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"Second Generation" by Kathleen Hanna

Many Californians became aware of artists who were using traditional craft media and techniques to make new, personal work at the International Exposition on Treasure Island in 1939. After the war, the movement moved into high gear. Among the most prominent members were those who were teachers as well as working artists: Art Espenet Carpenter and James Krenov among the furniture makers; ceramists Peter Voulkos, H. Carlton Ball and Marguerite Wildenhain, the weaver Trude Guermenprez. They formed associations, exhibited in fairs and museums and sold through Gumps and other galleries sympathetic to the new work. With the exception of phenomena like J.P.Blunk and his chain sawn Redwood trunks and Peter Voulkos who took clay to monumental proportions off the wheel, the first post-war generation of furniture makers and designer craftsmen (as they preferred to be called in those days) might be typified or at least remembered for their finessing of “Danish Modern” or for the invention of “California Round-over” and “Funk and Flash”.

The “anything goes” attitude of the 60’s was felt by the next generation. Some of these artists have chosen to add content to the considerations of form and function that interested their predecessors.
For “Once Upon A Time”, metalsmith Laurie Marson perches her sexy sterling silver shoes on the black velvet seat of Michael Cullen’s rendition of a ladder back chair.

Humor also enters the mix in works like Dean Santner’s tables whose multiple red legs seem poised to dance across the room should anyone provide them with a Latin rhythm.

Brian Mac Lachlan puts a new, personal spin on 60’s funk and flash in his table and Tectonic Vessel.

Paul Reiber lifts his sensitive carving from the chair backs we are accustomed to admire and makes his figures stand alone.

Reference is made to folk and traditional work.

Deborah Corsini adds vibrant color to the wedge weave pattern known to the Navajo.

Bonita Cohn fires strong stoneware forms in a wood burning kiln inspired by those built by Asian potters hundreds of years ago.

Changes in scale are also happening. Sonya Lee Barrington, known for many years for her very personal versions of the traditional quilt in large wall hangings and bed covers, treats us to four small compositions in which she stitches texture over her hand-dyed fabrics.

Common to all these artists is the respect for materials, technical virtuosity and a willingness to experiment. Also shared is the dream of living and working independently. Associations like the Baulines Craft Guild and the Mendocino Coast Furnituremakers were formed to help realize this dream by providing contacts with trade professionals, teaching and exhibition opportunities and a community of like minded spirits.

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