“Masters of Their Craft: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum”
June 4 – August 1, 2004

Long Beach Museum of Art
2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90803
Contact: Cari Marshall, Manager of P.R. & Marketing
(562) 439-2119 ext. 229
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(l.) John Prip, Coffeepot, 1958, silver and ebony.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program.
Photo by Bruce Miller.
(c.) Dale Chihuly, Cobalt and Gold Leaf Venetian, 1993, blown glass.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Partial and promised gift of Elmerina and Paul Parkman.
Photo by Lyle Peterzell.
(r.) Mary Adams, Wedding Cake Basket, 1986, sweet grass and ash.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr.
Photo by Michael Fischer.

Long Beach, CA – Masters of Their Craft: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum features 50 artworks that illuminate the vast creative spirit that is a hallmark of contemporary crafts. Marked by a diversity of artistic expression and approaches to materials, these works testify to a renaissance in American studio crafts. Masters of Their Craft is one of five exhibitions featuring the Museum's collections that are touring the nation through 2005. The tour is supported in part by the Smithsonian Special Exhibitions Fund. This exhibition will be on view at the Long Beach Museum of Art from June 4 through August 1, 2004. The galleries are free to the public on opening day.

Crafts emphasize materiality--clay, glass, fiber, wood, metal--and the technical means by which the properties of these materials are manipulated. Imaginative conceptions and technical mastery combine in dazzling works by “masters of the medium” such as Dale Chihuly, Albert Paley, Peter Voulkos, Beatrice Wood and Betty Woodman. They are complemented by Richard Marquis, Judy McKie, Richard Mawdsley, Wayne Higby and John McQueen, among many others.

“These are among the very finest American studio crafts, displaying virtuoso technique and a creative approach to materials,” said Elizabeth Broun, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “Best of all, they appeal to every one of us through their references to traditional functional objects.”

The contemporary crafts movement is a fairly recent phenomenon, although the origins of the art can be traced to prehistoric times. Evolving from ancient workshops, medieval guild trades and the Industrial Revolution, which gave rise to the very industries associated with crafts today, studio crafts often pay homage to function at the same time that they discard utility as a concern. For example:

• Michelle Holzapfel's turned wooden Bound Vase of cherry burl cannot hold anything in its interior, and the exterior is carved to look like cloth.
• Dale Chihuly’s Cobalt and Gold Leaf Venetian is an intense cobalt blue glass, which when lighted, glows as though alive.
• Betty Woodman draws from the past as well as from other cultures for inspiration. Kimono Vases: Evening is composed of earthenware and explores the progression of sunlight.
• Mary Adams’ masterpiece Wedding Cake Basket weaves the western European ritual of the wedding cake with splint basket making traditions practiced by the Iroquoian peoples since the late 18th century.
• Kent Raible's work suggests a court tradition of jewelry that flourished when royal families patronized particular jewelry makers. Floating City is a fantasy constructed of gold and chrome, and gemstones such as diamonds, sapphires and amethysts.

To accompany the exhibition, the Smithsonian American Art Museum published an illustrated catalogue, Masters of Their Craft: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retailing for $19.95, the book features over 50 color illustrations and brief discussions of the individual artworks in the exhibition. The book is available for purchase at the Museum Store.

Masters of Their Craft: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum is the second in a series of three exhibitions presented by the Long Beach Museum of Art in 2004 featuring the extraordinary national treasures of the Smithsonian Institution. “Presenting this exhibition is particularly meaningful because throughout its 54-year history, the Long Beach Museum of Art has had an on-going commitment to artists working in the historically under-recognized crafts field,” said Hal Nelson, Long Beach Museum of Art Director. “Over the course of five decades the Museum has developed a strong crafts collection with a particular emphasis on works by California-based artists.”

“Masters of Their Craft: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum will establish an artistic and educational context within which works in the Museum’s own permanent collection might be better understood and enjoyed by our diverse regional audiences,” Nelson continued. “Significantly, many of the featured “masters” are also represented in the Long Beach Museum of Art’s permanent collection, including Ralph Bacerra, Michael Frimkess, Ken Price, Peter Voulkos, Beatrice Wood, Betty Woodman, William Hunter, and Bob Stocksdale. During this exhibition, the Museum will present from its collection highlights of works by these artists to heighten public awareness of the masterworks in our own community.”

Since opening expanded facilities in 2000, the Long Beach Museum of Art has taken on a new role within the cultural life of Southern California. Through its dramatically-expanded collection of ceramics, glass, enamels, and wood, and through a dynamic program of temporary exhibitions, the Museum has become an important resource to artists, students, collectors, and the public at large as a showcase for contemporary crafts in Southern California. The Long Beach Museum of Art is unique in continually presenting the finest expressions of contemporary craftspersons in the permanent collection galleries. The Long Beach presentation of this exhibition is generously sponsored by The Gordon and Ruth Dougherty Foundation, RK Properties, Marsha Naify and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy.

About The Long Beach Museum of Art
Located on a magnificent bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, The Long Beach Museum of Art features a lively schedule of changing exhibitions, artmaking workshops for all ages, an historic mansion and carriage house, expansive galleries and gardens, a café (Craig’s at the Museum), and a popular Museum Store. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday (Museum Café opens at 8 a.m.), open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays; admission is $5/adults, $4/students & seniors, free for Museum Members and children under 12, and free for everyone the first Friday of every month. For more information, call (562) 439-2119 or visit <>

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