A Man's Chair (2003) is comparatively forbidding in tone. In this enamel-on-glass panel, an armchair rests against a backdrop of flames; an enraged face, Gorgon-like, sprouts out of the chair. Once belonging to Stinsmuehlen-Amend's father, the chair was forbidden among she and her siblings. This is an index of the dysfunction that riddled her childhood, a reality that she fearlessly confronts in her artwork.

In her Calendar series, Stinsmuehlen-Amend reveals the intimate details of adult life. She has copied entries from her planner onto glass panels, revealing words like "chemo" and "Dr. Skanky," relics of her mother's struggle with cancer. The accompanying scribbles, expressions of her subconscious, are a contrast to the more cerebral experience of recording in a planner.

Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, A Man's Chair, 2003, enamel fired on glass, mixed media on wood panels

Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, T.G.I.F./April, Calendar Notations, 2005, painted and blown glass

The bravura and self-awareness of Marioni and Stinsmuehlen-Amend are a perfect match for glass. The medium is tirelessly evocative: it plays with light like no other material; it reflects; its inherent transparency renders it a valuable metaphorical tool; and its long history as a decorative art form makes it all the more compelling from a conceptual standpoint.

Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass is on view at the Craft in America Center through June 28, 2014.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Glass-Artist Rebel Paul Marioni

Craft in America Center is proud to host an artist talk and screening with Paul Marioni, a ground-breaking glass artist and founding member of the American Studio Glass movement. His work is featured in our current exhibition, Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass, which is in its final month—closing June 28th.

Marioni was a filmmaker before being swept away by glass as an artistic medium. His 1972 film, Hole, a pseudo-documentary about a man’s obsession with orifices, has won several awards. The release of Holes coincided with his discovery of studio glass, which for him marked a point of no return. He found the material could express his voice like no other. We will be screening his 20-minute film, shot in 16-millimeter, in conjunction with his talk.

Lickin', 2005, kinetic cast glass
Paul Marioni is known for his innovative approach to glass, pushing his techniques to their limits: his glass “rockers” defy the conception of glass as a fragile medium not to be toyed with. He excels not only technically in glass, but also uses it as a powerful conceptual platform: his enamel portraits and glass-blown sculptures have existential poignancy. Marioni has been a mainstay in the studio glass scene since the 1970s: he was asked by Dale Chilhuly to teach at Pilchuck Glass School in its second year, and also taught at the Penland School of Crafts, among other schools and programs internationally. His artwork can be found in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, Corning Glass Museum, Oakland Art Museum, and the National Museum of American Art, among others.

Paul Marioni in his studio
Photo courtesy of

Saturday, May 17, 2014

From the shelves: The Furniture of Sam Maloof

In honor of our recent visit to the Maloof Foundation, we pulled this from our library:

The Furniture of Sam Maloof by Jeremy Adamson
(Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2001)

Our visit to the Maloof Foundation

Craft in America Center is teaming up with the Maloof Foundation to plan the upcoming show "California Craft Now," an exhibition that will celebrate the spirit of the California Design shows of the 1960s and 1970s. It is due to open mid-2015, so stay tuned.

We recently paid a visit to the Foundation, an idyllic place located at the foot of Mt. Baldy and nestled in a lemon grove. (They make lemonade often.) The site is ripe for quiet contemplation. It also has a lovely exhibition space and garden, both featuring quality shows right now. Craft at Play, on view in the Jacobs Education Center through October 31, brings together hand-crafted toys and other objects from cultures all over.

Rod puppet, Rita Amacher
(Traditional on Indonesian islands of Java and Bali)

Shadow puppets representing characters from Hindu tale of the Ramayana, from Indonesia
Parchment, horn and paint

Russian Matroyshka Nesting Dolls
The Romanov Dynasty (1613-1917), partial sequence ending with the immediate family of Nicholas III

On display in the garden is the Foundation's biennial Sculpture in the Garden exhibition, running through July 10. Walking through the space feels like an inadvertent treasure hunt; at any moment you'll find yourself standing before a magnificent sculpture.

