Thursday, June 28, 2007

In the Cave

I just noticed that I haven't blogged since Sunday. Where have I been? It appears that I've retreated into "writing mode..."

I'm definitely in a holed-up state of mind these days. I'm working on the draft of my essay on the identity and economics of "craft" for Maria Elena Buszak's forthcoming book about contemporary art and craft. It's due on Saturday, and I didn't get a very good head start on it.

So, I'm passing days in the familiar old mode that I call "writing," which consists of cleaning my apartment, reading terribly unimportant things online, tending to neglected houseplants, and shuffling papers, and sometimes I even write things down on the papers. All the while fully aware that there is this other thing I need to do that I don't much want to do: buckle down.

The buckling down will happen. When it comes to deadlines, I'm an 11th hour kinda girl. Meanwhile, I have faith that the thoughts and ideas are busy organizing themselves in my brain, despite the fact at this moment I'm not even sure what "craft" is...

Of course, at the same time I'm riddled with the anxiety that I will not be able to turn any phrases, that the ideas will get stuck somewhere between my brain and my fingers, and when I try to write it out all I'll get is gibberish. This is an abiding anxiety that has swollen over the past few years, replacing the old anxiety that I'll never be able to buckle down.

Remind me, why do I put myself through this?? (Why do any of us?)

Well, I've been around this block enough times to know this is just the way it goes.

And as my friend Hrag and I always say when we're both under deadline and busy not-writing, "it's all part of the process."

So that's where I've been. Working on the process. I should be back to dwell in the world of the living in a couple of days!

Meanwhile, thanks to my old friend Mason in CA for sending me a wonderful mix that will serve as my soundtrack as I finish this project. I think I'll put it on continuous loop, letting tunes from Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" to Santo & Johnny's "Sleepwalk" surf me through the rough waters. (Though what I really want is a "Ghostwriter," as in Track 9. Mase, how did you know?)

I'm going back into the cave now. See y'all on the other side...

Photo: the cave I've retreated into that I have to surf out of (sourced here)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

New York Times Coverage of Renegade Craft Fair

Today the New York Times published a piece about this year's Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn. Titled "Where the Crafts Babes and D.I.Y. Dudes Are," it includes comments by many attendees and exhibitors.

Though attempting to be a piece about "hipster style," the article also gives credit to what is a growing market for new wave craft. From describing the increased commercial success of some indie vendors, to registering how much some people are over the whole bird-and-deer thing (amen to that!) and are on to the next big trend (think deep sea creatures), the Gray Lady gives a good outsider-looking-in take on the fair where it's in to be out.

Link to the full article and slide show here.

And if you missed it before, scroll down or click here for my review of the Renegade Craft Fair.

The momentum is building, folks -- Craft On!

Photo by Greenjeans: Octopus tee shirt by Chickabird

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Home Project - Art by Residents of Brooklyn Shelters

The Park Slope Women's Shelter at the Eighth Avenue Armory hosted a most extraordinary and moving art exhibition tonight. Titled "The Home Project," it contained nearly 100 works of art by about 40 residents from three Brooklyn shelters run by CAMBA.

I will be posting pictures and quotations as I get clearance from CAMBA to do so.

Working with art therapists Jessica Fox, Kelley Linhardt, and Kate McIntosh, residents of the shelters (both men and women) made drawings, paintings, collages, and sculptures that express their concept of home. These works were displayed alongside statements by the artists. As written in the exhibition brochure, "The images depict their heartbreak, yet demonstrate the resiliency of spirit and essence of home and community that thrives within them."

Though I missed the artist's talk and other speeches, the reception was upbeat and well-attended. It was exciting to see all the artists, many of whom had never made art before, happy to be there sharing their very personal work.

The work itself was creative and raw, and often quite vibrant. Many of the pieces I won't soon forget.

The idea of asking people living in a shelter to think about their idea of home and make art about it strikes me as a very brave and meaningful thing to do, and I hope this project can be followed up and replicated far and wide.

I invite anyone, especially those involved in the project, to post comments to this blog entry sharing their experience and the experiences of the artists!

Photo at top: Andrea Moody, CAMBA staff

New Arrivals! - Jewelry by Lisa Crowder

A bright box of new jewelry has just arrived from Austin, Texas, by the lovely Lisa Crowder! I know some of you have been waiting for Lisa's work to come in, so be sure to stop by the shop this weekend for the best selection.

Lisa uses rivets to construct her sterling silver jewelry, which is very light-weight and summery. Her forms are organic and space-age at the same time, and the look is very distinctive. See for yourself!

I will hopefully have them up on the website soon, but if you'd like to order a pair right away, call me at 718-907-5835 or shoot us an email.

New designs and old favorites.

Cufflinks! This is one of 3 styles ($86).

The "Scoop" necklace ($162).

The "Off Center" earrings ($58).

The favorite "Hammered Square" earrings ($90).

I especially like these "Concave Oval" earrings ($94).

Happy Summer Solstice!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Greenjeans Review: Renegade Craft Fair

Today I went to the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn's McCarren Park Pool.

Overall, this year's fair was stronger than last year's (which I also reviewed), offering a greater diversity of work and and a higher level of quality. I loved the venue -- so much better than the dusty park where it has been held the past 2 years.

The fair offers a great opportunity to meet makers under 40, some of whom are fully committed artists and artisans representing the next generation of craft in America.

It's on again tomorrow (Sunday) from 11-6, and I can't recommend it more highly.

While, like last year, there was an overabundance of funky/clever screenprinted tee shirts, cute letterpressed cards, and more bird and deer silhouettes than you could shake a stick at, I found plenty of unusual, beautiful, interesting, and well-made fare and was not disappointed.

Here are some of my picks (in no particular order).

Tiny handbound books made into pendants by If'n Books + Marks.

Rad wooden swords and masks painted like tattoos from some storybook tribe by Wolf-e.

Adorable jackets and outfits for kids made from reclaimed fabrics by Twice Sewn.

Big hilarious scary-cute dolls looking all drunk and stoned by Pachy Sarmiento (Pinky Punk).

Lovely tees by Nam Kim Chikabird adorned with leaves and tendrils cut from diaphanous fabric.

Gorgeous handspun and handpainted yarn by Traveling Rhinos.

Melissa of Year of the Goat spinning yarn to make...
... these bunches of knitted cashmere pussy willows! (The skirts are made of vintage linens.)

I revisited the belt buckles and jewelry by Kurt van Maarth (Swear Jar Design) made from a mix of resin and enamel set into nickel hardware. (He stopped using silver because the market price is so crazy these days.) Sorry for the lousy photo, but his work rocks.

Tradition-inspired ceramics by Christine Abelman (no website)...

... mixed with very contemporary designs by White Bike Ceramics.

In between, pottery by Linda Johnson (Little Flower Designs) offered a nice 70s-meets-today feeling. And... much as I'm dead tired of the whole bird thing, her little bluebird design charmed me.

In the 2-D category, I loved Mandy Gerth's sewn fabric collages inspired by quilt blocks (and if I remember right, they're even made from pieces of her grandmother's old quilts). I couldn't resist buying one for myself.

Posters by Alison aka Strawberry Luna tickled my feathers again this year...

... as did ones by Mat Daly, who designs the official posters for the Renegade Craft Fair, as shown at top.

More sewing for the wall: "original reconstructed wool creations" by Jenna Roberston (Woolies)...

And last but not least, my Yummiest-in-Show award goes to Brooklyn's own Wheelhouse Pickles whose Irma's Pear Pickles (yes, pear!) totally made my day. Sadly I forgot to buy myself a jar before I left the fair!

* * *


After the fair I went to Midtown to cover the Knitting Nation event at the Museum of Arts and Design (that I mentioned on the blog here 2 days ago), but it had been canceled (which annoyingly the museum didn't mention on its website).

There along 53rd Street, this man had a table set up with these incredible origami animals made from some sort of reed. Grasshoppers, butterflies, and frogs dangled from long bending stems. I chose a dragonfly, and then he chose another dragonfly for me. "Is this one better?" I asked. "Yes, see?" he replied, running his finger over the better articulated wings. So much attention and skill and beauty for my $7.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Events This Week (and beyond...)

There's lots of good stuff happening this weekend and next week -- mark your calendars!

The Renegade Craft Fair
- catch the craft new wave at New York's largest gathering of DIY and indie makers from around the country
- June 16 & 17, 11am-6pm
- McCarren Park Pool (Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Brooklyn)

Knitting Nation - Phase 4: "Pride"
- watch Liz Collins and her "army of uniformed machine knitters and stitchers" create/perform a new work
- June 16, Noon-5pm
- Museum of Arts and Design (40 W 53rd St., Manhattan)

The Affordable Art Fair
- 60+ galleries show contemporary art priced at $100-$10,000
- June 14-17, 12-5pm Thurs & Sun, 12-8pm Fri & Sat
- Metropolitan Pavilion (125 W 18th St., Manhattan)

The Home Project
- residents of 3 Brooklyn homeless shelters express their concept of home through art
- June 21, 4-8pm. Program at 6pm.
- Park Slope Women's Shelter (1402 8th Ave. at 15th St., 1 block from Greenjeans)

And save the date Thursday, July 19, for the opening of...

- an exhibition of work by jewelry makers inspired by succulent plants
- Opening reception: July 19, 6-9pm. On view July 19 - August 31
- Greenjeans (449 7th Ave., Brooklyn)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


As if defining "craft" wasn't complicated enough...

Mark Lyman, Director/Founder of SOFA, recently described SOFA artworks as “premier examples of a post-craft art movement” on SOFA's blog.

I hadn't heard this term "post-craft art movement" before, and honestly my first reaction was to basically roll my eyes -- the term sounds a little… cute. But let's see...

As I attempt to apply the term "post-craft" to the things I saw at SOFA (and blogged about earlier), I come up with more exceptions than good fits."Post-craft" suggests that craft is dead, and that is obviously not the case. Even at SOFA, there were plenty of examples of straight-up (as opposed to post) craft, including pottery (be it functional or decorative), lampworked glass orbs, and fine furniture. I mean, is George Nakashima "post-craft?"

Art jewelry, which is one of SOFA's strengths, isn't exactly conventional "craft," but do we want to call it "post-craft?" Why not just "art jewelry?"

Or perhaps "post-craft" is intended more to describe the art/craft hybrids emerging more and more these days, including at SOFA (i.e. the elongated embroidery work by Xiang Yang at Snyderman/Works Gallery, shown above). I can see that as a viable argument.

Although why not, then, call it a "post-art craft movement"?

In any case, this is good food for thought. If you'd like to read the full article (which isn't too long) click here.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Housekeeping & Links

A little light housekeeping, and a few fun links, before we head out to Fire Island for a few days of vacation...!

:: Please note, we'll be closed Tuesday, June 12th.

:: We're changing the publication schedule for the newsletter -- it will now go out the 2nd Monday of each month, rather than on the 12th. So check your inbox Monday morning!

:: An exhibition titled "Homegrown" curated by Renee Riccardo of artists and art collectives using "such homegrown practices as collage, quilting, crochet, embroidery, needlepoint and assemblage" to "create new and innovative forms." At David Krut Projects (526 W 26th St, Ste 816, NYC). As reported by

:: Apartment Therapy wrote an interesting piece on the idea of buying furniture locally, the way many are trying to buy local foods and switching to tap water. We can certainly get behind that!

That's it! Off we go!!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Shaker Design at the Shelburne this Summer

If you're planning a trip to Vermont this summer, be sure to put the Shelburne Museum on your list. They're mounting a major exhibition of Shaker and Shaker-inspired work that opens next week.

Out of This World: Shaker Design Past, Present, and Future
features furniture and other work ranging from early Shaker to George Nakashima to contemporary Scandinavian design.

If you ever had a doubt that Shaker design is highly modern, this exhibition should cure you!

The show runs from June 16 - October 28.

To see Shaker-influenced work at Greenjeans, check out our Shaker peg boards and dovetailed wooden totes by David Emerson, dovetailed jewelry boxes by Bill Summers, handmade brooms by students of Berea College, and Brian Braskie's Shaker chairs.

Alternative and duly disqualified titles:
What's Shak(er)in'?
Shake it up this Summer
Get your Shake(r) On
Summer Shake(r) Down

Monday, June 04, 2007

An Open Letter to the Craft World

Why are there all kinds of shows and expos for art and design galleries, and craft fairs where individual artists and artisans show and sell their work, but almost no opportunities for craft galleries and shops to convene and generate a buzz for craft?

Currently, there are plenty of shows and fairs for craftspeople held in big-city convention centers, sprawling open-air markets, and rural outdoor fairgrounds. Yet it seems to us in our experience with the craft world so far, about the only place where craft galleries get together is at SOFA. However SOFA is very high end; only a select number of top craft galleries are selected and can afford to participate. There are no fairs or shows for the emerging and less established craft galleries to present their collections.

In the craft world, there is enormous stress, and rightly so, on the makers. However, there is not nearly as much attention paid to craft merchants.

Filling in the Gap

In terms of how craft is presented to the public by the “craft world” (by which we mean the industry and culture surrounding mostly but not only American craft), there are craft fairs that expose people to individual artisans and their work, and people perhaps know about their local craft gallery. But the craft world does not present its galleries together, providing a public venue in which craft galleries from far and wide can be visited and patronized all at one time.

