Published on Sunday, November 20, 2016. This article appears in the October/November 2016 issue of American Craft Magazine.
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Ann Kovara Moving Sam Maloof Saving An American Woodworking Legends Home And Workshops Cover

Moving Sam Maloof Saving An American Woodworking Legends Home And Workshops cover

Mark LaFavor

Moving Sam Maloof: Saving an American Woodworking Legend’s Home and Workshops 
By Ann Kovara
Schiffer Publishing, $35

Sam Maloof’s handcrafted California compound is almost as famous as the furniture maker himself, yet plans for a highway extension once threatened its existence. The late woodworker and his artist wife Alfreda responded with a decade-plus fight, first getting their home, studios, guesthouse, and selected trees registered as historic property, then relocated as a “living” museum beside which they could reside. Moving Sam Maloof narrates this three-year relocation project completed in 2001, unfolding the complex negotiation between “progress and tradition, public needs, and private lives.” Construction manager and architect Ann Kovara, who helped oversee the project, tells the tale in loving detail. Her small, often personal observations reveal the cost of a tumultuous change for the couple, along with insider specifics on the move’s logistics – an insightful read for Maloof fans and anyone interested in historic preservation. ~Megan Guerber


Barbara Levine People Knitting A Century Of Photographs

People Knitting A Century Of Photographs

Mark LaFavor

People Knitting: A Century of Photographs
By Barbara Levine
Princeton Architectural Press, $17

Their needles clicking, lost in thought as a strand of yarn turns into a woolen wearable, people have found comfort in the act of knitting for centuries. In a 100-photo essay, Barbara Levine – a collector, artist, and curator with expertise in vernacular photography – explores this cozy pastime. From the 1860s through the mid-20th century, People Knitting shows knitting men, women, and children in all walks of life, from anonymous nurses and prisoners to famous folks including Eleanor Roosevelt and Ingrid Bergman. A charming detail for this reader: The images are presented sans text (identifying information is reserved for the index), allowing viewers to engage candidly as they page through this homage to an enduring art form. ~Jessica Shaykett

Claudia Clare Subversive Ceramics

Subversive Ceramics cover

Mark LaFavor

Subversive Ceramics
By Claudia Clare
Bloomsbury Academic, $39

While she was working on The Pot Book (2011), Claudia Clare noticed something curious: “I was struck,” she writes, “by the number of contemporary practitioners either declaring their work ‘subversive’ or having it described as such by others. I was similarly struck by the absence of any evidence to support the claim.” In this new book, Clare sets out to explicate that popular label, proposing a new set of analytical criteria “with which to understand and appraise the disparate work which has been marshalled under the ‘subversive’ umbrella.”

Clare productively defines “subversive” in political terms – arguing that much work so called is, in fact, satirical. She discusses such works produced in the late 20th century, before diving into an illuminating history that spans ancient Athenian pottery to 19th-century anti-slavery ware. Then, the diverse contemporary work: artists responding to history or tradition; makers whose working methods subvert; and artists making protest ceramics, rewriting established political narratives. Rigorous and referenced, Subversive Ceramics is also opinionated and personal – a delightful, revealing, and compelling read. ~Julie K. Hanus