Friday, March 5, 2010

Craft and Folk Art Museum

I grew up in the college town Chapel Hill (as I think anyone who has talked with me for more than two minutes is overly aware) and spent a good portion of my childhood running around the University of North Carolina campus stalking basketball players, laying on the lawns and exploring old buildings. I consider myself quite the campus expert and here is something I have noticed-

At every college(including my beloved alma mater Hollins) there is a scuffed white-walled exhibit space, usually in a 60's-era student union or arts building, where students and faculty put on half-assed shows- that usually feature lots of Jackson Pollock ripoffs called like Melting Stew:2012 or have a bunch of black and white photographs of girls at computers on card stock with acid thrown on them. These spaces are usually empty, furnished with an uncomfortable reject couch from a dorm and a visitors book with penises drawn in and Cheetos residue on the pages.

That's the Craft and Folk Art Museum in a nutshell.

Now to be fair, the museum sits on Wilshire in the shadows of the amazing LACMA and the tar pits of the Page Museum. It's not a level playing field. When Cat and I went there we were spoiled; having just seen the awe-inspiring Renoir exhibit at LACMA. But still... there were only two exhibits in the small space, one of which seemed to have been assembled with scotch tape and a quick trip to the hobby store.

This was supposedly a show about tarot cards, and I guess it was if you consider curating buying a bunch of different tarot cards, sticking them in big picture frames and then writing a smattering of new-agey confusing things about what they all mean. The upstairs exhibit, I have seen at about a thousand regional museums(along with random mummies) - a nomadic textile exhibit. As Cat perceptively quipped - textiles seem to be the go-to thing for museums that don't have anything else to display.

I'm not trying to be mean. The docents were very elderly and very nice, it is VERY cheap at only $5 and the gift shop is by far the best part of the museum. It is the perfect place to get your yoga doing, caftan wearing, pot-throwing aunt her very own imitation Mongolian throw, some pretty stenciled candles or a pair of crystal chandelier earnings made by a bored Ojai mom.

And that is it- it was just boring. If you feel the urge to go to the Craft and Folk Art Museum here is a tip. Make something yourself! It'll be more fun, and someday maybe you too can display it in some similar space. I have this theory(that, not to brag, got me an A in the Philosophy of Art) that there is not art, just socially elevated craft. Well this little trip blew my precious theory out of the water. LACMA is filled with ART; the Craft and Folk Art Museum is filled with....well....craft.

I'd rather see the art.

Travel: A-
Ease: B
Content: D-
Subjective Coolness: D-

Directions: Take Wilshire all the way down to the Miracle Mile. Museum is directly across from the Page Museum.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday 11am-5pm, Sat-Sunday 11am-6pm
Price: General:$5, Kids under 12: free, Students and Seniors: $3 (The docent thought we were students, which was the perk of being the youngest people there by thirty years.)

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