ALLIED CRAFTSMEN TODAY builds on Mingei International’s 2011 exhibition SAN DIEGO’S CRAFT REVOLUTION – From Post War Modern to California Design, which featured works from the seminal period of 1945 to 1980. This current exhibition, honoring the group’s collective achievements and longevity, includes recent work by 37 of the Allied Craftsmen’s 68 active members. Representing cutting-edge craft in various mediums, ALLIED CRAFTSMEN TODAY applauds the group’s quiet, continuous and extraordinarily rich contributions to the visual arts in San Diego.
The Allied Craftsmen of San Diego originated in the 1940s as a specialized group within a larger, more comprehensive organization called the Allied Artists’ Council. Although the parent group dissolved by 1950, the Allied Craftsmen continued, bringing in new members and new media, while championing modern art aesthetics and holding themselves to high technical standards. Today, the group continues its mission to promote local artisans, produce exhibitions and sell artwork, fostering a community of mutual support and inspiration.
Just as early members of the Allied Craftsmen were vital to the development of the artistic and educational community of San Diego, current members represent organizations and institutions throughout the county. Many serve as professors, lecturers, educators and administrators at local colleges, universities and high schools, while others are closely associated with artist collectives and workspaces such as Clay Associates, the former Crafts Center at UCSD and Space 4 Art.
Today, artist-members work within nine craft categories: ceramics, enamel, fiber, furniture, glass, jewelry, metals, wood and mixed media; the finished work ranges from the functional to the sculptural. For example, some ceramicists experiment with their medium, creating hand-built mixtures with paper and other materials, dipping forms into porcelain or adding metal, found objects or natural materials. In the realm of fiber, artists have amplified traditional quilting methods by adding intricate appliquéd designs, moving their works toward three-dimensional sculpture. Artists working in wood have reinvented furniture, customizing it for contemporary lifestyles and surpassing traditional conventions. Artists working in mixed media use everything from mud to found objects to create complex works using a variety of materials, while artists working in computer-automated design also find expression in the group. Many of the Allied Craftsmen featured here are represented in museum and private collections, and all of them richly contribute to the legacy of this dynamic collective of local artists.
Artists that are featured in the exhibition listed below. Click on the links to learn more: