PBS Broadcast Premiere December 29, 2023, 9pm and 10pm (check local listings)
[Los Angeles] – PLAY and MINIATURES premiere on PBS December 29 at 9pm and 10pm, respectively (check local listings). The episodes comprise the newest season of Craft in America. The Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary series has produced 15 seasons since 2007, discovering the beauty, significance and relevance of handmade objects and the artists who make them.
“Craft in America…[has a] knack for telling big stories… about the formation of culture, the purpose of creativity, the idea that the pursuits of beauty and utility are foundational to humanity.” – New York Times
PBS Broadcast Premiere December 29, 2023, 9pm (check local listings)
PLAY explores the intersection of play and artistry. From puppets to piñatas to unicorns, this hour reveals how artists use the tools of childhood to inspire imagination, celebration and wonder. The featured artists and institutions are Lorena Robletto, Roberto Benevidez, Calder Kamin, Schroeder Cherry, Skirball Cultural Center Noah’s Ark & Puppet Festival and Cotsen Children’s Library.
Lorena Robletto and Roberto Benavidez (Los Angeles, CA)
PLAY opens in Los Angeles with two artists’ distinct takes on the art of the piñata. Lorena Robletto creates festive and creative piñatas with fair labor practices at her business, Amazing Pinatas, while Roberto Benavidez takes a sculptural approach to the piñata, making work inspired by Hieronymus Bosch and medieval illuminated manuscripts.
Calder Kamin (Breckenridge, CO)
From Los Angeles, we travel to Colorado to Calder Kamin’s art installation at the Breckenridge International Arts Festival. She is committed to reusing and recycling in her art and sculpts from discarded plastic, creating a unicorn with old Mardi Gras beads and engaging the community to learn sustainable art methods.
Schroeder Cherry (Baltimore, MD)
In Baltimore, artist and museum educator Schroeder Cherry introduces us to his cast of handmade puppets. Cherry puts on puppet shows to share African American history with children and adults alongside his practice as a painter and collage artist.
Skirball Center Noah’s Ark and Puppet Festival (Los Angeles, CA)
Crossing back to the West Coast takes us to the Skirball Cultural Center, a Jewish educational institution that is hosting their annual puppet festival. This year, artist Chris Green joins to revisit one of the centerpieces of their children’s programming, Noah’s Ark, a vast installation featuring hundreds of animals crafted from found objects.
Cotsen Children’s Library (Princeton, NJ)
We track the legacy of one of the founding Board members of the Skirball, Lloyd E. Cotsen, to the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University. Cotsen was a collector and philanthropist and the Cotsen Children’s Library now houses his vast collection of children’s books. We learn how children’s books enrich the lives and minds of the community and all of us through play and imagination.
PBS Broadcast Premiere December 29, 2023, 10pm (check local listings)
MINIATURES explores the world of tiny objects and the artists that make them. From folk art to marionettes to tiny furniture, the artists of MINIATURES reveal what motivates them to work at a scale that demands a masterful attention to detail. The featured artists and institutions are Mark Murphy, Alexander Girard, the International Folk Art Market, Leandro Gómez Quintero and Gustave Baumann.
Mark Murphy (Astoria, OR)
We meet Mark Murphy, a miniaturist living and working in Astoria, Oregon. Mark shares his process for creating intricately detailed miniature furniture. We travel with him to the Chicago International Miniatures Show and connect with his community of other remarkable miniature artists.
Alexander Girard (Santa Fe, NM)
We visit Santa Fe, New Mexico, to reveal the iconic 20th-century designer Alexander Girard’s passion for folk art through the “Multiple Visions” exhibition at the Museum of International Folk Art. In the 1980s, Girard transformed his collection of over 100,000 pieces of miniature folk art from all over the world into one expansive exhibition that has been displayed exactly as he designed it for over 40 years.
International Folk Art Market (Santa Fe, NM)
We travel the globe at the annual International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where artists and makers from around the world including Mexico, Peru, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Eswatini, and more share their practices and culture through miniature folk art and other craft traditions.
Leandro Gómez Quintero (Baracoa, Cuba)
From IFAM, we cross the continent and ocean and follow the model vehicles of artist Leandro Gómez Quintero to his home in Baracoa, Cuba. Leandro crafts his faithful recreations of vehicles like the iconic Willys Jeep with intricate detail and accuracy, using found materials to tell the story of Cuba and her people through his art.
Gustave Baumann (Santa Fe, NM)
Finally, we celebrate the prolific multidisciplinary artist, Gustave Baumann, who created paintings, woodblock prints and marionettes in the first half of the 20th century. Baumann was deeply inspired by the landscape and people of Santa Fe, and the city keeps his legacy alive today with their yearly Christmas marionette show.
