Located on Los Angeles’ historic Miracle Mile since 1965, Craft Contemporary reveals the potential of craft to educate, captivate, provoke, and empower.
Founded as a museum in 1973, Craft Contemporary reveals the potential of craft to educate, captivate, provoke, and empower. With a focus on contemporary art made from craft media and processes, Craft Contemporary presents dynamic exhibitions by established and emerging artists and designers who are often underrepresented in larger art institutions. Craft Contemporary complements these exhibitions with a creative line-up of educational programs, including hands-on workshops led by professional artists. Craft Contemporary cultivates an environment for people in Los Angeles to deepen their relationship to art, creativity, and one another.
Craft Contemporary is grateful for the dedicated Board of Trustees who continue to support and uphold the organization's mission.
Richard Erickson – Board Chair
Michael D. Johnson
Wally Marks III
We welcome nominees to our Board of Trustees. Please contact Suzanne Isken, Executive Director to inquire about nomination procedures.
THE EGG & THE EYE EST 1965
Established by painter Edith Robinson Wyle (1918 -1999), student of the late Rico Lebrun, Craft Contemporary was originally created as a restaurant and gallery space called The Egg and the Eye. The Egg and the Eye opened November 1, 1965 at 5814 Wilshire Blvd, in a three story neo-Georgian building designed in 1930 by Gilbert Stanley Underwood. It had once been the location of Frieda Schroeder Cakes. The first gallery exhibition featured Native Alaskan sculpture, wood sculptures by J. B. Blunk, as well as individual pieces by Beatrice Wood and Harrison Mcintosh. In part, Wyle’s focus on handmade objects, ethnic identity, and multi-sensory experiences were a reaction to the growing popularity of Pop Art and Minimalism. By 1973, Wyle sought and was granted non-profit status for the newly named Craft & Folk Art Museum, where she led initiatives until her retirement in 1984.
THE CRAFT & FOLK ART MUSEUM EST 1973
Wyle believed that an engagement with hand-crafted objects could enhance daily life. She advocated for the application of new forms and ideas to traditional techniques and the adoption of new technologies. To make the community feel welcome in the museum, she animated her exhibition spaces with food, performance, and film, in an effort to take art out of the museum space and bring it directly to the community. In 1976, the Craft & Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) launched what would become the annual International Festival of Masks—a large scale public art festival which celebrated the numerous ethnic identities within Los Angeles.
Patrick Ela, who joined the museum in 1975, succeeded Wyle as museum director, overseeing a building renovation by Hodgetts & Fung completed in 1995 and leading a successful effort to sustain the museum via a multi-year partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
The exhibition, Black Folk Art in America, 1930 – 1980 inspired school children at two neighborhood grade schools to create a mural. In collaboration with the Craft & Folk Art Museum and assisted by the L.A. City Wide Murals Program, they designed and painted a mural on the southeast corner of the museum building, which is still there today.
CRAFT CONTEMPORARY EST 2018
In 2018, the museum board of trustees voted to change the name of the Craft & Folk Art Museum to Craft Contemporary to best reflect its current mission. The name Craft Contemporary was chosen to emphasize the word ‘craft’ as a verb and a noun—celebrating both the act and outcome of making. Craft Contemporary continues to respect the deep history of the craft field while also looking forward to its bold and exciting future.
THE CRAFT & FOLK ART MUSEUM ARCHIVES AND ORAL HISTORY
In 1997, museum librarian Joan Benedetti compiled all of the Craft & Folk Art Museum’s institutional records (1965-1997) and secured a home for the archives at the University of California, Los Angeles Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library. Today the aid can be found on the Online Archive of California website.
The CAFAM archival collection, 246.5 linear feet plus 56 oversize boxes in extent, is the largest museum archives in UCLA Special Collections. The collection contains staff and board files, reflecting the struggles and successes over a 32-year period, of an institution that was on the leading edge of museum practice during a time when museums dealing with culturally specific topics were just beginning to be established in Southern California. Two related collections, also at UCLA, are the papers of Southern California Designer Crafts (1957 – 1982) and those of the Elizabeth Mandell Gallery (1979 – 1982).
The Craft & Folk Art Museum Oral History Project can be located online at the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research (COHR) website. The CAFAM Oral History Project is a collection of interviews with eighteen former staff, board members, and others associated with CAFAM during the first three decades of the museum’s existence. Recorded by CAFAM’s former librarian Joan Benedetti from January 2008 to March 2010, the interviews were transcribed and edited by Benedetti over the past seven years. Sixty hours of recordings and transcriptions are now available.