Style Spotlight: Sold!

February 2011 | BY | Issue 75, Spring 2011 | NO COMMENTS

“Gash,” a stoneware stack pot by Peter Voulkos broke the world record for the artist’s ceramics, selling for $105,750 at the Cowans + Clark + Del Vecchio Modern and Contemporary Ceramics Auction in Chicago in November. Of the 84 lots brought to auction, several outsold their estimated values, including “Ghost Box” by Jim Melchert, which sold for $26,440, and “Vesuvius” by Christine Nofchissey McHorse, which sold for $17,625. “This was an important and successful first step towards establishing a true secondary market for modern and contemporary ceramics,” says Mark Del Vecchio, who co-owns Clark + Del Vecchio gallery with Garth Clark. The duo plans to team up again with Cowans auction house this spring.

The Art on Fire 10 Celebration and Auction raised more than $110,000 on Oct. 15 to support Pittsburgh Glass Center’s programs. A live auction included 23 glass works viewed by more than 400 attendees. Top sellers included works by Davide Salvadore, Jon Kuhn, Ed Kachurik and Richard Jolley.

Chris Roberts-Antieau

February 2011 | BY | Issue 75, Spring 2011 | NO COMMENTS

Chris Roberts-Antieau makes her home and her art in an airy four-story “Dr. Seuss house” in Manchester, Mich. Credit: David Lewinski.

Chris Roberts-Antieau’s friends joke that the towering two-story entrance and main living space of her Manchester, Mich., home looks like a chapel. Chris thinks calling it “a Dr. Seuss house” is more fun, but she agrees that its open design and pristine natural surroundings are inspirational.

Large windows overlooking a crooked pond suffuse the interior with natural light. Tall white walls open up to balconies and a fabric studio in the loft above the living room. The soaring four-level space is filled with art and antiques, many of which she’s collected during her frequent travels.

The self-taught textile artist designed the house, which sits on 11 acres of picturesque forest, to capture that sense of serenity, and she says she values the solitude she finds working in such an environment.

“When you’re an artist,” she explains, “you have to be constantly expanding your thoughts. There’s a lot of space here and I can let my mind go to a lot of different places.”

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Take a photo tour through the home of Chris Roberts-Antieau















Chris began her art career with little more than some scraps of fabric and a kitchen table. Completely self-taught, she invented a radical new process for creating fabric art, pushing the age-old tradition of appliqué to its outer limits with bold designs and unique stitch work.

She calls her work “fabric paintings,” colorful, cartoon-like depictions of people and animals that frequently poke fun at the absurdity of pop culture and find humor in everyday life situations. Oprah Winfrey collects her work, as does John Waters, Lyle Lovett and Senator Sam Nunn, and she’s represented by dozens of galleries all over the country, from Just Folks in Summerland, Calif. to Abacus in Portland, Maine.

“Chris’s art doesn’t look like anyone else’s,” says Rebecca Hoffberger, director of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md. “She is supremely intuitive and has an enormous gift for communicating a sense of humor that appeals to a very broad range of viewers.” Indeed, the museum has included 12 of Chris’s pieces in “What Makes Us Smile?,” an exhibition co-curated with Hoffberger by cartoonist Matt Groening and artist Gary Panter that runs through Sept. 4.

Chris travels frequently to exhibit her work. She participates in eight or nine major art shows every year, and she makes regular runs to New Orleans to tend to the Antieau Gallery she opened last spring in the French Quarter.

“Getting out of Michigan during the winter is my idea of brilliant,” Chris laughs. “Coming back in the spring? Also brilliant. I love the contrast between the two places: the North and the South, the hot and the cold, the isolation I have in Michigan and the stimulation I have in New Orleans.”

Along the way, she picks up art and antiques that track the people and the places she encounters. “I like to buy art from people I know or people I meet,” she says. She describes the bulk of her collection as “funk art, primitive stuff, handmade things, found-object art and a lot of antiques. I would say ninety percent of the artists I collect are self-taught.”

A pinball machine encased in a coffee table on the enclosed porch off the living room was a Baltimore find. An antique painted drum on the living room fireplace mantel was picked up at the Ann Arbor Antiques Market. The mantel itself was pieced together from three different purchases Chris made at an antiques fair in nearby Saline.

Large murals cover a hallway ceiling and frame the front door. They are the creations of Bryan Cunningham, a self-taught artist who worked for her for 10 years. A sculpture by Butch Anthony assembled from animal bones sits in the center of her dining room table and reveals, she admits, how her sense of humor “can be a little dark sometimes.”

Building Chris’s dream house was a real family affair. Her father Finch Roberts, who lives on 10 acres next door, learned the property was up for sale while trading local gossip about a tractor. Chris’s brother Carl Roberts, an architect, drew up blueprints based on her designs. And in 1997, after 18 months of construction, Chris moved in to her home and studio with her son Noah and Carlos, her English Bulldog.

Spectacle and amusement are incorporated in a number of art works and antiques in Chris’s collection. Cartoonish characters in a set of early 20th-century carnival sideshow signs for the “World’s Smallest Cowboy” and “The Human Pretzel” look a lot like characters in her own art works. She says the “old timey” aesthetic has had a pronounced influence on her own style.

Three large paintings that probably came from an old carousel, a large painting of a Ugandan wrestler by Lamar Sorrento, and a humorous looking puppet mask set atop an antique altar all point to the carnival aesthetic.

Another source of inspiration that pervades Chris’s home studio is music by singer-songwriter and balladeer Tom Waits. The feature-length documentary, entitled “The Life of Chris Roberts-Antieau: A Love Letter to Tom Waits” and shot by Chris’s studio manager Angela Kline, pays musical tribute to him, as well as incorporating demonstrations of Chris’s appliqué techniques and thousands of never-before-seen works of art.

With Michigan’s natural beauty outside and Tom Waits’ story-telling tunes strumming along inside, Chris takes a moment to let her eyes wander across her home’s visual treats.

“This,” she says, “is the environment that most inspires me.”

Up Close and Personal

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

Kelly Somer explores the elegant details of food preparation in pieces like “Ruby Red.”

Art is nothing if not personal. Artists start out as strangers, but with each new work, more of their triumphs, losses, self-discoveries, loves and memories are revealed. You must be incredibly brave to be an artist; it’s frightening to be that vulnerable. And you must be incredibly interested in other people’s stories to be a collector; you are bringing a piece of the person into your home.

AmericanStyle has been running its annual Emerging Artists feature for five years now (that’s close to 50 artists), and we feel like we know each one of them well. It’s hard not to develop a sense of closeness with a group that is so enthusiastic and forthcoming.

In this year’s edition, you’ll find ceramic artist Amy Chase, who draws from a special place in her childhood, her grandmother’s blue bedroom, to infuse color and evoke feelings of calm and comfort in her work. Glass artist Joshua Hershman also shares very personal memories of his grandparents in his work, embedding family photos into his kiln-cast cameras. Jewelry artist Sukyo Jang, who moved to New York to pursue her dream, uses her art to share with others what used to live only in her head. “Being an artist allows me to bring the beautiful shapes and forms I see in my mind to life,” she says.

Turn the page to delve into the lives and work of our eight new emerging artists—maybe you’ll even be inspired to welcome some of their very personal creations into your own home.

Rachel Wilson
Kate MacDowell
Joshua Hershman
Sukyo Jang
Amy Chase
Andrew Hayes
Kerrick Johnson
Kelley Somer

In Good Company Collecting Art

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

A shelf in the living room behind James Cathers’ “Nymph” displays Dale Chihuly’s “Opaline White Persian Set.” Credit: Stacy Bass

Fred and Susan Sanders may be empty nesters, but they hardly live alone. Lt. Colonel and Mrs. Figg are always there, hanging out in the living room in the company of a young woman in a salmon-colored slip. When the Sanders welcome guests to their 10th-floor Brooklyn apartment, a pensive woman looms behind them; when they set the dining room table, a child looks on; when they relax on the L-shaped couch, at least 10 pairs of eyes are watching.

Made of ceramics or glass, these companions are a small part of an art collection that encompasses luminaries like Dale Chihuly, Robert Rauschenberg and Albert Paley, along with names of more recent fame, and artists just beginning to make a splash. It is a collection so personal that to spend time with it is to get to know the Sanders through the company they keep.

For more of “In Good Company,” purchase the Winter 2010-2011 issue of AmericanStyle! Subscribe now and never miss an article.

The House That Art Built

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

“Golden Purple Thicket” and “Yellow Thicket,” two glass vessels by Charles Savoie, are shown near a chair by Richard Bronk.

The old woman in the graceful Queen Anne chair leans slightly to one side. Blue veins, visible through her translucent skin, crisscross her hands; her knuckles are swollen with arthritis. Although the corners of her mouth are drawn down, her frowning countenance appears to be due more to the ravages of age than to grumpiness. In fact, there’s a calm strength about her that’s riveting. No wonder this figurative sculpture by Angela Talbot so captivated the plumber who visited this Chicago-area home, one filled with many similar treasures.

