A modest-sized craft and design museum is opening this month in San Francisco. But its ambitions aren't modest. "A number of museums have taken 'craft' out of their names," said JoAnn Edwards, co-founder and executive director of the new San Francisco Museum of Craft+Design. "We want to restore it."
To that end, Edwards and the museum's other co-founder, her brother, Seb Hamamjian, plan to open the museum Oct. 23 in a 3,500-square-foot space two blocks from Union Square.
The museum's inaugural exhibition, "Dovetailing Art and Life: The Bennett Collection," will include more than 60 objects from the collection of Oakland artist Garry Knox Bennett and wife Sylvia. Highlights include works by Bennett, known for his unusual furniture designs; a 1959 ceramic fruit bowl by Charles Fiske; and a 2001 side table created by Canadian artist Gord Peteran out of woodshop scraps. "It's ingenious," Edwards said of the table. "It really challenges the line between art and craft."
Taking on the popular notions of what constitutes "crafts" is key to the museum's purpose. "There's nothing wrong with 'craft,' " Edwards said. "People think it's macrame and potholders. " In her view, a craft can be functional or not, decorative or not. But because a craft object is handmade and one of a kind, she said, it can be "more engaging and personal than some art."