ARTIST & INSTITUTION BIOS: PLAY
Lorena Robletto is a Los Angeles based piñata artist. After serving as a social worker for immigrant families and consulting for immigrant-owned businesses, Robletto turned her focus towards the artistry of piñatas and set up a shop, Amazing Pinatas, in the Los Angeles Piñata District. Her studio and storefront is now located in Mid City, where her team creates custom piñatas of any scale along with ready-made piñatas and various signature designs. She frequently makes props and commissions for the entertainment industry and other branded events.
Roberto Benavidez is a figurative sculptor originally from South Texas, specializing in the piñata form. After moving to Los Angeles, he rediscovered his passion for the visual arts and studied figure sculpting and bronze casting at Pasadena City College. Benavidez later switched to paper, a more accessible material than bronze, deciding to focus on the piñata technique, a familiar form from childhood. Benavidez plays with underlying themes of race, ephemerality, beauty and sin, layered with his identity as a mixed-race queer artist, with a focus on impeccable craftsmanship. Some of his otherworldly creatures could have stepped out of Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. Currently, one of Benavidez’s ‘Painting Piñatas’ is on display in all LA Metro buses under the Through the Eyes of Artists poster series, and another landscape is on view at LAX Terminal 1.5 in Craft in America’s LA Scenes exhibition.
Artist, educator and advocate, Calder Kamin transforms trash into beautifully crafted creatures and opportunities to inspire others to be creative and courageous about the future. Nature’s endless ability to reuse and adapt motivates her to eliminate waste and reimagine it as art. Kamin’s creative reuse art projects and public workshops have traveled to museums across the states including The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, The American Museum of Natural History, The Contemporary Austin, The i.d.e.a. Museum, and The Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Plastic Planet, her 2016 solo exhibition at Women & Their Work, was supported by a Mid-America Arts Alliance Artistic Innovations Grant and the subject of an episode for the PBS series Arts In Context. She was the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art’s Art Truck Artist, the first AIR at the Beach Museum of Art, and Artist-in-Residence at BreckCreate, Landmark Apartments, the DoSeum and San Antonio’s Children’s Museum. Kamin is a board member of Austin Creative Reuse, a non-profit that diverts community waste to artists, crafters and educators as resources.
Dr. Schroeder Cherry, a native of Washington, DC, is now a Baltimore-based artist working with puppets, paintings and mixed media assemblages. Dr. Cherry captures everyday scenes of African American life, often set in barbershops and utilizing repurposed materials. He has worked in museums across the US, including The Art Institute of Chicago, Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Museum, Studio Museum of Harlem, J.Paul Getty Museum, The Baltimore Museum of Art and Maryland Historical Society. He has held senior grant maker positions at Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. He is the Museum Curator at the James E. Lewis Museum of Art and currently teaches museum studies at Morgan State University. His works “are open-ended narratives inspired by travel, music, literature, folklore, and everyday events.”
Skirball Cultural Center
The Skirball Cultural Center is a place of meeting guided by the Jewish tradition of welcoming the stranger and inspired by the American democratic ideals of freedom and equality. They welcome people of all communities and generations to participate in cultural experiences that celebrate discovery and hope, foster human connections, and call upon us to help build a more just society. Open to the public since 1996, the Skirball is one of the world’s most dynamic Jewish cultural institutions and among the leading cultural venues in Los Angeles.
Chris Green is a Brooklyn-based designer, director and performer. His theatrical and installation works have been presented nationally and internationally in venues including the Skirball Cultural Center, Lincoln Center, New York City Center, St. Anne’s Warehouse, Geothe Institute (Delhi), National Geographic Museum, La Jolla Playhouse, Teatro del Lago (Chile) and BAM Harvey. Since 2005, his design studio, Chris Green Kinetics, has received awards of excellence from the American Association of Museums, TEA, and a Regional Design Award from AIA. Recent projects include Firebird, with ten puppeteers and a full orchestra, Hagoromo, a puppetry and dance collaboration with David Michalek, David Neumann and Wendy Whelan, and This Is Hunger, a multi-media installation about hunger in America traveling across the country in an expanding tractor-trailer.
Cotsen Children’s Library
The Cotsen Children’s Library, a unit within Princeton University Library’s Department of Special Collections, is the benefaction of Lloyd E. Cotsen, ’50, and Charter Trustee, Emeritus. The curatorial division administers the research collection of illustrated children’s books, manuscripts, original artwork, prints and educational toys, hosts academic conferences on children’s books and publishes their proceedings, and sponsors fellowships for research. The outreach division of Cotsen serves children of all ages, families, librarians and educators. Campus visitors can explore Bookscape, a whimsical reading environment with its two-story bonsai tree, Wall of Books, exhibition space, and attend free weekly story hours and special events.
