Arts Abroad: Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula

August 2008 | BY | Issue 63, October 2008 | NO COMMENTS

Louis Mulcahy stands outside his showroom and workshop in Ballyferriter.

For centuries, Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula has attracted pilgrims and explorers, mystics and visionaries, farmers and writers. They’re drawn by the stonewall- bordered emerald hillsides, the soulful gray water of the Atlantic, Mt. Brandon’s lofty peak and the shadowy silhouette of Great Blasket Island. Among craggy cliffs and ancient ruins, the sunshine casts an almost holy glow on the land- and seascape. It’s what has shaped the lives and inspired the crafts of potter Louis Mulcahy and his wife Lisbeth, a weaver.

The Mulcahys maintain separate identities, studios and showrooms, yet they have found a way to combine their lives and their individual works in perfect harmony. Lisbeth’s weavings provide stunning backdrops in Louis’s showroom in the village of Ballyferriter, near the peninsula’s tip. His pottery accents the displays in her shop in the seaport town of Dingle.

When the couple met more than 40 years ago at a charity auction, Lisbeth, then working as a Danish au pair, was the potter. “We got married, I brought my wheel over to Ireland, Louis took it over, and that was the end of my potting days,” she recalls.

Lisbeth weaves functional work and tapestries in her Dingle studio showroom.

While Lisbeth never fully dedicated herself to the pottery process “I hated the feeling of clay drying on my hands,” she says. Louis took to it with passion. When he won the National Crafts Competition in 1975, the Mulcahys moved from Dublin to Dingle, drawn equally by the rich storytelling, music and folk traditions, and the dramatic vistas, to launch Louis’s full-time pottery studio.

The distinctively Irish setting comes to life in Louis’s wheel thrown tableware. “It reflects the colors of the sea and the landscape, dark browns and greens and blues,” he explains. Every piece is handcrafted in his Dingle workshop, and most incorporate an inward curve replete with decoration. In 2004, he became the first Irish craftsman to receive an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland for his artistry and his support of the local culture, including the Irish language, which both he and Lisbeth have learned.

Lisbeth explores her evolutionary side through weaving, which she began when Louis launched his line of pottery. She studied the craft for several years before opening her current shop in 1986. “I needed something for myself,” she explains. Weaving allowed her to act on her artistic vision, indulge her love of textiles and color, and explore her childhood fascination with her great aunt’s looms. At first she made throws, blankets, floor rugs and scarves. Now she makes “pictures” with her weaving. “I take reality and play with it,” she says.

While functional weavings supply her daily bread, the tapestries are where Lisbeth finds fulfillment. “When I look at a landscape, I see the shapes, angles, outlines and color more than anything else. These are what inspire me,” she says.

While weaving, she plays with color and shape, usually juxtaposing a dominant image against softer colors. “A range of subtle colors all over is uninteresting, but if you put in a couple of strong colors in a particular spot, it will bring the whole thing out.”

That playfulness and desire to color outside the landscape’s lines is leading her in a new direction. “I want to learn how to make fine art prints to complement the weaving,” she says. “I’d like a bit more freedom than what’s given by the medium of weaving, and to be able to express what I see in a more spontaneous way.”

Perhaps Lisbeth and Louis don’t collaborate artistically, but as Lisbeth notes, “we complement each other quite well.”


IF YOU GO

Dingle is just under a three-hour drive southwest from Shannon Airport and about an hour drive west from Kerry Airport. Both are serviced by bus and car. Note that Dingle is often listed by its Irish name, An Daingean.

For more information, visit these websites:
Louis Mulcahy Workshop and Shop

www.louismulcahy.com

Lisbeth Mulcahy Weavers Shop
www.lisbethmulcahy.com

Dingle Peninsula Travel Information
www.dingle-peninsula.ie

See for Yourself

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

The GoggleWorks arts complex in Reading, Pa., encompasses six buildings that house studios, offices and classrooms for instruction in everything from clay to fiber to dance.

The dry-erase board outside Susan Biebuyck’s studio in the GoggleWorks arts complex reads, “Don’t feed the artists.” The colorful scrawl is a joke, but the sentiment feels exactly right. Walking through the rabbit’s warren of glass-fronted studios feels voyeuristic. But this is more than observing artists in their natural habitats— the open-door policy at GoggleWorks encourages interaction with visitors. They may hang back at first, but eventually the curious cross the threshold.

