Style Spotlight: Investing in Creativity

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

The brand-new United States Artists (USA) ended 2006 with a bang by giving more than $2.5 million in grants to 50 American artists in December.

The upstart organization, funded by high-profile foundations, arts patrons and corporations, awarded $50,000 grants in a variety of categories, including Architecture & Design, Crafts & Traditional Arts, Dance, Literature, Media Arts, Music, Theater Arts and Visual Arts.

“USA’s goal is to fuel innovation in our culture by investing in creativity at its source: our nation’s finest artists. Our 2006 USA Fellows represent the full spectrum of artistic excellence,” said Susan V. Berresford, USA board chair and president of the Ford Foundation.

The six Crafts & Traditional Arts grantees of 2006 are: Tanya Aguiniga, a Los Angeles-based furniture designer; Liz Collins, a textile and clothing designer from Rhode Island; Anna Brown Ehlers, a blanket weaver from Juneau, Alaska; Arline Fisch, a San Diego-based jeweler and metal artist; Sarah Jaeger, a ceramist in Helena, Mont.; and Teri Rofkar, a Tlingit weaver from Sitka, Alaska.

To receive one of the annual grants, artists are nominated by an anonymous committee, and then make a formal submission by completing an online application.

Style Spotlight: Metal Is Putty in His Hands

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

After his cousin offered free film canisters, E. Moises Diaz started adding them to his work, like the frame in “Upward Temples, Plexi Blue,” created in 2005.

Do you long for urban metal art with flair? Step into the world of E. Moises Diaz. Working since 1996 as an independent artist, he crafts low-relief sculptures that have a powerful presence, often cityscapes, using aluminum cans, thin gauge aluminum and stainless steel.

Diaz initially started working in paper, folding complex sculptures for family and friends until the work began to sell itself. He made the jump to metal after incorporating a metal accent into a commissioned piece. “I happened to have a soda sitting on my work table, so I cut it open and used the sheet of aluminum. I was fascinated by how easy it was to work with,” Diaz remembers.

The most alluring aspect is that his self-taught origami techniques paved the way for his entirely handmade and folded metal sculptures. Visitors to the gallery often think that Diaz must employ machinery to achieve the perfect angles. “In many ways I am a machine,” he counters. “I’ve learned how to cut certain angles to make them look the way I want them to look.”

To fully dedicate himself to art, Diaz moved his family to Austin, Texas, and opened Urban Roots Gallery in 2005. As a part of the West End Gallery District, he sets his artistic standards high. “Every day my work is on display, so I always have to have my best work up. Being so close to downtown Austin has provided me with an energy that cannot be described.”

To view an online gallery of Diaz’s work, visit www.urbanrootsgallery.com.

Arts Abroad: Paris

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

Paris’s 12th arrondissement has seen its share of action. During the French Revolution, cabinetmakers stormed out of their shops along Faubourg Saint-Antoine and captured the Bastille. These were the men who developed the styles of three kings—from the fussy veneers of Louis XIV to the neoclassical lines of Louis XVI—styles that only the wealthy nobility could enjoy. In a neat turn of history, it was these very craftsmen who dealt a fatal blow to the class system and ushered in the ideals of brotherhood and equality.

Life in the neighborhood is quieter today, but the revolutionary spirit that brought art and beauty to the people lives on. Where trains once belched black smoke along an elevated railroad track, a mile-long swath of greenery, flowers and fountains floats above the rooftops. The 19th-century brick viaduct, whose function once was solely to support the tracks, now houses in its arches workshops, studios and galleries that line two long blocks of the busy Avenue Daumesnil, numbers 1 through 129. Developers had wanted to tear the whole thing down and build yet more highrises, but local government agencies prevailed and, in 1994, opened the Viaduc des Arts and the idyllic Promenade Plantée atop it.

The Viaduc does not attempt to re-create the old days, when the area resounded with the rasping of saws and planes and the tap-tap of hammers. The Viaduc is most definitely of this century. The swoosh and smell of buses and cars fill the air; many of the window displays would not be out of place on a fashionable Paris shopping street—witness the gold and silver jewelry of the Cecile et Jeanne Galerie or the edgy, contemporary home furnishings of VIA.

For more of “Arts Abroad,” pick up the April 2007 issue of AmericanStyle today!

