Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sofa NY 2007

Lola Brooks
Brooch: Untitled
stainless steel, 18K gold
photo courtesy of Sienna Gallery

Every spring in New York and every fall in Chicago, the Sofa Expo takes place, which is not about sofas, but rather stands for Sculpture Objects & Functional Art. On June 1-3 in New York, 58 galleries will be representing artists that work in craft mediums: metal, wood, fiber, glass, clay. However, this show differs from the more common craft fairs in that the work shown is one-of-a kind and curated by the gallery owners to present a certain vision of what is current and new in the field.

Representing jewelry and related metalwork exclusively are: Charon Kranson, Aaron Faber, Ornamentum, Jewelers' Werk Galerie, The David Collection, Sienna Gallery, and Clare Beck at Adrian Sasson and Yaw Gallery. Also representing jewelry and metalwork, among other mediums are: Mobilia Gallery and Gallery Gainro.

One of the highlights for me last year were the vessels by Junko Mori at Adrian Sassoon/ Clare Beck. Composed of square forged fine silver and steel, they have the apperance of sea anemones, but the weight of the material and the hard edge of the metal, made them anything but soft and floating. On her website, she mentions being inspired by Thai red chiles. I had a hard time not touching those pieces.

I am looking forward to seeing the work at Sienna as well. Pictured above is a piece by Lola Brooks. She has been working with these faceted stainless steel shapes for a number of years, but on the Sienna website I noticed new work that incorporates her earlier stainless curls with antique ivory roses. I hope the new work will be on view at Sofa.

Melanie BIlenker
Gold, sterling silver, boxwood, epoxy resin, pigment, hair
(Photo: K. Yanoviak)

Sienna also shows Melanie Bilenker (above) and her drawings with hair under resin. I saw her show in person at the gallery and they were very subtle and poetic images of daily life. In addition, I will be looking for the latest work by Barbara Seidenath and Bettina Speckner.

Aaron Faber will be showing works in conjunction with their "Memories of New York" show at the gallery. In addition to his complex works with watch hands and loops of high-tech wire, Sergey Jivetin has a ring that is inspired by our famous bridges in NY. I had the opportunity to meet him and handle the wire pieces last year. The wire has amazing qualities that allow it to retain it's shape and tension, even as it makes way for your finger.

After looking at Mobilia Gallery's website, I noticed that Mariko Kusumoto has begun a new series of works, which are interactive, like small puppet theatres. This is a departure from her previous Buddhist temple inspired works. I also noticed from looking at the Mobilia site that Jennifer Trask seems to be heading in a new direction, and I will be interested in what she has on view.

Once again, it's June 1-3 at the Park Avenue Armory/ Park and 67th St.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

500 Earrings

This spring, the latest on the series of books by Lark was released. They have previously published 1000 Rings, 500 Necklaces, 500 Bracelets, and 500 Brooches. On the cover, you can see earrings by Todd Reed, with his trademark raw diamonds. The book was expertly juried by Alan Revere, a master jeweler with his own jewelry training school in San Francisco.
I recently found out that the gallery Velvet Da Vinci in San Francisco will be hosting an exhibit with many of the earrings featured in the book, October 17 to November 25, 2007.

The big news for me? I made two of those 500 pairs of earrings. Included in the book were my Spiral Foliage Earrings, fabricated in 18K gold, with chalcedony and sapphires:, which are currently in Vermont at the Grannis Gallery

Also included were my Wish-Fulfilling Vine Earrings. They are also 18K with green tourmaline. The name sounds quite fanciful, but I didn't actually make that bit of poetry up. It is a plant mentioned frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts. Since it is not an actual plant, I felt that it was possible to allow myself the luxury of giving it whatever shape I liked. The earrings can be seen at Lisa Reisman et Cie in Philadelphia

After carefully looking at the book, I chose a few of my favorites. Just choosing these gave me an insight into how hard it must have been to select the images that ultimately ended up in the book. I decided to let my personal taste show through in my list of favorites.

Page 10: I was so flattered to have my Wish-Fulfilling Vine earrings on the opposite page from Jacqueline Ryan's exquisite composition of tiny petals arranged in a gold frame. She has a level of precision with these tiny shapes, which she arranges in multitudes. In a way, her work is also very minimal in that it has very little variation in surface texture and no extraneous addition to the theme of the overlapping petals. It is also suggestive of other organic textures, such as feathers or scales.

Page 87: I saw a pair of earrings by Rebecca Hannon at the last SOFA NY show, and I really surprised my friends by seriously considering buying them. The reason they were surprised? Being enthralled by earrings which incorporate compact discs is not my usual taste. Her use of a non-traditional material was exceptional, as well as the craftsmanship of the overall piece. I notice in the book that one pair of earrings seems to be flipped over and features very composed florid metalwork, which will only be seen by the wearer. Her use of traditional pendant and chandelier earring shapes also makes the CD material less obvious and more like a discovery.

Page 123: Another great use of plastic was by Kathleen R. Prindiville (sadly, I could only a find a reference to the fact that she graduated from RISD in 2006). When I first saw the image, I thought of queen Anne's lace, but was surprised again by the materials. The overall design of the earrings is very uncomplicated, just a circle of plastic with a wire rim and prongs. and that complements the composition of carved divots in the plastic. The composition of all of these carved dots can suggest the galaxies, or even the beginning of white fuzzy mold, but with a soft beauty.

Page 136: Annette Ehinger has successfully taken a classic faceted gemstone and turned it into something a bit radical. By leaving part of the stone rough and unfinished, she is reminding that gems don't appear full of facets and sparkles. I also have an image of a stalactite, with the startling evidence of human hand emerging off of it. I do have one little qualm about this piece. I really wish the wires that wrap around the stones were not twisted. Or is she also making a statement about crystal wire-wrapped jewelry?

to be continued...

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Isolde brooch by Lluís Masriera i Rosés1910- collection of Metropolitan Museum

Despite the fact that I live a subway ride away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I don't often spend the time to see what is being shown. I saw a poster in the jewelry district for a show of Masriera jewelry. Being an admirer, I decided to take a break from the studio and have a look.

It turns out that the show is actually called Barcelona and Modernity: Gaudi to Dali. There were about 11 pieces of Masriera in all, representing both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles.

The most delightful piece was a brooch that was in the Art Nouveau style. It had a pale pink background of plique-a-jour enamels, and as I looked at it, I thought "is that a plane?!". Reading the label confirmed for me that it was a plane over Barcelona. It struck me humourous and I'd like to think that the maker and wearer also found humor in it as well.

While Masreira is a much larger firm that my own, I read on the website that the company was started in 1839 by Josep Masriera i Vidal, a goldsmith fresh from his apprenticeship. His aspiration and love of metalsmithing give a great feeling of kinship with this man and his company. Sort of like the time I stood in front of the "tools from the time of Ghengis Khan", display in the Mongolian National Museum and recognized many tools that I have in my own studio.

Even thought we metalsmiths are anachronistic in the digital age, it still makes sense to us when we see that fashioning objects in metal is one of the oldest and most persistent creative activities of mankind.

This show is up until Jun 3, 2007