This is exactly what executive director Diane LaBelle had in mind when she helped plan the arts center, located in Reading, Pa., about an hour northwest of Philadelphia. “We try to make art as accessible as possible,” she says. “You can’t be elitist about it.” She’s sitting in the former reception area of the late 19th-century eyeglass factory that’s now home to GoggleWorks. (In the 1920s, the company began manufacturing goggles for aviators and coal miners.) “If people learn about and experience art, they start to buy it,” she adds. “They start to enjoy it in a different way.”

LaBelle, an architect and weaver with nearly 20 years of experience in nonprofit administration, was heading the Banana Factory, an arts center in Bethlehem, Pa., when she met Reading native Albert Boscov. Impressed with the turnout during one of her First Friday events, the retired businessman asked for LaBelle’s assessment of a vacant factory building in Reading. They toured the facility with businessman Marlin Miller and Reading mayor Tom McMahon, who had brainstormed with Boscov about opening an arts center to help revitalize the downtown area.

For more of “See for Yourself” pick up the August 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Collecting, Passionately

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

Tatyana Schremko’s wood sculpture ‘Che’ brings a spiritual presence to the living room. Photography By Roger Foley

We never disagree on anything, Silvio Imas says about how he and his wife Linda Morra-Imas choose art for their Potomac, Md., home. Linda nods in agreement. Their easy accord is tested with a question: “Which piece would each of you be saddest to lose?”

Silvio quickly scribbles something on a scrap of paper and places it facedown on the coffee table. Linda ponders deeply, then replies, ‘the Abeyta.’ Silvio laughs and flips over the paper. It reads: ‘Abeyta.’

“It was the first major piece we bought together,” he explains, pointing to ‘Four Seasons,’ an enigmatic painting by New Mexico Navajo artist Tony Abeyta. “It’s like your firstborn. You love them all, but you love that first one the teeniest bit more.”

For more of “Collecting, Passionately” pick up the August 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today!

The Courage to Create

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

Stephan Goetschius uses a variety of techniques to create the surface designs on his pieces. “Mandala 52″ is carved and accented with gold leaf.

Being an artist takes fortitude. It requires you to leave the comfort of the 9 to 5 working world and journey into the unknown. It’s often a lonely profession with hours spent in solitude at a workbench. And, especially in the early years of one’s career, there is plenty of rejection.

Texture and movement are important aspects of Alex Adams’ work, such as “Circle,” which includes blown glass.

It takes passion and drive to transform oneself into a professional artist, and many who try never “make it.” That’s what makes the stories of those who do succeed so compelling. For the third year in a row, AmericanStyle is celebrating some of these success stories.

Each of these 10 emerging artists has been in business for less than a decade. Many had successful careers in other fields before they went out on their own. Others are still juggling the demands of being a practicing artist with full-time jobs. “My biggest challenge in getting established was my own fear of failure,” says Jacob Albee, whose jewelry designs have earned him national acclaim. “You play this game at great risk, but when you’re winning, it is a great feeling.”

For more of “The Courage To Create,” pick up the August 2008 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Parting Shot: Shape and Form

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

Photo By Anita Feldman/The Henry Moore Foundation

This summer, the New York Botanical Garden will undergo a transformation of magnificent proportion when it hosts “Moore in America: Monumental Sculpture at The New York Botanical Garden,” the largest ever outdoor exhibition of the sculptor’s work at a single stateside venue. Twenty of Moore’s major works, including “Large Two Forms,” will be placed throughout the garden’s 250 acres in a presentation that surely would have pleased the British sculptor, who designed large-scale works to pop in expansive landscapes. Feel free to get up close and take in all the angles, against a backdrop of summer splendor or colorful autumn foliage. The exhibition, curated with the Henry Moore Foundation, closes Nov. 2. For more information, visit www.nybg.org.

Style Spotlight: Curiously Strong Art

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

In search of the latest, minty-fresh art? Altoids and the New Museum in New York City recently announced the winners of the first Altoids Award, given to four emerging American artists.

