C. Carl Jennings, California Artist-Blacksmith
Guest-curated by San Diego contemporary craft authority Dave Hampton, this exhibition will feature large forged works including gates, headboards, chandeliers, and the free-standing sculpture of California artist-blacksmith C. Carl Jennings (1910 – 2003). Works by Jennings were previously featured in the Craft in America and California Design 11 exhibitions.
STRUCK BY MODERNISM: C. Carl Jennings, California Artist-Blacksmith explores the rugged individualism of Jennings, highlighting his physically demanding work as a blacksmith and his distinctive, modern approach to ironwork. Jennings went beyond what he called “plain blacksmithing” to pioneer the role of the artist-blacksmith in postwar California. A third-generation smith with a penchant for drawing, he received an education from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (renamed California College of the Arts in 2003). His artistry is evident in sculpture and refined vessels, and objects such as hand-forged fireplace implements, dramatic gates and light fixtures. Jennings’ vigorous metal forms share a sense of visual simplicity and confident execution.
He was championed as an inspirational mentor by the community of American artist-blacksmiths that flourished during the 1970s, but Jennings’ artwork has received little exposure outside of this small group. Despite showing his work at major museums throughout California, his name remains largely absent from the familiar list of Northern California studio craftspeople with whom he regularly exhibited during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. STRUCK BY MODERNISM revisits Jennings’ life and career, recognizes his important place in the context of the studio crafts movement and celebrates the West’s first postwar modern blacksmith.
Special thanks to the following exhibition sponsors: