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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sculptor Uses "House Guts" to Frame Museum of Craft and Design's new (Temporary) Home

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The Museum of Craft and Design's temporary location.
  • The Museum of Craft and Design's temporary location.

Sculptor Andy Vogt makes art out of old houses. When homes are demolished, he picks up scraps of wood called lath that used to make up the walls.

"It's the most unwanted building material which you could find, other than plaster dust," he says. "It's the guts of San Francisco Victorian-era houses."

So Vogt gives the lath new life.

On Sunday, Vogt brought a stack of lath to the chain-link fence at the corner of Octavia and Hayes and started to build a lath installation in the fence. Vogt's work is part of the Museum of Craft and Design's latest pop-up museum, the first of three "place-making" events at the museum's new temporary home in Hayes Valley.

Vogt at work. - ANDY VOGT
  • Andy Vogt
  • Vogt at work.

With the help of volunteers, Vogt hooked pieces of lath onto the fence in an arrow pattern.

"The fence is the starting point for my piece," Vogt tells SF Weekly. "It's the essence of the piece, because it can be either inviting or repelling. My idea is to create a sort of window that will make you want to come in."

Vogt created this window by leaving a narrow band of fence clear at eye height. This allows passersby to peek into the space. When you look through the gap, you see a large blue shipping container with Museum of Craft and Design painted on its surface. But the container isn't another installation. It's the museum's current home.

Early stage of the installation. - ANDY VOGT
  • Andy Vogt
  • Early stage of the installation.

Executive Director Joann Edwards tells SF Weekly that the museum is seeking a permanent home, but in the meantime it exists through its pop-up museums. Already, the museum has "popped up" in the Castro and South of Market. This time, working in conjunction with the Proxy project, it has converted the container into a minimuseum and will use the surrounding space for three installations, which will last into October.

This transient existence creates a resonance between the museum and Vogt's work. The wood installation and steel container give the impression of permanence, yet both are temporary fixtures. For an artist whose material is the guts of old houses, impermanence is something that Vogt accepts and even embraces.

"I'm used to a finite window of experiencing sculpture. The wood is fragile, and though multiplying the number of pieces makes it stronger, it'll basically last a month," he explains. "This sculpture will be in the wind, and might get partly destroyed by the weather, but that's okay. I'm really inspired by things that don't last."

click to enlarge Where the exhibition begins and ends. - ANDY VOGT
  • Andy Vogt
  • Where the exhibition begins and ends.

Though Edwards looks forward to the day when the museum has a permanent and larger location, she sees the transient nature of the installations as a way to connect with multiple neighborhoods.

"It's a process that fosters the creation of vital public destinations," she says. "It's our way of connecting with the community."

In some ways, knowing that the installations will exist only for a brief time makes them more beautiful, and this ephemeral exhibition is worth seeing before it vanishes, leaving nothing but an empty patch of pavement.

The pop-up museum at Hayes and Octavia is open every day. Suggested donation is $3.

The next Museum of Craft and Design place-making event is Sunday, Aug. 21, starting at 11 a.m. with Artist Jesse Schlessinger. On Saturday, Sept. 17, starting at 11 a.m. experimental architects and CCA professors Nataly Gattegno and Jason Kelly Johnson will lead another round.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Caroline Chen

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