Tony Bannon on Art in Craft Media 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Close to thirty years ago, it made no sense to us, no sense at all. So twenty-six, twenty-seven years ago, we started talking, and twenty-five years ago Sylvia and her husband Nate Rosen finished the conversation and made it possible - among the first times in the country that it was made possible - to show the accomplishments of women and men who choose to work in clay rather than canvas, in wood rather than marble, and the other materials people have called craft. Craftsmen and women once shared their work at fairs and church bazaars and community centers and maybe in something they set up themselves in an old building. Rarely in museums. Sylvia Rosen, herself a fine ceramist and educator and successful businesswoman, didn’t think that was right, so she spoke to the board leadership of the Burchfield Art Center, and they encouraged her to speak with me, all of this before the Center became Penney. The rest was easy. Nate Rosen, Sylvia’s husband, was a stickler for details, and a real gentleman, who adored his wife. For me, it was a blessing to work with him and with Sylvia. So twenty-five years ago, thanks to the Rosens’ generosity, The Center began a juried craft art biennial, that made all the sense in the world. We like to think that the world heard us: Heard that craft is skill, and it is also strength: the strength and skill of a good idea, of an idea well formed, of things well made.

Thanks to Sylvia’s continuing generosity and guiding sensibility, her biennial in the Art of Craft has created an anchor for our time. It has championed the notions that animated the very first art, establishing its seed beds. This 25th anniversary exhibition holds the vessels and the weaves that form the substance of aesthetics, andwe have learned our lessons.

Anthony Bannon Ph.D.
Executive Director
Burchfield Penney Art Center