Hand made: Craft Week celebrates the art of craft throughout Mendocino County – Ukiah Daily Journal

What is art? What is craft? Why, in this age of advanced technology, do people still take the time to shape (weld, paint, etch, weave, chisel) objects by hand?

These issues and more will be explored during the first two weekends of October 2015 (Oct. 2-4, and Oct. 11-12), as Mendocino County Celebrates American Craft Week unveils a plethora of shows, demonstrations, talks, tours, tastings and other encounters—both planned and spontaneous—that happen when artists and art lovers get together.

Thirty-one venues throughout the county will host a spectacular array of works including jewelry, ceramics, woodworking, metal work, block prints, baskets, glassworks and more. Shows and events will take place in galleries, studios, wineries, inns, museums and specialty shops.

The first weekend of American Craft Week, Oct. 2-4, focuses on events in Fort Bragg, Ukiah, Point Arena, Gualala and Willits. This includes a Sidewalk Print Event on Oct. 2 at Noyo Printworks in Fort Bragg from noon to 7 p.m.; hands-on kids craft activities at Edgewater Gallery in Fort Bragg; an exhibit of fiber artists at the Ukiah Library; an exhibit titled “Mendocino Quilt Artists: A Fiber Perspective” at Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah; ceramic and woodworking artists at Ukiah’s Corner Gallery and Art Center; and a variety of work by fiber, wood, and jewelry craftspeople at Willits Art Center and North Street Collective in Willits.

Fort Bragg and Ukiah will both be hosting First Friday openings from 5 to 8 p.m. for the shows that open in those towns.

The second weekend, Oct. 10-11, features events in Mendocino and Anderson Valley.

In Philo, The Pot Shop will host a food and pottery pairing on Oct. 10 from 1 to 3 p.m. while Schenk’s Barn Studio will exhibit work and demonstrate metalsmithing and printmaking.

In Mendocino, Highlight Gallery will sponsor a day of artist talks and demonstrations. Demonstrations will also take place at Mendocino Jewelry Studio. At Oddfellows Hall, two groups join together to show works ranging from glass sculpture to quilt painting to wood carved as furniture and as creative object.

Several Mendocino venues will host opening receptions on Oct. 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. Anderson Valley events take place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Many of the shows continue all week—or, in some cases all month—for those who cannot make it to the opening. A variety of other events offered by a number of other artists and organizations fill these two weekends: For a full schedule and a printable brochure, go to www.MendocinoCraftWeek.com.

To prove that art is a gift, several participating venues have donated door prizes including the Grand Prize, two nights at The Beachcomber Inn in Fort Bragg. Entry forms will be available in a red box at each venue, with visitors welcome to fill out a form at each one to increase their chances to win.

Mendocino County Celebrates American Craft Week owes its origins to ceramic artist Alexis Moyer, who started the event four years ago as a way to join up with other artists and hold open studios throughout the county. It has since branched out into a number of crafts-related events, and mushroomed into one of the most successful crafts weeks in the country.

That is no surprise, given the strong tradition of crafts this county upholds. The Pomo Indian peoples who were some of its earliest inhabitants were basketmakers of extraordinary skill and sophistication, crafting ceremonial and daily items that reflected their deep knowledge of place.

Later, a diverse group of European and Far Eastern immigrants brought crafts and cultural practices from Italy, England, France, Sweden, Portugal, Finland and China, employing skills and techniques as diverse and necessary as quilting, tool making, woodworking, food preservation, herbal medicine and pottery.

In recent times, artists and creative souls of all sorts have made Mendocino County their home, drawn by its relaxed atmosphere, vibrant towns and splendid landscapes.

The Mendocino County event is part of a nation-wide movement that began six years ago to celebrate and encourage American-made craft.

“People love knowing who made an item and seeing the hand of the artist in the work. Craft creates connections, memories, and strong emotions that simply do not exist with mass produced merchandise,” American Craft Week founder Diane Sulg says.

For more information on the many galleries, schools, museums, guilds and libraries that will hold Craft Week events, go to www.americancraftweek.com.

Mendocino County Celebrates American Craft Week is sponsored by the Savings Bank of Mendocino County and Little River Inn.