Craft in America – Family

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

A glimpse of one of the videos in the Craft in America Series.
For those of you who do not subscribe to cable PBS channels, or if you are like me, you don't even have rabbit ears on your TV, these wonderful videos are available through the public library. 

Craft in America is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration, preservation and celebration of craft and its impact on America's cultural heritage.  

Family: Is talent inherited? What is it like to live in a household where objects are made by hand?
copyright 2011

Three generations of Moulthrop: Ed, Philip and Matt

Ed Moulthrop (1916-2003) was a self taught woodturner, known as the “father of modern woodturning”. His interest in wood began as a child and he bought his first lathe when he was a teenager. Although he studied to become an architect, wood remained a hobby during his time as an architect. In the 1970s, he resigned from an architecture to pursue woodturning professionally. He was most famous for his large scale turned bowls, made from domestic woods, usually spherical or elliptical with polished clear finishes. All of his equipment was designed and built by himself to accommodate for the size of his pieces.

Philip Moulthrop (b. 1947) is a woodturner who works in Marietta, GA. He started woodturning in 1979, learning the woodturning basics from his father, Ed Moulthrop. Philip is most famous for his mosaic bowls and pioneering his composite technique. He received his B.A. from West Georgia College and his Juris Doctor from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law. He studied and practiced law before beginning his artistic career. His work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Arts and Design, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Mint Museum, Renwick Gallery, White House Collection of American Craft, among others.

Matt Moulthrop (b. 1977) is a woodturner and son of Philip Moulthrop and grandson of Ed Moulthrop. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Matt turned his first bowl at the age of 7. Completing his BA at the University of Georgia and MBA at Georgia Tech, Matt tried his hand at work in the 9-to-5 world, but ultimately eased into turning wood as a career, making him the third generation of Moulthrops to carry on the craft.

"He's still my father. He can still get on my nerves, I'm sure I drive him crazy. It's just the dynamic of family." ~Matt

"Their close knit family is probably responsible for Philip and Matt having the same passion about working with wood that Ed did. They grew up looking at things differently because of their father and grand dad. Looking at things with a designer's eye or an artist's eye." ~Carr McCuitston - owner, The Signature Shop & Gallery

"They have, I think, transformed to a large extent the woodturning field by their level of sophistication which is in certain respects very deceiving when you first look at the work because there is a real simplicity to it but in that simplicity there is an exquisite quality." ~Michael Heller, Heller Gallery, NYC

The Marioni Family

Paul Marioni (b. 1941) is a glass artist whose work is about human nature and is often inspired by his dreams. Known as an innovator in the glass world, Marioni pushes his techniques to their limits, regularly redefining what is possible to achieve with the medium. “I work with glass for its distinct ability to capture and manipulate light. While my techniques are often inventive, they are only in service of the image,” says Paul.

Dante Marioni (b. 1964) is a glass artist. He is most well known for his freely blown, colourful, tall, and thin vessel forms. His work is influenced in its form by the Venetian tradition. He attended Pilchuck Glass School, Colorado Mountain College, and Penland School of Craft.

Marina Marioni is a self taught jewelery artist who comes from an artistic family. Marina creates jewelry that often plays with form and meaning, much like her father’s (Paul Marioni) sculptures often play with visual puns. Marina has experience working in many mediums, including metal fabrication, wood working and pattern making for foundries, painting, sculpting, jewelry making, ceramic under glazing, glass as well as tattooing, which has long been an inspiration to Marina.

Cliff and Holly Lee

Cliff Lee (b. 1951) is a ceramic artist who whose work mimics natural forms, creating imagery of flowers, gourds, leaves. As a young man Lee studied medicine and became a successful neurosurgeon but became a potter in the 70s. He received his MFA in Ceramics from the James Madison University.

Holly Lee is a metalsmith who creates one-of-a-kind pieces using gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones. She creates pieces that are hollow constructed, pierced and hand-drilled. These drilled forms create texture and a sense of light passing through space. Lee studied painting under Barclay Sheaks at Virginia Wesleyan College and studied wearable art at James Madison University.

"Craft artists are just like family. We know each other. they see our children grow up. We all in the same boat: financially, personally." ~Cliff Lee

Where River Meets Sky: a (short) Focused look at First Nation’s Art and Painting

Submitted by: Maia Stark, SCC Gallery Assistant

In the Saskatchewan’s Craft Council’s current exhibit, Where River Meets Sky, visitors may notice an atypical amount of two-dimensional work: paintings.

