Contemporary Moves with Contemporary Craft

Monday, 14 December 2020 11:34 AM Written by 


What happens when you finish a move in the middle of a pandemic? If you’re Contemporary Craft, you move into multiple homes. Not only have they moved to Upper Lawrenceville, Contemporary Craft has also moved online - and just in time for patrons to purchase work for the holidays.

Founded in 1971, Contemporary Craft inspires creative expression with leading-edge craft exhibitions focusing on social and multicultural issues. It’s also known for hands-on workshops with exceptional local and national artists, and a store filled with beautifully unique hand-crafted works of art from established and up-and-coming artists. (Is that a holiday gift on the horizon?)

Please note that given current state safety mandates, Contemporary Craft remains open for retail sales only during scheduled hours through the end of the year. They will be closed the first two weeks of January and plan to resume classes and their gallery exhibition at that time.

Contemporary Craft new location in Upper LawrencevilleContemporary Craft new location in Upper Lawrenceville. Copyright 2020 Ed Massery.

How is your organization manifesting your mission at this time?

Our new home in Upper Lawrenceville has made it possible for us to continue to bring art to life during the pandemic. While we have had to be flexible in our plans and timing, the new space has really allowed us to provide our programs very safely. Our inaugural exhibition, featuring acclaimed artist Swoon, has energized the gallery space for our visitors. Our beautiful new studios have held socially-distant and virtual workshops, and our store has brought in many new and exciting artists.

Response to the Swoon exhibition has been overwhelmingly positive; so much so that we have extended it to March 20, 2021 to give more people the chance to view it (or view it again). Swoon, like us, believes in the power of art for healing, so we hope that visitors leave feeling refreshed, calmed, and inspired.

What has it been like moving into a new space in 2020? What are you most excited to show patrons who have been visiting? 

Completing the move (which started over a year ago) has been exhausting but exhilarating. The delays in completing construction and postponing our grand opening were heartbreaking, but waiting to have everything just right and ensuring visitor and staff safety was absolutely worth it. 

We were blessed to have amazing partners on this project in Jendoco Construction Company, GBBN Architects, and Craig Dunham of Dunham reGroup, as well as many elected officials and donors who were critical in getting us to our new facility. Since we’re always free, there’s no need to see everything in one visit. We encourage visitors to make frequent, shorter visits.

What safety precautions would you like potential patrons to know about?Contemporary Craft's 2020 exhibition, Swoon

As for visitor safety, we have timed-ticketing in place to make sure we stay within our reduced capacity and for contact tracing, if necessary. Masks are required for all visitors and staff, and we have hand sanitizing stations throughout the building. Our new space is much more open, so maintaining six feet of distance is easy to manage. We also have a weekly deep clean of the space in addition to daily targeted cleaning of high-touch surfaces.

How has your staff kept spirits high during quarantine?

Honestly, being able to finally interact with visitors again after a year-long closure has been the most important part of bolstering staff morale--being motivated about your work is challenging when no one is engaging with it. The first weekend we opened in September, you could see there were some big smiles behind the masks of our team members. That has really continued as we keep getting new visitors from the neighborhood, as well as long time friends stopping in to see our new building, shop, take a workshop, or see the exhibition.

Most of our team also had summer birthdays, so we had some distanced celebrations (no candles on the cake, of course) in the park around the corner from our building, which was a nice chance for everyone to see each other.

How can patrons best enjoy and support your organization?

We realize visiting, shopping, and taking classes in-person is not an option for everyone right now, so engaging with us in whatever way best suits you is what is best for us, too. Some of our offerings are available from the comfort of your own home--like our online retail store, and we are working on adding a virtual option for some workshops as well as fully virtual classes. Of course, donations are always welcome and appreciated. We look forward to seeing you at our new home whenever you are ready to visit!

You can follow Contemporary Craft on Instagram at @sccpgh or on Facebook to learn more about upcoming events and workshops.

Second photo features Swoon's "Thalassa" installed in the gallery. Copyright 2020 Ed Massery.


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