Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Space For Andersen Design's Vintage Collection


The Large Sea Urchin Bowl 

A Special Fund Raising Project
Space to Display, Organize, and Archive
The Andersen Vintage Line



This year we have been facing the probability of losing our home where in Andersen Design's production space and retail gallery have been located since 1952. Last Sunday we were served notice to quit the premises in 31 days so it looks likely that we will lose this battle- but it is not over until its over so there is still an unlikely but still possible chance of staying here in our historic location.We are concerned about the future of this property if this old house is left unattended during the winter months. We would like to negotiate with the bank to let us stay for our mutual advantages,

But for now we have to also find another place to live. We have found a location which we believe is a best case scenario for this transition. It is a house with two apartments. The bottom apartment can be used as a gallery where we can display our vintage work, rather than having it put into storage. This will be a great advantage to all that we are trying to do. The space will also provide for much needed office space for the Museum.

We do not yet know if we will be offered this space but if not we will find another space where our vintage line can be on display. Both spaces are very reasonable for the current rental market.
We need to raise 2400.00 for three months rent for the vintage gallery and work space .
If we can raise that amount we will also at last be past the $1000.00 dollars required in personal donations required by our fiscal sponsor in order to apply for foundation grants.

We are offering a 20% discount on your next purchase, once we have a new production up and running, to all who make a donation to The Andersen Design American Phoenix Project . All contributions are tax deductible. Text block. Use a contrasting background to draw attention to this content.

The Museum

The first function in forming the Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen  Before the Museum concept was born, Elise was already in discussion with Museum curators and arranging for Andersen Design's work to be shown on the museum circuit. Andersen Design has a history spanning sixty five years which has produced an abundance of creativity and variety. There is a genuine need for a space to organize the artifacts of Andersen Design's history, which can be curated in themes of endless variety.

It follows quite sensibly the the museum should be the Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen, a bellwether for an era when mass marketing wants to homogenize and humanity wants to individualize. The Museum will be a focal point for celebrating unique human creativity and the value of the work process in and of itself, core values of hand crafted industry.
First Stage Museum funding will pay for the costs of  archiving an original  history of  American designer craftsmen. This is an exciting project. Archiving the history of Andersen Design, alone, is a very ambitious project but we think it is important to also record a larger story of American designer-craftsmen, starting with local history, which is most accessible to us and not necessarily included in other histories.

We have in our possession a handwritten journal of a local crafts organization which existed in the 1950's when our parents relocated to the Boothbay Peninsula, Our Dad, Weston Neil Andersen was the last president before the group dispersed, which is how the journal came to be in our procession. Weston was also instrumental in starting the Boothbay Arts Foundation which today is an important local cultural focus on the Peninsula and beyond. 
 Recently I came across a dusty old file containing my father's hand written, or typed letters,composed in 1964, wherein Dad is appealing for capital to fund operations after expanding his production facility, mirroring our own contemporary situation.. The letter tells the story of the beginnings of Andersen Design. In the same file, also dated 1964, is a hand signed letter from Industrial Design magazine requesting samples of Andersen Design's work. He makes a point, not often understood. The fact that Andersen Design was created with the intent to create a hand crafted product affordable to the middle classes determined that the business has to operate at a scale that makes an affordable hand crafted product viable. 
An even earlier manuscript is dated 1956 and tells why Dad made a remarkable choice between an exciting job as Dean of the Akron Art Institute Art School, providing a comfortable secure income and making pottery, which inspired him the more.

"From the fall of' 1948 to the summer of 1952 I was a member of the staff of the Akron Art Institute as Supervisor of Education of the Art School. This proved to be quite an undertaking and exciting too. In the school we had a well-equipped. ceramic laboratory and. I soon found myself fascinated with the material. In several years I decided I preferred" pottery making to teaching."Statement by Weston Neil Andersen, 1956
 The Early Correspondences of Weston Neil Andersen 

In the initial stage we will also be seeking a space where the vintage work can be organized and on display in an initial preview gallery as well as space for  the photography  and graphic design studio, and office space.
The Large Sea Urchin Bowl 

One of the first projects we would like to get going in our new production space is to bring back the Large Sea Urchin Bowl. It has been out of production for some time because it needed a new mold. The new mold is nearly complete.and we plan on getting production going on the Large Sea Urchin Bowl as soon as everything is hooked up and ready to go.
Our new production studio is coming along, shaping up and becoming the best production space we have ever had, even though it is financed on a shoe string.

Happy to help.

