People & Places

People & Places

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Thomas Hucker; Side Cabinet, 2011; walnut; 26 x 20 in. dia.

Surface Design in St. Paul

The Twin Cities is a go-to gathering place for fiber and fabric fans this summer, as the Textile Center of Minnesota in St. Paul hosts the 2011 biennial conference of the Surface Design Association (Jun. 9 - 12). The packed program offers exhibitions, workshops, lectures by speakers such as Pat Hickman, Bhakti Ziek, and Faythe Levine, and an ever-popular runway fashion show.

"This year's theme, ‘Confluence,' celebrates not only the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers in the area, but that of ideas, technologies, cultures - everything in today's mix that informs our artwork," says conference mana­ger Dorothy Moye. While in town, members will stop by American Craft Council headquarters on Saturday evening for a joint birthday bash, toasting SDA's 35th year and American Craft magazine's 70th.

Twenty-Five Years of Turning

The age-old craft of woodturning has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, flourishing both as a fine art form and a popular hobby. To serve a constituency this diverse is a challenge, but one the American Association of Woodturners - which now encompasses about 14,000 members in 72 countries since it began in 1986 - is actively embracing in its quest to promote and support the field.

From June 24 to 26, turning enthusiasts will converge on St. Paul, where AAW maintains its office and gallery, for the group's 25th anniversary symposium. Highlights include the member exhibit "Turning 25," as well as the Minneapolis Institute of Arts' "Conversations With Wood" (Jun. 17 - Sept. 4), featuring the distinguished wood art collection of Twin Cities residents David and Ruth Waterbury. At the RiverCentre convention headquarters, a lineup of world-class turners (including Todd Hoyer, Mike Hosaluk, and Dale Nish) will share their knowledge, demonstrate techniques, and encourage all to take a turn at the lathe.

"When you understand the process, your appreciation goes up considerably," AAW executive director Cindy Bowden says. "It's great to see people learn a new skill, watch their faces light up."

AAW has a new book, Woodturning Today: A Dramatic Evolution to mark its milestone. In one essay, co-founder David Ellsworth reflects on "the most perplexing element of any grassroots craft media organization: How do you create and maintain a balance of the needs of hobbyist, semi-professional, and professional makers, knowing that if you're doing your job, those needs will grow, will evolve like cell division over time?"

Pritam & Eames at 30

"We've had a good long run with this field of studio furniture, and it's been extremely satisfying to be both witness and participant in its evolution. The work still challenges, the friendships endure. So we look forward to this new season." That's Bebe Pritam Johnson talking about this summer at Pritam & Eames, the furniture gallery she and husband Warren Eames Johnson opened in East Hampton, New York, in 1981. They're marking its 30th anniversary with "Speaking of Furniture," (to Aug. 2), a selection of work by 13 of 14 makers they interviewed in 1990-91 to celebrate the gallery's first decade - including Wendell Castle, Wendy Maruyama, and Judy Kensley McKie. (James Krenov, one of the original 14, died in 2009.)

The Johnsons plan to publish the interviews as Speaking of Furniture: Conversations with the New American Masters. "After 30 years, it's still amazing how many of these makers are committed to the effort that an original piece requires," Pritam Johnson says. "It was impressive in the beginning. Now, it is awesome."

A Rare Gift to the Renwick

In 2008 the renwick gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum's craft showcase in Washington, D.C., received from its founding director an extraordinary challenge gift - $800,000 to create a $2 million endowment for a new curator of craft. Now, with matching funds raised from private contributors, that goal has been met.

"I am heartened by the outpouring of support from other craft lovers who helped bring this endowment to fruition," said Lloyd Herman, who led the gallery from 1971 to 1986, in a news release. "A second curator will allow the Renwick to explore new directions in our field, highlighting the enormous array of talent and ingenuity of American craft artists, scholars, and collectors."

Other major donors to the endowment are Fleur and Charles Bresler, the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly and John Kotelly, and Julie Walters and Sam Rose.

Joyce Lovelace is American Craft's contributing editor.