The sculpture’s owners, who wish to remain anonymous, particularly love the handsome desk and chair they purchased from Wisconsin furniture artist Steve Spiro, meticulously crafted from various woods, including walnut, bubinga, wenge and maple. The chair is especially striking, with a tall, gracefully pointed back reminiscent of butterfly wings, or perhaps leaves. The set sits in front of a wall of windows showcasing the home’s densely wooded lot. “I look at my desk, and it’s a reflection of the woods outside,” says the husband. “That’s definitely appealing.”

For more of “The House That Art Built,” purchase the Winter 2010-2011 issue of AmericanStyle! Subscribe now and never miss an article.

Arts Walk: Ann Arbor

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | 2 COMMENTS

Red Shoes gets decked out for the holiday season in Ann Arbor, Mich.

It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s snowing. It’s 22 days before Christmas in Ann Arbor, Mich., and for shopkeepers, gallery directors, working artists and hordes of eager holiday shoppers, conditions couldn’t be better.

Time your travel right, and you can take part in the city’s annual Midnight Madness on Main Street. Slated this year from 5 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 3, it kicks off Ann Arbor’s holiday season, and includes everything from special sales, snacks and rickshaw-riding Santas to sidewalk carolers, roving musicians and the official lighting of the famous Main Street tree lights.

Start your gallery stroll at the lower end of South Main Street, in the heart of the downtown shopping district. There you’ll find Clay Gallery (335 S. Main St.), a co-operative space opened in 1984 by a group of local potters.

“We started in a small location near the campus,” says director Royce Disbrow. “And through two additional moves we’ve inched our way downtown.” The gallery is deceptively long on the inside, with lots of tables and built-ins to showcase work by guild members. Work is all handcrafted, all locally made.

Next stop: the Carol Roeda Studio (319 S. Main St.). It’s one of two Michigan retail stores (the other is in Grand Rapids) owned by artist Carol Roeda. The shop features Roeda’s own whimsical artwork, plus work by local artists, and the Sticks line of handpainted furniture and art objects.

At the corner is Selo/Shevel Gallery (301 S. Main St.), opened in 1982 by owners Elaine Selo and Cynthia Shevel. “We may be prejudiced, but we think our gallery is on the best corner in downtown Ann Arbor,” says Selo. Inside you’ll find an extensive selection of contemporary American crafts. Best sellers at holiday time include hand-blown glass ornaments, menorahs, wood jewelry boxes, jewelry, scarves and ties.

Cross the street and head for WSG Gallery (306 S. Main St.), owned by 16 artists, and a showcase for fine art at affordable prices by 22 local artists. WSG caters to a whole spectrum of art lovers, says member artist Michelle Hegyi: those who come to browse, those following how a particular artist evolves, and those looking for exceptional quality, affordable fine art.

On the corner of South Main and West Liberty Streets is the Ann Arbor Art Center (117 W. Liberty St.), the third oldest arts organization in Michigan and host to year-round lectures, workshops and art exhibitions. The gallery shop features a wide selection of artwork, crafts and jewelry created by regional artists.

Keep going west on Liberty, then turn the corner to find Red Shoes (332. S. Ashley St.), a brightly painted and inviting little shop featuring vintage, cottage, folk and home goods. Practically everything here—furniture, pillows, soaps, cards—is handmade, and reflects the effervescent personality of owner/artist Catherine Thursby.

Now swing back to Main Street. On the 200 block, you’ll come to 16 Hands (216 S. Main St.), a 35-year-old Ann Arbor mainstay specializing in what co-owners Jill Damon and Rick Wedel describe as fine crafts and home furnishings “with conscience and soul.” The shop zigzags back and sideways, pleasingly stuffed with an enormous collection of objects by more than 400 artists, including jewelry, blown glass, wearable art and a selection of soaps, hand lotions and candles.

A few doors down is The Peaceable Kingdom (210 S. Main St.), another longtime Main Street institution opened in 1973. It’s a jumbled-up toy chest of a place, brimming over with all kinds of eye candy. Shelves and cases are loaded with everything from inexpensive stocking stuffers to wall-sized, one-of-a-kind “fabric pictures” by self-taught Ann Arbor area fiber artist Chris Roberts-Antieau.

