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STRUCK BY MODERNISM: C. Carl Jennings\, California Artist-Bl acksmith explores the rugged individualism of C. Carl Jenning s (1910&ndash\;2003)\, highlighting his physically demanding work as a blac ksmith and his distinctive\, modern approach to ironwork.

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Jennings went beyond what he called &ldquo\;plain blacksmithing&rdquo\; to pioneer the ro le of the artist-blacksmith in postwar California. A third-generation smith with a penchant for drawing\, he received an education from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland (renamed California College of the A rts in 2003). His artistry is evident in sculpture and refined vessels\, an d objects such as hand-forged fireplace implements\, dramatic gates and lig ht fixtures. Jennings&rsquo\; vigorous metal forms share a sense of visual simplicity and confident execution.

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He was championed as an inspirationa l mentor by the community of American artist-blacksmiths that flourished du ring the 1970s\, but Jennings&rsquo\; artwork has received little exposure outside of this small group. Despite showing his work at major museums thro ughout California\, his name remains largely absent from the familiar list of Northern California studio craftspeople with whom he regularly exhibited during the 1950s\, 1960s and 1970s. STRUCK BY MODERNISM revisits Jennings& rsquo\; life and career\, recognizes his important place in the context of the studio crafts movement and celebrates the West&rsquo\;s first postwar b lacksmith.

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ABOUT C. CARL JENNINGS
Every blow from Carl Jennings&rsquo\; hammer delivered something of his creative life force and forged a unique body of work that combined the ancient traditions of blacksmithing with mid-20th ce ntury sculpture and the design aesthetic of postwar modernism.

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When\, af ter nearly twenty years of working as a &ldquo\;plain blacksmith\,&rdquo\; Jennings finally went into business for himself in 1947\, he was perfectly in step with the Bay Area&rsquo\;s burgeoning modern design community. He o pened El Diablo Forge east of Berkeley in Lafayette\, California\, at a cri tical point in the history of American craft. The end of World War II marke d the beginning of an unprecedented boom in studio craft\, as art programs in colleges and other institutions that reinforced modernist principles in both fine and applied arts were bolstered and expanded by the effects of th e G.I. Bill.

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Over the next twenty years\, a period associated with the p opularity of midcentury modern design and the studio craft movement in Amer ica\, Jennings synthesized ancient traditions of the blacksmith with the ab breviated\, abstracted forms of modernist sculpture. This unusual combinati on characterized the fireplace tools and screens\, light fixtures\, candle holders\, gates\, grillwork and other objects produced in his forge in Lafa yette. It proved to be a successful\, if surprising\, marriage between a me dium known for its rugged texture and permanence\, suggestive of bygone his torical periods and demanding brute force\, and the technologically advance d\, labor-saving ethos and sophisticated look of midcentury modernism.

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B y the late 1950s Jennings had begun to enter his work in various Northern C alifornia group exhibitions and quickly became a regular presence in the Ba y Area designer-craftsmen scene. He exhibited a wrought iron grill in the S eptember\, 1958 San Francisco Art Festival which received a purchase award and was accessioned into the City&rsquo\;s Civic Art Collection. Jennings a nd his wife Elizabeth both became members of the Metal Arts Guild at around this time and Carl participated in the group&rsquo\;s 1961 annual exhibiti on at the de Young Museum. An organization formed in 1951 that united Bay A rea modern metalsmiths and jewelers\, the MAG helped to propel the studio c raft movement in California and beyond.

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In 1963 Jennings was represented in the California Craftsmen&rsquo\;s Second Biennial presented by the Oakland Art Museum and the American Craftsmen&rsquo\;s Council. Jennin gs was invited to exhibit his own selection of works at the California Crafts IX exhibition in 1965. He was represented by a sconce and a sma ll animal sculpture in Media &lsquo\;65 and a &ldquo\;ten-bulb forged iron and wood lantern&rdquo\; in Media &lsquo\;68. The blacksmith&rsquo\;s first one person show\, Carl Jennings: Forged Iron\, opened at the Rich mond Art Center in December\, 1964.