East Meets West

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

Traditional Chinese textile screens inspired Tom Hucker’s “Screen #1.”

They came from different places—as far away as China or as close as Rockport, Mass.— and from different backgrounds, including painting, architecture and language. But they also had plenty in common. Each was internationally known for his or her innovation and imagination, and each had felt a calling toward furnituremaking.

These 22 studio furniture artists were invited to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., for a workshop in June 2005. They drew inspiration from each other and from signature pieces of historical Chinese furniture. The contemporary pieces that they created as a result make up the exhibition “Inspired by China: Contemporary Furnituremakers Explore Chinese Traditions.”

The exhibition, which continues at PEM through March 4, is a brilliant look at what happens when cultural influence meets individual inspiration. In addition to being the subject of a multimedia website and a beautiful catalog, it will travel to the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Nov. 30-March 31, 2008.

The exhibition features the 28 contemporary works created by North American and Chinese artists, as well as 29 historic pieces that inspired them. Dating from as far back as the 16th century, the older pieces are drawn from private collections and PEM’s own holdings. The list of participating artists is a who’s who of today’s renowned studio furniture artists, including Garry Knox Bennett, Silas Kopf, J.M. Syron and Bonnie Bishoff.

For more of “East Meets West,” pick up the April 2007 issue of AmericanStyle today!

The Gold Standard

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

Fay Gold, next to a portrait of herself by Robert Mapplethorpe, is writing a book about how she moved from New York to Georgia, “bringing controversial artists like Mapplethorpe and Basquiat to the Bible Belt.” Photography by Roger Foley

I can stand with a couple for 15 minutes and tell you who dominates, who pays for everything, who’s trying to please whom, and who is the most negative person in the world and will never like anything,” says Fay Gold.

“The response to a painting,” she concludes, “reveals the relationship between a couple.”

This is no therapist speaking, but a petite blonde whose impact on the contemporary art scene greatly outweighs her size. Gold began counseling couples, singles and celebrities alike on art collecting in the 1960s and, in 1980, opened the Fay Gold Gallery, Atlanta’s first—and by many accounts still premier—contemporary art gallery. She helped shape the corporate collections of Coca-Cola and Scientific Atlanta and raised funds for Elton John’s AIDS foundation.

Gold’s own relationship to art, however, reveals itself most clearly at home. Everywhere you look are eye-grabbing works of art, yet they are never hemmed in. Deborah Butterfield’s life-size horse statue (made of letters from an old movie marquee) in the living room does not crowd the surrounding paintings, just as Michael Lucero’s straw-skirted sculpture does not interfere with the nearby Sandy Skoglund mannequin, covered in jelly beans (part of her “Shimmering Madness” installation).

For more of “The Gold Standard,” pick up the April 2007 issue of AmericanStyle today!

A Magnificent Obsession

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

Photography by Roger Foley

The dictionary defines “obsession” as an idea that constantly intrudes on a person’s thoughts. Diane and Marc Grainer, whose collection of contemporary craft includes more than a thousand museum-quality objects, have put a new twist on the word as it applies to craft collectors.

A real collector, says Diane, “has art in the bathrooms,” and the cars are always in the street “because the garage is full of art objects.” A real collector buys a piece whether or not there is a place for it and will even make a purchase from a photograph. A real collector, she continues, “never asks where a piece is going to go. It will sit at a gallery or in a box or crate because he or she just has to have it.”

Since the late 1990s, when they began to truly indulge their obsession, the Grainers have served on the acquisition committees of several museums, funded prizes for craft artists and lent objects to traveling exhibitions. Empty walls in their suburban Washington, D.C., home attest to objects still traveling. “We’re generous in terms of lending things,” says Marc. “But we never lend anything that can’t be fixed. We have a clause in the contract that if an object is damaged, the artist has to fix it.”

For more of “A Magnificent Obsession,” pick up the April 2007 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Editor’s Note

February 2007 | BY | Issue 54 | NO COMMENTS

The whimsical “People Conversing on a Pavement” by Eleanor Glover atop “Game Table” by Yuko Shimizu, comissioned by Maryland collectors Marc and Diane Grainer.

