If the world were in search of a true craft capital, Japan might well fill the bill. Whether the medium is basketry or ceramics or textiles, the Pacific Rim country has a history steeped in work guided by the hand. And though tradition-rich, Japan has also embraced technological advances as few other nations have, and the blending of the two strands has led to impressive endeavors on all fronts.
After a long day Friday, I got some rest at the glamorous sounding but not so glamorous Lord Baltimore Hotel about six blocks from the convention center. I woke up Saturday morning refreshed and ready to take in more from the over 700 exhibiting makers. I made my way through the streets of Baltimore thinking about The Wire until I got to the convention center where the crowds were already packed in to see, shop and enjoy the sights.
The meditative nature of the San Francisco Museum of Craft + Design's garden entrance has been transformed by the arrival of a day glo, solar grid. Twenty-five electro-luminescent yellow wires run parallel the ground, climb to clear a dwarf Japanese maple tree, and part to skirt Fletcher Benton's geometric steel sculpture. Rows of narrow, luminous posts support the wires, encompassing the garden in a matrix of glowing filaments, which finally scale the museum's façade to a row of solar panels.
Contemporary fiber art is a "hot" area of collecting these days, witness an exhibition-cum-symposium at the Textile Museum in Washington D.C. Tara Leigh Tappert looks at the work and listens to the collectors, revealing the passions, not to say obsessions, that drive this curious breed.
Located in the southern Appalachian mountain region, Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina, has made a specialty of celebrating the handwork of yesterday and today. In October it reunited the master ceramists Don Reitz and John Jessiman , old friends from the 1960s, for a workshop-Reitz's first since his heart surgery two years ago. The event launched the university's brand new Randall and Susan Parrott Ward Endowment Fund for Ceramics.
Lenore Tawney's life spanned a century of change: turbulence, wars, upheavals and unimaginable technological advances. She herself was a catalyst for an artistic revolution. Yet her presence was serene and spiritual as she fearlessly pursued a vision that emanated from a deep inner devotion to living and working wholly. Her vitality was grounded in an openness to new ideas and new people-the embrace of the human condition as a journey.