October 7, 2015
By Hunter Atkins

News of Anthony Bourdain’s partnership with The Balvenie Single Malt Whisky surprised diehard fans. Although Bourdain (author of Kitchen Confidential, star of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” and food media hero) has departed from his too-cool, hell-bent, anti-commercial persona in recent years, he had never endorsed a product.

Yet nestled into a former warehouse in New York City’s Midtown-West neighborhood on Monday, Bourdain debuted The Balvenie 2015 Rare Craft Collection, his curated traveling exhibition (open until October 8 at Hudson Mercantile, 500 W. 36th Street) featuring original pieces and work stations from some of America’s finest craftspeople. The event promoted “Raw Craft,” The Balvenie’s online video series where Bourdain travels America to meet artisans. Once a rebellious whistleblower leading a veritable coup on mainstream food media, Bourdain toured the exquisite crafts displays, glad-handed with media and posed beside visitors for dozens of photos, wearing a noticeably pained but professional smile. . . .

Sebastian Martorana, sculptor, Maryland: From a passion born while studying the artistic masterpieces of Florence, Italy, Sebastian Martorana approaches his stonework as interplay between the persons, environs, and material objects shaping our lives, working from his studio at the Hilgartner Natural Stone Company, America’s oldest operational stone company. The series Sebastian brings to the Collection centers on a number of his own work gloves, and revolves around a recurring discussion regarding the relationship between art and craft, namely, the degree to which the “Hand of the Artist” is or is not present in the finished piece of work.

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