Sharon K. Emanuelli
This catalog is published in conjunction with the exhibition “Golden State of Craft: California 1960-1985,” organized by Craft in America in partnership with the Craft and Folk Art Museum. Curated by independent curator, Jo Lauria, the “Golden State of Craft” is on display at the Craft and Folk Art Museum from September 25, 2011 to January 8, 2012 as part of the Getty initiative, Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980.
Pacific Standard Time is an unprecedented collaboration of more than sixty cultural institutions across Southern California, coming together to tell the story of the birth of the L.A. art scene. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.
This exhibition is generously sponsored by Helen and Peter Bing, the Boardman Family Foundation, Forrest L. Merrill, and the Stolaroff Foundation. Additional support is provided by Cathleen Collins. This catalog is published by Craft in America with contributions by Jo Lauria, Emily Zaiden and Sharon K. Emanuelli. Craft in America is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Lenders of artworks in the exhibition and photo credits are listed in the checklist.
Printed by Susan Ross Printing, Manhattan Beach, California
© 2011 Craft in America, Inc. ISBN 978-0-615-52053-7
2 PROTAGONIST FOR THE CRAFTS
3 AN EYE FOR THE HANDMADE
4 CURATOR’S STATEMENT
5 CRAFT IN THE GOLDEN STATE
6 THE NEW CRAFTS MOVEMENT
7 PIONEERING MID-CENTURY CALIFORNIA CRAFT: THE CLASSICS
8 NATURE AS MUSE
9 CALIFORNIA COUNTER-CULTURE
10 NEW GROUND: EXPERIMENTATION & INNOVATION IN MATERIALS & PROCESSES
11 THE NEW WAVE
13 EXHIBITION CHECKLIST
On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), I want to express my gratitude to Carol Sauvion and Jo Lauria for conceiving of this exhibition and bringing it to the museum. In the future we will be paying tribute to Jo and Carol in the same manner that we honor Edith R. Wyle and Eudorah M. Moore today. The Craft in America staff put enormous effort into the task of compiling, writing, editing and fundraising for this catalog and CAFAM is thrilled to benefit from their hard work. Sharon Emanuelli deserves special thanks for her impeccable research, which illuminates a part of the grand history of the crafts movement in Los Angeles from 1960-1985.
Suzanne Isken, Executive Director, Craft and Folk Art Museum
Pacific Standard Time is an opportunity for celebration and reflection. I am pleased that Craft in America is working closely with the Craft and Folk Art Museum to present “Golden State of Craft: California 1960-1985” as part of the Pacific Standard Time group of exhibitions. We can highlight an era that was truly a golden age for craft in our state. California was a birthplace of the “New Crafts Movement,” when artists brought individual expression to an art form that had previously relied on traditional methods to produce functional objects. The post WWII years and beyond, when craft programs were included in the California university systems, was a time that educated studio artists to use the materials of clay, wood, glass, metal, and fiber to create new art that was often non-functional and always personal.
“Golden State of Craft” is also an opportunity to honor two Californians who initiated the excitement that surrounded the crafts at that time: Edith R. Wyle and Eudorah M. Moore. We cannot underestimate the importance of their contributions to the work that emanated from California, introducing craft materials and innovations to the larger art world. How fortunate we all are that these women worked to ensure the health and continuation of the handmade, what Eudorah refers to as the “unessential necessity.”
I would like to thank Corinna Cotsen for helping to initiate this exhibition; Peter and Helen Bing, Cathleen Collins, the Boardman Family Foundation, Forrest L. Merrill and the Stolaroff Foundation for their support; Jo Lauria for her vision, Richard Amend for his exhibition design and Emily Zaiden and the staff of Craft in America for their work to realize this moment. Please visit the Craft in America Study Center to read and learn more about our golden state of craft.
Carol Sauvion, Executive Director, Craft in America
PROTAGONIST FOR THE CRAFT
Eudorah M. Moore, who describes herself as a “protagonist for the crafts,” has spent a great deal of her life advancing and promoting the work of the hand. She recalls:
I think the way that I first became aware of the crafts, and therefore interested, was as a child going with my mother up high into the Appalachian highlands where there was an old chair maker who still spoke the Elizabethan English…We used to go up and collect his chairs because my mother loved them. It made me very, very conscious of the quality that went into really deeply traditional crafts, like the fact that the chairs never had a nail in them. The parts would bond together as the wood dried. They ended up being what they called ‘settin’ chairs. You can picture the old boys sitting back in their chairs and just settin’ against the house wall.
Armed with this innate consciousness and her unflagging optimism, Moore, who graduated from Smith College, married and made her home in Pasadena with her husband and four children, became a driving force in what she likes to call the “New Crafts Movement”: …a recognition of different kinds of contemporary crafts that were often created as artworks by college educated people, and not just as functional objects. That was a whole other level of consciousness when relating to the crafts, and it’s the one that certainly I’ve spent my life in.
California had a leading role in the “New Crafts Movement.” The central artists had gone back to college on the G.I. Bill and were applying a college attitude towards these age-old materials. This made a huge difference in what was produced. People who came back from the war had the opportunity to move into the art department. There was enough of a demand that all the crafts materials were included for the first time in the university curriculum, where pure research was often the mode. It brought a new dimension to the way people looked at the crafts. In Moore’s perception:
. . . there was an efflorescence that was unbelievable. Art attitudes were assumed rather than the craftsmen’s attitude, which was to make an object of use.
Moore became deeply involved in the life of the Pasadena community. She was a founder and first president of the Pasadena Art Alliance. She served on the boards of many cultural organizations including the Pasadena Arts Council and the Otis Arts Association. She was instrumental in the early planning and development of the new Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum) in the late 1960s, having initiated the activities for its creation and then serving on its Board of Trustees. Perhaps the most important work Moore would do began in 1961 when she, as a board member, asked then director Tom Leavitt if she could reorganize the “California Design” exhibitions that the museum had been putting on.
The first seven “California Design” exhibitions had been annual shows of contemporary furniture from the Los Angeles Furniture Mart. Moore, however, had a different vision for the exhibitions; they became triennial, were juried, and potentially included virtually any object of quality made or designed in California from tea cups to small aircrafts to children’s play equipment. Moore became Curator of Design at the museum in 1962 and held that position for 15 years. She was also named Director of “California Design” (which later became a separate nonprofit organization) dedicated to exposition, education and publication in the fields of architecture, design and the crafts.
Her visionary work on the exhibitions led to a unique coupling of design and craft. The exhibitions and accompanying catalogs caused reverberations throughout the United States. Combining artist-designed furniture with hand-thrown pots; wooden rocking chairs with hot tubs; plastics with natural materials and photographing (together with photographer Richard Gross) these diverse and exciting objects in California’s spectacular natural landscapes was a breakthrough moment for craft and design. Moore likes to describe her approach as a bridge between design and industry, which was demonstrated and verified by the “California Design” exhibitions. Her championing of the handmade elevated the work of dozens of artists while illuminating the importance of the crafts. The shows acted as a catalyst between manufacturers, craftspeople, architects and the public. They received international editorial attention.
Moore looks back on her ideas for the “California Design” exhibitions:
It was very unusual, actually, to mix design and craft, and it was particularly pertinent at the time that we did it. I’m not positive that the two fields would be able to establish such dialogue anymore as they did then, but, at the time, as I talked to industrial designers, I felt that the process of design was very much the same as that of the process of crafts. I can remember talking to Charles Eames about this, and his saying ‘they’re exactly the same. The only thing that’s different is the foreseen hand. When I’m designing these chairs, I’m designing them with the idea of coming in multiples. Our idea is to get the cost down. The process is the same, although the final intent is different.’ And it was that dialogue of the processes that kept the shows quite lively, and why we included both.
The “California Design” exhibitions, in Moore’s view, had a special ingredient, the craftsperson:
One of the things that intrigued me in putting up the shows was that all the craftsmen came up out of the woodwork and volunteered at the museum and wanted to help, doing whatever they could, not just for their own piece, but for everybody else’s piece. I can remember installing those shows at the museum and having literally fifty different volunteers who were helping us. There was that real sense of brotherhood.
The manner in which artists were chosen to exhibit in “California Design” was in itself unique. Pieces were not judged by slides; rather, the jurors considered the actual pieces that were submitted in person. Artists brought their works to locations in Northern and Southern California. The pieces were deposited, juried, and rejected pieces were picked up. Moore describes the jurying process:
I felt very, very strongly that the only way to jury an object was to look at that object. It was such work as you can’t imagine. We had a jury of three people for the crafts. We received thousands of objects from which we chose an exhibition of about five hundred. Then the photography started. We would receive in September, jury, and have the catalog ready for the show in March. It was an arduous thing.
Because she understood the historical significance of the “California Design” shows, Moore insisted the exhibitions she directed have catalogs. Those for “California Design VIII, IX, X, XI, and ’76” are historical records of the fertile imagination and skill of the artists who were represented in the exhibitions. In addition, the creative and forward thinking photography used in the catalogs married craft and design with exteriors to accentuate the beauty and originality of the objects. The force behind this ingenious formula was Moore. In addition to the “California Design” series, while at the Pasadena Art Museum, Moore prepared and edited books and filmstrips on design as well as organizing and mounting a variety of other exhibitions and activities in the crafts, including: “Islands in the Land,” about traditional crafts; the international fiber symposium, “Fiber as Medium”; and the historical exhibition about the Arts and Crafts movement before it was on anyone’s radar, “California Design 1910.” As she saw artists coming in with their objects at the last design show in 1976, she realized that she wanted to publish something that told about the craftspeople themselves and their way of life. This was the genesis of a book titled The Craftsman Lifestyle: The Gentle Revolution.
From 1978 to 1981, Moore went on to serve as Crafts Coordinator of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., with responsibilities for all craft-related endowment grants and activities. Under her leadership, a number of grant categories were added including Building Arts and Crafts Projects. She also developed an advocacy program aimed at generating commissions and bringing public attention to the crafts of architectural scale and crafts integral to architecture. She supported a number of activities aimed at increasing scholarship and developing better communication in the craft field. Moore initiated and directed a broad participatory effort to identify the needs of the field. The findings of this effort, known as the National Crafts Planning Project, were brought to a National Crafts Congress.
One might wonder how the art versus craft controversy, which was front and center throughout her career, affected Moore’s approach to the crafts. In a 2001 interview for Craft in America, her opinion was strong:
I don’t think that there is any question but that there is an ongoing art/craft controversy. My point of view about this is the fact that the entire creative act is one. My feeling is that the term ‘art’ actually is an accolade. It doesn’t have anything to do with intent, really. This person is an artist. And, to me, that person can be a craftsperson, maybe a potter, for instance. But some of the people who practice in those different categories are artists. And then, many people who paint and make paintings are not really artists at all. So, my feeling is that the word ‘artist’ is an accolade that is given by others. And the word ‘craftsman’ is a noble word from my point of view because it bears back to tradition and to the formation of all objects of use with which we surrounded ourselves.
I understand that some people think that the word ‘craft’ is a pejorative word that has negative implications and I disagree with that point of view entirely because I think it binds this activity to the human race. It allows possibility to well up from below. It allows humanity to come in rather than elitism.
Her views on creativity and art are compelling:
I think all art is energy transfer to some extent; and the crafts, because of their hands-on nature, are very much so. In some way, you can sense when you look at a piece that has that energy, you can feel it; it is transferred. But that’s through time. You look at crafts through time and you can sense the energy of the makers. And I think this is one of the moving qualities of it; the palpable qualities of craft. And also the fact that the crafts essentially transcend time and they transcend styles. When you touch a pot that bears the imprint of the hand, it has that strength of the maker.
