This Friday, The Store at Contemporary Craft will celebrate the opening of CRAFTED, an annual exhibition of handmade functional ceramics, which is meant to encourage people to reflect on the relationship between the food we consume and the objects that hold it.
Did you know that Contemporary Craft’s beginnings are rooted in The Store? Back in the summer of 1971, almost 45 years ago, arts patron Betty Raphael helped a group of University of Pittsburgh students open a contemporary craft store as part of the City of Verona’s centennial celebration. What started as a summer project quickly became more when Betty realized that a national movement was under way as contemporary artists were using traditional craft materials in compelling new ways. She wanted to bring the best of that work to Pittsburgh.
Local art enthusiast and craft collector, Alex Speyer, shared with us his recollections of the store in Verona: “I always enjoyed going out to Verona to the store. It was the first place that sold high-quality crafts in the region. I still have five cherished items in my home that I bought there.”
Betty’s daughter and philanthropist, Cathy Raphael shared her reflections on Contemporary Craft’s journey: “My mother’s vision of what crafts could do for the community, for the soul, was fostered in Verona. Patrons from the city as well as local enthusiasts were drawn to the amazing, creative work on display. Today, in a more centralized location with more space and breadth, her vision is alive and well.”
To this day, The Store continues to focus on presenting high-quality innovative work by national and international artists. This year’s CRAFTED exhibition will feature cups, mugs, bowls, and platters created by more than 40 hand-selected ceramic artists. With the holidays right around the corner, this is a perfect time to slow down and enjoy family, friends, and food traditions using beautiful handcrafted tableware. I hope you will stop by The Store for inspiration and perhaps take home something that will become a cherished part of your family’s tradition.
Best wishes for a fantastic fall,
Janet L. McCall