There certainly seems to be a market for craft fairs and shows exhibiting work by individual makers of traditional craft, studio craft, and even indie craft. Wouldn’t many who attend these shows, collectors especially, appreciate a chance to visit dozens of galleries exhibiting a broad range of craft all at once, not just SOFA?

We believe that there are a number of other shops and galleries that also would be interested in an opportunity to show in a setting less costly than SOFA yet high-profile.

Imagine a New York Craft Week

When the big annual art and design fairs come to New York—The Armory Show, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair—it creates a huge city-wide buzz for their respective industries. These fairs become ripe marketing opportunities not only for the galleries showing at the big fair, but also for the many smaller outfits and organizations that come, in other words the whole industry.

Greatly contributing to the buzz are the satellite shows presenting emerging or specialized groups (SCOPE during the Armory Show, HauteGREEN during ICFF), the parties, and the economic activity this all stimulates. Some of these are very successful in generating business for newer players. There may also be events, performances, lectures, and the like. These simultaneous activities become known as unofficial thematic “weeks” (as the ICFF has spawned New York Design Week), and they present great marketing opportunities for their respective industries, offering a great chance to reach a broader audience.

In our limited experience so far, what we’ve noticed is that when craft appears in the other big fairs and shows it is as an attachment, almost a sideshow. For example, the Furniture Society presented a wonderful group of furniture makers at the ICFF, but they were all grouped together in a back corner, marginalized by design.

Don’t get us wrong. The craft world does a great job of promoting its individual artisans and artists and this should definitely continue. And ask any craft gallery owner—the artists are always at the heart of their work, too. We also know that there are organizations for craft retailers, such as the Craft Retailers Association For Tomorrow, working to market craft and craft galleries.

But the craft world could do much more to promote its galleries and shops the way the art and design worlds do theirs.

And now is an incredibly ripe time in which to do so, with interest in craft surging and the next generation of makers blossoming.

If a big group of galleries starts convening each year for a New York Craft Week, it can raise enormous exposure and support for artists, artisans and galleries as it raises the profile of craft and its ideals.

The Next Generation

Sometimes we hear the phrase “crisis in craft.” From our point of view, if there is a crisis in craft today, it is not on the part of the makers. There is plenty of activity, from rigorous study to casual hobby, to fill any number of galleries and shops. The crisis is that galleries and shops are not receiving attention, and not enough new ones are emerging.

Who will be the next generation of craft merchants? There are definitely some of us out there, under 40 and working every day to build our part of the mix. But we’re few and far between.

Craft merchants (and other retailers invested in fine handmade work) need a space to convene, collaborate, and create a buzz. A show would offer a great opportunity to build the business part of the craft world, and to figure out how to present craft to today’s customers. We need to build community within the industry in order to compete with other markets, for surely we cannot leave the retail side of the craft world to those selling knock offs and cheap imports.

As part of the next generation of craft merchants, we are eager to connect with a broader customer base as well as our colleagues around the country. A show would give us the chance to work cooperatively with galleries and other participants to create something new that will help take the industry to the next level.

We are not the ones to organize this effort. But we wanted to bring it up in this open letter in hopes that it will put something new and important into motion.

Let’s take our ownership of craft to the next level.

Thank you for your kind attention.


Amy Shaw and Jae Kim
Brooklyn, NY

Image sourced here.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Greenjeans Review: SOFA New York

This weekend I went to check out SOFA New York at the Park Avenue Armory. SOFA, which stands for Sculptural Objects and Functional Art, is a show for mostly high-end galleries that traffic in decorative and/or functional work designed and made by artists and artisans primarily from North America, Europe, Australia and Asia.

In other words, it's a show full of high-end craft that no one wants to refer to as craft. The word "craft" hardly appears at all; at SOFA it's pretty much all "art." In keeping with this camp, the beneficiary of the opening night gala is the former American Craft Museum, now officially the Museum of Arts and Design.

Whatever they want to call the objects within, the show presents a mixed bag of them, with art jewelry, fiber art, and ceramics making especially strong showings, lots of studio glass that escaped my comprehension, and the kind of iffy 3-D figural work that does more to blur the line between "good" and "bad" sculpture than the line between art and craft.

Sienna Gallery (Lenox, MA) showed my favorite works at SOFA this year: Esther Knobel's pierced and sewn silver brooches (shown) and the wonderful etchings she makes using the same technique. I love how she uses the fronts and backs of the sewn plates for the prints, transferring not only the image but also the ends of the threads onto the paper. Sienna's gorgeous booth also featured great enamel pieces by Barbara Seidenath and Susie Ganch, and Melanie Bilenker's pendants and brooches that feature fine "drawings" done in hair.