Moore’s commitment to the arts continues as she is often invited to participate in conversations about the “California Design” exhibitions, the climate for the crafts in America now and the future of the handmade. When asked by curators Jo Lauria and Suzanne Baizerman to write an introduction to their book, California Design: The Legacy of West Coast Craft and Style, Moore wrote:
Now, thirty years after the last “California Design” exhibition in 1976, it is interesting to note that the best work of this period is re-emerging, being re-evaluated and being found as sound and interesting as ever. Time has silenced some of the strong voices, others are still productive and fresh, but review of the work reinforces the belief that quality speaks across generations and has enduring value.
In this statement, Moore could be speaking about herself. Certainly her work, which stands as a documentation of the golden age of craft in California and the nation, is as sound and as interesting as it was almost fifty years ago. The quality of her work speaks across generations and has enduring value.
AN EYE FOR THE HANDMADE
“What I’m aiming for now . . . is to undeaden the senses. I want to shock people into seeing and feeling and hearing.” – Edith R. Wyle
Late in 1964, as weaver Bette Chase sat in Edith Wyle’s studio, distracting her from painting, the ideas popped out. Edith pictured Bette sitting at her loom in a gallery with museum-quality folk art and contemporary crafts. She could run a small restaurant, too. Wyle intended only to be a “silent partner”; she was committed to her art career. Though neither had any experience with such a business, Edith was eager to figure it out and Bette happily went along.
Frank Wyle — president of Wyle Laboratories, an aerospace company — reluctantly agreed to support his wife’s venture if she could capitalize it. In less than three weeks, she had raised $75,000 from 30 couples and individuals, all friends interested in art.
The Egg and The Eye opened on November 1, 1965, with seven hundred celebrants lined up at the front door and crowded into the tented parking lot. It occupied the eastern half of the ground floor and mezzanine of an historic building on the Miracle Mile, near the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Wyle was the buyer and exhibit designer, Chase was the manager. Architect and “shareholder” Guy Moore designed the interior. Others volunteered in the restaurant and gallery and began to plan events. They had hastily installed shows of Eskimo sculpture, furniture by J.B. Blunk, and rugs by Richard Phipps. Sam Maloof’s furniture and Jerry Glaser’s wooden vessels shared a sales area with ceramists Beatrice Wood and Harrison McIntosh. In the mezzanine restaurant, Chef Rodessa Moore served an array of 30 omelettes, each with a particular ethnic inspiration.
“Everybody is talking about The Egg and The Eye!” read a Vogue Magazine headline. Art Seidenbaum extolled the combination of good food and art in his popular Los Angeles Times Spectator column. Ten weeks after opening, a panel discussion, “The Place of the Handcraftsman in Today’s Society,” was taped for Pacifica’s radio stations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston.
Wyle’s energy, her warm exuberance, confident aesthetic sense, intuitive grasp of social conditions and networking ability drove the project. Although she remained a supporter, Bette Chase would leave the partnership in 1967. Dorothy Garwood, a former ceramics professor, was hired as the contemporary craft specialist. Although Wyle could be caught sketching during meetings and lectures, she never returned to her studio.
Trends in the field of Fine Art were moving in a direction foreign to me. Pop art and ‘non-art’ . . . left me [a ‘humanist-expressionist’ painter] increasingly with a feeling of futility. Suffice it to say, I was vulnerable and groping for something meaningful and honest with which to engage myself. A gallery dealing exclusively with crafts and folk art became my answer.
Some collections were provided by importers and researchers but most of the folk art and some contemporary crafts were collected on Wyle’s travels. She became a certified dealer of Eskimo art after visiting the Canadian Inuit of Cape Dorsett in 1967 with artist James Houston, who had discovered Inuit sculpture for the outside world and introduced printmaking to them.
In April 1972, the Wyles were with the first American group invited to China following President Nixon’s historic détente. Other buying trips took her to Israel, Yugoslavia, Norway, India, Japan and Africa.
The role of display was crucial to Wyle’s concept, which she based on a fine art model that would “force the public to see the art” in these objects and give prominence to the makers, including those viewed as folk artists. Invitations often featured portraits of the artists, rather than their objects, perhaps reflecting this priority, and names were clearly labeled in the gallery. Craftspeople received their asking prices and participated in setting retail values. Sam Maloof, J.B. Blunk, and Carter Smith had their first solo exhibitions in the intimate galleries. They also staged influential group shows like “West Coast/ New Frontiers in Glass,” the first survey of studio glass in the region in 1973, and the collage-style clothing of “Three Designing Women” in 1972.
Much of the work shown was new to the audience and there was an intense flow of ideas among shareholders, staff and patrons. Yet, there was always tension between business goals and ambitious programming. In 1967, The Egg and The Eye Association began charging membership fees to meet demand for educational and social activities, volunteers were publishing a quarterly newspaper, and weekly film screenings were offered. The staff created a wholesale business with mail-order catalogs. Wyle organized the first international group tour. An extensive guide to craft lessons was published and they began providing exhibitions to factories, banks, and colleges, inspired by her concern that working people have access to the arts and see their own heritages represented.
“Multisensory” experiences were characteristic of gallery programming. Ethnic foods were served. Musicians, singers, dancers and theater groups were hired and craft demonstrations, workshops, and lectures covered all possible aspects. From the beginning, The Egg and The Eye provided a venue and gathering place for artists and craftspeople, musicians, actors, historians, anthropologists and collectors. Some became important advisors, introducing Wyle to an international milieu with similar interests. In Wyle’s words:
Apparently, the need for such a place was acute. As one of our members put it, ‘I live in such a mechanized world that when I come to The Egg and The Eye it’s like returning to the womb— touching home base… Here things are made by hand, and I’m with other human beings who respond to these objects aesthetically, as I do.’
It was a socially turbulent time, with rising global awareness. As more young people were traveling widely, a renewed craft movement was underway, fueled by the pre-war influx of European immigrant artists, influence from Asian philosophies, the GI Bill for advanced education and the resultant expansion of college art departments. Along with major civil rights legislation, Congress created the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) and Humanities (NEH) in 1965.
As the gallery plans took shape, Wyle made important personal connections. Sam Maloof introduced her to Aileen Osborn Webb, founder of the American Craftsmen’s Council and the World Craft Council (WCC), and other leaders. He sent letters to collectors and craftspeople encouraging their support for the gallery. Beatrice Wood, an old friend, gave her mailing list of 900 names. Wyle became active with the American Craftsmen’s Council and on the board of Southern California Designer Craftsmen. She attended the second meeting of the WCC in 1966, joined the Board of Directors in 1974 for two years, took associates to the congress in Peru, and remained involved into the early 80s.
In an April 1966 interview for the Los Angeles Times, just five months after opening, Wyle mentioned the desire to establish a museum.
The building was eventually purchased in 1969, doubling exhibition, sales, programming and restaurant space. With that accomplished, she spoke about her plans to the Miracle Mile Association of business owners and began soliciting support among community leaders.
While she perceived a need to preserve objects that seemed increasingly rare as traditional cultures had more interaction with the larger world, and had at first depended mainly on her own aesthetic judgment, Wyle also came to understand the primary importance of the makers’ perspectives in the presentation of their work. A 1974 proposal for the museum contained this appraisal:
Man is desperately searching for his roots . . . [He] now knows it is not enough to be human; in order to survive, he must become humane . . . Folk art and crafts are vitally important to this search, for it is in these always direct, often simple expressions that man exposes his deepest needs to relate both to his fellow man and the cosmos.
Since the 1930s there had been many significant California craftspeople, some of them college teachers, who helped set the national stage for a post-World War II craft resurgence. Still, in the 1960s, commercial art galleries only occasionally exhibited craft-associated media, usually ceramics, and there were infrequent museum exhibitions. In 1965, when The Egg and The Eye opened, crafts were rarely seen in the state outside of fairs.
News of The Egg and The Eye spread internationally, but Wyle rejected requests to duplicate it in other cities. It was probably the first art gallery anywhere to combine contemporary and traditional crafts with an international perspective, and certainly to give equivalence to the cultural aspects of cooking. Although the New York-based WCC formed in 1964, joined proponents of the village artisan and the urbanized designer-craftsman, explicit linkage between the two was rare. In 1965, there were no West Coast museums dedicated to either field.
The Egg and The Eye Cultural Center was incorporated in 1973, initiating the arduous transition from business to educational institution. The Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) opened to the public on August 3, 1975, to exhibit, collect and educate the public about world folk art and contemporary crafts. Ideas for the new museum were expansive. A collection, slide registry, proper library, exhibition catalogs and better documentation now seemed possible.
CAFAM was one of many new arts centers founded across the country during the 1970s and 80s in an increasingly complex social and funding environment. Support came from local interest in quality of life, government and corporate enthusiasm for cultural involvement. Recovery from recession was being led by California’s newly identified “Pacific Rim” economy. Concurrently, LACMA and others began to develop their own collections of craft media. More culture-specific museums were forming. Sales outlets for traditional and contemporary crafts had become more prevalent. California property taxes, the main source for education funding, were severely cut just as Los Angeles was discovering itself to be a primary destination for immigrants of all nationalities and more than eighty languages were being spoken by school children.
Wyle continued her far-sighted leadership. She often spoke about her vision of “a living museum” and “museum without walls.” She supported the application of new forms and the observation of process and ritual, working continuously to take art out to the community and to make the community feel welcome as active, rather than passive, participants in the museum. She grappled with terminology and expanding definitions and found the museum’s name problematic.
A hallmark of CAFAM programming has been the search for shared themes among cultures, both traditional and contemporary. In 1976, Mayor Tom Bradley announced that Los Angeles had more ethnic and cultural groups per square mile than any other city in the world. This caused a shift in Wyle’s thinking, from a focus on traditions where they originated, to recognizing the local resources available for cultural sharing. The immediate result was the October 1976 Parade of Masks and, in 1977, the Festival of Masks, co-sponsored by Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, which continued through the 90s. Cultural groups were invited to large community meetings, galvanizing participation by over 100 different entities, representing multiple ethnicities and traditions as well as experimental modes. It was the region’s first major multicultural outdoor event. First-year attendance was estimated at 30,000 and grew in succeeding years.
Wyle’s ongoing interest in researching local cultures resulted in the Preservation of Ethnic Traditions (PET) project to document ethnically based artisans in Los Angeles from 1979-82. She was responsible for bringing “Japan Today” — the first of several NEA/NEH-sponsored “Today” festivals the museum would lead — to Los Angeles in 1979, and coordinated local organizations’ participation. These elaborate undertakings involved many museums and performance spaces, heads of state and diplomatic corps as well as extensive fundraising.
Wyle retired in 1984 with the title of Founder/Director Emeritus. Patrick H. Ela, Administrative Director from 1975-82, and then Executive Director, soon began a process to re-evaluate the museum’s programs and support structure. Wyle continued to serve on the Board of Trustees until her death in 1999. While common definitions of craft, folk art, and design were employed, museum interest overlapped into sculpture and painting as well as popular culture. This “wavy line” approach acknowledged the realities of creativity as well as the relationship of the disciplines to each other and to the larger fields of art, anthropology and culture. The founding ideals of The Egg and The Eye had been continued and amplified in the Craft and Folk Art Museum. Regarding contemporary crafts, a CAFAM narrative from 1981 noted:
The Egg and The Eye became the first real home for contemporary crafts on the West Coast. Because the basic assumption was that this art was worthy of serious critical attention, the gallery was influential nationally in publicizing and validating an already fast-growing aesthetic movement.
That movement . . . became an enormous wave, which is now changing the character of the entire ocean that is the art world at large.
