Sunday, September 14, 2008
The frenzy of First Friday can be enticing, at least in theory. On the first Friday of every month museums and galleries burn their lights a little later into the evening, and empty warehouses are converted from mosquito breeding grounds to lively venues, showcasing the latest in mediocre works by mediocre artists. I don’t mean this to be condescending, or to classify myself above it, merely to be honest. There are diamonds in this pile of earth, but they are increasingly rare. Where has refinement of craft gone, and was it ever important?
In search of craft I stumbled into the Toy and Miniature Museum on the campus of UMKC. Sure it cost six bucks but I thought it would be worth a shot. My first impulse upon walking through the doors was, “oh, it’s one of these places”. It is in many ways just one of those places. Odd collectables dating back at the most a couple hundred years, of various American and European origins, stuffed bears, dolls, doll houses, toy soldiers and marbles.
The diamonds in this pile are not visible from the front of the museum. You have to walk toward the back, where dimly lit hallways showcase tiny dioramas inset into the walls. Every minute detail is carved and manipulated from the real corresponding material in these tiny models. Sure the door is only three inches tall but it is one of a kind handcrafted piece of art, assembled from planks of wood following the diagram of a real door, and the hinges, doorknob, and lock all function with the aid of a tiny key.
Craft is not dead, it is hiding in the basements and garages of elderly men.
Posted by Keith Simpson at 1:17 PM