The winners of this year’s $25,000 awards were all nominated by artists, and then selected from a pool of 46 by a jury comprised of three internationally known artists—sculptor Paul McCarthy, photographer and filmmaker Cindy Sherman and installation artist Rirkrit Tiravanija.

The work of the inaugural Altoids Award winners covers a variety of mediums, from video and performance to drawing. Winners include Ei Arakawa, who works with dance, actions and objects to create performance art; Michael Patterson-Carver, who creates politically charged color drawings; Lauren Kelly, who works in stop-motion animation; and filmmaker Michael Stickrod. The four artists’ work will be featured in an exhibition at the New Museum through Oct. 12.

Style Spotlight: Warhol’s Portraits Reconsidered

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

© THE ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION FOR THE VISUAL ARTS, INC./ARTISTS RIGHTS SOCIETY, NEW YORK/COURTESY OF RONALD FELDMAN FINE ARTS, NEW YORK.

Nearly three decades ago, pop artist Andy Warhol premiered “Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century,” an exhibition met with both appreciation and strong criticism.

This year, two prominent Jewish museums will host “Warhol’s Jews: Ten Portraits Reconsidered,” featuring the original 10 portraits alongside photographs of the subjects, sketches and the preliminary list of nearly 100 “famous Jews” prepared by the artist’s dealer.

Warhol never specifically divulged how he selected his subjects, all of whom he’d never met. The most he ever explained to a reporter was that he “liked the faces.” The original series, commissioned by gallery owner Ronald Feldman and Israeli art dealer Alexander Harari, features portraits of actress Sarah Bernhardt, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, the Marx Brothers, novelist Franz Kafka and others.

The exhibition will be on display at The Jewish Museum in New York City through Aug. 3, and will travel to the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco Oct. 12-Jan. 25, 2009.

Editor’s Note: Getting Personal

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

A sneak peek at one of our 2008 emerging artists work: Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong’s unglazed porcelain Adonis.

I spent this past weekend visiting Nashville, Tenn., for the very first time. It was an exciting trip for me, as a country music enthusiast, and as luck should have it, my mini-vacation coincided with a popular local art event: the 37th Tennessee Association of Craft Artists Tennessee Craft Fair. The outdoor event, held in the heart of the city on the grounds of Centennial Park, attracts 180 regional artists and 45,000 visitors each year. I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon milling from tent to tent, talking to artists and admiring their work (and I have the sunburn to prove it!).

True, I’m lucky enough to have a job that exposes me to beautiful pieces of art every day, but it’s an all-too-rare occurrence when I’m actually able to get out there and connect with artists face-to-face. And, as you well know, holding a piece in your own hands is radically different than admiring it through a digital image on a glossy magazine page. This personal connection made the souvenirs I brought home even more special.

There are 10 other artists that I’ve recently connected with, although I have yet to meet any of them in person. They’re all part of our 2008 Emerging Artists package. The work of artists like Gary Stevens and Jocelyn Braxton Armstrong stopped me in my tracks the first time I saw it, and I hope it does the same for you. After paging through the section, you’ll also get a sense for who the artists really are: what drives them to create, what motivates them, what keeps them up at night.

You’ll get an intimate look inside the Potomac, Md., home and collection of Silvio Imas and Linda Morra-Imas. This couple offers a refreshing take on what it means to collect and how to make tough purchasing decisions.

I’m off to buy some aloe and start hanging all of my weekend acquisitions! Enjoy!

Sara Jerome
Guest Editor

Arts Walk: Saugatuck and Douglas

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

Photo courtesy Felicia Fairchild

Separated by two miles, the communities of Saugatuck and Douglas, Mich., are set amid dunes, water and rolling fields. Located on Lake Michigan’s southeastern coast, the adjoining towns first drew urbanites escaping industrial Chicago for sandy beaches more than a century ago.

Artists accompanied those cottagers. Enamored with the scenery, they started the Ox-Bow school of art, the cornerstone of a then-quiet artistic colony, in 1910. In the 1990s, art-lovers looking for a stimulating small-town getaway discovered the area and inspired a renaissance. Historic buildings became home to today’s bustling boutiques, quaint B&Bs and more than 30 galleries, as the two towns transformed into Michigan’s art coast epicenter.

