about the artist

The Museum of Contemporary Craft…

…opened it’s doors today and I was the first person to walk in. Mr C and I left church around 11:30 am and drove the few blocks to the new location for the Craft PDX Block Party. I couldn’t get a good photo of the building because of all the tents which were housing artisans and craftsmen doing demonstrations. There were not many people around except for those setting up and volunteers.


This is the closest I could get for a photo. The second photo is from the entrance.



The building used to house Daisy Kingdom which sold fabric for over the top little girl’s dresses. They also had great sets of quilting fat quarters and fabric. On the upper level were interesting stuff for sale and beautiful silk and dressy fabric. It is a far cry from the old store, but the bones of the old building are still there.

We were able to have a quickie 15 minute tour of the current exhibit — Craft in America, which includes work from the PBS show of the same name. There were textile pieces by Judith Content, Tim Harding (love, love his work), Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, Wendy Huhn, Jack Lenor Larsen, Michael James, and others. The exhibit covered the gamut of crafts and was very nicely displayed. The show was mainly on the second floor.

The sales gallery is on the first level. It was jam-packed full of stuff. I didn’t recognize the names of any of the fiber artists. Mr C and I both noticed that there were not many northwest artists represented. I do know that when they closed the old museum, they had a new jurying process with a juror from outside the area. One friend, who has always been at the gallery and enjoyed good sales, was not juried in this time. We both felt sad about not seeing the area’s artisans represented.



It was too crowded to get any great photos of the space. Outside there were lots of activities going on. Click photos to see larger.

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You could win a really ugly painted car! Demonstrations of clay work, glass work.

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Weaving, spinning, raku pots to decorate.

When we left, the place was buzzing with activity.


I hope to get back when it is less crowded, and I look forward to the many great exhibits to come. Housed in the same building are two galleries. We buzzed in to the one which features photography. There was some great work.

I spent some time doing some more screen printing and playing with the layout for the winter bamboo fence. Some of you have wondered about the change in the name of our exhibit and the whole idea of Wabi Sabi. Here is the gist of what we were told by the consultant:

She was concerned about our interpretation of the concept in our artwork as it is at once enigmatic but also very stringent in the parameters of what is and what is not Wabi Sabi. She said even most Japanese would be either unwilling or unable to pin down an exact definition and so she suggested that for all our promotional material, we change the wording of the theme to ‘Rustic Elegance’ which is a fair interpretation of the Wabi Sabi concept and make a reference that the artwork is inspired by and pays homage to Wabi Sabi without having to adhere to the strict discipline as to color and subject. That, she said, would not give rise to expectations of what artwork would be displayed as a Japanese person seeing the theme Wabi Sabi would expect to see primarily rustic antiques or items that in some way were made from old distressed materials. She said the Leonard Koren book probably describes it best but I asked her for her description of the term. She said Wabi-shi means ‘impoverished’ or ‘miserable’ and Sabi-shi means ‘lonely’ while Sabi-ta means ‘covered with rust’ (literally). She said that things Wabi Sabi become so after a long time and lack the intention of being made as a piece of artwork. A thing is not made Wabi Sabi, it becomes that over time and usually, the cruder and more imperfect or damaged the item is, the more precious it becomes.

I think it is better this way, but I don’t like the idea of rustic elegance, wither. What does that mean? So, I shall just keep on keeping on and see what gets hung.

7 Responses to “The Museum of Contemporary Craft…”

  1. Deborah says:

    Thanks so much for the additional thoughts on wabi-sabi. Very interesting. Anyway, you are doing the very best thing in regards to the theme — just keep going!

  2. Sally Morris says:

    Hi Gerrie,

    Your discussion of Wabi Sabi has been interesting. Today at Safeway I saw a new kind of cracker called Wabi Sabi. Wonder how that fits in???

  3. Kristin L says:

    OK, it’s me! When I use Firefox I get the comment box. When I use Safari, I don’t get the box.

  4. Reva says:

    First one in to the new Craft Museum! Woo woo! Jerry and I got there around 1:30 and it was almost impossibly crowded.

    It’ll be interesting to see if the balance of what’s carried in the sales gallery shifts as time goes on. I’d like to see more NW artists, too, but that regional emphasis might be at variance with the MCC’s vision of itself as a national/international presence. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of discussion about this as the opening festivities give way to day-to-day operations.

  5. dee says:

    whatever they choose to call it, I like what you are doing very much. The bamboo reminds me of the beach fences on our dunes in the winter. I love that lonely look. I know that’s not what you’re going for but it just pops into my mind when I first look at them. Lovely work. You live in the BEST place for artistic vibes-the best!

  6. Judy says:

    I’ve just spent a bit of time reading your most recent posts, as I’ve gotten waaay behind! Love your latest bamboo fences and the gingko leaves. My neighbor has about 5 gingko trees along our little side street, and I often borrow leaves. They are indeed my favorites! That is a shame that your Portland muesum shop isn’t featuring local artists. I think of the Pacific Northwest as being the artiest section of the country these days.


  7. Liz Berg says:

    I think it can be very difficult when we use a word from another culture to identify what we are doing. there is much from the culture that cannot be translated and is culturally ingrained. I have shied away from Native American cultural icons, even though they may very well seem to represent what I am thinking, just because I don’t have the cultural background and thus feel that I am infringing upon someone else’s cultural heritage. Hope this makes sense…