Ornamentum (Hudson, NY) and Gallery Gainro (Seoul, South Korea) also showed very strong art jewelry selections this year.

Other highlights included:

Astonishingly beautiful and complex Japanese baskets at TAI Gallery (Santa Fe).

Poetic bowls by the venerable British potter Lucie Rie at Galerie Besson (London).

Small intricate turned and carved wood sculptures, such as the "bonsai tree" shown here, by Alain Mailland, and Michael Peterson's hollowed out wooden "beams," at del Mano Gallery (Los Angeles).

Noriko Tsuji's strange glass tubes suspended in wooden frames at Urban Glass (Brooklyn).

Nice examples by American ceramics mavens Betty Woodman and Beatrice Wood appeared together at Donna Schneier Fine Arts (New York, NY).

Ferrin Gallery (Lenox, MA) showed Chris Antemann's postmodern porcelain figurines (shown top) and Richard Notkin's war-themed teapots.

browngrotta arts (Wilton, CT) showed great fiber art, including a surprisingly beautiful wall piece comprised of long strands of hand painted threads in peacock blues and purples, colors that I normally associate with the kitschier side of fiber art but in this case just sing, by Ulla Maija Vikman.

Beautiful conceptual ceramic works at Joanna Bird Pottery (London), almost all of which I loved, including vessels made from clay and industrial waste, wide porcelain "vases" that are torn down one side, and groups of fine porcelain cups, all by artists I failed to note...

Snyderman-Works Gallery (Philadelphia, PA) showed elongated embroidery work by Xiang Yang (shown). Besides these large works, they also offered smaller versions in clear plastic salad to-go containers, featuring smaller figures and the exaggerated stitches.

Finally, I'd be remiss not to mention that I'm a total sucker for Paul Stankard's amazing orbs/paperweights that are filled with plants, flowers, bees, and leaves all rendered in lampworked glass. Marx-Saunders Gallery (Chicago) showed them again this year, and as usual I practically drooled all over them. They don't look great in photos, but in person, whoa!

I had a nice conversation with Mark Dean at Dean Project's small green booth, as I was curious what his "project" is. He explained that he's working to take ceramic art out of the marginalized craft context and bring it into the art gallery and art market. He deals with ceramic artists whose work is more idea- or concept-driven than, say, the average potter who relies more on the effects of fire and ash than the direction of the mind. Dean, who has taken over the former Garth Clark space in Long Island City, Queens, mostly exhibits work by his artists (such as Philip Eglin, pictured) at contemporary art fairs, including SCOPE (the satellite art fair that runs simultaneous to the Armory Show). But SOFA allows him to reach the more craft-oriented collector as well.

Insightfully, he told me that there's a stark difference between the kinds of questions people ask at art fairs and what they ask at SOFA. At art fairs, they want to know why a figure's arm is intentionally broken, or what this or that image is about. At SOFA, people are more interested in technique and process, wanting to know how the artist applied a transfer image into the clay, and so forth. This, for Dean, is the essential difference between art and craft (at least in terms of markets): art is concept-filled, and craft is about the practice. Neither is better or worse, he opined, but there is definitely a difference.

Perhaps, though I think there's less of a dividing line, and don't agree that relying more on the behavior of fire and ash than on literal concepts renders a work non-art. But it was great to see a younger dealer at SOFA who has ideas for bringing work made in craft traditions out of the ghetto and into the spotlight.

Friday, June 01, 2007

New Items Available Online!

It's Friday. It's hot outside. The weekend can't come soon enough...

Rather than bother with all that pesky work, why not treat yourself to a little online shopping?

With nearly 100 items available in our online store, shopping Greenjeans online makes it easy to select and send a unique wedding gift, a perfect baby shower present, or a something nice for yourself!

Newly added items include:

:: Pretty glass perfume bottles by Matthew Eskuche
:: Turned wood bowls by Tom Dubois (shown top)
:: Colorful seed vases by Mary Anne Davis (shown below)
:: Baby hats and booties by `eko-logic (shown here)

You can also shop for favorites like:

:: Wooden cutting and serving boards by Buff Brown
:: Classic wooden toys by Frank Ridley
:: Stuffed animals by Judy Geagley
:: Sculpture by Jane Kaufmann

We are still offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $50, so take advantage... before the boss catches you!