Certainly not everyone has a foot fetish—the reactions to Sam Bakewell’s work range from introspection to horror. The young Welsh artist casts body parts in porcelain, which he over-fires to achieve polished, sometimes softened, forms. Toes curl to suggest “intimacy, ecstasy or agony.” Explore the body and other themes in “Contemporary Ceramics from Wales,” an exhibition featuring Bakewell and seven other Welsh artists at the Baltimore Clayworks Community Arts Gallery in Maryland, now through Sept. 18. For more information, visit www.baltimoreclayworks.org.
- New York’s Museum of Arts and Design is set to open in its new Columbus Circle location in late September.
As summer winds down, daylight grows shorter and life begins to slip into a quieter, more buttoned-down season—except in the arts. In that arena, museum schedules are tantalizingly packed with special exhibitions as the fall-winter season kicks in. Fortunately for museum-goers, a lot of them will also open in new and renovated spaces.
Museums are expanding (some even sporting new names) in cities from San Antonio, Texas, to Roanoke, Va., and in New York City, where the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) opens in its highly anticipated new 54,000-square-foot location on Sept. 27.
The 12-story building at 2 Columbus Circle has undergone a remarkable transformation, according to Ben Hartley, MAD’s deputy director of planning and strategy. “The architect, Brad Cloepfil, animates what was a dark, closed-in space—a concrete sleeve, if you will—that now is filled with light and views of the city,” he says.
What won’t change is MAD’s mission to challenge the boundaries that traditionally separated fine art, craft, decorative arts and design. The museum now hosts its 2,000-piece collection in dedicated galleries, and includes expanded gallery space, a resource center and gallery for contemporary jewelry, and a restaurant and lounge overlooking Central Park.
“In addition, three open studios for ongoing artist-in-residence programs feature glass walls so visitors can interact with artists in different mediums and have access to both process and materials,” Hartley says. “Then they can go down to our exhibition galleries and have a better understanding and greater enjoyment of the art presented there.”
- David & Jacqueline Charak’s impressive collection, including pieces by Leslie Rosdol, top shelf; Mary Roehm, Jeannot Blackburn, Geo Lastomirsky and Barbara Nilausen-K, middle shelf; and Beatrice Wood and Anthony Bennett, bottom shelf.
David and Jacqueline Charak’s collection of contemporary sculpture—teapots, for the most part— crowds the corners of their St. Louis, Mo., home like a bunch of eccentric relatives.
A mischievous boy with a pumpkin-shaped head under a baseball cap makes off with a bird in a work by Leslie Rosdol. On a high shelf in the den, Kate Anderson evokes Jasper John’s flag paintings in knotted waxed linen over a squarish pot with a silver paintbrush handle. A Scott Schoenherr monkey—his tail is the handle—holds a squawking rooster that forms the spout. Whimsical so far, but clearly teapots.
Then you notice what appears to be a metal canteen with a spout emerging from a sensual leather casing that, unzipped, ripples away from the canteen’s rigid form. Paul Dresang’s trompe l’oeil vessel begs to be touched. A finger placed lightly on the teeth of the zipper confirms that they, too, are ceramic. In another room, two teapots, each embellished with an eyeball, leer gleefully from their perch above a window, their spouts entwined.
Finally, two surreal figures—one a 3-foot-high headless man and the other his female counterpart—catch the eye. The salvaged torsos, once garden sculptures, have been topped by artist Michael Lucero with colorful and exotic ceramic teapots, in a style that’s been called “manically rococo.” By now it’s quite clear that this is not your grandmother’s teapot collection.
This avant-garde array of artwork is the result of almost 20 years of collecting by David and his late wife Jacqueline, who died earlier this year after battling cancer. “Granted, our collection is a little over the top,” says David, an unlikely looking businessman in his 60s with an earring, red metallic glasses, a trim gray beard and an affinity for silk twill shirts and jeans. “‘Offbeat’ would be a fair description.”
For more of “Teapot Antics,” pick up the October 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today.
- Paperweight artist Paul Stankard creates meticulous depictions of flora and fauna in glass. Photography by Gregory Benson
Seated at his worktable, eyes shielded by blue-tinted glasses, Paul Stankard is creating an illusion. In one hand, he holds a rod of clear glass; in the other, a dark one. Between them, fire shoots out of a gas-fueled torch, softening the glass. With smooth, steady gestures, Stankard layers clear glass onto the dark, then pulls. The rod stretches. Again, he coats and pulls until the dark glass is but a filament inside a clear rod that he can shape into minute petals, stamens, root filaments or the edge of a damselfly wing. Once Stankard has assembled countless components into a color-rich bouquet, he encases it in crystal. The clear glass enrobing the dark filaments “disappears,” leaving wisps of color so fragile it is impossible to fathom how Stankard could have manipulated them.
