What is craft? What is art? What is folk art? Outsider art? Contemporary art?
Are the distinctions real? Do they matter, or are they intellectual games people play, rococo road blocks in the path of direct emotional response to aesthetic objects?
Oh — and what’s a museum supposed to be, anyway?
Dumb questions, maybe. Or, as I prefer to think, basic questions — and sometimes, when you’re staring a big change in the face, basic questions are very good things to ask.
Here’s another one: How many museums does a city need to have a healthy critical mass?
Like a lot of people, I’ve been pondering the impending takeover of Portland’s financially sinking Museum of Contemporary Craft by the expansion-minded Pacific Northwest College of Art, a merger that might become final next month. The question at this point is no longer, “Is this a good idea?”. Barring the sudden swooping down from the heavens of a previously unsuspected angel, some sort of merger seems necessary if the museum is to survive, and this is the one that’s been worked out. So the question now is, “How will this work to the best long-term advantage of both institutions?”