The artisanal urge-the fundamental human desire to make something with one's own hands-has never been so endangered as it is right now. Quite frankly, this is a situation that sends a chill down my spine. Consider the work of Jeff Koons, one of the most widely discussed and highly praised artists of the last 20 years. His Hanging Heart, [figure 1] an oversized version of a shiny magenta bauble suspended from a golden ribbon, obviously manufactured to the artist's specs, recently sold at auction for $23.6 million.
Laurel Porcari sculpts architectural glass in her New Orleans studio. Glass requires technique and some heavy lifting. It is a hot, physically demanding process. Porcari embeds drawings and textures in the medium. Asked to describe the kiln-formed works, she speaks conceptually about mapping and flow, about scale and place. Given these terms and her Big Easy address, it's easy to presume that the artist's designs reference the broken levees and flooded neighborhoods wrought by Hurricane Katrina. They don't. Porcari doesn't go in for the literal.
Viktor Schreckengost, one of the greatest industrial designers of the 20th century, died January 26 in Tallahassee, Florida, at 101 years old. Seemingly every aspect of modern American life was touched by the millions of items manufactured from Schreckengost designs, from dinnerware, bicycles, and children's pedal cars to printing presses and a radar recognition system for the U.S. Navy. He was also an accomplished potter, painter and sculptor, noted for his iconic Art Deco ceramic Jazz bowls of the 1930s.
Every day, in the small, picturesque village of Essex, Connecticut, the glass artists Marc Petrovic and Kari Russell-Pool send their two daughters off to school, enter their nondescript 1,700-square-foot studio and work side by side until the children return at 3:00 p.m. The husband and wife, who first met in 1987 at the Cleveland Institute of Art, have worked closely for years, while at the same time maintaining a certain independence that allows them to distinguish one person's work from the other's.
Last year I received a message from jeweler Bruce Metcalf inviting me to participate in a talk he was scheduled to give at the 2008 SNAG conference in Savannah. I generally enjoy these types of speaking engagements and try to partake in them when possible. Looking at my schedule in April 2007, it definitely looked like Friday, March 7th 2008 would be open so I accepted. "Thanks for asking Bruce, I'd love to!"