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Displaying items by tag: american craft

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 17:23

Modern Design Masters: Paul Evans

Few individuals have had as profound an effect on American furniture design as Paul Evans (1931-1987). A leading figure in the midcentury American studio furniture movement, Evans consistently pushed boundaries with his innovative approaches to metalsmithing and furniture-making. His transcendent works, which defied what everyday objects looked like and how they were made, continue to reveal the fascinating crosscurrents between sculpture and design.

Evans began working with metal in the early 1950s -- first at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen (SAC) in Rochester, New York, where he studied under the influential American silversmiths and designers John (Jack) Prip and Lawrence Copeland, and later at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

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During the early twentieth-century, mass-production dominated how products were manufactured in the United States. Automated factories churned out huge amounts of standardized products, including everything from automobiles to furniture. In response to this widespread conformity, many American designers began creating works grounded in historic traditions, favoring the handcrafted over the machine-made, the unique over the commonplace.

The Delaware Valley and Pennsylvania’s bucolic Bucks County became centers for the production of these thoughtfully-made works. In the 1940s, the Japanese-American woodworker George Nakashima settled in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where he established a studio and a reputation as a leading member of the first generation of American Studio furnituremakers. Nakashima was joined by a swathe of iconic craftsmen, including Phillip Lloyd Powell, Paul Evans, and Robert Whitley, all of whom produced custom-designed functional furniture that blurred the lines between craft, sculpture, and design.

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The expansive collection of Russia's Hermitage Museum just got a little bit bigger: Helen Drutt English, the pioneering collector and dealer of American modern and contemporary craft, known in the art world as Helen Drutt, has donated to the Hermitage a collection of 74 works, including ceramics, furniture and jewelry, worth approximately $2 million, reports the "Moscow Times."

The gift coincides with the St. Petersburg institution's 250th anniversary, and is intended to help foster the relationship between Russia and the US.

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The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York is celebrating the legacy of its founder Aileen Osborn Webb with the exhibition “What Would Mrs. Webb Do? A Founder’s Vision.” Featuring a variety of objects created over the past sixty years, the show highlights Webb’s advocacy of American craft and explores how she championed the skilled maker as integral to America’s future.

A patron and philanthropist, Webb pioneered an understanding of craftsmanship and the handmade as a creative driving force behind art and design. In addition to founding MAD (originally the Museum of Contemporary Crafts) in 1956, Webb helped launch a number of crafts-related institutions, including the American Craft Council, the School of American Craftsmen, and the World Crafts Council.

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Tuesday, 01 July 2014 17:18

“MAD Biennial” Celebrates NYC Makers

New York’s Museum of Arts and Design (formerly the American Craft Museum) is currently hosting its inaugural “NYC Makers: The MAD Biennial,” an exhibition that highlights the city’s vast and varied creative communities. The first show to be organized under the leadership of the museum’s new Director Glenn Adamson, “NYC Makers” spotlights the work of 100 artisans, artists, and designers, living and working in New York City. The roster runs the gamut from famous creative figures such as performance artist Laurie Anderson and multimedia artist/singer-songwriter Yoko Ono to furniture designers, fashion designers, and architects.

The goal of the exhibition is to further the museum’s ongoing commitment to craftsmanship across all creative fields, promoting not only makers who exhibit their work in a museum setting, but also those who operate behind the scenes or on a more practical level. Makers featured in the exhibition were nominated by a pool of over 300 New York City-based cultural leaders, including curators, choreographers, academics, and journalists. Finalists were hand-picked by a jury led by Adamson and exhibition curator Jake Yuzna, the museum’s Director of Public Programs, based on their mastery of their respective craft.

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Friday, 10 January 2014 18:10

Renwick Gallery Begins Major Renovation

The Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian museum dedicated to American craft and decorative arts, has embarked on a $30-million, two-year renovation project. The museum shuttered its 154-year-old building last month for its first renovation in 40 years. The Renwick will restore parts of its building, refurbish historic features and make technological updates to its Grand Salon.

The project is being helmed by the Cleveland-based architecture firm Westlake Reed Leskosky. Applied Minds, an interdisciplinary company based in Los Angeles, will be responsible for transforming the Renwick’s Grand Salon into a high-tech, interactive art space.

The project is a 50-50 public-private partnership. So far the Renwick has raised $10 million from private donors.

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The Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. has announced that its Renwick Gallery, which houses the museum’s American craft and decorative arts collection from the 19th to 21st centuries, will undergo a major renovation. The Renwick Gallery, which opened to the public in 1972, will close to accommodate the project in early 2014 and is expected to reopen in 2016.

Project details are still being worked out and an exact cost for the renovations is yet to be determined. The Smithsonian is planning to use public funds to pay for half of the project and the rest will be paid through private partnerships. The project has already received a $335,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures initiative, as the Renwick Gallery is located in a National Historic Landmark building. The building’s construction began in 1859 and went on to house the city’s first art museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, upon its completion.

Museum officials plan to convert all of the Renwick Gallery’s lighting to energy efficient LED lights and wireless Internet access will be provided throughout the entire gallery. Heating, plumbing, electrical, air conditioning, and fire safety systems will all be gutted and replaced. This will be the Renwick Gallery’s first renovation in 40 years.

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