"Craftforms 2007," the 13th annual juried exhibit of contemporary crafts at Wayne, signals a new level of high achievement for this truly remarkable series of shows.
Surely the best of these always enterprising and unpredictable exhibits to date, this subtle, disarming display is addressed to the public and serious student alike. Indeed it addresses anyone willing to view these 82 works sent here by individual artists in 25 states and from Canada and Korea.
Featured are ceramics, glass, wood, jewelry, fiber, apparel and accessories. The show was put together by juror Mark R. Leach, founding director and chief curator of the Mint Museum of Craft & Design, a cutting-edge craft museum in Charlotte, N.C.
Leach made his choices from an unprecedented high number of 857 entries received, awarding two gold and two silver prizes in a show that has sizable input from New York, Pennsylvania and California.
Mark Sfirri of New Hope captured a gold award for "Slate," an exceptional wooden bench with lathe-turned and carved legs and a distressed paint surface. That recognition for a work of such unmistakable quality surely will bring this gifted craftsman the public attention he so richly deserves.
The other gold is a colorful textile piece, "9 Patch Color Study 3" by Florida physician Eleanor A. McCain that, despite its improvisation, is nonetheless carefully and thoughtfully structured and controlled.
Also noteworthy are silver prizewinners: Chuck Starbaugh's substantial wooden cabinet, ebonized and with marquetry (from Michigan), and Jillian Moore's cunning electroformed metal ornament from Iowa.
You'll want to pause at almost every item. A spectacular show, and a boon to our region.
Wayne Art Center, 413 Maplewood off Conestoga, Wayne. To Jan.25. Mon-Sat 10-4. Free. 610-688-3553. Closed Dec.24-Jan.1.
Charles Wells sculpts wood in an uncompromisingly fluid, rather expressionistic way. At Riverrun in Lambertville, this Washington Crossing resident is showing a few marbles, but mostly lifesize wooden figures, also ink-wash studies of heads, and lucid, strongly etched portraits of composers of music.
Wells carves wood with technical mastery and a deep respect for his materials. He lightly "tattoos" pieces of copper sheathing onto individual faces that reflect youth and maturity, but also vulnerability.
Riverrun Gallery, 287 S Main, Lambertville, N.J. To Jan.7. Daily 10-5, Sun noon-5, closed Tue. Free. 609-397-3349.
. The ceiling is the high point of sculptor Sharon O'Mara's meditative room installation at DCCA. Its quiet Moorish temple-like setting with its distinctive sculptural presence lifts her work well above the level of artsy-craftiness. Moreover, its peacefulness is meant to banish our awareness of the fast pace of American car culture and consumerism, if only for a moment.
O'Mara, associate dean at Temple's Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, places emphasis here on the ceiling. So, look aloft. That ceiling consists of a hive-like mass of more than 21,000 air-freshener trees, that cause "new car scent" to permeate the air. In this piece, O'Mara comes across as a seer, not a mere strategist. She's obviously someone who doesn't just cater to an appetite for whatever is stimulating.
Viewers who resist the idea of taking artist's "installations" seriously might like this one. Its ceiling resembles a Morse code of dense energy.
Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, 200 S Madison, Wilmington, Del. To Jan.17. Tue,Thu,Fri,Sat 10-5, Wed & Sun noon-5. Closed Dec.24,25,31 & Jan.1. Adults $5. 302-656-6466.