ARTIST & INSTITUTION BIOS: MINIATURES
Mark Murphy is a miniaturist who specializes in Arts & Crafts furniture including Greene & Greene and Japanese furniture. He studied at Ohio State University, with an emphasis on sculpture. He finished his studies at the Philadelphia College of Art with a BFA in woodworking and furniture design. Shortly after that, he moved to San Francisco where he started making scale furniture models. It was at that time he met the miniature house builder Pam Throop and started making pieces for her period American and English houses. Mark also does collaborative work with several other miniature artists including Mary O’Brien, Patricia Hartman, Patricia Richards, Lee-Ann Wessel and Annelle Ferguson. A Fellow of the International Guild of Miniature Artisans, Mark has been teaching miniature furniture construction since 2000. He shows his work at miniature shows (The Guild Show in Hartford, CT, The Good Sam Showcase of Miniatures in San Jose, CA and the Chicago International Miniatures Show). His work is in private miniature collections and miniature museum collections including the Gateway Center in Maysville, KY and the Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City, MO.
Alexander Girard (1907–1993) was a highly influential and prolific interior and textile designer in the 20th century. He designed interiors for restaurants, homes, offices, and aircraft. He created textiles, typography, and tableware. His work extended to exhibitions, toys, and an entire city street in Columbus, Indiana. Folk and pop art were inspirations for his bold, colorful and whimsical artwork. Girard was a defining figure in the history of the Museum of International Folk Art. He donated more than 100,000 objects from his and his wife Susan’s folk art collection. In 1981, this became the museum’s permanent exhibition, “Multiple Visions: A Common Bond.”
International Folk Art Market
The mission of the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, NM, is to create economic opportunities for and with folk artists worldwide who celebrate and preserve folk art traditions. IFAM envisions a world that values the dignity and humanity of the handmade, honors timeless cultural traditions, and supports the work of artisans serving as entrepreneurs and catalysts for positive social change. Recognized globally as the largest market of its kind, IFAM provides an event for some of the finest folk artists to gather in one location, exhibit their artwork that is rooted in tradition and culture, and partake in cross-cultural artistic exchange. The earnings generated from the Market return to the home communities of the artists, creating long-term economic opportunity.
Leandro Gómez Quintero
Leandro Gómez Quintero uses paper, cardboard and found objects to create models of American cars and Jeeps, all of which are used as methods of transportation in his hometown of Baracoa, Cuba. They are individually hand painted and detailed to mimic the original vehicle. His sculpture represents Willys Jeeps from 1942–1955, as well as Dodge Power Wagons, GMCs, and Fords from the era. These sculptures are representations of what his community sees on a daily basis, and Leandro hopes to preserve and offer knowledge through his art, as well as reflect the history of transportation and everyday life in Cuba. Quintero says, “They bring humor and call attention to the fact that we are an isolated community within a country that has been isolated for many years. By showing the people a part of their everyday lives in a lighthearted way, they come to appreciate and can smile at some of the difficulties that we encounter in just trying to live our lives and getting from one place to another.” (Courtesy of International Folk Art Alliance, 2017)
(1881–1971) was an American printmaker and painter, and one of the leading figures of the color woodcut revival in America. While still a young boy, Baumann emigrated with his family from Magdeburg, Germany, to Chicago. He returned to Germany to study at Kunstgewerbeschule in Munich, and later attended the Art Institute of Chicago. After moving to Santa Fe in 1918, he became a leading member of the art community. Baumann was appointed area coordinator of the Public Works of Art Project of the Works Progress Administration beginning in the early 1930s. During this time, he also carved and decorated a large number of marionettes, with which he, his wife and other artists toured the state, acting out Hispanic and Native American folk stories.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
ABOUT CRAFT IN AMERICA
Craft in America is the Peabody Award-winning series on PBS exploring America’s creative spirit through the language and traditions of the handmade. The series takes viewers on a journey to the artists, origins and techniques of American craft. Each episode contains stories from diverse regions and cultures, blending history with living practice and exploring issues of identity, ritual, philosophy and creative expression. Craft in America’s organizational efforts include educator guides that adhere to national standards and the Craft in America Center in Los Angeles.
To promote and advance original handcrafted work through programs in all media
To document the importance of handmade objects and the artists who make them
To provide a gateway to discover, explore and experience craft
To celebrate our nation’s cultures through craft
CRAFT IN AMERICA, Inc. is a Los Angeles-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Lauren Over or Terry de Castro