You can call us at 207 449 1449 or email Elise  or Mackenzie if you have questions

Friday, October 6, 2017

The System Outside the System






In 1952, when my parents, Weston and Brenda Andersen started Andersen Design, then called Ceramics by Andersen, there was no National Foundation For the Arts, and there was no ensuing wealth re-distributive non-profit arts industry. Even the trade shows had not yet been invented. Andersen Design was started as a leap of faith. 

I grew up within the very long arc of that leap of faith, realized after I had left home to attend Pratt Institute, when the enterprise became financially successful, providing a comfortable income.
A Tradition of Innovation

The fact that Andersen Design was born in the age before government and non-profit support for the arts spread across the land, and even before the trade shows provided a venue for reaching national buyers, is an important aspect of Andersen Design's historical significance- it was the extraordinary realization of an artistic lifestyle created on a shoestring at a time when there was no larger social structure supporting the arts. My parents created the lifestyle within the free enterprise system, which has, since the emergence of the non-profit arts industry, been widely characterized as a choice motivated exclusively by profit.

Today the  concept of "public benefit " is undergoing transformation.The introduction of the social enterprise is slowly changing that perception in which free enterprise is defined exclusively by its wealth creating function, and therefore said to be motivated only by the will to materialistic profit. Social enterprises are defined as private enterprises, having a primary reason to exist for which their wealth creating function is the means to that end and not the end in itself. Andersen Design is a social enterprise born long before social enterprises were conceptualized in contemporary political economic thought.
Weston Neil Andersen and his wife Brenda started Andersen Design during the age of plastics, with a mission to create a hand made product affordable to the middle classes, establishing a tradition of taking the road less traveled.

The enterprise trained women, formerly employed in the fish packing industry, in the artistic skills of ceramic slip casting a decorative techniques, Before long a cluster industry grew up in and around the Boothbay peninsula of Maine..Andersen Design's seldom heralded achievement was to create a successful and individual means for making a living doing what one loves to do, the quintessential American dream, which lies at the heart of the free enterprise system. Ceramics by Andersen was production as an art form before said art form was officially invented by New York art star, Andy Warhol. Perhaps I am biased but I think my parents did it better! As others who knew my Dad will attest, he had an ability to convey a sense of meaningfulness to the process of making things. There is no way to deconstruct how that meaningfulness was conveyed, except that it permeated everything absolutely, to my own perspective. The work process was and is first and foremost meaningful in its own right as a primary foundation to beingness. I have not yet decided if it is a bane or a blessing to be raised in such a sensibility, but I think it explains why Dad seemed to have a cult hero status to many.
I now embrace my role, as custodian of a unique legacy, in creating the Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen, the more so as the community which was our birth place is being re-invented by developers who have no interest in the history of a place. History is important but it only survives if it is recorded. Who tells the stories that become recorded history? It is my family legacy to do so and to encourage and promote the tradition of the American designer craftsmen.
For years I have been going up and down the system, both government, which is largely a public private relationship in Maine, and nonprofits alike. Finally I identified that our place, relative to "the system" is outside of it, but there exists a system outside the system which works in mysterious ways.
Our new production studio is coming along, shaping up and becoming the best production space we have ever had, even though it is financed on a shoe string. Eventually we will need some capital for fatigue mats and a good air filtering system and insurance, and so on, but we take one day at a time.
I have my father's parameters of operations, a profoundly resonate book which appeared at our magical dump, by the title of  "After reengineering, Organizing for Growth" by Richard K Lochridge, and an amazing app to organize it all, called AirTable. We just need a working team of natural thinking talent. With God's grace such a team will manifest.

On that note, talking of working with natural talent, it is the Andersen tradition, since we have always trained employees on the job. For a long while I have been wishing to be able to train natural talent in another capacity in which I work, which is photagraphy and design, including web design.
Currently I have been photographing our vintage line for archival purposes, using the AirTable application. We have a very large vintage history. It would cost us a small fortune to hire outside professionals and so I taught myself photography, web design and Adobe photo shop skills. This is work that I enjoy and find therapeutic but there is a huge amount of it to be done.

For this purpose the photographs should maintain a consistent style which I can train others to do. Since this is a museum function,
 tax deductible contributions to the Andersen Design American Phoenix Project can be used to pay for the work I am doing, as well as training and eventually hiring others to do this work.

Please consider making a contribution of $100.00 
or whatever to this cause  We still need to raise about $850.00 of the thousand dollars required in personal donations before our fiscal sponsor will allow us to apply for foundation grants.

Thank all for all the support we receive on a regular basis. God bless !

Happy to help.

You can call us at 207 449 1449 or email Elise  or Mackenzie if you have questions