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Shows to See: December/January 2013
CA / Los Angeles
Craft in America Study Center
Good Enough to Eat: The Fusion of Food and Craft
to Jun. 22
Craft has been linked to food since that first caveman made a bowl for his saber-toothed tiger stew. “Good Enough to Eat” takes a cue from the current popularity of culinary culture and examines that relationship in three parts. “Food as Impetus for Craft” looks at objects used in food prep and presentation (to Jan. 19). “Food as Subject for Craft” features work by artists who deal with edible subject matter (Feb. 2 – Apr. 6). “Food as Medium for Craft” unveils a smorgasbord of actual food, including carved vegetables and artfully arranged meals (Apr. 20 – Jun. 22).
CA / Oakland
Oakland Museum of California
Playing with Fire: Artists of the California Studio Glass Movement
to Mar. 24
Continuing the celebration of the 50th anniversary of American studio glass, OMCA takes a look at the Golden State’s influence on the field. More than 20 works are on view by artists such as Marvin Lipofsky, who started glass programs at California College of Arts and Crafts (now CCA) and the University of California, Berkeley; Robert Fritz, who started a glass program at San Jose State University; and Richard Marquis, whose colorful work embodies the free-spirited influence of the West Coast.
CA / IL / NY / TX
Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Market
to Dec. 16
The nation’s preeminent indie craft fair travels the country for five consecutive weekends of handmade holiday shopping. After a first-ever Brooklyn market at East River State Park (Nov. 17 – 18), Texas is the second venue, at Austin’s Palmer Events Center (Nov. 24 – 25). Then on to Chicago’s Pulaski Park Fieldhouse (Dec. 1 – 2), before hitting Los Angeles State Historic Park (Dec. 8 – 9) and San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center (Dec. 15 – 16). Each stop offers affordable handmade items from both local and national exhibitors, who make everything from stationery and ceramics to screenprinted posters and picture frames.
Work by Lenore Tawney shows concurrently at MICA and the University of the Arts, two schools that offer scholarships funded by the legendary fiber artist’s foundation. In addition to the installations and wall works that have inspired generations, sketches, correspondence, and other personal items reveal how Tawney interwove art and everyday life.
MI / Muskegon
Muskegon Museum of Art
Innovators and Legends: Generations in Textiles and Fibers
Dec. 13 – Mar. 17
This exhibition organizes artists into four generations, beginning with those active in the 1960s, to illustrate the growth, change, and development in the fiber art field. Work from more than 50 artists make this a veritable who’s who of the fiber world, spotlighting Adela Akers, Nick Cave, Gyöngy Laky, and Kay Sekimachi, among others.
TX / Houston
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
to Dec. 30
In its seventh iteration, this biennial juried exhibition showcases the best contemporary craft the Lone Star State has to offer. Forty artists made the cut, and the wide range of work – from a giant crocheted installation to hand-formed aluminum tree stumps that double as seating – speaks to a far-reaching definition of craft.
VA / Richmond
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
to Feb. 10
The masterful glass creations of Dale Chihuly come to VMFA for the artist’s third major museum show in recent years. Iconic works such as chandeliers, Tabac Baskets, and Venetians fill the 12,000-square-foot main gallery. Installations spill into the rest of the museum, including Red Reeds, a 60-foot-long sculpture composed of 200 red glass reeds, installed in a reflecting pool in the outdoor sculpture garden.
WA / La Conner
La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum
Material Men: Innovation & the Art of Quiltmaking
to Dec. 20
Men make quilts, too. “Material Men” elevates the work of 16 male artists from across the globe who’ve helped to push the medium. Visitors will enjoy colorful quilted scenes from Netherlands-based Leslie Gabriëlse, appealing wall hangings by Japan-based Jim Hay, and vibrant storytelling quilts by New Yorker Michael A. Cummings.
WI / Wausau
Woodson Art Museum
Simply Steel: Furniture in the Shaker Tradition
to Jan. 20
An exhibition of Jim Rose’s minimalist furniture, crafted from scrapyard steel, makes an excellent companion to the Wisconsin stop of “Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection,” which originated at the Bellevue Arts Museum. Rose’s meticulously crafted, often colorful cupboards, chests, and settees were first inspired by an East Coast road trip that took the furniture maker to Shaker museums and settlements.
TX / Houston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
to Jan. 27
Midcentury madness shows no signs of slowing. With that in mind, American Craft connected with Cindi Strauss, ACC trustee and curator for modern and contemporary decorative arts and design at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, about “Scandinavian Design.” The exhibition showcases furniture, glass, ceramics, metalwork, and lighting from the 1920s to the ’70s that exemplify the “good design for all” aesthetic.
The mainstream appeal of Scandinavian design has grown in recent years. Is this show a response to that?
The MFAH has a long history with Scandinavian design. In 1956, the traveling exhibition “Design in Scandinavia,” organized by industrial design societies in the participating countries, featured objects by leading designers in glass, ceramics, metalwork, furniture, and fiber. From that show, the MFAH received four glass pieces – the origins of its Scandinavian design collection. The museum has built upon this history by acquiring objects by Scandinavian architects, designers, and manufacturers. These have been part of presentations over the years, but this is our first chance to look at this area in depth. That it’s happening at a time when Nordic design is being celebrated is just a happy coincidence.
How do you see the balance of one-of-a-kind and production work playing out in the show?
I think the show demonstrates the wide variety of creative opportunities for artists and designers in Scandinavia. Some worked in the studio and with industry, while others aligned themselves solely with industry. Both endeavors were seen as equally fulfilling. And interestingly, in ceramics and glass, studio craft principles found their way into the factory. Departments for special art lines sprang up at factories in the mid-20th century, and artists freely participated in the making of multiples.
What is unique about curating a show featuring decorative arts?
The tricky part about decorative arts is the variety of scale, material, and texture in any given exhibition. Many objects are sculptural and should be seen in the round, while others are better served by a single viewpoint. I try not to install vignettes if at all possible. Trying to mimic a room setting takes away from the individual power of the pieces and is not always appropriate for modern and contemporary objects. I want to emphasize in my exhibitions that these objects are works of art in themselves, regardless of their function.
What do you hope people will take away from this show?
I hope that people will see the incredible diversity of work produced in Scandinavia in the 20th century and the influence it had globally. Perhaps it will inspire them to think more about the role that craft and design can play in their lives today.
View more show listings by visiting our event calendar.