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Jennings spent roughly five years (1 970 - 1975) building a remarkable round house in rural Sonoma with his wife Elizabeth\, an effort that represents his most comprehensive achievement. Their shared domestic environment\, the house and landscape\, became an exp ressive total statement into which he poured his creativity and inspiration . But as interest in blacksmithing grew in California later in the decade\, Jennings became part of a spirited community that included both amateur an d professional blacksmiths and he increasingly gained recognition.\n

Two r elatively early examples of Jennings&rsquo\; work\, a candleholder and a sc ulpture\, were included in the 1977 volume Decorative and Sculptural Ironwo rk by popular craft writer Dona Meilach. The book placed Jennings firmly wi thin a national context and was\, up to that point\, the most comprehensive survey of contemporary ironwork in the United States. He was invited to te ach blacksmithing at the College of the Redwoods near Eureka\, California\, and became a founding member of the California Blacksmith Association in 1 977. These experiences brought him into contact with smiths who appreciated his groundbreaking role in the field and became valued friends in the ensu ing decades. Jennings inspired many of these rugged individualists to estab lish their own forges. As a respected mentor in the national blacksmithing community\, Jennings frequently traveled to conferences and participated in workshops well into his eighties.

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Jennings was elected to the College o f Fellows of the American Craft Council in 1988 and presented with a lifeti me achievement award by the Artist-Blacksmiths&rsquo\; Association of North America. The same year\, he was named a Sonoma Treasure Artist by the City of Sonoma. In 1990 he was recognized as a Master Metalsmith by the Nationa l Ornamental Iron Museum in Memphis\, Tennessee\, and honored with an exhib ition of his current work. Over the next decade or so\, in addition to the Smithsonian Institution knocking at his door in 1994\, a stream of articles documenting Carl Jennings life\, career\, and recent works appeared in suc h magazines as Metalsmith\, Anvil Magazine and American Craft.

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Carl Jenn ings was 93 years old when he died in May\, 2003\, and he kept working\, li terally\, until the end.

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ABOUT THE CURATOR
A San Diego native\, Dave Hampton is immersed in the study of California&rsquo\;s post-war visual arts community. He has conduct ed extensive interviews and developed friendships with many artists and obj ect makers working in Southern California\, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Southwestern United States during the 1950s\, 1960s and 1970s. A collec tor\, researcher and artist&rsquo\;s representative\, Hampton has sought to renew interest in these artists not simply for their work\, but for the di stinctive communities they created and their contributions to art and craft history on a regional and national level.

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In 2007 Hampton contributed a n essay &ldquo\;Art From the End of the Line&rdquo\; to The Hubbell Press p ublication Seeds of Art\, and an article\, &ldquo\;Collaboration: Artist an d Architect\,&rdquo\; for the Palm Springs Modernism Week Program\, both of which focused on the San Diego art and architecture community. In 2008 Ham pton launched a self-published Art Investigations Series in order to docume nt influential but relatively obscure artists. Completed titles include &ld quo\;The Seeger Studio: 1957-1962\,&rdquo\; &ldquo\;Pouring Metal in the So uth Bay: The 1960s California Artist-Foundry Movement&rdquo\; and &ldquo\;A rizona Designer-Craftsmen - In The Beginning.&rdquo\; He has also been a fr equent contributor to the KPBS Culture Lust blog. In 2011 Hampton curated t he exhibition SAN DIEGO&rsquo\;S CRAFT REVOLUTION at Mingei International M useum and wrote the text for the companion publication. In 2012 he opened C ONTEMPORARY ART WINS A BEACHHEAD: The La Jolla School of Arts 1960-1964 at Oceanside Museum of Art.

DTEND:20140223 DTSTAMP:20141123T022730 DTSTART:20130824 GEO:32.7314223;-117.1510527 LOCATION:Mingei International Museum - San Diego\,1439 El Prado Balboa Park \nSan Diego\, CA 92101 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Struck By Modernism: C. Carl Jennings\, California Artist-Blacksmit h\, Carl Jennings UID:284991 END:VEVENT BEGIN:VEVENT DTEND:20130824T160000 DTSTAMP:20141123T022730 DTSTART:20130824T100000 GEO:32.7314223;-117.1510527 LOCATION:Mingei International Museum - San Diego\,1439 El Prado Balboa Park \nSan Diego\, CA 92101 SEQUENCE:0 SUMMARY:Struck By Modernism: C. Carl Jennings\, California Artist-Blacksmit h\, Carl Jennings UID:284992 END:VEVENT END:VCALENDAR