Farewell to a Design Giant

Farewell to a Design Giant


Viktor Schreckengost, Murray Ohio Pursuit Plane, 1941-45.
Photo/Gary Kirchenbauer.

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.

He believed in making good design available to everyone. In a conversation with William Daley published in American Craft in 1997, Schreckengost recalled how driving to work one morning, "I counted 32 things that I had designed-from exhaust fans to lawn mowers, tractors, lighting fixtures for the street lights. It was just as exciting to me as going to the art museum and seeing one of my paintings. I get almost more of a kick out of seeing the influence of my toys-good design-on kids growing up."

The son of a commercial potter, Schreckengost was born in 1906 in Sebring, Ohio, and studied ceramics at the Cleveland Institute of Art and in Vienna. He joined the faculty in 1930, headed its industrial design department from 1936 to 1976 and, even in retirement, stayed active as professor emeritus to the end of his life. A Fellow of the American Craft Council, he received many honors, including the National Medal of Arts in 2006. The Viktor Schreckengost Foundation maintains a website on his life and career: www.viktorshreckengost.org.

The Pacific Northwest has long been a mecca for glass lovers. Now they can sojourn at Tacoma's new Hotel Murano (formerly Sheraton), where a $22 million remodel has put contemporary glass center stage. Works by 40 artists grace the lobby and corridors, while rooms are decorated with their sketches and blown lamps. The Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum are among the attractions nearby (www.hotelmuranotacoma.com).

More Craft in America is on the way: the next two installments of the Peabody Award-winning documentary series have been picked up by PBS, where it premiered in 2007. "We're in search of a corporate sponsor, and hope to be in production by the end of summer," said creator/co-executive producer Carol Sauvion. The one-hour episodes will air in prime time on PBS affiliates nationwide in 2009, with KCET Los Angeles as presenting station (www.craftinamerica.org).

During its spring 2008 semester, Alfred University, NY, inaugurated the Fred L. Gertz Distinguished Teaching Series in Art Criticism and Theory with "Matters of Perception: Articulating Hybridity," a program of lectures and seminars that explored art and culture from the perspectives of cognitive science, philosophy, anthropology, film theory, gender studies and other disciplines (transcripts will be published). The series is made possible by a gift from American Craft Council trustee Dr. Marlin Miller Jr., a 1954 alumnus of Alfred and a member and former chairman of its board, in memory of Gertz, who taught technical writing and was dean of students at the university.

New places to see art: the Daniel Libeskind-designed Contemporary Jewish Museum opens June 8 in San Francisco (www.jmsf.org), while the Rhode Island School of Design gets ready to reveal its Chace Center, designed by José Rafael Moneo, on September 27 (www.risd.edu). Forms like Sunset Boat and other Dale Chihuly works will make up his new installation inaugurating the center.

"My work deals with artists' books and boxes, and with the relationship between communication and containers," says Jody Williams, who took home the first Minnesota Book Artist Award from the 20th annual Minnesota Book Awards gala April 12 in St. Paul. The new prize honors individual artistry and contribution to the book arts community, and is co-sponsored by the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and Friends of the Saint Paul Library.

SAQA University, an am­bitious new wiki website, is an online encyclopedia of quilt-related knowledge contributed and edited by members of Studio Art Quilt Associates, a nonprofit community of art quilters. "This is a professional, educational forum, a way to capture in one place, on demand, the expertise of our membership, which is 2,000 worldwide and growing,"
says SAQA vice president Lisa Chipetine, a former information technology executive who spearheaded the project. The collected wisdom covers art, business and other topics; also offered are critique rooms, a mentorship forum, and archived conference calls with leading quilters, available for download (“www.saqa.com“http://www.saqa.com).

Each year Friends of Fiber Art International, a group of dedicated textile aficionados, gives grants to various orga­nizations for projects that are fiber-related-including, most recently, the Museum of Arts & Design, Quilt San Diego/Quilt Visions, Studio Art Quilt Associates, Berkeley Art Center Association and the American Tapestry Alliance. For 2008 applications, due July 1, call 708-246-9466 or write FFAI, P.O. Box 468-G, Western Springs. IL 60558.

Gallery notes: Betty Turino, owner of America House Gallery in Tenafly, New Jersey, from 1973 to 1989, died December 21 at the age of 86. . . After three years in Los Angeles, Dena Rigby and Anne Cohen have closed their contemporary glass gallery D & A Fine Arts. Both continue as art consultants, Rigby in Seattle and Cohen in L.A