This is the “wow!” factor in the work of an artist who is, by many measures, an inspiring anomaly. He attended technical college, not art school, and even after tasting Manhattan, opted for South Jersey, his home since the age of 15. In 1972, the married father of four left a good job in scientific glass to devote himself to art. He chose lampworking, a technique then associated more with street fairs than with the burgeoning studio craft movement. In New Jersey, paperweight production had a rich history and was “a wonderfully respected category and also somewhat of a lost art,” Stankard explains.
“In the factory,” he elaborates, “being creative meant paperweights.”
No longer satisfied with “wow,” Stankard prefers to hear “aah … ,” as people experience his floral and plant vignettes with their intimations of fertility, decay and wondrous mystery. Although Stankard’s compositions are painstakingly detailed, they are not botanically accurate—the form may be slightly off, roots may take onhuman form, faces might emerge underground. Memento mori? Jungian archetypes? Spirits or sprites? These are the kinds of questions Stankard likes to hear. “The sex, death and God part of my work,” he says. “That’s what’s important.”
At his home in Mantua, N.J., where he and his wife, Pat, have lived for nearly 40 years, other surprises await. We think of artists as being more likely to read Sufi texts than attend Sunday services, yet Stankard is a practicing Catholic. We think of glass artists as relishing technique, yet Stankard prefers talking literature. And, at home, the man heralded as the undisputed master of floral sculpture surrounds himself with artworks ranging from his daughter Katherine’s figurative paintings to Jay Musler goblets and Mark Peiser sculptures. Aside from one or two of his own works and a paperweight by his daughter Christine, there are no depictions of flowers.
“I am in the studio duking it out with realism, banging myself up till I leave exhausted,” he says. “The last thing I want to do is walk into my house and look at a flower!” His cheeks color beneath his white beard as he laughs.
For more of “Miracle Worker,” pick up the October 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today.
How many artists do you think there are in the United States? Would it surprise you if I said nearly 2 million? That’s only half the number of professional U.S. athletes (4 million) but twice the number of lawyers (1 million). And according to a study of census data released in June by the National Endowment for the Arts, artists are one of the largest classes of workers in the nation, only slightly smaller than the U.S. military’s active duty and reserve personnel (2.2 million).
For anyone interested in the arts, “Artists in the Workforce: 1990-2005″ is a treasure trove of information that may turn some of your prior notions about working artists upside-down. The NEA has made getting your hands on a copy as easy as downloading a PDF of the 140-page report from its website (www.arts.gov), and it’s a fascinating read.
According to NEA chairman Dana Gioia, “Artists now play a huge but mostly unrecognized role in the new American economy of the 21st century. This report shows how important American artists are to both our nation’s cultural vitality and the economic prosperity of our communities.”
- Men outnumber women in architecture, music and photography, while women outnumber men in dance, writing and design
- Job opportunities in the arts are strongest in metropolitan areas, with more than one-fifth of all U.S. artists living in and around New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C.
- The fastest growth in numbers of artists is in the West and the South, but New Mexico still has the most fine artists in the country
- Artists are three times more likely to be self-employed and have learned to be creative not only in their chosen fields but also in how they manage their lives.
Among the findings:
That last item, in particular, is what makes visual artists such compelling subjects for the pages of AmericanStyle, and this issue is no exception. It’s chock full of artists and new work, as well as a preview of the exciting new fall/winter arts season. Enjoy!
Its soaring Rocky Mountain vistas will make you wish you could paint landscapes, so Montana’s Triple Creek Ranch is lending a hand with its “Spectrum of Color & Artistry” weekends this fall.
During three weekends in October, the Darby, Mont., ranch will host nine artists to lead workshops and demonstrations for guests, including a painting session and a discussion of how to purchase art.
The four-day, three-night getaways also include accommodations in private luxury cabins, meals, beverages, a guided tour of a private art collection, welcome reception with the visiting artists, and a farewell art exhibition.
Each weekend features three different artists, working in oils, watercolors, acrylics and pastels. For complete information, visit www.triplecreekranch.com.
For more of “Arts Travel,” pick up the October 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today.
As if you needed another reason to visit Ireland, know that Sculpture in the Parklands is a must-see outdoor garden. Set in the bog land of Lough Boora in County Offaly, the Parklands hosts resident artists for three-week stints to create new, environmentally sound sculpture for the permanent collection.
American sculptor Patrick Dougherty was invited in June, and ended up creating a massive structure that required him (and many volunteers) to twist, weave and entangle more than 18 tons of willow saplings. Dougherty’s installation invites you to explore your fantasies in winding rooms and open pathways.
To schedule your own outdoor sculpture experience, visit www.sculptureintheparklands.com.
- This drawing from Where the Wild Things Are is on display in “There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak.”
Children and their parents are flocking to an obscure Philadelphia museum to view a retrospective of one of the world’s most beloved author-illustrators, Maurice Sendak.
Sendak chose to donate his work to the Rosenbach Museum & Library in the early 1970s because of shared literary and collecting interests. Today, it is home to more than 10,000 pieces of Sendak’s art, manuscripts, books and ephemera.