This exhibition began as a lunchtime conversation among friends and colleagues. Our group marveled at the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time initiative, which would encourage institutions from Santa Barbara to San Diego to develop exhibitions focusing on the art of Southern California from 1945-1980. Carol Sauvion shared this information with the group. She was interested in finding a way for Craft in America and the Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) to be involved. Thus far, no participating institution was addressing the history of California crafts.
Everyone at the table agreed that a recounting of the importance of crafts in California could not be told without including two visionary women whose leadership advanced the craft and design fields: Edith R. Wyle, founder of the Craft and Folk Art Museum, and Eudorah M. Moore, director of the “California Design” series of the Pasadena Art Museum. Through their dedication, ingenuity, and savoir-faire they created a community in which craft and design flourished.
It was established that work made throughout California would be considered, as the creative surge was statewide. Carol Sauvion initiated a partnership between Craft in America and the Craft and Folk Art Museum, facilitated by Corinna Cotsen, board member of both organizations. Once the partnership was launched, the venue confirmed, and funding secured, I was brought on to curate an exhibition that would explicate the period of craft history from the 1960s through mid-1980s, an era referred to as the postwar craft renaissance and a time defined by an explosion of creativity and innovation. The entire spectrum of craft work, from the handmade object of the studio artist to the prototype made for manufacture by the designer-craftsman, would need to be included if the story of this period were to be fully told.
Eudorah M. Moore once famously remarked: “. . . all of life is a door to a door to a door,” and I needed to find the point of entry. Fortunately, Joan Benedetti, CAFAM’s former librarian and archivist, and Lois Boardman, last director of “California Design,” had the foresight to safeguard their organization’s archives.
We began by creating a list of artists whose work had appeared in shows at both sites — artists whom Wyle and Moore had validated as the leading figures of the craft movement by their invitation to exhibit. This select group represented the core of the checklist for “Golden State of Craft: California 1960 -1985” but we extended it to include artists whose work had shown at only one of the venues but who were identified as major players in the advancement of the craft and design fields. These artists are the source of the more than ninety compelling objects on display in the exhibition. Collectively, they make a strong statement for the integrity of the hand and are testament to the vigor and richness of the “New Crafts Movement” that took root in California’s fertile soil.
Jo Lauria Curator Golden State of Craft: California 1960 -1985
CRAFT IN THE GOLDEN STATE
California at mid-twentieth century experienced a bold and vibrant renaissance in the craft field. The “New Crafts Movement”, as christened by Eudorah M. Moore, director of the “California Design” program of the Pasadena Art Museum, had its roots traceable to the period in California when the Arts and Crafts movement flourished from the 1880s to the 1920s. The Arts and Crafts movement left its philosophical imprint on the cultural consciousness of Californians. Widely influential and broadly promoted throughout the state, the movement upheld beliefs that affected patterns and philosophies of living: it endorsed a lifestyle that favored rustic simplicity; placed emphasis on environmentalism and the use of indigenous materials; advocated for the handcrafted over the machine made; and honored nature as the wellspring of inspiration. These tenets lingered on from San Francisco to San Diego but lost their stronghold in the 1940s when Californians shifted their attention to the exigencies of wartime efforts.
Within the decade that spanned 1940 to 1950, California underwent a massive population expansion. At the beginning of the war, people poured into the state to fill defense, aerospace, and shipyard jobs that had been created by war-era industries. At the end of the war, thousands of returning veterans chose to stay and make California their newfound home. Many of them enrolled in college programs using funding provided by the GI Bill of Rights to pay tuition. The population influx fueled a housing boom, stimulated California’s economy, created an unparalleled period of postwar prosperity and drove the expansion of the state’s college system. Between 1947 and 1960, sixteen new college campuses were built. This prodigious development was intended to fulfill the state’s mandate to make “higher education accessible to all” (The Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960), and to accommodate the surge in enrollment that would occur when “baby boomers”—those born after 1945—reached college age.
Relevant to the crafts field, the postwar growth and expansion in the schools was the major stimulus for engendering innovative craft programs and nurturing a new generation of craftspeople. Educational opportunities in the crafts became available as funding support for art departments increased. Expanded new studios were shaped to facilitate instruction in craft materials and processes. Students were offered training in a wide range of disciplines including ceramics, fiber and textile arts, woodworking, furniture making, metal arts, jewelry design and glassblowing (introduced in the late 1960s). These early classes were often taught by teachers who had no precedent to follow, and these pioneering educators used their frontier ingenuity to secure necessary equipment, supplies and resources. First and foremost, the objective of the first wave of college craft teachers was to impart the technical hand skills demanded by the craft, assuring a student’s mastery of materials and methods.
The second generation of craft educators (and those who have followed) built upon the foundation of teaching the formal values of craft practices while broadening the scope and reach of the programs. Through integrated learning of associative subjects and world cultures, the cross-disciplinary approach, teachers endeavored to make the craft studio a laboratory of creative thinking and experimentation. Enabled and empowered, students were encouraged, indeed expected to create thoughtful work that had meaning and relevance to its time and place. Craft work could now be freed from the requirement of function and could be judged on its aesthetic merit.
Starting in the late 1950s, the ushering forth of the next era in the craft continuum had its own distinctive energies, motivations, and relationships with the broader art world: the “New Crafts Movement”. In a published interview for the journal, Design for Arts in Education (October 1979), Moore outlined the circumstances, which she perceived as giving birth to this new movement:
California has a centuries-old tradition of emphasis on the ecological and the organic; a love of nature and the out-of-doors inspired by its climate; a diversity of ethnic and national art traditions; an unstructured permissive attitude toward new ideas in philosophy, religion, and art; a school system in which crafts are taught in art classes (almost unique in the nation); while at the same time, Californians treasure their heritage of rugged pioneer individualism. All are circumstances, which have contributed to the flowering of a bold and brilliant New Craftsman’s Movement in the state.
The years spanning the 1960s through the early 1980s were revolutionary times for the craft field. At the core of the “New Crafts Movement” was a profound shift in ideology that activated changes within craft practices and aesthetics. College-trained craft artists had been taught to push boundaries, problem solve, and transcend limitations. They had been prepared to become participants in the wider discourse of contemporary art, and as professional studio craft artists they were motivated to make work that advanced the leading edge of possibility in their field. Using cultural sources, other art genres, and an adventurous spirit as their catalysts, they leap-frogged old restraints of craft traditions and opened the floodgates of change and creativity. And change was evident in all disciplines; it made inroads through diverse pathways.
Looking through the lens of history, the flashpoints of transition and upheaval that transpired during these decades ignited bright new ways of thinking through crafts and sparked to life the “New Crafts Movement”. The exhibition “Golden State of Craft: California 1960-1985” explores and celebrates this period of heightened critical inquiry and invention through the display of craft objects exemplary for their aesthetic vision and expert workmanship. Collectively, these compelling pieces tell the story of when craft crossed over into a golden era of innovation, expressive energy, and creative diversity.
Assertive, unexpected, large scale, radically altered forms began to emerge from studios. Craft artists embraced new and unconventional materials, advanced technologies, and experimental processes. Ceramists translated the stylistic aspects of Abstract Expressionism into massive, gestural, forceful sculptures with spontaneously worked surfaces. They manifested the aesthetics of Funk in their offbeat sculptures that appeared crafted in an irreverent and off-handed way, a deliberate act of subversion that challenged the positioning of skill and expertise in relation to concept and content. Textile artists innovated loom-weaving to create dimensional, off-the-wall work, or abandoned their looms in favor of the hand-weaving techniques of knotting, plaiting, lashing and coiling. Jewelers looked to non-Western cultures and created contemporary pieces with inflections of exoticism and primitivism. Furniture makers expanded the design vocabulary producing forms that were more sculptural, playful, and sometimes illusionistic by adding to their material choices with metals and plastics sourced from industry. Glassblowers shaped glass into mysterious organic forms or into globular vessels. These heady and exciting changes that occurred within the walls of art studios, echoed what was happening in the streets.
THE NEW CRAFTS MOVEMENT
A pervasive and palpable optimism seem to permeate the air . . . There can be no doubt that the emerging new expressions in craft and design impacted and changed the language of art. -Eudorah M. Moore
From the 1960s through the mid 1980s, an inspired group of artists working in California made significant contributions to the American Craft Movement, the art world, and American design. Working in a range of materials and disciplines, these artists defined the ethos of the era and the West Coast way of life through their creations. This confluence opened the floodgates for experimentation and inventive, new approaches to form. The messages that these artists presented resounded across the country, becoming part of the national consciousness.
Were it not for two visionary women, the messages of this artistic revolution might not have been heard. Eudorah M. Moore, director of the Pasadena Art Museum’s “California Design” exhibition series from 1962 through 1978, and Edith R. Wyle, founder of the Los Angeles Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM), were critical advocates for emerging craft artists and designers who helped foster the evolving California aesthetic. Astute and passionate, they each created crucial venues for showcasing the new craft and design movements when there were no other regional forums.
All of the objects included in “Golden State of Craft: California 1960-1985” were selected because they were either exhibited in one of the “California Design” shows or included in an exhibition at CAFAM during the time period of 1960 to 1985. In many cases, works were shown at both venues. Whether handcrafted or designed to be made by industrial methods, the work of these innovators was imbued with a rare sense of independence and ingenuity, unique to California’s frontier spirit.
PIONEERING MID-CENTURY CALIFORNIA CRAFT: THE CLASSICS
The plate is no less valid as a subjet for art than the humanf igure in sculpture . . . In other cultures and at other times pottery was held in high regard, equal to the other fine arts; all works were judged solely on expressiveness. -Erik Gronborg, Objects USA
A groundbreaking group of artists emerged in California in the post-war years who redefined what art could be. Many Americans had moved to California during the war years to work for the defense manufacturing industry and they became skilled laborers. These factories brought a tremendous influx of capital into the state’s economy, which spurred expansion, building and development. Once the war ended these workers found new pursuits for their talents beyond the defense industry. The home building boom that ensued after the war provided an alternative.
Additionally, the servicemen who passed through California as they were shipped out during the war returned through the West Coast ports and many decided to stay. Houses were constructed and neighborhoods plotted to accommodate the growing families of returning veterans. The new construction in turn created an expanded market for the domestic goods that filled these dwellings. The sprawling, modern ranch houses required furnishings and other accouterments, from rugs and armchairs, to bowls and vases, patio planters and poolside lounge chairs. The American dream thrived.
In this climate of domestic prosperity, innovators came forth who reimagined what household goods looked like. They considered California’s climate in this scheme and the more casual way of life that was possible on the West Coast. Free of deeply entrenched craft traditions and Eurocentric design biases prevalent in the Eastern states, the West Coast was essentially a blank canvas where artists could assert their independence and invent a California style. Even before the war, partially for this reason, many of the first craft artists who came to the state, including Marguerite Wildenhain and Gertrud and Otto Natzler, were actually émigrés from Europe. They transported their mastery of European craftsmanship to the West, where there was an inherent sense of experimentation. In doing so, they had the best of both worlds.
Another transplant, Porter Blanchard, brought his Massachusetts training as a silversmith to Los Angeles where he then continued his unrivaled work and trained his son-in-law, Allan Adler, in the craft. As Moore told House Beautiful, “A careful and overly cautious attitude [exists] in the East. The Westerner asks, ‘Why not?’ ” California’s artist immigrants were beginning to make their mark and receive national attention. An artistic movement in California was already taking shape by the time the war was over.
The role of schools in the development of craft cannot be underestimated. The G.I. Bill gave numerous art-oriented veterans the opportunity to learn at the college level. Many of them found their way to craft mediums. These veterans showed an interest in learning ceramics, woodworking, and metalsmithing among other crafts, and the faculty responded, creating additional positions in those disciplines. Largely due to post-war funding support for educational programs in the applied arts, craft found its place in academia and gained legitimacy.
