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Masters of the Medium will be honored

Five accomplished artists will be presented to James Renwick Alliance members on March 27 at Spring Craft Weekend, its annual fundraising event. All are well-known and much appreciated, as indicated by the number of votes cast for each person last summer, and all have work displayed in the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Renwick Gallery.

Chairs by Wendy Stayman, part of the "Furniture Divas" exhibit at the Fuller Craft Museum.

The Masters of the Medium in wood, ceramics, fiber, glass and metal are selected by the alliance membership every other year and are presented at the Spring Craft Weekend. The Distinguished Craft Educator Awards are selected every odd year and presented at the same event.

Garry Knox Bennett will receive the award in the wood category. Bennett is a furniture maker who works in Oakland, Calif., where he attended the California College of Arts and Crafts. In the 1960s, he founded a metal plating business, specializing in handmade jewelry. In the 1970s, he began making clocks before expanding into furniture design. He is known for his chairs and use of conventional woods and unusual materials such as plywood, aluminum, steel, and plastics. His retrospective exhibition was at American University's Katzen Center two years ago. He conducted a workshop for alliance members, making a lamp from kitchen utensils, donated and auctioned at last April's fundraiser.

"I'm pleased to receive this award and will be happy to go back and meet a lot of friends," Bennett says. "I'm thrilled and I know a lot of the Grainers [Washington D.C., studio furniture and American craft collectors] and people like that and I'm sure they are behind me getting it, so it's good."

Past winners in the Masters of the Medium wood category are David Ellsworth, John Cederquist, Judy McKie, Bob Stocksdale, Edward Moulthrop and Wendell Castle.

"Boston Kneehole Desk" by Gary Knox Bennett.

The other 2011 Masters of the Medium are Jun Kaneko (ceramics); John Eric Riis (fiber/tapestry); Lino Tagliapietra (glass); and Linda MacNeil (metal/jewelry).

The James Renwick Alliance, a nonprofit based in Washington D.C., was created to celebrate the achievements of America's craft artists and to foster scholarship, education and public appreciation of craft art. Founded in 1982, the alliance supports the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.

Furniture Divas

The Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Mass., is hosting the exhibition, "Furniture Divas: Recent Work by Contemporary Makers," through Oct. 30. The exhibition consists of work by 15 women working in the field of studio furniture.

"Furniture Divas" provides a snapshot of contemporary developments in the field of studio furniture and celebrates the contributions of the featured artists. Assembled by guest curator Meredyth Hyatt Moses, they include New England artists Vivian Beer (Somerville, Mass.), Polly Cassel (Northampton, Mass.), Jenna Goldberg (Fall River, Mass.), Kristina Madsen (Southampton, Mass.), Judy Kensley McKie (Cambridge, Mass.), Rosanne Somerson (Westport, Mass.), Wendy Stayman (Conway, Mass.), Leah Woods (Portsmouth, N.H.) and Yoko Miyaji-Zeltserman (Medford, Mass.).

Additional artists include Gail Fredell (N.C.), Barbara Holmes (Calif.), Sarah Martin (N.C.), Wendy Maruyama (Calif.), Alison McLennan (Calif.) and Sylvie Rosenthal (N.C.).

The exhibit features new and recent work. It will also include a panel discussion entitled "Contemporary Furniture: Who's in the Studio?" on April 10 moderated by Fuller Craft Museum assistant curator Perry Price. Panelists will include Hyatt Moses, furniture historian and author Oscar Fitzgerald, and Somerson, a Rhode Island School of Design professor.


Fuller Craft Museum, 455 Oak St., Brockton, MA 02301. Tel: 508-588-6000.

James Renwick Alliance. Tel: 301-907-3888.

This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue.

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