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PMA craft corridor – better here than nowhere?


Following the impassioned discussion about crafts in the comments for an earlier post about American Craft magazine, I present a few images from the PMA‘s show, Celebrating American Craft (through Sept. 30). The show’s in what I have been calling the crafts corridor because that’s what it is (first floor near the elevator and the photography ramp) but which the PMA calls the Auditorium north corridor.

I am excited to see Artblog favorite, Judith Schaechter, represented here. Any museum exhibit that includes a living, breathing Philadelphia artist is a very good thing. But.

Judith Schaechter. I've Trampled a Million Pretty Flowers. 1995. stained glass. In the PMA's craft's corridor until Sept. 30, 2007.
Judith Schaechter. I’ve Trampled a Million Pretty Flowers. 1995. stained glass. In the PMA’s craft’s corridor until Sept. 30, 2007.

This show, of course, puts Schaechter’s work squarely in the craft context whereas it really belongs in a broader discussion of art/craft/contemporary themes. I would love to see Schaechter’s works in a two-person show with Matthew Barney, for example. Why not? Schaechter’s works would not only beat up on Barney’s — in content, execution and relevance to the past, present and future of art. But then too, Barney’s highly-crafted works put in a craft context would turn the art/craft discussion around to content where it belongs.

Ken Price
Ken Price. Grauman’s 1988. glazed and painted porcelain.

Ken Price, the pop ceramics master, here channeling Anish Kapoor? Also riffing on magical rocks like some excellent Rocky Mountain geodes I got a number of years ago. Price, too, belongs in The Big Show.

Dale Chihuly
Dale Chihuly. Chief pattern Blanket, 1975. glass.

Before he got all rococco on us, Dale Chihuly, in 1975, seems to be channeling pottery and blanket weaving. I am not a fan of Chihuly’s later ouervre in general. However, I think it belongs in a larger discussion than it’s usually given.

The rest of the PMA show has works that I was not terribly taken with (some modest-sized Betty Woodman urns, a Tiffany pillar, a Wendell Castle table). They did not seem to transcend the craft label with their content. But since the high/low distinctions have come down like the Berlin Wall I want to mark these three artists for wider play than they get here. For more discussion of craft and art see Libby’s post on the current Art Alliance exhibit.