Humanizing raw space. Architects and artists spur each other on in adding new interest to buildings, as crafts people rise to the demand with texture, shapes, and decorative detail.

A powerful new conjunction - art, architecture, and craft - is defined in the exhibition ``Architectural Art: Affirming the Design Relationship,'' at the American Craft Museum here. This unusual and pioneering show explores not only that creative combination but also the changing relationship between artists and architects in the 1980s. Some of their collaborative efforts are seen here in the design of corporate and government buildings, churches and synagogues, public parks, railway stations, and museums.

Role of ornament redefined

Architects are obviously redefining the role of ornament and decoration in what they design. And artists/craftsmen, working in the traditional craft media of clay, wood, metal, glass, and fiber, are rising to the new demand for more visual enrichment of what is built. Their works are produced especially for specific locations and sites.

``This architectural art,'' says Robert Jensen, the architect and architectural historian who served as curator for the exhibition, ``can be a powerful means of humanizing raw space or rough texture, without losing any of its intrinsic integrity. It is often expressed as a wall, a ceiling, a column, a floor, a door, or a gate.

``The separation of art and architecture characteristic of Modernism in the 20th century has been challenged and is being changed,'' Mr. Jensen adds.

He also points out that the national, state, and municipal ``percent for art'' programs have been a factor in this development, and also in helping to pay for architectural art.

Mildred Constantine, curatorial adviser, says the exhibition is of real importance, because no institution has before focused on this subject: ``It will have influence because it offers clarification that inspired collaboration ... is possible. Spurring each other on through the give-and-take of ideas, an architect and artist together integrate their ideas and arrive at a solution neither could have found alone. This exhibition will show the public this exciting thing that is going on.... And it will encourage future collaboration.''

The exhibition includes a brief historical overview of architectural art in New York, and four architect/artist collaborations commissioned especially for the show.

11 artists featured

It also spotlights the work, commissioned since 1980, of 11 artists, including sculptor Stephen Antonakos, painter Richard Haas, weaver Sheila Hicks, metalworker Albert Paley, woodworker Rick Wrigley, and glass artist Ed Carpenter.

Artists' studies, samples, and prototypes are exhibited, as well as photographs, photomurals, and architectural drawings, renderings, and models. Sometimes duplicates of the actual objects are shown.

The four sites featured in the show are the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center; New York's Battery Park City; the Christian Theological Seminary Chapel in Indianapolis; and the Detroit People Mover System.

The exhibition continues at the American Craft Museum (40 West 53rd Street) through Sept. 4 and then travels until 1990 to eight other institutions in the United States and Canada. Admission in New York is $3.50, but free from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays.

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