While painting as a form of Fine Craft has been included in the SCC’s list of craft media within the last decade, many heads are turned by the appearance of so many paintings in a Fine Craft gallery. Since 2004, the SCC Board defined Fine Craft as ". . . an artistic endeavour characterized by the creation, with skill and by hand, of three dimensional work that is rooted in, but may transform, transcend or maintain the traditions and materials of the utilitarian object." (SCC website). Though I mention this fact, my intention isn't to discuss the blurring of lines between “fine art” and “fine craft,” or argue for the inclusion of painting in the category of fine craft. My intention is to contextualize the tensions between categories of art that are considered “high” and “low,” and how that tension is reflected by some of the paintings included in this exhibition.

Within the last few decades of North American art, many First Nations’ artists have been challenging the “master narrative” of history, focusing on bringing to light the personal, political, and often forgotten aspects of colonialism and systematic racism.

 Cathy Busby’s billboard piece at AKA gallery in Saskatoon in 2012 focused the public’s attention on the harmful cuts that the Harper Government made to First Nations programming (AKA gallery).
Many internationally renowned First Nations artists deal with personal identity, as they are persons who have lived lives facing discrimination and have, through colonialist history, lost a connection to their culture and family (some notable artists to think about in this context are Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore (Winnipeg, MB), artist Edward Poitras (Regina, SK), Cree/Saulteaux/M├ętis artist and curator Lori Blondeau (Saskatoon, SK), and Siksika artist Adrian Stimson (Southern Alberta).

I think the use of painting media by many of the artists in the SCC’s current exhibition, Where River Meets Sky, speaks well to this tension. To choose one example in the plethora of work exhibited, I’d like to focus on Catherine Blackburn’s painting Grandmother. In this piece, Blackburn renders a highly descriptive (and beautifully painted) representation of her own grandmother.

Grandmother, Acrylic on Canvas, Catherine Blackburn (SCC website)
This style of painting is of a kind well known to us; colours which mimic flesh, realistic modeling of fabric and strict attention to detail in terms of proportion and light. This style of painting is, as we know, popular and appreciated, and directly relates to a western European style influenced by some of the great master painters, such as Rubens, Van Gogh, Caravaggio, and so on. Another Western European aspect of the painting is the decorative motifs and flowers, reminiscent of Alphonse Mucha. The painting, despite its Western visual associations, is of Blackburn’s Dene Grandmother, who doesn’t speak much English, while Blackburn herself does not speak Dene—having grown up away from most of her relations and away from her reserve (PA Herald Interview). I think there’s a beautiful reconciliation happening in this image, an attempt to reach across barriers of culture, of language, of distance, to reach a personal understanding and connection.

Many of the pieces in the exhibit, through self-reflection, through nostalgia, even through humour, speak to a reaching, an attempt to reconcile personal experience with disconnection, and a reclamation of culture and identity. I feel that this idea is mirrored with the tension of painting being present in a Fine Craft gallery, as my introduction briefly outlined.

The Artist, Acrylic on canvas, Allen Clarke

Flying Indian, Mix media on board, Tim Moore (SCC website)

Painting traditionally has a high place in the hierarchy of art, while Craft has been delegated to be “low” art, just as the traditional works of First Nations Artists have been (and occasionally still are) routinely dismissed and denied the title of Art with a capital “A.”

To view these paintings, and of course to see the many other pieces which range from sculpture to textile work to traditional birch bark bitings, visit the Saskatchewan Craft Council on 813 Broadway Avenue. Where River Meets Sky runs from April 19th to May 31st. 

Art as Therapy - Book Review

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, SCC Communications & Publications Coordinator

Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong
Phaidon Press Limited  
Copyright 2013

This book opens with the question 
“What is Art For?” The authors suggest that “art for art’s sake”  where art is assumed to be important and valuable "is highly regrettable, as much for the viewers of art as for its guardians."
Instead they suggest art can be a tool, a therapeutic medium that helps our minds and emotions overcome seven common frailties.

The Seven Functions of Art
1.       Remembering 
"Art helps us accomplish a task that is of central importance in our lives: to hold onto things we love when they are gone." Art can commemorate significant details and help preserve fleeting experiences.
2.       Hope
When the world looks grim, filled with problems and injustices that seem insurmountable, art can provide hope. Art can give us the idealized representation of what we long for.
3.       Sorrow
Art can teach us how to suffer more successfully. Your every day sorrow is transformed by art into something noble.
4.       Rebalancing
The ability of art to help us rebalance emotionally explains why people differ so much in their aesthetic tastes. "We hunger for artworks that will compensate for our inner fragilities" thus providing us with a sense of inner wholeness. Our weaknesses are diverse but balanced by our choices in art.
5.       Self-Understanding
Art has the ability to help us understand ourselves and then to communicate who we are to others. The objects of art that we choose to surround ourselves with are our subtle, non-verbal way of telling others about our character.
6.       Growth
"Growth occurs when we discover how to remain authentically ourselves in the presence of potentially threatening things." Art that you find alien and off-putting presents you with an opportunity to find points of connection, however fragile. This discovery expands your sense of self and fosters growth.
7.       Appreciation
Art helps us to stop, look and really see what is in front of us. Art lets us look at things with new eyes and see what we have been missing. With this clearer vision we can appreciate the value of ordinary life.
The book ends with this suggestion, "A true act of reverence for art isn't necessarily to study it without end; it is to bring the goodness powerfully displayed in a work into active circulation." "...we should fight to attain in reality the things art merely symbolizes, however graciously and intently."

