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Show Redefines 'Craft' as Functional Fine Art


Fine art has long been known as artwork that can only be admired.

The Orange County Museum of Art hopes to change that notion with its second annual Pacific Craft Show, beginning today and ending Sunday.

The Newport Beach crafts sale features stylish yet functional artwork in traditional mediums such as glass, metal, fiber, ceramic and wood.

More than 60 local and national artists will showcase works made specifically for the event. Proceeds will benefit museum programs.

Sculptor Howard Ben Tre, nationally recognized for his experimental glass sculptures, will lecture on his work at 10 a.m. Saturday at the museum.

Last year's event drew 6,000 people over five days. The show has been scaled back to three days this year to accommodate artists' schedules.

The museum is modeling its show after similar shows sponsored by East Coast museums, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"We're trying to begin to establish the Pacific Craft Show as one of the foremost craft shows in the West," said Brian Langston, the museum's marketing director.

The craft show raised about $100,000 last year, Langston said. The goal this year is $150,000.

Museum officials say they hope the show broadens the definition of craft art beyond the kitsch found in handicraft stores.

"You may expect to see macrame or some other kind of homemade items from the words 'craft show.' But that is not what this show is about," Langston said.

"These working professional artists have finely honed their discipline and are creating stunning works that blur the line between what is formally known as craft art and what is normally known as fine art."

The aim is to attract new museum audiences who appreciate using art as much as looking at it.

Wells Fargo Pacific Craft Show, Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach. Advance-purchase entry admission, 6 to 10 p.m. today, $25. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., $5 museum members, $10 nonmembers. Ends Sunday. (949) 759-1122.

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