Fib-Cluster #2, David Kiddie

Recuerdos, Karen Neiuber
Ceramic mosaic assemblage

Janus, Dora De Larios
Then, of course, there is the Maloof house, now a living museum. Sam Maloof was a master woodworker and leader of the California modern arts movement. He and his beloved wife, Alfreda, made a resounding impact on the world of craft. Their home is not just an intimate time capsule but a living spirit of the arts and crafts movement-- the ceramics, rugs and, of course, the woodwork, speak to the evocative nature of craft materials and their ability to dance with another.

Sam Maloof's home, Alta Loma, California

Friday, May 16, 2014

Preserving the magic of glass

Last weekend a consensus was raised about the state of studio glass in Los Angeles: it doesn't get the attention it deserves. There is undoubtedly a community of glass artists and collectors here - and venues that are happy to showcase glass (like us!) - but there is a lack of cohesion.

These concerns were brought to the fore at last week's panel discussion hosted by Craft in America Center on May 10, "Pilchuck and the Studio Glass Trajectory." Pilchuck Glass School, located about 50 miles north of Seattle, Wa., was founded in 1971 by glass artist Dale Chihuly and patrons Anne and John Hauberg. Today it is one of the foremost schools in glass education, producing and attracting some of the best glassmakers in the country.

It would make sense, then, to stage a panel around Pilchuck Glass School. All four panelists were spirited about its impact. Two of them, glass artists Hiromi Takizawa and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, have taught at Pilchuck repeatedly; the other two panelists have been active in the glass collecting community for years: Anne Cohen Ruderman is the founder of GALA (Glass Alliance of Los Angeles); Susan Steinhauser is a collector of contemporary glass. She and her husband, Daniel Greenberg, are significant donors of art around the country, including to LACMA. The panel was moderated by Jo Lauria, independent curator and art and design historian.

Since there was so much ground to cover, the conversation didn't stop at Craft in America Center; it continued at the home of two generous art collectors whose outstanding glass collection was worth the trip alone.

An urgent topic that came up was the lack of interest in studio glass in Los Angeles. If Seattle has such an inspired commitment to glass, why can't Los Angeles? For one thing, glass is costly to make; for another, in recent years Los Angeles has lacked sufficient education in glass. This shows in the collections of major museums in the city: glass is not a priority.

Thankfully, there are exceptions. LACMA, though it's organized only one major exhibition on glass, has done several installations of studio glass in their permanent gallery space, and also rotates the glass in their permanent collection on a regular basis. In 2012 the Associate Curator of Decorative Arts and Design, Bobbye Tigerman, organized an installation celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Studio Glass Movement.

Other Los Angeles institutions celebrated in kind: The Craft and Folk Art Museum organized Balancing Act: The Glass Sculpture of Steve Klein, and in the same year Otis College of Art and Design featured some of Alison Saar's glass work in her solo exhibition there.

. . . . . .

Another consensus was raised among the panelists: a significant community has grown around Pilchuck, many of its beneficiaries right here in Los Angeles. The panelists were vociferous about its magic: Pilchuck is an unmatched beacon of community and creativity. Its idyllic, tree-studded campus no doubt has an effect, but the glass medium has something to do with it, too: glass, especially hot glass, requires collaboration. That would explain the lack of competitiveness at Pilchuck. It is a space for sharing, exchanging and supporting. Takizawa, who has taught many courses at Pilchuck, was adamant about this.

Students at Pilchuck assisting Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend with her design, 1983
(Courtesy of Pilchuck Glass School)

Students at Pilchuck, 1973/74
(Courtesy of Pilchuck Glass School) 

View of Pilchuck Glass School
The magic of Pilchuck is singular, and yet there could be alot more spark channeled into LA's glass community. There are many, many talented and innovative glass artists in the city, and we should advocate for them.