The Museum of Craft and Design Review


Elisa Fang, Editor-in-Chief

The Museum of Craft and Design provides innovative displays of art that promotes perspective, establishing the role of craft and design in an ever-changing society.

The museum is located at 2569 Third St., San Francisco, in a small set up between 22nd and 23rd street, currently featuring two exhibitions: “Art and Other Tactics: Contemporary Craft by Artist Veterans” and “Without Camouflage. Dafna Kaffeman. Silvia Levenson.” Both are to be displayed until Mar. 20. With respect to the Art and Other Tactics exhibition, veterans and their families are admitted free during its display, general admission is $8, students and seniors are $6 with ID, museum members, children up to the age of 12 and everyone on the first Tuesday of every month is admitted free. The museum is closed on Mondays as well as many other observed holidays, but from Tuesday to Saturday its hours operate from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Once you walk in through the doors, you realize it is a very small place, not that it matters much as you realize how much metaphorical space the showpieces really create. The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming, with bright lights and the setting kept amazingly clean, giving off an air of respect and privacy for optimal art viewing experience. Its location is in a warehouse-like building, so the ceilings are high and crawling with pipes of various sizes, but, down to its unisex restrooms and unique decorations otherwise, the museum is rather homely and makes a regular art appreciator, like myself, want to return quite often. They even give you a little sticker as your ticket in.

“Without Camouflage” is the first exhibit on the left after crossing into art territory and immediately draws you in with strange creations that pique your interest when glimpsed or viewed from afar. Dafna Kaffeman and Silvia Levenson are the two artists of this display, using glass, fiber and a variety of other materials to make strong social and political statements. Their pieces are inspired by greatly different sources, yet tie together wonderfully to provide a thought-provoking show.  Kaffeman addresses the political and social problems of living in Israel: a place of persistent grief, remembrance and abandonment. Levenson targets development, and interprets how domestic violence and other politically incorrect events affect children and the adults they grow into. Their pieces induce a sense of discomfort and wariness, proving that the two artists have taken the essence of their topics and exposed them successfully.

The rest of the building is dedicated to “Art and Other Tactics: Contemporary Craft by Artist Veterans”, providing a glimpse into how military service affected one’s life, and therefore affected the product of one’s art. Whether the art be intended to be an outlet, a voice or a statement, it is of no doubt the impact of the pieces is thrilling. Often using their GI bill, these veterans of World War II invested in clay, glass and other materials to alter their lives completely. The exhibit focuses on four main time periods: The GI Bill and the Greatest Generation: Opening the Flood Gates for Craft, Korean War Veterans and the 1950s, Hidden Scars: Artist Veterans Who Served in Vietnam and Craft, Expression and the Military Today: Recent Years. Each period of time is easily identifiable, yet blend into each other beautifully as you see art styles change throughout the years. They are, however, connected by the overarching goal of creating a voice for these veterans, to grab the public’s attention and to educate. This exhibit creates a different perspective to that of textbooks and documents, a perspective more creative and emotionally driven and that works for a better understanding of our history.

In addition to the exhibits, there’s a small gift shop right by the ticket sales, and though a little bit pricey, what’s offered there can almost be a gallery in itself. There’s no specific parking garage for this museum, so parking is along the street although that shouldn’t be a great problem; its location is rather remote and doesn’t cut through major traffic.

The two exhibits on display here are great examples of contemporary art and how it has developed into an empowering movement. It would be worthwhile to take a look, as the entire viewing experience averages out to only about an hour or less depending on how in depth you view the works. It leaves a significant impact as well as a sense of wonderment, and even if you’re not particularly interested in art, you can prioritize the bars and cafes next door, the scent of their food tantalizing to those walking by.