Arts and Crafts In Search of Definitions

As someone who can appreciate, but not always necessarily understand art, I have stumbled upon a not-so-subtle distinction between two words that I once thought went together like peanut butter and jelly: arts and crafts. What is the difference between them?

A craft gallery owner told me that a craft is something made through a technique passed down from one generation to the next. So a potter who hands down his skill to the next generation continues the tradition of the craft. However, a fine-arts dealer argued that painting techniques are passed down from teacher to pupil.

If we make the simple distinction that art hangs on the wall and crafts sit on the table, then what is a sculpture? Or, more subtly, does a work of art demand craft? The answer is in the intent of the piece.

In the historic sense, a craft is a functional object such as a clay pot or a glass pitcher. Undoubtedly, these pieces are unique, but the object is not there as an end in itself. It is meant to be utilized, as a wooden box is to store papers or a vase to hold flowers. The emergence of decorative crafts, such as Lladro figurines, and fine crafts, such as a Chihuly, complicates the definitions.

Still, art generally represents a more ambitious thought process, a higher goal or philosophy as expressed by the creator. This is the reason why art is intellectualized. Photography, sculpture, paintings, collage, drawings and multimedia items bring with them only intrinsic aesthetic qualities. A piece of art serves a purpose to be viewed, discussed and, ultimately, to inspire.

A craft, then, is a destination, while art is a journey.

Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
437 Crouse St.
(330) 253-6268
Mon-Fri 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

One of Northeast Ohio's best-known names, Don Drumm is a third-generation metalworker. The sculptor/ designer's collection of aluminum, pewter and steel objects and sculptures is housed in the main gallery along with works by more than 500 North American craftspeople, artists and designers, including Brian Andreas and Patricia Locke.

Eye Candy Gallery
2173 Professor St.
(216) 241-2740
Wed and Thu noon - 6 p.m., Fri and Sat 1 - 9:30 p.m.

Represents 53 Northeast Ohio artists running the gamut of media from painting to jewelry. No space left on the wall even to hang your coat.

Fiori-Omni Gallery
2072 Murray Hill Road
Little Italy
(216) 721-5319
Mon 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Tue-Thu 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Fri and Sat 11 a.m. - 8 p.m., Sun 1 - 5 p.m.

Contemporary American art created one at a time. Ceramics, jewelry, glass, fiber, framed art and decor including tea sets, mobiles and mirrors carefully chosen by Stuart and Patricia Zolten. Resident artist Michael Gubkin displays his clay vessels.

Galleria Gianna
12412 Mayfield Road
Little Italy
(216) 229-7681

An eclectic mix of Northeast Ohio artists and media, including paintings, drawings, jewelry, pottery, fiber and nontraditional stained glass.

Glass Bubble Project
2421 Bridge Ave.
Ohio City
(216) 696-7043

Glassblowing, art studio, gallery and gift shop. Classes available. Free demonstrations noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Murray Hill Art & Craft
2188 Murray Hill Road
Little Italy
(216) 231-2012
Tue-Sat 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Contemporary crafts, jewelry, pottery, painting, metal furniture, wood and textiles selected by Jeff and Carleen Smith.

Peninsula Gallery
1770 B Main
(330) 657-2228
Tue-Fri 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat and Sun 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

A continuously changing selection of photography, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, handmade photo albums, unusual frames and gifts. Framing services.

Pennello Gallery
2051 Murray Hill Road
Little Italy
(216) 707-9390
Thu noon - 6 p.m., Fri and Sat noon - 5:30 p.m., Sun 1 - 5 p.m.

More about gifts, this co-operative gallery for painting, sculpture, photography, ceramic, furniture, jewelry as well as wearable art.

Sylvia Ullman American Crafts Gallery
13010 Larchmere Blvd.
(216) 231-2008
Tue-Sat 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Sun 1 - 5 p.m.

Features work by more than 300 jewelers, designers, woodworkers and ceramic artists. Also home to a women's clothing and wearable-art boutique.

Vivid Gallery
ARTcade, 530 Euclid Ave., No. 40
Cleveland (downtown)
(216) 241-7624
Wed 11a.m. - 3 p.m., Thu and Fri 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sat noon - 4 p.m.

Art and crafts by Ohio artists. Also very involved with nonprofit organizations such as Dress for Success and Wigs for Kids. Ask about their range of classes.

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