There was also a political dimension to the expansion of craft. Many front-runners in the pioneering pack of California craft artists trained in the so-called “fine arts” but chose to challenge this restrictive hierarchy in their own careers, opting to work with craft media rather than painting, sculpture, and drawing. Recognizing fresh potential in their move away from the mainstream, they devoted themselves to mediums that were traditionally marginalized within the arts for having utilitarian origins. They set up studios, like their painter and sculptor counterparts, where they created work from concept to finish, moving beyond pure functionalism to a realm that emphasized meaning and aesthetic expression.
Many of the new craft trailblazers were the teachers who directly influenced up-and-coming artists at Chouinard Art Institute, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Otis Art Institute, California State University Long Beach (CSULB), Scripps College, and other important schools. Once craft artists held their own in academia, student artists gained exposure to new vocabularies. The relationship between teacher and student in many ways became a modern version of the age-old craftsman and apprentice relationship. The connections that were made were fundamental to the growth and expansion of craft.
The teachers at various campuses throughout California were instrumental in laying the foundation for communities of like-minded artistic activity, exchange and communication. Students went on to become teachers themselves. James Bassler studied at UCLA where Bernard Kester expanded the fiber program. Bassler then he had his own career as a fiber instructor. Laura Andreson first brought craft to the art curriculum at UCLA in the 1930s where she mothered potters for decades, leaving an indelible mark on numerous careers. Forging the bridge from Craftsman-era art pottery to studio pottery, a new chapter opened under her wing. At CSULB, Mary Jane Leland taught Gerhardt Knodel at the graduate level and he also studied as an undergraduate at UCLA with Kester. Knodel went on to advance fiber even further through his teaching and leadership at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Marvin Lipofsky developed the glass program at UC Berkeley and mentored Richard Marquis. The first wave of innovators paved the way for subsequent artists who then extended the poetic and expressive nature of craft mediums and techniques to deeper levels, fueling the growth of the “New Crafts Movement”.
Along the lines of the prevailing Modernist tendencies, technical perfectionism and a classical treatment of form were driving ideas for many in this pioneering group of craftspeople. Utility and the concept that form follows function were critical. The stripping away of unnecessary ornamentation and a purist respect for material characterized much of the early influential craftwork. There was also a very earthy aspect and organic feel to some of the work being done at that time.
Marguerite Wildenhain’s Bauhaus training with its principles of rationalism, simplification and functionalism were evident in her approach to clay, which she passed on to many students at Pond Farm artists’ colony, among them Harrison McIntosh. Harmony and process defined the ceramic achievements of Gertrud and Otto Natzler. Gertrud’s delicate shapes met their perfect match in Otto’s distinctive glaze treatments. Allowing the clay bodies to be revealed was a focal consideration to the Natzlers. Often, they would let clay surfaces seep through, organically melding them with the glazes.
Vivika and Otto Heino were also renowned for their experimentation with clay and glazes and, as longtime teachers, they generously passed their discoveries to a new generation of potters. Arthur Ames applied an abstract style to his work in enamel during the era. He had a vision of distilled geometric forms represented in strong color that was very much in line with traits of modern abstract painting.
Artists in this early group sought to refine their craft to the highest level, as evident in Sam Maloof’s mastery of wood. Arthur Espenet Carpenter put sound design and exceptional craftsmanship at the forefront of his work, going as far as to express skepticism about furniture that was treated as more experimental art, which he called, “artiture.” Strong, enduring pieces were articulated with elegance and simplicity by these artists, becoming the classic icons of mid-century craft.
NATURE AS MUSE
California’s unrivaled climate and natural beauty had always been a magnet for artists. Starting in the 1960s and surging in the 1970s, many craftspeople working in California were driven by a back-to-the-land ideology that complemented the drive to revive the handmade.
In terms of a physical landscape of inspiration, the variety of natural assets the state offered was unparalleled, from the mountains to the sea, to the redwood forests, serene deserts and endless brilliant blue skies. When Arline Fisch first moved to San Diego from the East Coast, she could do nothing but gaze at the ocean. As she described her feelings, “My world had no containment . . . I’d come home from teaching and be mesmerized.”
The ocean was perhaps the strongest environmental presence that shaped artists’ perspectives. Artists like Neda Al-Hilali were highly conscious of the ocean when they worked. “It’s one of the few dependable things nowadays. The tide keeps coming in. I pick up a lot of energy straight from the ocean.”
Even in California’s cities, nature crept in, allowing artists to feel immersed and connected to the natural environment in the day-to-day. One could live close to downtown but still feel as though he or she was tucked away in a rustic studio surrounded by nothing but eucalyptus trees. Dotted with orange, olive and avocado groves, the geography, flora and fauna also provided an abundance of imagery as evident in the California Poppies hand-hooked wool tapestry of Evelyn Ackerman.
The sheer expansiveness of the large state with its relatively undeveloped stretches symbolized freedom of expression. The immensity of the landscape was a “psychic space,” in the words of Carol Shaw-Sutton, and a spacious habitat of possibility for emerging voices in craft.
Enticed by the indoor-outdoor casual lifestyle, the imaginative and independent craft community found an ideal home. California was known for its patios, pools, decks and gardens that extended the home outward into nature. Those outdoor areas needed their own furnishings: streamlined pots and planters, like those that David Cressey created for Architectural Pottery and the birdhouses that Stan Bitters designed. Cressey maintained his studio, one-of-a-kind work in addition to designing studio-quality production pottery for the larger market.
Designers and craftsmen also focused on the beauty of bringing the lanai inside the living room. Tropi-Cal’s rattan furniture and specifically Miller Fong’s Lotus Chair redefined stylish West Coast living with exotic flair. The company promoted the notion that furniture should be lightweight, moveable and durable for easy, year-round al fresco living. Bitters designed environmental tiles, adobe brick elements, murals and other ceramics so versatile that they could be used inside the home and out in the garden, truly erasing the boundaries between interior and exterior.
The wealth of natural materials available in the Golden State also influenced the kinds of objects that were produced. Craft artists incorporated indigenous materials into their work including: clays and colorants for glazes, native woods, gold and silver. The dramatic, chunky gold jewelry of Ruth and Svetozar Radakovich spotlighted the opulence of California’s mined mythical metal. Their combined visions and inventive use of lost-wax casting caused a stir in the fashion world.
The abundance of wood in Northern California and inherent admiration for the qualities of the material propelled designer-craftsmen like Bob Stocksdale and Arthur Espenet Carpenter to turn, saw, cut, carve and laminate compelling art objects and elegant furniture forms. Stocksdale, who learned spindle-turning in his youth, was a conscientious objector during WWII, at which time he started making bowls on a lathe. Stocksdale was passionate about honoring color, grain patterns and growth variations of all types of trees. He collected dramatically figured woods so that he had a rainbow to work with at his fingertips. His mission was to find ways to best showcase these characteristics in his turned wood objects and he became a master. For Stocksdale and others, wood provided all of the necessary ornamentation organically.
In Southern California, Frank E. Cummings III and John Nyquist similarly created sleek, gracefully rounded objects in wood. The finished product is so refined that it is hard to believe it is made from wood. Nyquist’s music stand is as lyrical as the music that would be played at it. Nyquist was motivated by the tactile and sensory experience of working with wood. Cummings, who studied handcarving in Ghana and other parts of West and Central Africa, created a chair that is as smooth and curvaceous as a shell that would wash up on the California coast. The chair feels monumental and ceremonial like a tribal throne. Their creations, sculptural, sensual and tactile, can be appreciated as objets d’art, but their primary intention is to be used as functional furniture.
Artists re-envisioned the potential for natural materials and also used them in modern, creative ways. Using wood like shards of stained glass, John Kapel cut and assembled various pieces to form a multi-toned, rhythmic play of texture and shape with his door, created in 1968 in response to an invitation to exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, New York. Pamela Weir-Quiton treated exotic hardwood laminates like fabric for clothing her mod Pamela Girls dolls, manipulating the range of colors and patterns that exist among wood varietals.
There was an entire universe to be considered and addressed as a thematic subject for craft, even beyond nature’s earthly offerings in materials. This was the space age, with rockets carrying humans to the moon, and satellites launching into orbit. Along with the actual voyages into outer space, the skies came to symbolize new spirituality, mysticism, transcendental meditation, and an existentialist quest for fulfillment on higher planes. John Lewis’ Moon Bottles are moody contemplations of the evening sky. Garry Knox Bennett looked skyward to the clouds for his timepiece. During the years when Bennett decided to shift his career towards sculptural work that had functional properties, cloud motifs were a focus for many who were looking to the heavens, the stars and the planets for inspiration.
In the photography for the “California Design” catalogs, California’s striking natural settings provided the backdrop for the objects. Cabinets by Pamela Weir-Quiton take the shape of a seated girl towering over rippled sand dunes while brilliant stoneware forms by Ralph Bacerra stand their ground like a family of aliens making their way across the barren Mojave. Donald Chadwick’s red chair proudly faces the sun and soaks in the rays. These images reinforced the power of the vast and varied California landscape as a font of inspiration for the rising talent of the era.
I believe the time has come for all people, and especially the artists, to pull together and find a solution to an unprecedented world crisis. -Michael Frimkess
After fostering the Beatnik scene in the 1950s, California naturally became the setting for the Counter-Culture Movement that followed in the 1960s. Young people wished to challenge authority, re-think the system and take down the establishment. The state was the epicenter of many of the cultural revolutions that took place in that decade. The Free Speech Movement, hippie culture, urban rioting, antiwar activism and liberationist philosophies of feminism, Black Power and Chicano Pride all collided, swelling to create a charged environment. Changes were happening everywhere.
From Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip to Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue to the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, Californians were outspoken and trendsetting in every way. The Doors, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and countless other bands made their homes in the Golden State. Art and music provided a way to convey the message. Craft, which had deep historical associations, became an outlet for artists who wished to communicate worldviews, liberal ideology and a more righteous way of living. For instance, fiber had always been part of the women’s realm in the home and it took on heightened political meaning as artists from the women’s movement reworked the medium and instilled new power.
Part of the notion of moving away from the mainstream mechanisms meant avoiding industrial channels. Making objects by hand was one way to circumvent the system. Craft was a way of challenging the perceived materialism that had come to define American life at the mid-century. Ideally, the handmade was personal, humane, enduring and meaningful.
The desire to remove oneself from the industrialized, capitalist system and to look outside it for more admirable paradigms became common among artists in the 1960s. Pre-Columbian and African tribal art were appealing because they signified what was untainted and truthful. California was such a diverse population to begin with that it became a melting pot for eclectic, innovative styles. The range of sources expanded even more as artists traveled the continents and studied world artistic traditions. There was an upsurge of interest in non-Western, specifically Indian, East Asian, African, and South American native cultures, religions and traditions.
Looking at the world and the vast legacy of craft, artists approached their creations using ethnographic and archaeological precedents. Fiber artists dispersed across the globe looking to learn ancient patterns, structures and dye formulas, such as ikat, batik and shibori. Neda Al-Hilali was drawn to the luxurious textiles of the Middle East and the role they played in nomadic cultures. She was fascinated by their importance as indicators of status and tribal identity.
Early in his career, James Bassler went to India and Indonesia, where he saw cotton being spun and intricate dye patterns being used. In 1970, James and his artist wife, Veralee, moved to Oaxaca, Mexico, where they were amazed by the ubiquitous warp ikat shawls that were time consuming to make and part of a long-standing craft tradition. Over the years, Bassler has continued to work with ikat and mine the globe for other textile practices, including a number of Peruvian weaving techniques, the use of natural dyes, and Navajo blanket diagonal construction known as wedge weave.