Begin at Wick’s Park, at the intersection of Mary and Water streets, where a hand-cranked chain ferry crawls across the Kalamazoo River. Cross Water Street to enter De Graaf Fine Art (403 Water St. on Main, 269-857-1882), a gallery representing fine artists from both near and far, including acclaimed Midwestern cast paper artist Tom Balbo and doctor-turned-folk-artist Dewey Blocksma. Head east on Main Street, passing sculptures in a playground and a treed parkette, including Patricia Daggett’s “Girl with Puppet,” a figurative bronze in memory of Burr Tillstrom, a famous puppeteer who summered in Saugatuck. The sculptures were originally part of Art ‘Round Town, an annual exhibit that ran for nearly a decade before ending in 2007; some pieces were donated to the town and permanently installed at various locations.

John Leben’s digital painting “Upstairs House” depicts a familiar local sight—stairways leading to the beach from a home on the bluff above. His work is carried at Constance Petter Gallery.

At Butler Street, turn right for James Brandess Studios & Gallery (238 Butler St., 269-857-1937), crowded with Impressionist-style canvasses and a large collection of postcard-sized portraits. Since 1993, Brandess has been working on painting each community member. “I’m not doing it in a very organized fashion,” he says. “People will come in and say, ‘I’ve lived here for 20 years, why haven’t you painted me?’” Turn right and walk to the intersection of Butler and Mason. On the southeast corner, an iron fence encloses the Mize Rose Garden where sculptures stand amid benches, flowers and foliage.

Walk west on Mason to the corner of Water Street, and the three-story Good Goods gallery (106 Mason St., 269-857-1557). Built in 1881, this ship captain’s residence now showcases a variety of fine craft.

Cohn-Stone Studios’ glasswork gleams in the windows overlooking the wrap-around porch. Inside, jewelry handcrafted from gold, silver, steel and concrete entices beside a room of wearable art. Furniture showcased upstairs includes work by Michigan artist Floyd Gompf, who incorporates objects like croquet balls and handles into his salvaged wood pieces. “We love American-made pieces,” says manager Janice Gibson, “one-of-a-kind work you can’t find anywhere else.”

Leave Good Goods and walk back to Butler. Turn right and pass Village Hall, built in 1880 but redesigned in 1926 by local artist Carl Hoerman. At Culver Street, walk east to see Cynthia McKean’s figurative steel sculpture “Family of Man IV” in waterfront Coghlin Park. Nearby Amazwi Contemporary Art (249 Culver St., 269-857-5551) carries contemporary African paintings, sculpture and unique craft like telephone wire art, created by night watchmen filling long hours doing traditional Zulu weaving with discarded wire.

To get to Douglas, follow Culver Street (it becomes Lake Street) to the Blue Star Highway (A-2). Cross the bridge and look left for the River Guild Galleries, a large building once owned by Carl Hoerman. “His vision was to have a guild of arts and crafts here, but it didn’t blossom,” says Constance Petter, owner of Constance Petter Gallery (161 Blue Star Highway, 269-857-7861). Hoerman would be happy now. The many rooms are filled with paintings, ceramics and carvings by about 60 artists, half of them regional, with space devoted to etchings and glasswork.

Housed in the same building, the Button Gallery (161 Blue Star Highway, 269-857-2175) features work by some 30 artists, including raku pottery figures by Judy Geerts and metal sculpture by Cynthia McKean.

Head south on nearby Union Street and turn right onto Center Street to arrive at the Water Street Gallery (98 Center St., 269-857-8485). This ocher-colored gallery, relocated from Saugatuck in 2007, now represents some 50 artists working in ceramics, bronze and other mediums, including glass artist Paul Runde and sculptor Kirk Newman.

Back on the Blue Star Highway, drive south to 124th Avenue (M-89) and turn left for the Peachbelt Studio and Gallery (M-89 and 63rd Street, 269-561-5561). In 2005, painter Dawn Stafford turned this 1867 one-room schoolhouse into a studio space and gallery. Her luminous canvasses glow alongside fellow artist Jill Lareaux’s figurative sculptures in bronze and other mediums.

