Fine craft and the natural world are usually linked, as artists manipulate materials — wood and clay, for example — into objects. Traditional definitions of craft emphasize its utility combined with beauty. Fine craft is now considered a standalone art form, which we see in a new show at Florida Craftsmen Gallery.
"Earthworks" features seven men and women who combine materials into sculptural mixed media works that are more interpretative than literal. Susan Livingston curated the exhibition and her clay sculptures that use fossils have both serenity and conciseness. Robert Farrell builds barns and silos from atypical materials. Instead of wood, he often incorporates metals and enamels. Ceramicist Terri Kern is a figurative artist who also uses real images as symbols. Henry Gernhardt can deliver a more abstract approach in his ceramic sculptures, and Mitch Lyons really takes clay into abstract painting territory with his slip-embellished slabs. Wood-worker Marilyn Endres painstakingly builds wooden vessels from layers that are smoothed on a lathe but still reveal the process. My favorite: Brenda Tarbell's enchanting organic ceramic forms, often recognizable as sea creatures.
Lennie Bennett, Times art critic