Last but not least, a quote from the Appendix: An Agenda for Art, "In this book, we argue that we should reclaim the idea of defining an artistic agenda. Rather than any supernatural purpose, this would focus on strictly human ends. Artists would be invited to follow an unapologetically didactic mission: to assist mankind in its search for self-understanding, empathy, consolation, hope, self-acceptance and fulfillment."
A pretty noble goal if you ask me.

Read more about the book here.

Scottsdale, AZ Part 2 – ArtWalk

Submitted by: Stephanie Canning, Exhibitions and Education Coordinator

Every Thursday night, for the past 30 years, the Scottsdale Arts District holds an ArtWalk from 7 – 9 pm. The many galleries in the Arts District open their doors to the public and free trolleys and horse drawn carriages are available to transport people throughout the District.

The trees outside the gallery along Main Street are lit up with twinkle lights

ArtWalk logos are on the sidewalk throughout the Arts District
The Saskatchewan Art Show and Gallery held its opening reception during the March 12 ArtWalk. The response of the exhibition from the public during the opening reception was overwhelmingly positive. 
Lots of people enjoying the reception early in the evening
Over 200 were in attendance throughout the evening. Refreshments were provided from Arcadia Farms, a charming local and organic market and bakery located in Old Town Scottsdale.  Regina’s own Belle Plaine serenaded the crowd, and drew people into the gallery with her beautiful music. 
Belle Plaine performing a lovely solo set
 Visitors to the gallery were very enthusiastic; I overheard comments such as "That was the best reception I have ever been to" to "That was the best brownie I've ever had!" One patron in particular commented that she has been attending ArtWalks and visiting the galleries in the Arts District for many years and the work in the Saskatchewan Gallery was the freshest work that she has seen in a long time. Many people commented as well that they wished the gallery would be there for longer than the 3 weeks.  Many locals, tourists, happy Canadians, and Saskatchewan expats visited the gallery that evening. Saskatchewan art and music, and local food were enjoyed and praised by all who attended.

June Jacobs speaking with some gallery visitors about Paul Laponite’s hand carved Buffalo
Gallery visitors enjoying the wine and refreshments
Check out more of Belle Plaine music 
For more photos of the work in the Saskatchewan Gallery visit Saskatchewan Art – SPAGA’s Facebook page.

Scottsdale, AZ Part 1 – Arts District

Submitted by: Stephanie Canning, Exhibitions and Education Coordinator

Recently, I had the good fortune of representing the Saskatchewan Craft Council at SaskArt’s Saskatchewan Pop-up gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. Before my trip, I did not know what an incredible centre for the arts Scottsdale, AZ is. The Arts District in downtown Scottsdale is a vibrant, and exciting place, with over 100 galleries within a few block radius. The Saskatchewan Art Show and Gallery is in the perfect location along Main Street, in the heart of the arts district. The galleries in the Arts District offer a variety of work, from figurative oil paintings and regional landscapes and cast bronze sculptures, to contemporary paintings and sculpture, and aboriginal artwork and artifacts.  The work in the Saskatchewan Gallery not only held up to the quality of the high end traditional work that is offered in the Arts District, but stylistically it also stood apart and above the other work. The art work in the Saskatchewan Gallery was expertly curated; it really demonstrated the diversity of the work being produced in Saskatchewan. Paintings, prints, fine craft, fibre, and sculpture from emerging, mid-career and established artists are featured in the Saskatchewan Gallery.  Scottsdale is haven for artists, collectors and art patrons, a true artistic destination.
For more photos of the work in the Saskatchewan Gallery visit Saskatchewan Art – SPAGA’s Facebook page

A light post on Main Street in the Arts District

A view of the Saskatchewan Gallery from across the street

The front of the Saskatchewan Gallery

The pull up banner in front of the Saskatchewan Gallery advertising many of the artists whose work is on display