Pull the chord to ring the school bell before heading west on M-89. Turn left onto 66th Street and follow it to 113th Avenue. Turn left to drive to Khnemu Studio (6322 113th Ave., 269-236-9260), where chickens welcome visitors to a working farm, studio and gallery.

Inside, a dozen potters’ wide array of work includes brightly colored raku, sculptural pieces and contemporary vases created by an industrial designer.

Variety is good, says Mary Kuilema, who makes Arts & Crafts-inspired wall tiles. “We borrow from each other, learn from each other, and in the end we all grow.” It’s a fitting testimony to a century-old artistic community that continues to thrive.

More Stops to Make

Saugatuck and Douglas offer art opportunities beyond the galleries mentioned in the story. Here are some more to check out. A complete list of businesses is available through the Saugatuck/Douglas website, www.saugatuck.com. For a list of area artists participating in open studio tours and events, visit www.bluecoastartists.com.

Saugatuck

Bruce Baughman Gallery
242 Butler St., 269-857-1299
www.brucebaughmangallery.com

Czarina’s Treasure
403 Water St., 269-857-7216
Discovery Art Center
347 Water St., 269-857-8225
www.discoveryart.org

Janice Miles Gallery
421 Water St., 269-857-5202
Marcia Perry’s Ark Gallery & Sculpture Studio
6248 Blue Star Highway
269-857-4210
www.marciaperry-ark.com

Saugatuck Center for the Arts
400 Culver St., 269-857-2399
www.sc4a.org

The Timmel Collection
133 Main St., 269-857-7274
www.thetimmelcollection.com

Douglas

Stewartia Studio
2525 Blue Star Highway
269-543-4029

Thistle Gallery
10 W. Center St.
269-857-7500
www.thistlegallery.com

You’nique International Gallery
95 Blue Star Highway
269-857-6022

If You Go

The Saugatuck-Douglas area is a two-hour drive north of Chicago and a three-hour drive from Detroit. It is located off I-196/US 31, between exits 36 and 41. Information about attractions, lodging and more can be found through the Saugatuck and Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau at www.saugatuck.com or by calling 269-857-1701. Another valuable resource is www.michigan.org. Ox-Bow Friday Night Open Studios, held most Fridays June 20-Aug. 15, showcase work by students and artists-in-residence and host miniauctions and demonstrations in various mediums. Visit www.ox-bow.org for more information. At the Saugatuck Center for the Arts, pick up some artisanal food at the Greenmarket, every Friday from June until October.

Arts Travel: Travel Q&A

June 2008 | BY | Issue 62 | NO COMMENTS

Washington’s Bainbridge Island is bursting with activity in the arts. This summer, the eighth annual Bainbridge Island Studio Tour will feature island studios and gardens hosting regional artists.

Q: I’ve been meaning to take a trip to the Northwest. How many artists will open their studios?
A: The self-guided tour will include some 50 artists clustered together at various stops, Aug. 8-10. Along the way you’ll find Dancing Spirit Studio, Fenwick Photo Gallery, Hidden Cove Pottery and Mesolini Glass Studio, among others.

Q: Does the tour include anything beyond artists’ studios?
A: The studio stops are complemented by outdoor booth displays so you can view work by several artists at each location. Live music will be played at several of the stops.

Q: Will I be able to see a variety of work?
A: Practically every medium is covered. The juried event includes jewelers, photographers, painters, ceramists and glass, wood and fiber artists.

Q: It sounds like the island is packed with fine craft. Can I make a full weekend out of it?
A: Of course! There are more than a few bed and breakfasts on the island, as well as other must-see destinations. Don’t miss Bainbridge Arts and Crafts, a nonprofit art gallery that features the work of more than 300 regional artists. It will feature a special exhibition of five ceramic sculptors, Aug. 1-Sept. 2.

Q: Can I walk portions of the tour, or should I drive?
A: Although walking would slow your tour down considerably, biking is an option. See the Seattle Bicycle Touring Club (www.seattlebiketours.com) for a map and route. You can also take a 35-minute ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island by car or bike.

Q: That sounds fantastic! Where can I find more information?
A: Visit www.bistudiotour.com or call Dinah Satterwhite at 206-842-0504.

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