More than 300 pieces from the collection will be included in “There’s a Mystery There: Sendak on Sendak,” including original color art from Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There and Brundibar, as well as interviews, family photos and sketches from unpublished books.
The exhibition, which closes May 3, 2009, will feature new works every four months. For more information, visit www.rosenbach.org.
You won’t mistake them for Niagara, but for a few more weeks, you’ll be able to see waterfalls in New York City.
Artist Olafur Eliasson was commissioned by the city’s Public Art Fund to create four massive manmade waterfalls along the shores of the East River. The project opened in late June, and will continue through Oct. 13.
The waterfalls, measuring 90 to 120 feet high, are located at the Brooklyn Bridge, the north shore of Governors Island, Pier 35 in lower Manhattan and at the Brooklyn Piers.
There are a number of ground-based vantage points where all four waterfalls can be viewed, but if you want to get the full experience (including a dose of water spray), the New York Water Taxi offers an “unofficial” tour of the falls.
The 60-minute tour departs from the South Street Seaport and Battery Park, visiting all four waterfalls and passing by the Statue of Liberty. Boat tours supported by the Public Art Fund are offered by Circle Line Downtown, and the waterfalls can also be viewed from the free Governors Island and Staten Island ferries. For more information, visit www.nycwaterfalls.org or www.nywatertaxi.com.
Visit any beach in the United States, and you can go home with a bucket of seashells, driftwood or beach glass. But only in tiny Lincoln City, Ore., can you collect hand-blown glass on the beach.
Each fall, more than 2,000 glass floats created by area artists are placed along the shore of this town of 7,500. The objects hail back to the days when beachcombers could find Japanese fishermen’s glass floats washed ashore along the Oregon coast.
Anyone who finds a float is welcome to keep it (the program’s official title is “Finders Keepers”), and can register their float with the Lincoln City Visitor’s Center, which sends a Certificate of Authenticity and information about the artist.
The number of floats placed on the beach is always equal to the current year, so visitors will find 2,008 floats hidden from October through Memorial Day above the hightide line along 7.5 miles of public beach.
Those who aren’t lucky enough to locate a float can visit one of the city’s many galleries, all of which offer the objects for sale.
- The new addition of the translucent Bloch Building at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a sight to be seen against the evening sky.
The inviting smell of plump hot dogs, juicy Italian sausage and spicy bratwurst wafts across the cool air from vendor carts scattered around the neighborhood. As the crowd begins to swell, street musicians start playing everything from cellos to rusty garbage cans, creating a lively backdrop of sound. Suddenly the 60 galleries in this square-mile chunk of downtown Kansas City, Mo., throw open their doors and eager people scurry inside.
It’s a typical First Friday celebration in the Crossroads Arts District, a booming enclave that contains one of the most concentrated gallery districts in the nation. The fact that Kansas City has such a vibrant arts scene surprises most outsiders, but not its nearly half a million residents. The city is home to Hallmark Cards, Inc., which has employed thousands of artists over the last century, as well as the internationally acclaimed Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the 123-year-old Kansas City Art Institute, considered one of America’s top art schools. Couple that with the city’s moderate cost of living and friendly, small-town feel, and it’s no wonder artists from places like New York and Chicago are packing their bags and resettling here.
Although Kansas City has steadily nurtured its arts community for years, it’s just now that everything seems to finally be falling in place. “So many things are happening now,” says John O’Brien, the owner of Dolphin Gallery, who started First Fridays in the Crossroads Arts District in 2002. Galleries open from 7-9 p.m. during the first Friday of every month. “Curators are coming here and taking our artists to New York, Dallas and L.A.,” continues O’Brien, who recently moved his gallery from Crossroads to the West Bottoms neighborhood. “Local artists are choosing to stay here and outside artists are moving in.”
- Public art can be found around town, including “Bird Lives,” a statue in the Jazz District that honors music legend Charlie Parker.
It’s easy to see why. The Nelson-Atkins, acclaimed for its Asian art, European paintings and modern sculpture, recently unveiled the stunning, translucent Bloch Building, a 165,000-square-foot addition that houses the museum’s collection of African and contemporary art. Last fall, neighboring Johnson County Community College opened the doors of the 38,000-square-foot Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, quite a coup for a community college. And Kansas City’s Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art is expanding with a branch in the Crossroads.
And those are just the museums. To help nurture local artists, artist Colby Smith paired up with two businessmen a few years ago to form Review, Inc., which publishes a local visual arts magazine and provides 3,000 square feet of subsidized studio space to 13 contemporary artists in the Crossroads Arts District. The artists can use their studios for several years in exchange for an annual donation of two pieces of artwork—one to a patron linked with the artist, the other to Review. “We give artists the rare chance to work in a big studio without the financial burden, which allows them to concentrate all of their efforts into their artwork,” says Smith, who moved to Kansas City specifically to join its arts community.
For more of Arts Tour: “No Place Like Home,” pick up the October 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today.