A three-part program on the art of craft -- the furniture makers, potters, quilters and others who have charted American culture with their hands -- is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Wednesday on PBS.
"Craft in America" consists of three hour-long shows looking at pioneers in various fields, artists' connection to the environment and the spiritual and community links that result from their work. Among the artisans featured in the series is a basket weaver whose family roots in that craft can be traced to African slaves. Legendary woodworker Sam Maloof is shown in his Alta Loma studio, where he declares in a raspy voice, "A chair should invite you to sit."
"When you're working, there's a communion between the object maker and the material he or she is working with," he says. "And then it transcends into something much greater when you make something and someone likes it and enjoys it and all. You're paid tenfold."
Created and co-produced by Angeleno Carol Sauvion, the series aims to show how centuries-old traditions live on as modern forms of art -- ways of life that are hard to shake for those bitten by the bug. "I'm 90," Maloof says before firing up his power sander. "And I can still work."
A touring exhibit organized in conjunction with the show is scheduled to come to the Mingei International Museum in San Diego in October and the Palm Springs Art Museum in 2009. For more information, go to www.craftinamerica.org.