Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Andy Upright & Ann Klicka

At GO WEST! Craft Fest, I met two incredible craftsmen, the master Andy Upright and his apprentice Ann Klicka, who were illustrating the production of metalworks. The rhythmic beating of the molten iron on the anvil and a most interesting conversation made me realize the uniqueness of metalwork in the general spectrum of DIY craft revivals. It dawned on me that today's popular crafts, whether it be knitting, food, or vaudeville, exist in a zone of individual self-actualization. They fit comfortably into the edges of non-offensive and isolated social activities and they are rather shy of tackling the architectural environment. The art of the metalsmith, on the other hand, links other crafts together, it communicates and creates a material continuum. It has to bind stone (building structures) to wood (human softness), it intercedes between the mason and the carpenter. Stone is too hard and wood is too soft, making it extremely difficult to set wood into stone without a metal hinge. 

Andy Upright and Ann Klicka are excellent metal artists on their own right. Although raised in Minnesota and Massachusetts, respectively, their work made me celebrate the continuity of a Philadelphia tradition that goes back to Samuel Yellin. I remember the impact Yellin's workshop had on me when I visited it with my high school class. And Ann tells me that the Yellin Workshop is still managed by Clare Yellin, Samuel's grand-daughter but is not going as strong as it did during my high-school days.

When I picked up Andy's and Ann's cards, I thought of contacting them with ideas of historian-craftsman partnerships, like documenting Philadelphia's architectural iron. But first, I needed to do something appropriate with their actual cards. What you see above was my intuitive reaction to the magic they shared with an adoring audience at Go WEST! Craft Fest (including the undivided attention of two five-year old ones). Later that day, a craft beer specialist at The Local 44 Bottle Shop recommended a Gose, a crazily medieval beer that takes like salt and lemon and is still made in Leipzig. So, I had to remove the label from the bottle and paste it next to the metalwork Andy's and Ann's cards. Both experiences made me incredibly humbled to be living in a neighborhood where craft conversations are exerting a force of resistance.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States