Denim art at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in 1974...more
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Portable World and David Gilhooly Now Digital
Portable World documents an exhibition of the same name that was held from October 5, 1973 to January 1, 1974, at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City. The exhibition examined the transient nature of society that was burgeoning into the new norm in the mid-20th century. As Barbara Bullock, curator of the exhibition notes in the "Portable World" catalog, "People who lead a relatively stable existence are showing a marked inclination for portable possessions. Twenty percent of the population moves each year. This movement and the urban centers require objects with succinct form and function, providing maximum use within the confines of minimum space" With objects including a telescopic umbrella, portable greenhouse, and gas powered pogo stick, this far-out exhibition featured more than 200 items that collapse, unhinge, deflate, stack, roll, or fold for ease in transport. But is it craft? In an October 4, 1973 New York Times article about "Portable World," museum director Paul J. Smith had this to say, "Machined objects stimulate design thinking among craftsmen who are only involved in hand crafts. Why not have weavers produce sleeping bags on the loom?"
David Gilhooly is a distinguished ceramicist and product of the 1960s California funk ceramics movement. His work often features animals, particularly frogs that make up something he refers to as "FrogWorld". According to Gilhooly's website, he made his first frogs using low-fire whiteware while working in a studio he shared with contemporaries Robert Arneson, Margaret Dodd, Chris Unterseher, and Peter Vandenberge in 1965. Several of his frog pieces were featured in the exhibition, "David Gilhooly: Ceramics", held at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts from January 28 to April 2, 1978. In the catalog for the exhibition, also available through our online collections, Gilhooly has this to say about his work process: "These are examples of my most recent concerns, no not compulsions, I'm not driven nor am I insane nor do I dream about my work (after all my art is completely conscious and handled thusly, you dream about those things still on an unconscious level and not handled by yourself analytically). Art after all, despite popular conceptions, is the sanest thing around - and also despite popular misconceptions, anyone can make it if you believe that to be true and want to take the time (it does take time and is not something you can be born with but must work at)."
With more than 3,000 items now available, the Your Portable Museum collection continues to grow with each passing week. A recent update to our online database allows you to tag and comment on images you love, and our ongoing survey provides a place to leave feedback regarding the database as a whole. Check it out and watch for more new images in December!
The American Craft Council Library and Archives Digital Collections is an open-access online compendium containing more than 3,000 unique images, documents, and media detailing the history of contemporary craft in America. From ACC newsletters and photographs to firsthand documentation of major national craft exhibitions, the digital collections offer makers, scholars, and craft appreciators a glimpse at some of the ACC Library's most invaluable resources.