A retrospective of American crafts at R & Company

R & Company has launched a retrospective of American crafts that includes 100 artists, spans 33 states and borrows from 17 galleries, and if you have one show to see in these next months, hit this one. It’s special. Then you can make a circuit of the rest of the Tribeca Gallery District while you are at it.

The project has been several years in the making and is a tribute/throwback to a show from 1969 — 50 years later — that came on the heels of the civil rights movement then too.

Back in the ’60s, Objects: USA was the first big show to celebrate American craft, or put simply, “people who make things with their hands,” says Zesty Meyers, the Tribecan who opened the gallery with his partner, Evan Snyderman, 24 years ago. The show was a wild success. Johnson & Johnson (another current touchstone) bought all the pieces and donated them to galleries and museums around the country. Critics went nuts. “It changed everything for American crafts. It showed the fabric of what was happening, and it showed the talent.”

In the ’80s, crafts became a dirty word, but Meyers and Snyderman (both professional glass blowers, originally) have worked to transform that over the decades. This show, Objects: USA 2020, is sort of a culmination of that effort.

For the exhibit, R & Company included some of the original artists, many of whom are now famous (George Nakashima, Sam Maloof, Richard Marquis) as well as 50 current makers (Michele Oka Doner, Monique Pean, Jill Platner, to name a few). It also reflects waves of immigration here, which has a direct influence on craft. And it celebrates the thousands of people out there who make stuff — even if they are not in a gallery show. There’s an online community they are building directly through a new website dedicated to the show, sort of a grassroots campaign for the craft arts.

“We felt a responsibility to play a bigger role, instead of the role everyone things we do, which is sell stuff,” Zesty said. That’s not to say they are not selling — who isn’t? — but they are also hoping to get the show to travel. In the meantime, it’s open here till July, and they have also one of their beautiful publications for the show too. “We want to help people find each other and find community.”

R & Company
64 White | Broadway and Church
Monday – Friday, 11a to 6p
Saturday, noon to 6p