At this point you can choose to walk the few blocks north and west of Main Street or take your car to historic Kerrytown, home of the Sunday Ann Arbor Artisans’ Market and an array of specialty shops featuring home decor, clothing, food, wine and art supplies. You’ll find Found (407 N. 5th Ave.), which opened in 2005, on the second level of Kerrytown Market & Shops.

Found defies categorization, says owner Mary Cambruzzi. Not quite a gift shop, antiques shop or true gallery, it combines elements of all three in what Cambruzzi defines as “a creative mix of fun finds,” including whimsical art, jewelry and gifts. For the holidays, Found transforms itself into a Christmas shop filled with everything from antique sleds and skis to handmade Santas, folk art angels and chocolate-filled candy canes.

Now walk down to Heavenly Metal (207 E. Ann St.). A highly personalized gallery/gift shop tucked inside Vicki’s Wash & Wear Haircuts, it is without doubt the quirkiest stop on this list, but owner Vicki Honeyman makes it work. Look for unique handcrafted items including jewelry, ceramics and recycled art.

Finally, head for the University of Michigan central campus and the Ann Arbor Potters Guild (201 Hill St.), a nonprofit cooperative of more than 50 working artists, to check out its open studios. The range of work includes functional pottery, sculpture and tiles. The guild holds two sales a year, with the next one scheduled on Dec. 4 and 5.

Last stop: the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s (525 S. State St.) stellar 53,000-square-foot expansion, designed by Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture and opened in March 2009. Nighttime is the best time to visit: you can view the collections while you take in the sights and sounds of the campus after dark. With light streaming from its myriad windows and doorways, the university’s historic quadrangles and walkways look like an adult-sized version of the miniature village tucked under an old-fashioned Christmas tree.

Web Exclusive: More Art, Farther Afield
Web Exclusive: Holiday Events
Web Exclusive: Galleries at a Glance

Style Spotlight: Baltimore Charms with Blockbusters

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

Walter Wick’s “On a Scary Shelf,” from his book, Can You See What I See? On A Scary Night, is on view at the Walters Art Museum.

Charm City rolls out the red carpet with four blockbuster exhibitions at major Baltimore institutions this season. There’s sure to be something for everyone, but you’d better act quickly; tickets are selling fast!

• Explore the later works of an American icon in “Andy Warhol: The Last Decade, at the Baltimore Museum of Art through Jan. 9, 2011. The collection of 50 paintings, including self portraits and three variations of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” makes its final stop of a national tour in Baltimore. Visit www.artbma.org to purchase tickets.

“What Makes Us Smile?” We dare you to be in a bad mood when you check out this exhibition at the American Visionary Art Museum through Sept. 4. Curated by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, painter and illustrator Gary Panter and museum founder Rebecca Hoffberger, this exploration of humor includes vintage toy assemblages by comedian and dumpster diver Michael Baldwin and a 7,000-toothbrush welcome mat that invites all to “smile.” See more at www.avam.org.

• Dissect the seemingly infinite details of Walter Wick’s photographic illustrations in “Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic” through Jan. 2 at the Walters Art Museum. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the co-creator of the beloved I Spy book series, whose love for puzzles, games and illusions is clearly illustrated in his works. Go to http://thewalters.org to learn more.

• Feast your eyes on 14,000 artifacts that laid hidden on the ocean floor for more than a century. The Maryland Science Center presents the compelling story of one of the world’s most famous shipwrecks in “Odyssey’s Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure” through Jan. 31. Dive in at www.mdsci.org.

Style Spotlight: Finds

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

It’s extraordinarily difficult to stop yourself from biting into one of Dinah and Patty Hulet’s glass chocolates. That’s right—every “chocolate” in this selection is made of pure glass, designed to resemble an array of styles and flavors—more than 250 to be exact—of your favorite confections. “Art glass and chocolate … what’s not to love?” Dinah exclaims. Prices range from $32 to $36 for individual chocolates, but they are also available by the box. To purchase a selection, ask for Hulet Glass chocolates at RAS Galleries in Yountville, Calif., Pismo Fine Art Glass in Denver, Colo., Don Muller Gallery in Northampton, Mass., or visit http://huletglass.com.

Arts Travel: Soaking In Holiday Traditions

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

A live 35-foot-high fir tree is placed in the banquet hall of the Biltmore House every holiday season. Credit: © 2007 The Biltmore Company, all rights reserved

Sometimes living up the holidays means returning to tradition. What better places to visit than museums and historic estates? We’ve picked the best holiday destinations to experience all the charm the season has to offer.

