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A Global Bazaar of Handmade Goods at L.A.'s Craft and Folk Art Museum

The Los Angeles museum that celebrates the handmade is hosting a lively market featuring the work of 24 eclectic artists and designers.



Craft fairs abound in Los Angeles this time of year, but most fans don't know about L.A.'s permanent hometown hero Shop@CAFAM, a jewel of a retail experience located in the Craft and Folk Art Museum just opposite the La Brea Tar Pits. Although the museum has been in operation since 1971, the museum's retail experience actually dates to 1965, when founder Edith Wyle opened an omelet restaurant and gift shop called The Egg and the Eye in the space. The restaurant featured an "It's a Small World"-esque variety of exotic omelet fixings alongside crafts from around the globe.

CAFAM has since blossomed into a full-fledged cultural institution which hosts a stunning array of exhibitions featuring everything from Aboriginal paintings, to Central Asian and Iranian textiles, to a recent retrospective of renowned Los Angeles midcentury designers Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman. And Shop@CAFAM has evolved into an equally diverse collection of goods. Store manager and "global merchant" Yuko Makuuchi credits her Japanese heritage for her appreciation of the handmade, but also hopes to use the store to help expand people's definitions of craft—including, for example, music. She's also always on the lookout for more goods to include in the store. "I love to support local artists," she says.

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Did The Simpsons Just Make a Plea to Help Save Watts Towers?

Homer and Marge make a visit to the endangered towers in this week's episode, drawing much-needed attention to the local landmark.



Many of us here in Los Angeles know that the Watts Towers—the famous folk art sculpture in South L.A. which Italian immigrant Simon Rodia hand-crafted from scrap metal and found objects—are in trouble. The 60-year-old towers suffer from severe lack of funding and possible staff cuts, and an adjacent art center has also been threatened. Doh! Last year, the county museum LACMA took control of the towers' management, and earlier this year it received a $500,000 grant to help with upkeep. But the real issue with preserving the towers' heritage is their invisibility. Tucked into a part of the city without many services (and still perceived as dangerous), visitors have to make a special trip to see the historic monument, and not many do. This week's episode of The Simpsons not only portrayed the towers beautifully, it encouraged its viewers to go there.

Of course, they did it in a predictably perverse manner. When Bart's movie Angry Dad gets nominated for an Oscar, the family heads to Hollywood, but Bart wants to keep Homer far away from the ceremony so he doesn't steal his glory. So he gives Homer and Marge a list of "highlights" to visit in the city (a bunch of insider jokes for Angelenos: the 405/10 freeway interchange, a car dealership with perhaps the most pervasive jingle on local radio—"Keyes, Keyes, Keyes, Keyes on Van Nuys"—and, simply, "The Valley"). Watts Towers tops that list.

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