Talkin' bout Generations

Talkin' bout Generations


At Lenore Tawney's first solo show at the Elaine Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton, New York, in 1967, guests including Isamu Noguchi and Karen Karnes take in the artist's remarkable fiber work.
Photo/Clayton Price.

Clayton Price

The Who has always been one of my favorite bands. When they broke up in 1983, I remember hearing the news and quietly shedding a tear or two. I had every tape (yes, tape, not MP3, or CD, but tape) the band put out and listened to them religiously, learning all the lyrics to "Boris the Spider," "Squeeze Box" and "Substitute" by heart. But the song that was always my favorite was "My Generation." For whatever reason it has been echoing in my head since I was eight years old.

So I guess it's not surprising that The Who's big bass lines and thumping drums came thundering through my ears when we started talking about the generational divide we were witnessing in the craft field. I couldn't get the image of Pete Townshend and company playing the next American Craft Council conference-replete with the amazing Keith Moon kicking over his drum kit-out of my mind while we brainstormed what we could include in this issue dedicated to examining this phenomenon. The editorial staff finally settled on three feature stories that we all agreed even The Who might find interesting.

The first was an obvious choice. In September, the incredibly inspiring fiber artist, Lenore Tawney, died at the age of 100. While her work has been well documented, it was her lasting influence that we wanted to explore. Luckily, we were able to get the textile historian Sigrid Wortmann Weltge, who had long known Tawney and her work, to take on the assignment and give us a moving portrait of the artist ("Lenore Tawney: Spiritual Revolutionary‚ÄĚ).

Next, our contributing editor, Joyce Lovelace, convinced me that an in-depth look at her generation of craft artists-not the Greatest Generation or the baby boomers and not Gen X, Y or Z, but a generation that has yet to secure its catchy title and all the assumptions that go with a tried-and-true stereotype-was a worthwhile pursuit. After reading her account of stepping into the world of those born between 1958 and 1964 ("Generation What?"), I couldn't agree more.

And finally, we decided to take a distinct­ly different approach to the generational theme, asking Mija Riedel to write about Heath Ceramics and the continued updating of this company so steeped in history that looking forward can seem daunting ("Building Bridges," page 104). Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic-who purchased the company in 2003 from founder Edith Heath, who died in 2005-have struck an impressive balance between respect for an indelible history, the demands of a challenging present and the pursuit of an evolving, environmentally sound future.

Of course, there is much more in this issue, including an array of reviews and other offerings. At the risk of sounding like a late-night infomercial, I'm happy to say, "But wait, there's still more!" While we were piecing together this issue, we were also burning the midnight oil as we finished up our new web site,, whose "official" inauguration fits neatly into our discussion of generational perspective. Though the complete calendar no longer exists in these pages (to the chagrin of some), the new web site presents the most comprehensive craft listings-updated daily-in the country, as well as articles from the print version and online-only postings and reviews. So please read on and take a look online. As they say at 3 a.m. on local television, "You won't be disappointed."

Drop me a note at [email protected].