Whether you visit by day or night, the iconic lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago will be out front to greet you. This year husband-and-wife team Stephanie and Bruce Tharp of Materious combined North American cranberry wreathes with Buddhist and Taoist wishing trees. Even better? They glow at night. Other holiday event highlights include the museum’s “Masterpiece of the Day” tour Dec. 20-31, and a new holiday tradition: six of the Thorne Miniature Rooms are decked out with all the holiday trimmings.

While you’re in the area, stop by the Evanston Art Center for its annual Winter Arts + Crafts Expo, which runs through Dec. 19. Expect handmade works by more than 100 artists in jewelry, ceramics, fiber, glass and more.

If you want to immerse yourself in all things Christmas, head to the Biltmore House in Asheville, N.C., through Jan. 2, 2011. Once there, explore the estate through a daytime or candlelight tour, or participate in cooking demonstrations and holiday decorating talks.

And if you still need to find gifts on your list, time your trip with the Asheville Art Museum’s “Big Crafty Holiday” Dec. 5, a daylong craft fair that showcases more than 100 local artists at Pack Place in downtown Asheville.

If immersing yourself in tradition means exploring the nation’s roots, head to Williamsburg, Va., and take in 80 decorated buildings, shops and guesthouses sparkling with white pine roping, wreaths, holly, magnolia, berries and fruit, true to their 18th-century beginnings. Once there, participate in “Decking the Halls: The Evolution of Holiday Decorations at Historic Sites” Dec. 16. Next, visit the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum to take in its 16-foot-high folk art Christmas tree, decorated with handmade ornaments. Finally, relax by exploring Merchants Square, home to more than 40 shops and restaurants.

Arts Travel: A Plan to Save Artist’s Whirligigs

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

Artist Vollis Simpson. Credit: Ray Strawbridge

The 32 whirligigs sculptor Vollis Simpson has created and erected on his Lucama, N.C., property since the early 1980s have fallen silent. Simpson, at age 91, is no longer able to climb as high as 50 feet to grease and maintain the metal parts that make a horse’s legs trot or a guitar player strum his instrument. “I’m not able to look after it now,” Simpson says. “I can’t climb. If I could climb, I wouldn’t let it go.”

But the community has a plan to save the sculptures. The city of Wilson, with the help of the North Carolina Arts Council and other partners, is raising money to buy, move and conserve the whirligigs, relocating them to a two-acre park by December 2012.

Simpson’s world-famous whirligigs can be found in the collections of the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and the American Folk Art Museum in New York City. The grounds of his shop are more than a roadside attraction; they are a “wonderland of three-story-high farmers, automobiles, airplanes and whimsical animals,” as Charlotte Richardson explained in the feature profile of the artist in the June 2006 issue of AmericanStyle. To find out how you can help with the whirligig relocation project, visit www.ncarts.org.

Arts Travel: Artful Dining

November 2010 | BY | Issue 74, Winter 2010-2011 | NO COMMENTS

Expect squashes, pumpkins and traditional roasts on the menu at Granite Hill at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this winter.

If you’re looking for a better-than-average dining experience this holiday season, try your local museum. We’ve previewed two:

Taste Restaurant at the Seattle Art Museum promises to wow your senses. Expect locally sourced comfort food paired with a wine list that touts Northwest producers. The bar menu has everything from mini organic beef burgers to woodstone pizza, and the dinner menu is flexible—choose from large plates or small. Prices range from $2.50 for an appetizer to $28 for a full entrée. Even better, Taste’s quarterly art series means that you’ll never be bored with what’s hanging on the walls. Recent features include encaustic paintings by Leslie Stoner and mixed media by Eva Isaksen. Visit www.tastesam.com to learn more about its special events, communal dinners and wine program.

On the East Coast, Granite Hill restaurant at the Philadelphia Museum of Art serves “upscale twists on contemporary French fare.” Expect an extraordinary experience from its menu, which includes classics like “Le Hot Dog on Brioche” and “Potato-Fried Chicken Schnitzel.” Prices range from $6 to $26, and the restaurant is open for Sunday brunch and regularly for lunch and dinner. The winter menu will complement the exhibition “Michelangelo Pistoletto: From One to Many, 1956-74,” a major survey of the Italian artist’s work that runs through Jan. 16, 2011. Expect squashes, pumpkins and roasts along with a roasted beet and apple salad. Visit www.philamuseum.org for details.

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