Pottery exhibit, cloth-making presentation highlight local and Hawaiian cultures
by Roberta Werdinger
The Grace Hudson Museum will be abuzz with craft-oriented projects on the first weekend of October. As always, the Museum is open free to the public all day on the first Friday of the month. This Friday, Oct. 3^rd features an opening reception from 5 to 8 pm for the sculpted porcelain and stoneware pottery of Philo artists Jan Wax and Chris Bing, on exhibit in the Foyer/Hall area. The exhibit will run through Oct. 26^th and is part of Mendocino County's annual celebration of American Craft Week. The following day (Oct. 4^th ), from 1 to 3 pm, Santa Cruz artist Wendeanne Ke'aka Stitt will give a presentation on the ancient Hawaiian art of kapa cloth-making. This event is co-sponsored with the Yokayo Textile Guild and is free with Museum admission.
Partners in life and in art, Jan Wax and Chris Bing have lived and worked as sculptors and potters in Philo since 1979. They were drawn to leave the Bay Area by the bountiful animal life and pastoral landscapes of Anderson Valley, whose images inspire their jointly created pottery work. Owls, lizards, octopi, and other local or nearby creatures populate the sculptures, sometimes perching in a proprietary way on top of a vase or crawling up the side. The two work in tandem, with Wax throwing the pot and Bing fashioning the animal image to attach to the work before it has completely hardened. The result is a tribute both to the vibrancy of animal life and the human instinct for design.
Wendeanne Ke'aka Stitt is a master quilter who has been deeply influenced by Hawaiian culture, having taken part in a two-year apprenticeship that was part of an effort to revive the art of kapa cloth-making. Kapa cloth, with its bold, geometric designs, is produced from the bark of the mulberry tree through a painstaking process and employed in a variety of functions, from clothing to temple decoration. Traditionally the domain of women, the tools as well as the knowledge of kapa cloth-making were dying out until a group of dedicated Hawaiians revived the art in the 1970s. Now Stitt is busy carrying the art to the next generation, sewing quilts with kapa cloth and creating costumes for hula performances in association with the Academy of Hawaiian Arts in Oakland.
Visitors to either event can check out the Museum's current exhibit, "Days of Grace: California Artist Grace Hudson in Hawaii," a landmark showcase of the art the Museum's namesake created during a solo sabbatical in Hawaii in 1901, along with letters, artifacts, and paintings by other artists creating in Hawaii at the time.
American Craft Week, which runs October 3^rd through 12^th , is a nationwide celebration of handmade American crafts and the people who make them. For more information about American Craft Week events in Mendocino County, including studio tours and special exhibits, visit www.mendocinocraftweek.com
The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah and is a division of the City of Ukiah's Community Services Department. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, and Sunday from noon to 4:30 pm. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.