Chapter II of John Dewey's Art as Experience includes this discussion of the distinction made between "fine art and useful or technological art":
. . .An angler may eat his catch without thereby losing the esthetic satisfaction he experienced in casting and playing. It is this degree of completeness of living in the experience of making and perceiving that makes the difference between what is fine or esthetic in art and what is not. Whether the thing made is put to use, as are bowls, rugs, garments, weapons, is, intrinsically speaking, a matter of indifference. That many, perhaps most, of the articles and utensils made at present for use are not genuinely esthetic happens, unfortunately, to be true. But it is true for reasons that are foreign to the relation of the "beautiful" and "useful" as such. Wherever conditions are such as to prevent the act of production from being an experience in which the whole creature is alive and in which he possesses his living through enjoyment, the product will lack something of being esthetic. No matter how useful is is for special and limited ends, it will not be useful in the ultimate degree--that of contributing directly and liberally to an expanding and enriched life. . . .
Given the frequent association of the "pragmatic" with the "practical," one would assume that Dewey's appreciation of the "esthetic" would extend to the arts usually categorized as useful or "applied." (Perhaps this distinction could further be posed as the difference between "serious" and "popular" art, although the latter has by now become almost entirely subsumed within the broader category of "mass entertainment.") And indeed, while Dewey wants to preserve a role for "fine art," at least as a pragmatic term of convenience, he also wants to give the useful arts their aesthetic due. Thus the distinctions we make between the two are, as he puts it, "extrinsic to the work of art itself." Although works of fine art are more deliberately constructed to provide an intensifed aesthetic experience, works of practical art are equally capable of being experienced as "beautiful."
Sometimes the distinction between fine and popular art is expressed in terms of "intention." The "serious" artist or writer intends that his work be contemplated abstractly or dispassionately as an aesthetic experience, while the popular artist merely sets out to produce work that will fulfill a more mundane and utilitarian function--to entertain or literally to be useful in a material sense ("bowls, rugs," etc.). But this is not a viable analysis, since intentions are always mixed and frequently unknowable, and since "intention" gives all the credit (and all the responsibilty) to the artist. For Dewey it is "living in the experience of making and perceiving" (emphasis mine) that makes art art, and the perceiver has his/her responsibilty for transforming the act of encountering a work of art into one that might contribute "directly and liberally to an expanding and enriched life." It is the experience of the work, not the work per se, that expands and enriches.
The "conditions" that might prevent us from enjoying aesthetic experience are those that cut off either the artist or the perceiver from the "beauty" of creating and focus his/her attention instead on the purely utilitarian. The paragraph I've quoted above concludes with the observation that "The story of the severance and final sharp opposition of the useful and the fine is the history of that industrial development through which so much of production has become a form of postponed living and so much of consumption a superimposed enjoyment of the fruits of the labor of others." Clearly Dewey believed that political and economic conditions im modern societies encouraged an "alienation" from the aesthetic qualities of an "act of production," and to that extent Dewey's insistence that distinctions between fine and useful art are invidious is a politically-implicated gesture. But Dewey does not want to patronize the artisan by simply celebrating applied or popular art. He wants to free the artisan and the popular audience of their servitude to a system that denies them the opportunity to fully appreciate the aesthetic qualities of either the fine or the useful arts.
"That many, perhaps most, of the articles and utensils made at present for use are not genuinely esthetic happens, unfortunately, to be true." Surely this as much the case now as it was in Dewey's time (and a very long time it was; Dewey died in 1952 at the age of 92). The post-industrial age has been no more accommodating of genuine aesthetic experience than the Industrial Age itself. If anything, mass consumption of media-packaged commodities has only trivialized both the fine arts and the applied arts as Dewey would have known them. We've become more sophisticated in our choice of entertaiment "options," and we certainly have more of them, but the average American is as dead to real "experience" in Dewey's conception of it as any pre-WWII factory worker. Perhaps more so, since we could cultivate our capacity for aesthetic experience in both the popular and the fine arts if we wanted to, but largely choose not to do so. Utility and technology are in the saddle and ride mankind.