Thursday September 20, 2012
SAN FRANCISCO’S BELOVED MUSEUM OF CRAFT AND FOLK ART (MOCFA) CLOSES ITS DOORS AFTER 30 YEARS OF PUBLIC SERVICE
The Museum of Craft and Folk Art (MOCFA) on Yerba Buena Lane announces that it will be closing its doors on December 1, 2012 at the end of the run of its current international exhibition “Fiber Futures: Japan’s Textile Pioneers.”
Sustainability in the current economic climate, with reduced funding for the arts, was a significant factor in the decision, but Museum leadership also felt that, in many ways, MOCFA had achieved its essential mission.
“MOCFA has been a leading platform for critical discussions and a change in perspective around craft and folk art in the contemporary art field,” says MOCFA director Jennifer McCabe. “Contemporary artists who engage in craft traditions are now embraced by the contemporary art market and by larger venues including leading museums, which was generally not the case when we began. We would like to frame the closing of the Museum on its 30th anniversary as a celebration of the incredible contributions MOCFA has made in the Bay Area and beyond. The organization should be remembered for its groundbreaking exhibitions, a commitment to arts education in schools, and its strong ties in the community. We would like to thank the generosity of our funders, not all of who can be mentioned here but include: MOCFA Board of Directors, Fleishhacker Foundation, Gertrud and Harold Parker, Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund, Kimball Foundation, Bernard Osher Foundation, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Millennium Partners, and all Museum members and friends.”
MOCFA Board Chair, Elaine Connell adds, “The Museum of Craft and Folk Art is proud of its 30-year history, but due to material changes and the economic climate, the Board of Directors is saddened to inform the public of MOCFA’s imminent closure. While decisions of this magnitude are never easy, we are proud to be closing at such a high point in the organization’s history, and thankful for the leadership of Director Jennifer McCabe, along with Curator Natasha Boas, Educator Linda Janklow, and all the amazing staff who have contributed immensely to exhibitions and public programs.”
Founded in 1982 by craft artist and patron of the arts Gertrud Parker, the Museum’s mission has been to “provide exhibitions and educational programs to enrich and inspire, honor cultural traditions past and present, and celebrate the creative spirit.” MOCFA has provided innovative exhibitions and educational programs that have been designed to connect with and inspire diverse communities and served the Bay Area, as well as San Francisco visitors.
As the only folk art museum in Northern California, the Museum has been recognized for its rich offering of focused and unique exhibitions of traditional and contemporary folk art and craft from around the world — demonstrating how folk art, contemporary craft, and fine art are all part of the same continuum.
Over the past 30 years, the Museum has exhibited hundreds of artists and significant local and national craft and folk art collections such as “Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Four Generations of African-American Quiltmakers”; “Emblems of Passage: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas”; “June Schwarz: Enameled Bowls and Wall Pieces”; “The Road to Heaven is Built by Good Works: Southern Visionaries”; “Not So Naive: Bay Area Artists and Outsider Art”; “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts From the Japanese Internment Camp 1942-1946”; and “Simply Shaker: The Ben and Toby Rose Collection of Shaker Arts and Crafts.”
In the new Yerba Buena Lane space, MOCFA enjoyed critical acclaim and strong admission numbers for its lively and engaging exhibitions, such as “E is for Everyone: Celebrating Sister Corita”; “Volver: Mexican Folk Art into Play”; “Clare Rojas: We They, We They”; “Rhythm and Hues: Cloth and Culture of Mali”; “Open Source Embroidery”; “Inside/Outside: Artist Environments”; and “The Shape of Things: Paper Traditions and Transformations.”
The Museum has been dedicated to working with artists on commissions of new work as well as promoting artist-led projects and public programs.
MOCFA’s monthly CRAFT BAR series in partnership with ETSY has become a San Francisco tradition with an avid following of makers who converge on the Museum and on Yerba Buena Lane to socialize, learn new skills, and take something handmade home. CRAFT BAR has become a model for many national museums like the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian and has been presented at meetings of the California Association of Museums and American Association of Museums, as well as at Maker Faire and the American Craft Council. The program Thinking by Hand was created as a quarterly conversation platform that takes place in MOCFA’s gallery and engages the growing number of constituencies interested in the nuances of materiality and its creation of meaning, and has included such guests as Heath Ceramics, Christina Kim of DOSA, and textile expert Yoshiko Wada. Make It @ MOCFA is a monthly family-friendly workshop designed in conjunction with exhibitions and in collaboration with visiting artists.
MOCFA’s award-winning educational outreach program has explored global artistic traditions and innovations through hands-on art making workshops customized for K-12 grades fostering self-esteem and respect for cultural diversity.
“Craft and folk art traditions infuse today’s most dynamic artists and artistic practices and San Francisco has always been a locus for serious experimentation in arts and crafts and social practice,” says Natasha Boas, MOCFA Curator. “It is our hope that the innovative exhibitions, public programs, and conversations that have been seeded at MOCFA will continue to be promoted and supported by our larger San Francisco arts institutions.”
In lieu of a closing party, please join the MOCFA board, staff and volunteers for a members’ reception for Fiber Futures x2 from 5-8 pm on Friday October 12, 2012. Visit mocfa.org for more information.”
When the email announcing this sale arrived in my inbox late last week, I wished, just for a moment, that I had better access to the East Coast and it’s glorious auction houses. What is it about Massachusetts? It seems that more historic clothing is stored in warehouses there, than in just about anywhere. “More than 10,000 fashion and textile objects will be sold in this whirlwind, two-day sale” in Sturbridge, Massachusetts on May 10 and May 11. Preview the catalog here: August Auctions.
These objects are newly deaccessioned from major institutions such as The Brooklyn Museum (NY), Smith College Costume Collection (MA), The Chrysler Museum of Art (VA), The Goodwill Historic Costume Collection (OH), The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (CA) and others. It of course brings up questions of donor intention, as well as the quality, condition and importance of the objects themselves (See my post on Worn Through on Issues in Dress Collecting: Deaccessioning).
That said, the sale will apparently include a large selection of coveted designer names, and historical clothing from the likes of Worth, Doucet, Paquin, Chanel, Norell, Cashin, Givency, and Dior as well as:
1000 Victorian & Edwardian garments, American & European designer clothing, lingerie & whites, corsets, military uniforms, lots of gents clothes including the 18th C embroidered clothes pictured, paisley & export shawls, collarless shirts, boxes of collars & cuffs and other accessories, costume jewelry, French swatch books, Asian garments/textiles, 17th-20th C. lace & silk brocades & embroideries, ladies’ 18th C through 1980 garments, including many designer & couture, ladies’ sporting clothing, [and] huge accessory lots.
If anyone is willing to report back from the sale – I’d love to hear what your thoughts are.
*Images via Augusta Auctions