Ed Rossbach led the drive for research into Native American basketry among other indigenous textile methods. When stationed in the Aleutian Islands off of Alaska during World War II, he became interested in basket construction. After the war, together with wife, Katherine Westphal, who was also a textile teacher, he traveled widely to learn textile practices firsthand. His investigations of woven techniques were then incorporated into his work, writings and his teachings at UC Berkeley. Rossbach inspired numerous students, such as Lia Cook, who first became interested in textiles after seeing weaving processes in Mexico and who later went on to study in Sweden.
Dora De Larios experienced her first thrown bisque vessels in Mexico and felt that the country was “imbued with magic and a spirit of energy.” California’s craft artists instilled that energy into their work and challenged authority, questioning pre-existing artistic conventions and re-engaging artistic principles from a fresh angle.
Japan’s deep and vast craft traditions provided a tremendously rich basis for many artists to begin their work. James Wayne looked to Japanese folk pottery and transitioned into one-of-a-kind works in glass, as well as clay. Paul Soldner is credited for bringing the sixteenth-century Japanese technique and philosophy of raku to the states. J.B. Blunk applied his studies and training in Japanese ceramics in an inventive way by treating wood as a medium for sculpture, and astonishingly, using a chainsaw to create smooth, rounded, finely finished volumetric pieces. Well known for his monumental wood sculpture and outdoor seating platforms, Blunk’s carved pine and redwood sculpture, Mr. Peanut, demonstrates the artist’s passion for using the raw material of woods felled on his property in Inverness or rescued from nearby beaches. As famed artist Isamu Noguchi noted, Blunk was a virtuoso wood carver, “finding true art in the working [of the] burled stumps of those great trees.”
In 1966, House Beautiful featured a California “flower power” home. Poet and activist Allen Ginsberg had coined the term in 1965 in reference to peaceful anti-war protests. Flower power came to be associated with hippie culture. While nature was used as the inspiration, this was not a mimetic copying, instead it was nature on psychedelics featuring Technicolor overscaled flowers and highly stylized landscapes with arched rainbows and floating cloud forms. These motifs became signatures, not just of fashion and home design but also of a social and political movement.
Bolder, brighter patterns characterized the textiles of the era. Gere Kavanaugh’s 1965 handhooked rug of scattered vibrant flowers captures the essence of the electricity that pulsed through design during this period. Any room would wake up with that jolt of color. Studio craft artists and designer-craftsmen intersected with this movement at varying times in their careers. Flowers became iconographic of the Flower Child era, appearing in every medium and at every scale.
The physical manifestation of flower power not only translated to representations of flowers, it became equated with the whole hippie scene and its related imagery, artifacts and life view. Psychedelic tie-dyes became the hippie uniform and they entered into the domestic sphere as well. The shibori tie-dyes of Carter Smith were expertly executed versions of the most iconic 1960s fabric treatment.
Drug culture became synonymous with the hippie way of life, and along with it came a category of associated paraphernalia and accessories, artfully and humorously interpreted by Garry Knox Bennett. Bennett had the entrepreneurial savvy to make smoking paraphernalia when he began his career and was trying to find a way to make a living at art. The roach clips and pipes of Garry Knox Bennett are the ultimate signs of the era.
In 1967 Peter Selz, then director of the University Art Museum of Berkeley, California, organized an exhibition called “Funk Art.” Selz was the first to apply the term to the new art style:
Funk art . . . is largely a matter of attitude. Funk art is hot rather than cool; it is committed rather than disengaged; it is bizarre rather than formal; it is sensuous; and frequently it is quite ugly and ungainly.
Funk, by nature a counter-cultural artistic movement, had roots in Dada and Surrealism. Its artists were linked by their interests in provocative content, subversion of the high-toned New York art scene, and a deliberate offhandedness in the way they worked. Materials were often combined and used in unconventional ways, sometimes in a purposely irreverent manner to belie mastery of their craft. Funk was viewed as vulgar and even juvenile by some but it was transformative for creating a conduit between art and craft.
Before there was Funk, there was movement among a group of ceramic artists, largely based at Otis Art Institute in the late 1950s and connected with the work of Peter Voulkos, to revolutionize the medium. These artists created pieces that were gestural and intended as sculpture rather than focused on the functional – ism and technical virtuosity that exemplified the modernist approach to craft. Parallel to Abstract Expressionism in painting of that era, which was characterized by anti-figurative, intense expressions, artists Michael Frimkess and others ambitiously worked high concepts through the medium. Frimkess soon became known as a master at the wheel who created classical Greek and Asian forms but painted them with cartoon-ish imagery that conveyed cutting and derisive views about contemporary American life.
This was a moment that had a revelatory impact on all craft. Artists decided that clay could be used to capture a moment, an idea or a feeling rather than just to be shaped into a vessel. It became dramatic, spontaneous and assertive instead of striving to be understated, intentional and refined. Marvin Lipofsky brought analogous ideas to glass and liberated the medium from strictly traditional functional forms. Lipofsky also was an innovator for creating glass amalgamations with other materials, such as flocking, metals and plastic. When asked about his work from the 1960s he stated, “I did everything to deny its inherent beauty.” A decade later, he explored the splendor and seductiveness of glass, calling it “dangerous” because he felt it was easier to get lazy when approaching the material from that standpoint.
In a similar but even more overtly riotous vein, craft artists working in the Funk style furthered the trajectory and sought to overcome the stultification of the craft ideals then in fashion. Funk was a repudiation of the prevailing notion of the humble craftsman who created quiet, modest works that celebrated the purity of materials. Funk artists made provocative and defiant works that shouted about everything that went against mainstream culture. Works by Robert Arneson (christened the “Father of Funk”), Erik Gronborg, and Adrian Saxe are quintessential exemplars of the Funk aesthetic realized in clay.
NEW GROUND: EXPERIMENTATION & INNOVATION IN MATERIALS & PROCESSES
“When I look at something I’ve made or that someone else has made, I think in terms of voices. The first voice I want to hear is that of the person. I want to hear the material second and the process last.” – Dominic DiMare, Gentle Revolution
By the 1960s, innovations in lightweight metals, molded plywood, reinforced concrete, fiberglass, plastics and resins that evolved from the defense and aerospace industries had revolutionized the design vocabulary. A widely expanded choice of industrial materials and tools was now available to those who had the inclination to experiment.
As a material, plastic was considered a miracle substance when it was invented in the late 1930s. It was almost immediately put into wartime production to manufacture parts for military airplanes. This new material was quickly adopted by post-war consumer industries to produce a plethora of domestic products and furnishings. Recognizing a peaceful repurposing, plastic, fiberglass and acrylic were later taken to a new level by artists and designers who capitalized on their inherent properties. They were lightweight, easily molded and inexpensive.
Plastic became an essential medium for the modern designer-craftsman. Using paper-thin acrylic sheets, Elsie Crawford created futuristic, sculptural lighting designs that floated like spaceships. Charles Hollis Jones, with his transparent Adjustable Side Tables and Edison Lamp, used acrylic for maximum clarity and its ability to magically deconstruct form. Jewelry artist Arline Fisch’s Colorcore Formica Whale of a Necklace, pushed the bounds of what jewelry was, not just in reference to the valuable materials commonly used in jewelry but also with the way that wearable pieces were generally designed to be proportionate to the human body. These artists demonstrated that plastic substances could provide an almost limitless “meditation on material” in dexterous hands. New channels of possibility were cleared for exploration.
Artists created entirely new forms during this era, often starting from scratch in their consideration of physical space and the domestic environment. Functionalism was reinvented. Gerhardt Knodel’s Flexible Wallpaper was a new means for ornamenting walls. His design empowered the owner to rearrange the segments to his or her liking. The airy panels were to be hung in such a way that they would move with the air and create shadows that were constantly shifting.
Processes for manufacturing or working materials by hand were revolutionized during these years. There was a proliferation of new technologies, advanced tools and specialized equipment. Donald Chadwick designed a prototype for a Side Chair to be crafted with a new urethane molding process, but it proved to be too challenging for production in 1969.
The early 1960s saw a wave of change in the experimental fiber works being produced. Craftspeople began to create three-dimensional, free-hanging works that stood on their own merit as art objects. This marked the intersection of painting with textiles. Due to greater visibility of textiles in exhibitions and with mentors at the college level, such as Bernard Kester at UCLA, Mary Jane Leland at CSULB, and Ed Rossbach at UC Berkeley, fiber artists became increasingly prolific. There was a deep sense of discovery, imagination, and encouragement.
Al-Hilali began her career working with fiber and transitioned into paper because she was intrigued by the possibility of transforming an unremarkable, industrial-made material in avant-garde ways. She pressed and worked paper to make it look like other materials, including metal, stone and satin. “With paper, the visual record of the construction method can be manipulated, disguised, altered,” Al-Hilali said.
Al-Hilali’s weavings comprised of plaited paper towels to create a painted textile, or the movement of Carol Shaw-Sutton, John Garrett, Ferne Jacobs, and Hiromi Oda to weave off the loom or use knotting, crocheting, and other fiber techniques in new and adventurous ways, facilitated the creation of three-dimensional pieces that moved away from the rectangular flat forms heretofore associated with the medium. Free hanging and relief wall weavings broke the tyranny of the two-dimensional. Kay Sekimachi created free-floating, complex ethereal forms using an unexpected material, nylon monofilament.
Ruth Asawa , not working in fiber but rather in metal, treated copper and other wires like yarn in her intricate, delicate sculptures that belie the rigidity of metal. Fractal-like, they expand outward and have both naturalistic and futuristic qualities. These innovators led the pack of artists who saw the possibilities of using materials in unprecedented ways. Working in the opposite direction, Lia Cook made fiber appear like metal in her tapestry Fire Pocket Piece from 1984. In this case, she re-thinks the material and manipulates it into a new state to give it a metallic sheen.
In metal, June Schwarcz became known for experimenting with processes in her enamel work, including electroplating, etching and electroforming. She often employed basse-taille, which created surface variation. Using innovative processes paradoxically allowed her to create work that feels organic and also primitive.
The Studio Glass Movement pushed the medium to the outer limits during these years, using a range of new techniques, redefining the possibilities, and conquering new themes. In the words of innovator Paul Marioni:
The nascent glass scene in California in the 1970s was fantastic, incredible, unbelievable. Just, WOW. We were in a period of intense learning and growing and it was solely due to co-operation (not competition). We were lucky enough to infect others with our enthusiasm and thereby start a ‘movement’ that is here to stay. As a result, we are like one big family and are still excited and have retained a deep respect and friendship. It was truly an exciting period for art in California.
By the late 1970s personal computers and other related advanced technologies became increasingly available and artists like Cook started learning software programs that were developed to aid design and fabrication. This opened up the new possibility of utilizing traditional handcrafting techniques together with newly developed digital processes. It both challenged the survival of the handmade and in ways, encouraged its revival. The language of traditional creative expression was deeply enhanced and forever altered.
THE NEW WAVE
“In working, you employ all your faculties, use all your experiences and let them thrive together. You live like a tree. Inevitably, if you are happily alive, you will give fruit and continue to grow.” – Neda Al-Hilali
The rebellious innovation of the 1960s in the craft world was propelled to a new level with the irreverence of the 1970s and 1980s. Fusing the sly irony of Pop Art and the in-your-face derision of Funk, Postmodernism bubbled to the surface in the crafts, offering a new take on design and meaning.
Starting in the 1960s and swelling in the 1970s, artists challenged technical traditionalism and Modernist tenets. The idea of eliminating frivolous ornamentation, form following function, and the idea that materials needed to directly communicate their identities were all key. Postmodernism broke these concepts down. Artists who propelled Postmodernism no longer wished to rely on the rationalism established by earlier movements. Objects remained superbly crafted, but craftsmanship and the subtleties of structure and material were no longer the focal interest. Form and material were surpassed by concept, but work became more refined. Objects were slick and urbane. In his 1986 intro to Craft Today: Poetry of the Physical, Paul J. Smith, then director of the American Craft Museum, wrote that the craftsman was at this time able to “transcend traditional forms and techniques, creating works of genuinely new significance.”
The Modernist ideology of breaking from historic precedent went under fire in the hands of the new wave of artists. Instead, these artists embraced a playful pastiche of references. Postmodernism was often garish and filled with motifs, signs and symbols. They made iconoclastic statements with satire, whimsy and humor, often referring to popular culture and quoting historic stylistic traditions. References to Art Deco, Neoclassicism, Modernism and Early American stylistic periods and forms became a language that artists would riff upon. They reconsidered the past and created visual commentaries through objects.
Artists also played with illusions and tricks to make materials and forms appear unlike what they actually were. John Cederquist’s use of trompe l’oeil two-dimensional design in his masterfully crafted furniture was groundbreaking. Depth perception and perspective were reconsidered in his work as he asked the viewer to question what is real. His pieces challenged form, appearance and the nature of craftsmanship with elegance and wit.
Work from this era flaunted saturated pigmentation in the face of Modernism’s cool, sedate tones. Bold glazes and laminates were used in all colors and patterns to enliven furniture. Shocking bolts of primary color and neon were pushed together. The juxtaposition of discordant shapes and geometrics was typical, as was the unexpected use of materials and surface ornamentation. Much of the work along these lines was largely driven by the community of ceramic artists at Chouinard, including Ralph Bacerra, Adrian Saxe, Elsa Rady, Mineo Mizuno and Peter Shire. Bacerra became known for vibrant, dense patterning while Saxe made heady, witty vessels that touched on the canons of clay and considered the concept of consumption in the most excessive eras of history.
Ever the constructionist, Paul Tuttle created his Tablet Chair as an assemblage of floating geometrical planes that came together to perform the function of being a writing chair, executed with a streamlined-Moderne sensibility. The roundedness of the piece channels Art Deco furniture, but one can also view the chair as “visual geometry” – an assemblage of semicircles supported by lines that delineate the structure.
Peter Shire’s Pinwheel teapot, whimsically composed of colorful circles and triangles that produce a riot of spinning shapes and shades, is exemplary of Shire’s “Memphis” aesthetic, which epitomized Postmodernism. Shire was one of the lead designers for the Memphis Group, an Italian design firm that drove the development of postmodern principles. The Pinwheel teapot makes references to scraps of sheet metal. The overall formal nature of a teapot and the class connotations associated with it are considered in his interpretation of the form. Craft had moved away from functionalism in these years, but Shire goes even further to create designs that often hide their utilitarian purposes. Craft had entered a new dimension of conceptualism beyond practicality and tactility.
The proliferation of wealth in the 1980s created a new outlook for craft. It allowed many more craft artists to work independently and form financially stable careers. There was more patronage than ever before while collectors, auction houses and galleries created a new market for craft. Artists found that they could actually make businesses out of their expressions.
The years between 1960 and 1985 were a vital and vibrant moment in the craft continuum. For some, this era was an evolution. For many, this was the period in which they hit their stride. And for others, it was the beginning, when they were just starting out, experimenting and finding their voices. Many artists in this group went on to create work that was very different from what they were generating during this period. Within these decades, it is apparent that massive changes took place. Artists digested these social changes individually through their work. This was a time when culture and craft intersected powerfully. The awareness that the times were changing came through loud and clear in the art that was created and it propelled craft into uncharted realms of discovery and possibility.
Van Keppel-Green showroom and retail shop opens. The showroom and shop marry craft and the most modern design and is the premier showcase for indoor-outdoor, adaptable furniture
Multi-media artist and jeweler Claire Falkenstein goes to Paris until 1963 and meets Jean Arp, Alberto Giacometti and other artists
Wildenhain decorates her tall-footed vessels with figurative imagery
Arthur Espenet Carpenter starts selling turned bowls and furniture he creates
Arthur Ames teaches at Otis College of Art and Design, and continues making mosaic murals with wife, Jean Goodwin Laura Andreson begins to throw porcelain. By the end of the decade she is the West Coast expert
Laura Andreson begins to throw porcelain. By the end of the decade she is the West Coast expert
Raul Coronel studies at the California College of Arts and Crafts (as of 2003, California College of the Arts or CCA)
Peter Voulkos gets his MFA from CCA and co-founds an artist-in-residence program in Montana called the Archie Bray Foundation
Glen Lukens takes leave of absence at USC and Vivika Heino replaces him
Peter Voulkos is head of the Ceramics Department at Otis and a new era begins in studio ceramics
Otis Art Institute changes its name to Los Angeles County Art Institute
Designer Craftsmen of California organizes “California Design 1” exhibition is launched as an annual program of the Pasadena Art Museum
The San Francisco Museum of Art holds a solo exhibition on the work of studio jeweler and metal artist Merry Renk
June Schwarcz learns to enamel with lessons from a friend and by studying Kenneth Bates’ Principles and Practices
Crystalline glazes become a part of the Natzler repertoire
Studio furniture-maker Arthur Espenet Carpenter moves from San Francisco to Bolinas
Arline Fisch’s work is included in the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York City “Young Americans 1958” exhibition
John Nyquist participates in “California Design VII” when he is a senior at Long Beach State. He subsequently participates in all the California Design exhibitions
Allan Adler’s business thrives. He has twenty-five workers; eighteen are silversmiths
After studying painting and ceramics at CCA, Viola Frey earns her MFA from Tulane, where she studied with painter Mark Rothko
Peter Voulkos begins teaching design and sculpture at UC Berkeley (UCB) at the urging of Ed Rossbach
Kay Sekimachi’s work is featured in Craft Horizons
Harrison McIntosh brings his classic, understated thrown stoneware pottery style to Otis to teach for the summer with Peter Voulkos
Stan Bitters receives his BA in painting from UCLA and goes on to San Diego State for three years and Otis for one year before becoming a professional ceramics designer
NASA launches its first communications satellite
Michael Frimkess begins making his “melting pots”
Ruth and Svetozar Radakovich move to Encinitas, California and build a studio
Ron Nagle studies ceramics under Peter Voulkos
The Funk movement takes root when Robert Arneson constructs an imitation of a glass bottle during a demonstration at the California State Fair
Claire Falkenstein creates the iron and colored-glass gates for Peggy Guggenheim’s Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice, Italy
Los Angeles County Art Institute becomes Otis Art Institute of Los Angeles County
Ralph Bacerra studies at Chouinard Art Institute with Vivika Heino
Vivika and her husband Otto found the annual Chouinard Pottery Sale
James Wayne enrolls in a ceramics class as a non-arts major
US combat missions begin in Vietnam
The Cuban Missile Crisis occurs
Chouinard merges with California Institute of the Arts and receives financial support from Walt Disney
Architectural Pottery builds the largest envelope kiln to fire the oversized planters by David Cressey
Ruth Asawa begins experimenting with tied-wire and electroplating techniques
J.B. Blunk begins creating wood sculptures with a chainsaw
Eudorah M. Moore becomes Curator of Design at the Pasadena Art Museum and is also named Director of “California Design”
Martin Luther King, Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech
John F. Kennedy is assassinated
Paul Soldner leads the revival of the low-fire Raku technique in pottery
The first Free Speech protest takes place at UCB
Don Chadwick sets up a design practice
The Watts Riots wreak havoc on the South Los Angeles area
Ferne Jacobs takes a weaving course at Barnsdall Park that inspires her to become a fiber artist
Carter Smith learns to tie dye from his mother, artist and arts leader Eloise Pickard Smith
The Egg and The Eye opens as a commercial gallery with inaugural exhibitions: “J.B. Blunk, Sculptural Furniture”; “Kenojoak, Eskimo Sculpture”; and “Richard D. Phipps, Rugs”
“The Ceramic Work of Gertrud & Otto Natzler,” their first museum retrospective in the US, opens at LACMA
Faith Porter mounts her master’s exhibition at The Egg and the Eye and Sam Maloof’s first solo show opens
“Abstract Expressionist Ceramics” opens at the University of California, Irvine
Marvin Lipofsky founds the glass department at CCA while also on the faculty at UCB
Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated
Robert Kennedy is assassinated
Neda Al-Hilali receives her graduate degree from UCLA but continues to be associated with the university through intermittent teaching for many years while teaching at Scripps College and Claremont Graduate University Art Department
Elsa Rady establishes her own studio
President Nixon takes office and aims to negotiate withdrawal from Vietnam
Apollo 11 lands on the moon
Woodstock music festival is held in Woodstock, New York
Frank E. Cummings III starts teaching furniture making at Cal State Fullerton, through 2000
“Objects USA,” the first survey of American craft, opens and a book is published in conjunction
Richard Marquis learns the traditional Venetian glass techniques as a Fulbright Fellow in Murano
Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot magazine is published
Pamela Weir creates life-size wooden dolls for the lobby of Altadena Federal Savings and Loan
The Energy Crisis affects peaks in oil prices throughout the decade
Gerhardt Knodel becomes artist-in-residence of the fiber department at Cranbrook Academy of Art
Arline Fisch visits Denmark and begins to reinterpret textile constructions through metal
Dominic DiMare, a self-taught studio weaver, begins making handmade rag papers, which he incorporates into his sculptures
Richard DeVore begins focusing on thrown and sculpted, asymmetrical shallow bowls and cylindrical vases
Philip Cornelius begins producing his signature “thinware,” fired “right to the edge”
The “Fiber as Medium” symposium takes place at UCLA along with “Deliberate Entanglements,” a show organized by Bernard Kester featuring large-scale work
Alvin Pine makes a gold necklace for “California Design.” John Nyquist buys the necklace for his wife Shirley
Gertrud Natzler dies and Otto stops working until the following year
Lia Cook studies fiber with Ed Rossbach at UCB
Arthur Espenet Carpenter makes furniture with rounded finishes that become known as the “California roundover style”
October: The Watergate scandal is uncovered. Walter Cronkite reports it on the CBS News
Chouinard Art Institute holds its final commencement ceremony and closes
The Renwick Gallery opens with Lloyd Herman as director. The featured show is “Woodenworks: Furniture Objects by Five Contemporary Craftsmen” featuring the work of Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Wendell Castle, Wharton Esherick, George Nakashima and Sam Maloof
The Baulines Craft Guild is founded by Tom D’Onofrio, Arthur Espenet Carpenter and others. It becomes the California Contemporary Craft Association
The Pacific Basin Textile Art Center is established in Berkeley, California
The Center for Folk Art and Contemporary Crafts is founded in San Francisco and later called San Francisco Craft and Folk Art Museum
Paul Marioni shifts his focus from flat glass to blown glass
CAFAM is founded in Los Angeles by Edith R. Wyle, incorporating the Egg and the Eye restaurant and shop
The Crafts Program is established by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the first fellowships are awarded
Adrian Saxe becomes chair of the Ceramics Department at UCLA
The Fiberworks Center for the Textile Arts, Berkeley is formed by Ed Rossbach, Gyöngy Laky, and others
President Richard Nixon resigns. Gerald Ford becomes President and pardons Nixon
The Bead Journal (later Ornament Magazine) publishes its first issue
The Oakland Museum exhibition, “Bodywear,” shows clothing as art through the work of West Coast artists
The Crafts Report, Fine Woodworking, Golddust (later Metalsmith), Interweave, and Fiberarts are first published
The Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) is established with board members Edith R. Wyle (Chair) and Bernard Kester (President)
Faith Porter shifts from traditional pottery and porcelain to innovative assemblage work
Ceramics begin to show characteristics of post-modernism, largely driven by former Chouinard students: Ralph Bacerra, Adrian Saxe, Elsa Rady, Mineo Mizuno, and Peter Shire
The last “California Design” exhibition is held
The first “Parade of Masks” is organized by CAFAM and the first festival is held the following year
Joan Mondale, potter and wife of Vice President Mondale, visits CAFAM
The White House invites fourteen studio artists, including Dora De Larios, to design a set of dinnerware
Ann Robbins continues to search the country to bring fine crafts to the CAFAM store
The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles begins
The Art institute of Los Angeles County becomes Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design
Elizabeth Fortner organizes “Atmospheres,” a major exhibition of two hundred contemporary craft artists that is sponsored by Bank of America and displayed in the lobby of their World Headquarters in San Francisco
The California Crafts Museum is founded with Jeanne Low as its president and a space within the Palo Alto Cultural Center. A retrospective of jeweler Merry Renk is the opening exhibition
Sue Meyer, Virginia Breier and Dorothy Weiss start Meyer, Breier, Weiss Gallery in San Francisco
“Ken Price: Happy’s Curios” is shown at LACMA
Eudorah M. Moore serves as Crafts Coordinator of the NEA through 1981, focusing on craft-related grants and developing an advocacy program.
Garry Knox Bennett deliberately mars a padauk cabinet as a critique of perfectionist woodworking
Judy Chicago’s multimedia installation depicting Western women’s history, The Dinner Party, tours internationally
The Bead Journal becomes Ornament Magazine
Jim Bassler incorporates his research of the Navajo wedgeweave process into his woven work
CAFAM begins quarterly publication of Craft International
John Cederquist makes furniture using trompe l’oeil effects of depth and scale distortion
CAFAM holds “Made in L.A. Contemporary Crafts,” curated by Bernard Kester
The Memphis group debuts their work in Milan, ushering in the post-modernist style. Peter Shire becomes a collaborator
The California Crafts Museum presents a major exhibition, “The Handcrafted Book in California.” The exhibition, in two parts, “Part I: Art and Craft” and “Part II: Concepts and Visions” takes place at the Palo Alto Cultural Center
A Sam Maloof rocking chair with long runners is the first piece of contemporary furniture chosen for the White House Collection. President Ronald Reagan is photographed in the rocker
November: “Home Sweet Home,” is a citywide vernacular architecture project produced by CAFAM, conceived by Gere Kavanaugh and co-curated by Kavanaugh and Charles Moore. The project includes exhibitions at twelve L.A. area galleries and museums and a nationally publicized symposium at UCLA
Adrian Saxe is awarded an artist’s fellowship and a six-month residency at the Sevres porcelain manufactory outside Paris
The Summer Olympic Games are held in Los Angeles
Edith Wyle announces her retirement and becomes Director Emeritus. Patrick Ela is named Executive Director and adds design (both architecture and product design) to CAFAM’s program
Sam Maloof becomes the first craft artist to receive the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship
June Schwarcz, Bob Stocksdale, Eudorah M. Moore and others are each declared a “Living Treasure of California” by the State Assembly
Dimensions are listed as height (or length) x width (or diameter) x depth
Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman, California Poppies, 1970, Designed by Evelyn Ackerman for ERA Industries, Hand-hooked wool tapestry, produced in Thailand, 35” x 39”, Collection of the artists, Jay Oligny photograph
Allan Adler, Pair of Candlesticks, c. 1959-1964, Sterling silver, 11” x 3”, Collection of Tobey Cotsen Victor, Jay Oligny photograph
Neda Al-Hilali,, Yucca, 1984, Paper, plaited, pressed, painted, 51” x 51”, Collection of James and Veralee Bassler, Photo courtesy of the artist
Arthur Ames, Untitled, c. 1970, Copper, enamel, 24.37” x 24.37” x 1.37”, Collection of Scripps College, Claremont, CA, Gift of Mrs. Jean Goodwin Ames, Photo © Long Beach Museum of Art 2011
Laura Andreson, Untitled covered jar, 1973, Porcelain, glazed, 7.75” x 5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Laura Andreson, Untitled vessel, 1978, Porcelain, glazed, 8.5” x 8.87”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Robert Arneson, Untitled sculpture, 1961, Earthenware, glazed, 26.5” x 14” x 8”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph, Art © Estate of Robert Arneson/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Ruth Asawa, Untitled, mid 1960s, Bronze, copper tied wire, 17.5” x 9.5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Ralph Bacerra, Animal Sculpture, c. 1976, Porcelain, glazed, 35.5” x 28” x 15.75”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
James Bassler, Rebozo, 1975, Silk warp ikat, silk wool weft, 36” x 44.5”, Collection of the artist
Garry Knox Bennett, Winged Heart, 1976, Brass, glass, bone, paint, clock mechanism, gold, silver plate, 27.5” x 31” x 3”, Bennett Family Collection
Garry Knox Bennett, Red Baron, c. 1968-1969, Steel, copper, brass, paint, decal, 5.25” x 4” x 10.5”, Bennett Family Collection, A.J. McLennan photograph
Garry Knox Bennett, Hanging Cloud, 1973, Brushed aluminum, 58” x 95 ” x 0.12”, Bennett Family Collection
Garry Knox Bennett, Cloud Lamp, 1973, Brushed aluminum, wood, plastic spheres, 49” x 28”, Bennett Family Collection
Garry Knox Bennett, Selection of Roach Clips, 1964-1967, Hand-hammered brass, silver, copper, gold, glass beads, bone, 3.25″ – 8.75” x 0.62” – 3” x 0.12”, Bennett Family Collection
Stan Bitters, Birdhouses, 1962 Stoneware, unglazed, Courtesy of Ten10 Gallery
Stan Bitters, Rock Stack Wall, Refabricated 2009 from original design, Stoneware, glazed, 5 units, 66” x 12”, Courtesy of Ten10 Gallery
Porter Blanchard, Coffee Pot and Creamer, 1960s, Sterling silver, ivory, Coffee Pot: 9.87” x 8.25” x 5.37”, Creamer: 5.5” x 4.37” x 4”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
J.B. Blunk, Mr Peanut, 1973, Bishop pine, redwood, 32” x 43” x 29”, Collection of the estate of J.B. Blunk, Courtesy of Reform Gallery, Mario DeLopez photograph
Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Wishbone Chair, 1972, Shedua wood, leather strapping, 31.25” x 22” x 22.5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Set of Four Models (scale: 0.12” to 1”), On loan from the estate of Arthur Espenet Carpenter. Vanity, 1984, Rosewood, mirror, 6.5” x 6” x 2.5”. Couch for Mill Valley Library, 1965, Walnut, 3.25” x 11.87” x 4”. Altar for Old St. Mary’s Church, 1967, Rosewood, 5.25” x 9.25” x 4”. Desk, early 1970s, Mutenye hardwood, 3.87” x 8” x 4”
John Cederquist, The Game Table, 1982, Maple, purple-heart inlay, dye, birch plywood, 48” x 32” x 21”, Collection of Gloria and Sonny Kamm, Mike Sasso photograph
Donald Chadwick, Side Chair/Dining Chair, 1969, Prototype manufactured by Stow Davis, Wood, fabric, foam, 30” x 20” x 20”, On loan from Chadwick Studio
Lia Cook, Fire Pocket Piece, 1984, Cotton, rayon; woven, pressed, dyed, stiffened, 37” x 50” x 1.5”, Courtesy of the artist
Philip Cornelius, Untitled, mid-1970s, Porcelain, glazed, 10” x 8”, Collection of Eudorah M. Moore
Raul Angulo Coronel, Covered Vessel, 1982, Stoneware, glazed, thrown, slab, 35” x 8.5”, Collection of Michael and Mindy Hickman, Jay Oligny photograph
Elsie Crawford, Zipper Light II, Designed 1965, fabricated 1997, Acrylic, 26.5” x 12”, Collection of Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of the artist (AC1997.259.2), Photo © 2009 Museum Associates / LACMA / Art Resource, NY
David Cressey, Untitled covered jar, 1960s, Stoneware, glazed, 20.25” x 9.25”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Frank E. Cummings III, Oak Chair, 1971, Hand-carved Japanese oak, 31” x 30”, Collection of the artist
Douglas Deeds, Series 3000 Chair (with cushion), c. 1968-1970, Manufactured by Architectural Fiberglass, Molded fiberglass, 29” x 29” x 28”, Collection of Damon and Marian Lawrence, Jay Oligny photograph
Douglas Deeds, Park Bench with Back, 1965 Manufactured by Architectural Fiberglass, Molded fiberglass, 25” x 82” x 28”, Collection of Damon and Marian Lawrence
Stephanie DeLange, Pair of Clipped Cylinders, 1981-1982, Porcelain, celadon glaze, 14”-15.5” x 4”, Collection of the artist
Dora De Larios, Europa and the Bull, 1962, Stoneware, glazed, thrown segments, 10.5” x 9.75” x 5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Dominic L. DiMare, Untitled wall sculpture, 1969, Wool, linen, natural fiber twine, horsehair, woven, 54” x 21” x 8”, Collection of Eudorah M. Moore, Jay Oligny photograph
Claire Falkenstein, Necklace, 1962, Brass, silver, steel, pink glass, 11” x 6.5” x 1.5”, Collection of the Long Beach Museum of Art, Gift of the Falkenstein Foundation, Photo © Long Beach Museum of Art 2011
Arline Fisch, Front & Back Pectoral, 1971, Hammer formed, etched sterling silver, 15” x 8”, Collection of the artist
Arline Fisch, A Whale of a Necklace, mid-1980s, Colorcore laminate, fabricated, 34” x 15”, Collection of the artist, William Gullette photograph
Miller Fong, Lotus Chair, #6532, Original design 1968, re-design 1999, Stainless steel frame, synthetic wicker, 34” x 52” x 40”, Courtesy of the Fong Brothers Company, Photo courtesy of California Design, Richard Gross photograph
Dextra Frankel, Untitled enamel bowl, c. 1962, Etched and enameled metal, 2.5” x 10”, Collection of Lea Petmezas, Jay Oligny photograph
Charles Frankel, Untitled bronze bowl, c. 1962, Lost wax cast bronze, 6” x 8”, Collection of Dextra Frankel, Jay Oligny photograph
Michael Frimkess, Vase with Jazz Musician, 1974, Color test maquette for Blues for Dr. Banks, Stoneware, glazed, 5” x 9” x 5”, Collection of Scripps College, Claremont, CA, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Marer
John Garrett, Untitled woven basket, c. 1981, Vinyl, acrylic and enamel paint, woven onto wire frame, 84” x 15”, Collection of Eudorah M. Moore
Erik Gronborg, Covered Container, late 1970s, White stoneware with decals, 14.5” x 3.5”, Private Collection, Jay Oligny photograph
Otto and Vivika Heino, Untitled covered container, c. 1963, Stoneware, glazed, 16.5” x 13.5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Ferne Jacobs, Flame, 1982-1983, Coiled waxed linen thread, 48” x 8” x 5”, Collection of the artist, Courtesy of Nancy Margolis Gallery, NYC, Susan Einstein photograph
Charles Hollis Jones, Adjustable Side Tables, 1975, Steel, Lexan, 17”-21” x 13”-18” x 13”-16”, Collection of the artist
Charles Hollis Jones, Edison Table Lamp, 1968, Polished chrome, smoked Lucite panel shade, 33” x 18” x 14”, Collection of the artist
John Kapel, Door, 1968, Walnut, 88” x 33.5”, Collection of John Kapel, Courtesy of Reform Gallery, John Maeda photograph
Gere Kavanaugh, Flowers Rug, 1965, Hand-hooked wool rug, 72” x 45.75”, Collection of the artist, Jay Oligny photograph
Gere Kavanaugh, Zinnia Table, c. 1966-1967, Designed by Gere Kavanaugh, Fir banister rails, glazed ceramic tiles made by Stonelite Tile, 16” x 46”, Collection of the artist
Bernard Kester, Footed Bowl, early 1960s, Stoneware, glazed, 8.5” x 11.87”, Collection of Tim and Angie Meikle
Gerhardt Knodel, Flexible Wallpaper, 1969, Silk panels; dyed, screen printed with pigments, flocked, pressed 8 panels, each 96” x 12”, On loan from the artist
Mary Jane Leland, Zinnia, 1962-1963, Cotton, hand-screen printed design, 126” x 45”, Collection of the artist, Jay Oligny photograph
