William “Bill” Keyser’s “Fowl’
The Bevier Gallery
Rochester Institute of Technology
“Shop One“, and exhibition open from October 17 thru November 8th, 2014
At the top of their craft, the artists presenting at Shop One in mid-20th century, represent the germination of a seed that was to spread far and wide on the strength of their individual yet collective vision. Shop One was a location – a destination really – but more than that it was an oasis where the utilitarian met on equal terms with the aesthetic and formal qualities of modern art. Upstate New York had deep traditions of Roycrofters, the Oneida silversmiths, and glass from Corning, but all these handmade artifacts were more aligned with commercial and industrial design for utilitarian wares that also happened to look good. The Shop One folks in some ways were idealists, and they believed they had a mission to elevate the craft traditions, move them into the modern era, and take on a leadership role in American art.
Silver service, by John Prip
Back in the early 1950’s when Shop One had its beginnings, Americans were just starting to feel a new wave of prosperity, and the building of massive numbers of new homes opened up many possibilities for beautiful objects to be collected and integrated into new households. People began hunting for the unique object, and at the ready were artists like Tage Frid, Ronald Pearson, John Prip and the other founders of Shop One – a new kind of emporium. There weren’t many other galleries of this sort in the country – it was a cooperative effort to bring forth new designs, hand made works in wood, ceramics, and silver, tables and chairs, jewelry and metalwork of all kinds, plain and fancy.
“Firebird”, 2013, gilded fiberglass
by Wendell Castle
In the exhibition that has just opened at the Bevier Gallery, the curators – Wendy Marks and Betsy Murkett – should be justly proud. This show of over eighty objects would really justify a museum enlarging on their concept and introduce the wider public to this vein of gold founded right here in our neighborhood. That R.I.T. should host this exhibition is the right thing to do as we are standing only a few feet away from the studios of the School for American Craft, on this Henrietta campus.
Albert Paley in the exhibition for Shop One
Stainless Steel, wood and copper
At the end of World War ll, after many people had fled from Nazi Germany and set on new paths here in America, there was a blossoming of spirit and culture that led to the creation of places like Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina. Artists like Frans Wildenhain brought to our shores great skills from schools like the Bauhaus and all this new energy coalesced into making new objects that extended modernism deep into the craft traditions. These artists were risk takers who had a vision of what could happen with the right materials and the time to pursue a dream.
Tarrant Clements and Kurt Feurerherm
When you visit this show at the Bevier Gallery, it is like opening a dictionary on the state of American craft. From the early 1950’s through 1976 Shop One offered innovations in American craft, and modeled itself on the success of America House, in New York City. Gorgeous silver work is there, many ways of working with metals, wood, ceramics and so much more it is thrilling!
Go SEE this show!
Shop One at Bevier Gallery, Booth Building 7a
Rochester Institute of Technology
through November 8, 2014