75 Gifts for 75 Years Honors Museum’s History Through Community Giving

Release date: 06/09/11

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Organized by the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the exhibition 75 Gifts for 75 Years celebrates an important milestone in the history of one of the oldest modern craft institutions in the United States. Through generous gifts by artists, collectors, craftspeople and gallerists from Portland and other regions, important gaps in the Museum’s collections are being filled, enabling the Museum to better tell the story of craft’s role in shaping culture and history.

Featuring over 75 objects from private collections and artist studios, the new gifts on view span the entire history of the Museum. Founded in 1937 as the Oregon Ceramic Studio by Lydia Herrick Hodge and a group of dynamic women volunteers, the Museum of Contemporary Craft continues to steward a growing collection of nearly 1000 objects that strategically document important regional and national developments in the history of the American Craft Movement.

“By placing works which they have enjoyed in their lives, cared for in their homes or made by hand in their studios into the care of the Museum of Contemporary Craft, this group of generous collectors and artists ensure that the history of craft will be available for future Oregonians to experience,” says Jeffrey Thomas, Executive Director.

The gifts span the range of media that is broadly considered craft’s domain: ceramics, glass, metal, wood and fiber, and expand those definitions into animation, drawings and limited production tableware. While several works have been on view in past exhibitions, others will be on public view at Museum of Contemporary Craft for the first time.

Works include pieces by: Kate Bingaman-Burt, Rose Bond, Rose Cabat, Ann Christenson, Einar and Jamex De la Torre, Ruth Duckworth, Joe Fedderson, Betty Feves, Erik Gronborg, Shoji Hamada, Vivika and Otto Heino, Manuel Izquierdo, Dan Kvitka, Dominic Labino, Marilyn Levine, Joan Livingstone, Bodil Manz, John Mason, Tom McGlauchlin, Gertrud and Otto Natzler, Lucie Rie, Heidi Schwegler, Frances Senska, David Shaner, Paul Soldner, Kiff Slemmons, Robert Sperry, Bob Stocksdale, Henry Takemoto, Storm Tharp, Peter Voulkos, Kate Wagle, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Russel Wright, among others.

The exhibition functions as a follow-up to both Unpacking the Collection: Selections from the Museum of Contemporary Craft (2008), published on the occasion of the institution’s move from its original home at 3934 SW Corbett Ave to its present location, and the exhibition Portland Collects (2005), guest curated by Marie Sivak.

Works in the exhibition span modern and contemporary craft, and fill important gaps in the collection. The diverse span of gifts includes spun aluminum tableware designed by Russel Wright in the mid-1930s, donated by Garth Clark and Mark del Vecchio, and mid-century works by Shoji Hamada, promised gifts from Carol and Seymour Haber. Contemporary works convey important shifts away from utility and function, such as a ceramic leather jacket by Marilyn Levine, a gift from Dane Nelson (and the estate of Ed Cauduro); collaborative art jewelry by Kiff Slemmons and Myra Mimlitsch-Gray, donated by Susan Cummins; a three-part sculpture by Joan Livingstone; a trio of glass cylinder baskets donated by Joe Fedderson and Froelick Gallery; and the archives of Faythe Levine’s Handmade Nation (2008), a film documenting the DIY movement.

Founded in 1937 by Lydia Herrick Hodge and a group of dedicated volunteers, Oregon Ceramic Studio was the first new arts organization to open in Portland in twenty-five years. Modeled after European studios and ateliers Hodge observed during her travels in Europe during the 1920s, OCS provided a place for artists to purchase then difficult-to-locate materials and tools for working with clay. Hodge led the organization from 1937 until her death in 196o at its original location – 3934 SW Corbett Avenue.

From 1964 to 1968, Ken Shores directed the newly renamed Contemporary Crafts Gallery. Following Shores were directorial tenures by Gordon Smythe, Jan De Vries, Marlene Gabel, Darcy Edgar and more recently, David Cohen, who led the move of the institution from its original home to its current location in Portand’s Pearl District in 2007. Renamed Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Museum entered into a historic partnership with Pacific Northwest College of Art in 2009, making the joint organization one of the oldest and the largest arts-focused institutions in Oregon.

To commemorate the Museum’s unique history, Oregon-based studio gorm has designed a timeline featuring “75 Years of Making History,” which will be installed at the Museum in late June. Featuring photographs and exhibition posters from the Museum’s archives, the timeline provides a context for how the institution’s developments dovetail and parallel with histories-at-large. The visual representation of the history of one of the West Coast’s most important cultural treasures showcases the intersection of design, craft and the ways in which museums communicate history through exhibitions.