Museum of Craft and Design Showcases Objects
Jim Van Buskirk
“Come visit, and come visit often,” invited Marc D’Estout, the Museum of Craft and Design’s curator. D’Estout, a wiry man sporting a salt-and-pepper Van Dyke beard, radiates passion for the museum. The 10-year-old museum was located downtown for a number of years but had been temporarily homeless before moving to Dogpatch last April. D’Estout enthused that the neighborhood is “rich with creative energy. The San Francisco Art Institute’s Graduate Center is upstairs, Workshop Residence is nearby on 22nd Street, and the neighborhood is changing.” He proudly pointed out the museum’s much larger space, with its flexible gallery configuration, high ceilings, and LED spotlights.
D’Estout curated the current exhibition Obsessive Reductive, which is on view through March 30. This group exhibition showcases 18 local and national artists , including Drew Daly, Brian Dettmer, and Jim Dingilian. “They take the process to different extremes, intricately, precisely, and “obsessively” removing material by hand to create extraordinary imagery in works that involve astonishingly complex patterns or form,” D’Estout explained in his curatorial statement. “In many cases, the use of material absence is employed as a significant design component, positioning negative space as the dominant element in the work.”
A found chair, hand-sanded for more than 300 hours by Daly, seems to be disappearing before one’s eyes. Many of the other artists spent as much time, or more, hand-crafting their work, meticulously removing material to create an unexpectedly visual experience. Although much of the work is paper-based, there are notable exceptions. Farnaz Shadravan, who also works as a dental assistant, removed the porcelain from four full-size bathtubs to create reproductions of drawings by Albrecht Durer. Dingilian smoked the interiors of old glass bottles with candle soot, and through a process of delicate scraping depicts the marginal landscapes where such discarded bottles might be found. Each of the two- and three-dimensional wall hangings and sculptural objects bear close scrutiny; the more closely one looks the more they reveal their mysteries as they begin to “converse” with one another.
In the museum’s larger gallery A Sense of Balance: The Sculpture of Stoney Lamar is on exhibit through March 23. The exhibition serves as a retrospective of the artist William Stoney Lamar, based in Saluda, North Carolina. Guest Curator Andrew Glasgow of the Asheville Art Museum described Lamar’s process, “Crafted primarily through a unique approach to multi-axial lathe work, Lamar’s wood sculptures embody a distinct sense of line and movement. Occasionally putting paint and metal to use in his works, Lamar frequently allows the shape, color, and modeling of the wood to determine a piece’s finished appearance.” Though still quite active, Lamar’s work changed after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The show includes some of his new and experimental pieces. Renowned local exhibit designer Ted Cohen is responsible for both installations.
D’Estout highlighted upcoming shows: The Tag Project by Wendy Maruyama, an installation referencing Executive Order 9066; as well as an exhibit showcasing the work of Tel Aviv designer Peddy Mergui. As might be expected, the museum’s well-stocked gift shop features items expertly chosen for their relationship to design and craft: toys, home décor, books, jewelry, accessories, and more. It’s a perfect complement to the experience, as are the frequent programs for both adults and children. As D’Estout suggested, this museum merits visits, and repeat visits.
Museum of Craft & Design is at 2569 Third Street, between 22nd and 23rd streets. http://www.sfmcd.org/.
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