Sunday, August 17, 2008

Craft as art, art as craft

In a recent post Anna Conti remarked on some marvelous paintings that are made with thread, stitched so finely that you have to get up close to tell what the medium is. One of the things that I love in art today is when the traditional boundaries between art and craft are blurred and artists use "traditional" craft materials to make art that goes beyond craft. In order to do so, they have to have an understanding and respect for their materials which is not that common in today's art world. The best of what they create can be truly stunning. There are two such exhibits in SF today - one at the SF Museum of Craft and Design and the annual Pacific Center for the Book Arts exhibit at the SF Public Library (6th floor)

Randy Shull is a North Carolina artist whose work has attracted national attention. He has worked in a variety of mediums, including furniture design, architecture, painting, and landscape design. His painted sculptures and wall pieces blur the distinction between painting, traditional furniture, traditional sculpture in a unique way. His structures combine whimsy with sculpture to make something completely unique; his wall clocks are even functional!
“In my life, in my work and in my travels I like the excitement of crossing boundaries. I love the interplay between lifestyle and work and the products that come out of that interaction. Sometimes it is painting, sometimes it is furniture design, sometime it its architecture, sometimes it is garden design, sometimes it is travel."

SF Museum of Craft and Design, 555 Sutter St until September 28th.

BookWorks 2008 - This new exhibition features nearly a hundred contemporary, sometimes sculptural, unique or limited-edition books by members of the Pacific Center for Book Arts. The book arts have a long history--from the first cave drawings, scrolls, illuminated manuscripts and letterpress printing, to more recent forms of visual expression and communication made possible by digital technology. Drawing on past traditions, but free to envision the future, contemporary book artists and craftspeople use a wide range of book forms, materials and techniques to express their concerns as artists and inhabitants of the 21st century. The books on display are distinguished in their design, typography, illustration, hand bookbinding and printing processes and paper. Pacific Center for Book Arts is a member-service organization committed to providing its members opportunities to show their work, socialize with other practitioners of the book arts and learn from their peers. Members include calligraphers, custom binders, printmakers, conservators and many others. For more information, visit

Exhibition: From July 1 through September 26, 2008
Main Library, Sixth Floor, Skylight Gallery
Related Programs: Artist Talks
August 16 and September 13, 2008, 1-3 p.m.
Main Library, 6th Floor, Skylight Gallery,
100 Larkin Street (at Grove)


Sherry Miller said...

In 1979 I organized what was probably the first large public auction of "crafts." I called this event "Art in Craft Media." It was held in NYC for the benefit of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts under the guidance of Jack Lenor Larsen, a leading figure in the American Craft Renaissance, one of the founders of the American Craft Council and the American Craft Museum. Since Larsen was such a public figure, there was lots of press and lots of discussion of the parameters of art and craft. Most of the craftspeople who contributed, like Dale Chihuly, have since become renowned "artists." What continues to floor me is that this discussion of art and craft from thirty years ago is still on the table and seems no closer to resolution. I for one cannot understand why there is a question here.

Sherry Miller said...

...but it's still a great article and great writing and thanks for the column! Sherry