36 Craven: Home, Interiors, Staging (and Bill's art!), 138 N. 3rd Street, Philadelphia

Thursday, July 13, 2017

There are many reasons I love the man I love. I cannot count the ways. But right in there, nested toward the top of the reasons pile, is our shared approach to valuing the made thing. Bill was studying to be an architect when I met him, but I fell in love with his watercolors first. And after that with his balsa-wood models, his black-and-white photographs, his 3D experiments, his oil paintings, his sketches. Bill, in my mind, could do it all.

And then Bill started working with clay. He had found, he deeply felt, his truest medium.

Bill hasn't taken the obvious route. He hasn't studied the trends and then fallen in line. He has, in his own words, "been inspired by rugged landscapes and ancient artifacts. Not only by the beauty of eroded surfaces, textured by time and nature, but also by the fact that the original layers of function and meaning have long been stripped away to reveal their innermost secrets."

Bill likes, he continues, "to think of the pieces I make in a similar way—as things that are found rather then made. I imagine them having their own logic and history as objects from a different time and place. I would like these objects not to stand still, but to have the flexibility to live in a different context than what was imagined for them."

Bill has made what has felt right to him. I, in our little home, have cheered him on, Facebook posted him, boasted of his work as we've wandered in and out of shops, for Bill would never boast on his own. Last summer, at Show of Hands, located at Tenth and Pine in Philadelphia, Bill was generously exhibited in a solo show for the first time. Two skilled curators happened into that show—Neil and George. They saw Bill's work. They remembered him as they put together a plan to build an exquisite lifestyle shop in Old City that they call 36 Craven.

Recently opened, this shop features what George and Neil call "primitive antiques, contemporary textiles and unique artwork for the 21st century home."

We visited the shop before it opened, as signage and interior work were under way. We visited again yesterday afternoon and found the shop in the immaculate condition above. A small space with a big heart featuring expansive ideas of the old merged with the new.

(And what a fantastic sales assistant, too. The shop is new. She's studied it all so well, so soon.)

Bill's work is there on the glass shelves and located throughout. It can be ordered, too, through the 36 Craven web site. I highly recommend visiting the shop in real time. It's not that different from visiting a fine museum where, for affordable prices, you can actually take the art home.


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