Malcolm Leland, Prototype Section of Fascia from San Diego Art Museum, 1965, Aluminum, anodized bronze, 24” x 10.5” x 4”, On loan from the artist and Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art
John Lewis, Moon Bottles, 1971, Hand-blown glass, Tallest bottle: 6” x 4.5”, Collection of Pamela and Gregory Weir-Quiton
Marvin Lipofsky, California Loop Series #4, 1970, Blown glass, paint, rayon flocking, floatation foam, epoxy, 14.5” x 10.5” x 8”, Collection of the artist, M. Lee Fatheree photograph
James Lovera, Untitled vase, 1962, Porcelain, glazed, 9.62” x 10.5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Sam Maloof, Rocking Chair, c. 1973, Walnut, 45” x 27.25” x 46”, Private Collection, Photo courtesy of Beverly Maloof
Sam Maloof, Set of scale models: rocker, drop leaf table, pedestal table, low back chair, Designed by Sam Maloof c. 1970-1980s, made by Mike Johnson 2005-2006, Collection of Beverly Maloof (Mrs. Sam)
Paul Marioni, The Visitor, 1984, Blown glass, 9” x 6”, Collection of the artist, John Maeda photograph
Richard Marquis, Personal Archive Unit: Bottle with Funnel, 1984, Mixed media assemblage, 33.5” x 20” x 9”, Collection of Gloria and Sonny Kamm, Photo courtesy of the artist
Harrison McIntosh, Floating Disk, 1982, Stoneware, glazed; chromed steel, 13” x 10.62” x 10.62”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Brad Miller, Spheres in Compression, 1976, Stoneware, glass, wood, 10.5” x 15.5” x 5”, Collection of the artist
Mineo Mizuno, Square Plate with Two Cups, 1978-1980, Earthenware, glazed, Plate: 1.5” x 11” x 11”, Cups: 4.25” x 2.25” x 3”, Alan Mandell Collection, Jay Oligny photograph
Gertrud and Otto Natzler, Closed Form (O316), 1969, 4.12” x 6.37”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Gertrud and Otto Natzler, Set of six miniatures (C89, A74, C22, C29, C84, B49), 1965-1967, 0.75”-1.75” x 0.62”-3”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
John Nyquist, Music Stand with Double Ledge, c. 1979, Teak, rosewood, ivory, spindle turned, band-sawed, carved, 61” x 22” x 17”, Collection of John and Shirley Nyquist, John Walcek photograph
Hiromi Oda, Untitled, 1972, Cotton, flax, 96” x 21”, Collection of the artist, Jay Oligny photograph
Alvin Pine, Gold Necklace, 1970, Forged 14k gold, beads, garnets, pearls, 11” x 6”, Collection of John and Shirley Nyquist, Jay Oligny photograph
Faith Porter, Cloud, 1968, Porcelain, glazed, 4.5” x 7.75”, Collection of the artist
Faith Porter, Red Blush, 1968, Porcelain, glazed, 9” x 7”, Collection of the artist, Jim Porter photograph
Svetozar Radakovich, Double Front Doors, commissioned by Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Hayes, 1973, Teak, hand-forged metal hardware, glass inserts, 93” x 60”, Collection of Jean Radakovich
Svetozar Radakovich, Gold Cuff Bracelet, late 1960s, 14K gold with gold chain and turquoise bead, forged, constructed with lost wax cast elements, 2.25” x 2.5” x 2.62”, Collection of Jean Radakovich
Svetozar Radakovich, Study for Climber, early 1960s, Painted steel, 15.5” x 15” x 14”, Collection of Jean Radakovich
Ruth Radakovich, Untitled gold brooch, late 1960s, 14k gold, two green hexahedron mineral stones, 2.5” x 2” x 1.12”, Collection of Jean Radakovich
Elsa Rady, Black Fan Bowl, c. 1983, Porcelain, 6” x 12”, Alan Mandell Collection, Jay Oligny photograph
Merry Renk, Ate by Ate, 1976, Welded bronze, 25” x 25” x 4”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, M. Lee Fatheree photograph
Merry Renk, Marbled, 1960, Soldered copper wire, glass marbles, 25” x 18” x 6”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Ed Rossbach, Newspaper, 1976, Mixed media with recycled newspaper, 7” x 24”, Courtesy of browngrotta arts, Photo © Tom Grotta
Jerry Rothman, Ritual Vessel, c. 1980, Stoneware, glazed, 13” x 20” x 15”, Collection of Scripps College, Claremont, CA, Gift of Jerry Rothman
Adrian Saxe, Hula Dick (Iron Blue), 1969, Porcelain, glazed, 14.5” x 9” x 9”, Boardman Family Collection, Jay Oligny photograph
June Schwarcz, Issey Miyake, 1983, Hammered, etched, enameled basse-taille, 6” x 7.12”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Kay Sekimachi, Nagare I, 1967, Nylon monofiliment, wood bead, double, quadruple, tubular weave, slit tapestry, 69” x 13”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Carol Shaw-Sutton, Spirit Canoe, 1980, Willow, waxed linen, lashing, 28” x 57” x 16”, Collection of the artist
Peter Shire, Pinwheel, c. 1980, Earthenware, under-glaze, over-glaze, 13” x 14.5” x 4.5”, Collection of the artist
Carter Smith, Red Rainbow, mid-1970s, Silk, shibori tie-dye, finger pleating, 90” x 42”, Collection of the artist
Carter Smith, Iris, mid-1970s, Silk, shibori tie-dye, 90” x 42”, Collection of the artist
John Snidecor, Gold and Amethyst Neckpiece, 1967, Gold, amethyst, 9.5” x 6”, Collection of the artist
Paul Soldner, Abstract Bowl, 1960s, Earthenware, glazed, raku fired, 2.87” x 9.5” x 11.5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Bob Stocksdale, Salad bowl, c. 1970, Honduran mahogany, 11.37” x 22.75”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, Jay Oligny photograph
Paul Tuttle, Tablet Chair, c. 1984, Walnut, cane, steel, 37” x 24” x 25”, Private Collection, Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions
James Wayne, Untitled vessel, c. 1970, Free blown glass, 5.75” x 7.75” x 5.5”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill
Pamela Weir-Quiton, Pamela Girls (set of 6), 1965-1967, Various exotic hardwoods, 14” x 2” x 1.5”, Collection of the artist
Pamela Weir-Quiton, Georgie Girl Seated Doll Drawer Chest, 1970, Brazilian rosewood, zebrawood, maple, ebony, 58” x 16” x 30”, Collection of Ted and Alice Fong, Photo courtesy of California Design, Richard Gross photograph
Katherine Westphal, The Puzzle of Floating World #2, 1976, Cotton, transfer printed and quilted, 85” x 65”, Courtesy of browngrotta arts, Photo © Tom Grotta
Ellamarie and Jackson Woolley, Untitled plate, c. 1960, Copper, enamel 1” x 8.5”, Collection of Scripps College, Claremont, CA, Gift of the artists, Photo © Long Beach Museum of Art 2011
Marguerite Wildenhain, Untitled vase, c. 1972, Earthenware, glazed, 8.62” x 6”, Collection of Forrest L. Merrill, M. Lee Fatheree photograph
We are profoundly grateful to the following for their valuable support for this exhibition and catalog:
Without Helen and Peter Bing, the Boardman Family Foundation, Cathleen Collins, Forrest L. Merrill, and the Stolaroff Foundation, this exhibition and catalog would not have been possible. The Board of Directors of both Craft in America and CAFAM have provided a font of support for the exhibition.
In researching the show, we were fortunate to be enlightened by the direct input of Eudorah M. Moore, Bernard Kester, Lois Boardman, Sharon K. Emanuelli, Joan Benedetti, Patrick Ela, Nancy Romero, and Frank S. Wyle. We appreciate the assistance of Genie Guerard and the staff of the Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA. Special thanks to Carolyn L.E. Benesh, Robert K. Liu and the staff of Ornament Magazine, who have written about the California craft movement for the past 35 years, for contributing information from their archives. Michael Fargo created the title for the exhibition.
Special thanks to board member Corinna Cotsen, independent curator Jo Lauria, and independent exhibition designer Richard Amend. We would like to recognize the work of the exhibition team that created the show. From the staff of CAFAM we are grateful to Executive Director Suzanne Isken, Exhibitions Coordinator Sasha Ali, Director of Public Programs Holly Jerger, Development and Marketing Associate Lindsay Crook, Yuko Makuuchi and Maryna Hrushetska. From the staff of Craft in America, we would like to thank Project Coordinator Denise Kang, Study Center Director Emily Zaiden, Study Center Assistant Kayleigh Perkov, Rosey Guthrie, Beverly Feldman, Patricia Bischetti, Christina Carroll, and Judy Hing. Our tireless research interns, Angelica Alcaraz and Stephanie Huerta have been essential.
The lenders to the exhibition have been incredibly generous and accommodating throughout the process. Forrest L. Merrill deserves special recognition for lending a large part of his collection to the show, and his assistant Dane Cloutier provided detailed information and drove objects to Los Angeles to be photographed. We are grateful to Evelyn and Jerome Ackerman, James and Veralee Bassler, the Bennett Family Foundation, the Estate of J.B. Blunk, the Boardman Family Collection, browngrotta arts, Cardwell Jimmerson Contemporary Art, the Estate of Arthur Espenet Carpenter, Chadwick Studio, Lia Cook, Frank E. Cummings III, Stephanie DeLange, the Falkenstein Foundation, Arline Fisch, Alice and Ted Fong, Miller Fong, Dextra Frankel, Michael and Mindy Hickman, Ferne Jacobs, Charles Hollis Jones, Gloria and Sonny Kamm, John Kapel, Gere Kavanaugh, Gerhardt Knodel, Damon and Marion Lawrence, Mary Jane Leland, Malcolm Leland, Marvin Lipofsky, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Long Beach Museum of Art, Beverly Maloof, the Alan Mandell Collection and assistant Tobey Wheeler, Paul Marioni, Tim and Angie Meikle, Brad Miller, Eudorah M. Moore, Joanna and Scott Nadeau of Ten10 Gallery, John and Shirley Nyquist, Gerard O’Brien of Reform Gallery, Hiromi Oda, Lea Petmezas, Faith Porter, Jean Radakovich, Scripps College, Carol Shaw-Sutton, Peter Shire, Carter Smith, John Snidecor, Tobey Cotsen Victor, Pamela and Gregory Weir-Quiton, and the numerous private collections that lent us objects.
We would also like to thank Kirk Delman, Christy Johnson, Candice Reichardt, Sue Ann Robinson, and Bobbye Tigerman for facilitating the loan process, and Dr. Billie Sessions for sharing her expertise and assisting our research.
The catalog was skillfully created by designer John Maeda. Photographer Jay Oligny captured the beauty of the objects. Thanks to Jill DeDominicis for her editing.
We are deeply indebted to all of the artists who provided images and information about their work.
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