Sunday, April 21, 2013

It's a Coat and an Art Piece!

Sporting my new coat. 

I'm attracted to apparel with a unique, original, artful edge to it. And if it comes with some history or story, then I'm completely charmed and entranced. Like my Herm├Ęs Pony Express scarf designed by postal worker Kermit Oliver. (Just realized I haven't written about that yet. I'll do that!) And if that clothing item is signed by the artist, hanging on the rack, fits and is ready for me to take home, then I'm sunk. I might as well just hand over my credit card and stop all the silly "should I or shouldn't I."

Which is what happened when fashion friend forever (BFFF) Karen alerted me to an article she saw in the Style section of the San Francisco Chronicle back in January. Artist, Ann Hamilton, designed and made available for sale a denim coat that was part of a larger bi-coastal art project.

Hamilton created an installation, "The Event of a Thread" at the Park Avenue Armory in New York, from December 5, 2012 to January 6, 2013. In the cavernous hangar-like space, Hamilton hung at one end floor-to-ceiling white billowing curtains and at the other placed tables where actors in denim coats (!) read, wrote and sang, while in the center of the space, 42 swings with seats large enough for two people hung from the ceiling. I didn't see the installation, but I can imagine that it was a wonderful, sensation to glide through the air and be a participant and an observer at the same time.

Ann Hamilton's installation at the Park Avenue Armory. Photo by C.T. Jeanson

Before this, Hamilton did a residency at The Workshop Residence in San Francisco during the fall of 2012. Located in Dogpatch, created by longtime San Francisco art activator and philanthropist Ann Hatch, to give artists and designers a place to create usable and affordable items and a shop in which to sell them. During her residency, Hamilton designed and had manufactured in Oakland, this slightly military uniform-like coat, reminiscent of a gentleman's redingote from the 1800's.

Front of the coat.

Back of the coat.
1819 Costumes Parisiens,
man in redingote

The initial batch of 200 coats sold out, but Karen put our names on the list for the next run and as soon as they were ready we went down to The Workshop Residence just to "look." Long story short, they didn't even have to put it in a bag for me. I wore it out of the shop, instantly enjoying the feel and drama of the back flare when I walked. And I'm so happy to know about this place now. It's a very exciting well-run creative beehive with many great ideas.

This is the darling Katie McCracken who runs the gallery shop and helped me with my coat purchase.

The shop with cool well-priced creations by artists with past residencies, like Jennifer Morla, Aurore Thibout and Dirk Van Saene.

A signed art piece that I can wear? And it's practical too? Yes!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Gala Opening: Museum of Craft and Design

The new location for the Museum of Craft and Design just opened in Dogpatch, on Third Street between 22nd and 23rd Streets in San Francisco.

Any invite that starts with "gala celebration" is the invite for me. Champagne corks popped and a DJ spun while platters of tasty hors d'oeuvres were served at the opening of the new Museum of Craft and Design last Friday night. The crowd of craft and design devotees mixed, mingled, oooh'd and ahhh'd at the art.

Founded in 2003, The Museum of Craft and Design was previously located on Sutter Street near Union Square. It's terrible to say, but as much as I am a fan of craft and the support they give to the design community, I didn't make it to that location very often. This new location is fabulous and has great karma. Now called The American Industrial Center, it was previously known as The American Can Company and many an up-and-coming artist, designer and photographer back in the day had a studio there. (Including hubby Matt.)

And the neighborhood, Dogpatch, was a bit of a no-man's land until a few years ago. Now restaurants, galleries, wine bars and super creative clothing stores (MAC is a constant source of inspiration) have established themselves there.

Now, back to the celebration. First the art...

Three artists opened on the gala night. One exhibit was Arline Fisch: Creatures From the DeepArline Fisch (perfect name!), known for her textile and jewelry designs, knitted and crocheted with copper wire to create this delicate sea life. It was so tempting to reach in and try one on my wrist, but I could only oogle through the acrylic case.

Using the same copper wire, Fisch wove these sparkling jellyfish.

The second exhibit was Rebecca Huchinson: Affinity, an on-site installation. A beautifully quiet and contemplative piece.

Not quiet at all, the main exhibit was Michael Cooper: A Sculptural Odyssey, 1968-2011. Cooper creates perfectly and intricately crafted works of wood and metal. His imagery is everything from pistol-toting tricycles to fantasy motorized vehicles to elaborate kinetic political statements.

Then the well-dressed gala attendees...

Fierce-looking Anna Appleby wearing fab Jean Paul Gaultier boots and skirt. 

MCD staffer, Sarah Wininger. Love the lace dress, boots and dark purple tights. 

Eyeing Michael Cooper's very Finish Fetish tricycle, this lovely woman wears that flowered pillbox hat so well. It's perfect with the pink check and floral print. And the bright blue skirt gives the outfit edge and punch. 

I had to include her beautiful smile. 

And this dapper gentleman, Stevens Jay Carter,
wearing a scarf of his own design. 

And the shopping...

This is a well-curated shop! I'll be making another visit soon.