Photo: Haddon Hufford, bowl, sterling silver, n.d., copyright the artist.

Haddon Hufford: Silversmith

November 4 2011 - April 15 2012

Haddon Hufford is a master silversmith practicing his craft near Frenchtown, Montana. Though he has lived in the Missoula Valley since 2006, the Missoula Art Museum was unaware of this inimitable craftsman working within close proximity until Hufford submitted to the Montana Triennial in 2009. We are excited to present this intimate solo exhibition, Haddon Hufford: Silversmith at MAM and to introduce Hufford and his work to our visitors.

Hufford was born and raised in New York's Hudson River Valley. He studied graphic design at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan before serving in Vietnam as a combat cameraman in the Army's 1st Air Cavalry Division, 1969–71. Back in New York City, Hufford worked twenty-eight years in the film industry as a dolly and crane grip and set builder. His journey into metalsmithing began serendipitously on a trip through Argentina in 1996. In a small village on the Pampas, Hufford visited a silversmith's workshop and become fascinated with the ancient craft. Sterling is his metal of choice because of its inherent beauty and value but also because of the patience, it requires to master the skills for forming and forging the noble metal. Hufford says, "I know that the blow from the smith's hammer is directly related to the heartbeat and rhythm of life itself. There are times in the solitude of my studio when hand and hammer become one and the repetition of the overlapping blows brings me to the point of meditation."

The exhibition features examples of variations on common, fine metal-smithed forms; letter openers, goblets, and vessels. Each hand-wrought piece that Hufford creates is original, he is proud to have never duplicated an object. Exploring these similar yet unique works displayed next to each other raises the awareness of the master silversmith's craftsmanship, artistic vision, and skilled design that works in unison. The exhibition includes an example of a production piece, a machine built maquette of a large candelabra that Hufford designed on commission, and his accompanying mechanical drawing of the piece. It is a wonderful example of the design that goes into such works. Also displayed are examples of the tools of the craft; specialized hammers, anvils, and metalworking stakes—many of which are hand-made objects themselves. All of Hufford's work is either created on commission or sent to the Lauren Stanley American Silver gallery in New York City. This makes presenting Haddon Hufford: Silversmith in Missoula a special opportunity to share a distinctive craftsman.