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.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

From the shelves

We just received this donation from the collection of Eudorah Moore, a visionary curator and champion of craft and design:

Hand Bookbinding Today, an International Art: An Exhibition Organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in Cooperation with The Hand Bookbinders of California (San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1978)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Craft in America Center talks millinery

The Craft in America Center was thrilled to host our pop-up seasonal millinery exhibit and talk by custom milliner Yvonne Lewis, the Hatzy Lady. Participants got the chance to see some of Yvonne’s favorite handmade looks for spring as well as a live demonstration of how they are constructed.  

Guests tried on finished creations and learned about what suits their face shape, and how to wear a hat with STYLE.

We had a great turnout and were so happy to touch on the time-honored tradition of millinery.

Hats Off to Spring took place Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the Craft in America Center.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Supporting young artists in Los Angeles

In 2013 the Craft in America Center launched a pilot program to support aspiring artists at Fairfax High School's Visual Arts Magnet. Our goal has been to give students in public high schools the chance to meet some of the leading working, professional artists in the field and to learn about the trajectory of their careers. The arts often suffer at the expense of the otherwise successful STEM education model in public schools (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), and for this reason we think our project is vital to giving art students a voice and granting them access to creative resources.

Our most recent collaboration involved glass artists Paul Marioni and Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, whose work is currently on exhibit at the Center in Seeing Into It: Messages in Glass. Previous participating artists have been potter Jeff Oestreich, collage artist Hidde Van Dyum, and illustrator JT Steiny.

Catch a timeline of Paul and Susan's activities here:

March 20 & 21Paul speaking to a 3D sculpture class about self-portraiture and being a life-long, professional artist. He visited two classes and asked them to sketch self-portraits which he then critiqued.

March 24: Paul and Susan giving a walk-thru of the show to the two art classes. 
The bus provided was courtesy of Councilman Paul Koretz's office and the city of LA.
Visiting classes were advanced painting (teacher: Elizabeth Kim) and 3D sculpture (teacher: Kelly Cohen).

April 4: (above) Fairfax students from a workshop led by Susan. She had them paint on acrylic to mimic her layered-glass technique using doodles. First, she started by having them think about defining a doodle (whatever your unconscious wants to release), paint doodles, then add color on the other side of the panel; (center) Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend; (below) Susan and Kelly Cohen, Teacher, 3D Sculpture.

April 4: Susan talks to students about the unconscious 

To learn more about our Fairfax High School pilot program, click here.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The business of craft

INDUSTRY, our newest Craft in America episode, premiers on PBS tonight. Alas, us Angelenos won't be able to enjoy it for another two weeks, but if you're in San Francisco, New York or Chicago, you can tune in tonight. Visit our Facebook page for local listings.

Click here for a 30-second preview of INDUSTRY.