If I can be said to be obsessive about anything, it’s the printed word. I read two newspapers a day, two or three books a week, and as many magazines as I can get my hands on. My workday revolves around words—writing them, editing them, revising and manipulating them—and one of my greatest satisfactions is to produce finely crafted stories for AmericanStyle. I even collect drawings and prints of people reading, and I’m not going to tell you how many books I own.

But a short while ago our publishing company upgraded our computer systems to allow (among other things) for easy viewing of website videos, and I’m suddenly hooked on hunting down the best of what the world of museum and visual arts sites have to offer.

Bear with me if this is old news to the more web-savvy of you, but it’s a heady new experience for me, and one I’m eager to share. Take, for instance, our feature in this issue about the Peabody Essex Museum’s “Inspired by China” exhibition. The collaborative underpinnings of the show itself are fascinating, and the work—contemporary interpretations by today’s furniture craftsmen of historic Chinese works—is highly engaging. But in addition to publishing a glossy printed catalog of the show, PEM has taken a giant step further and mounted the exhibition indefinitely on its website, complete with video interviews with the participating artists.

It’s a bravura package, one that folds printed words and engaging images in with video conversations with artists about the creative process. I encourage you to check it out for yourselves.

Elsewhere in our annual Art & Design issue, we’ll take you to homes in suburban Washington, D.C., and Atlanta that offer two very distinctive slants on showcasing art and craft.

In Maryland, in addition to building a stellar collection of craft art, collectors Marc and Diane Grainer have also systematically replaced every piece of store-bought furniture in their soaring three-story contemporary with commissioned pieces from American artists. In comfortable quarters farther south, pioneering Atlanta gallery owner Fay Gold and her husband Donald have juxtaposed edgy with engaging art and photography to spectacular effect.

Ready for the tour?

Hope Daniels
Editor-In-Chief

Arts Walk: Charleston

December 2006 | BY | Issue 53 | NO COMMENTS

Sunlight brightens the City Gallery at Waterfront Park.

Charleston’s charms earn accolades. Not only has it been dubbed “the most mannerly” city by etiquette expert Marjabelle Young Stewart, but AmericanStyle readers ranked this South Carolina destination fourth last year among America’s top art cities with populations of less than 100,000.

This city has supported the arts for centuries, but a decision three decades ago gave it a huge boost: composer Gian Carlo Menotti and others involved in the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, chose Charleston as the site of an American version. For 17 days every May and June, Spoleto Festival USA shows the work of internationally recognized visual and performing artists in theaters, historic churches and other venues throughout the city.

In 1979, the city created Piccolo Spoleto as a regionally focused counterpart, giving local and Southeastern artists a great opportunity to reach a larger audience. With free admission to half its shows, and events that welcome children, the festival has broad appeal.

Artists have flocked to Charleston, filling the downtown area with a wide variety of art year-round. You can view it on foot, but don’t expect to see everything in one day. We suggest two loops for pedestrians: the Historic District one day, and the King Street area the next.

You can start at the Historic District’s Gibbes Museum of Art (135 Meeting St., 843-722-2706). The Beaux Arts structure houses fine art, most of it connected to the Charleston region.

Ella Walton Richardson Fine Art Gallery (91 Broad St., 843- 722-3660) has three levels displaying acclaimed contemporary artists including plein-air talent Karen Hewitt Hagan, painter Lindsay Goodwin and sculptor Marianne Houtkamp.

Nearby, three galleries honor fine three-dimensional art. In a former bank dating to 1891, Mary Martin Gallery (39 Broad St., 843- 723-0303) showcases Ron Artman’s Asian-inf luenced ceremonial vessels and Nancy Langston’s cast-glass sculpture. Treasures inhabit the open vault. Edward Dare Gallery (31 Broad St., 843-853-5002) features Charlie Black’s turned-wood bowls and Lin Barnhardt’s acrylic-and-earthenware architectural sculpture. Grand, light-filled Martin Gallery (18 Broad St., 843-723-7378) has an impressive collection of large-scale sculpture, Scott Amrhein’s kilnworked glass bowls, and Robert Carlson’s pit-fired ceramic vessels. Equally inspiring artists round out all three galleries.

Eva Carter Gallery (132 East Bay St., 843-722-0506) calls itself Charleston’s only exclusively abstract gallery. Invitational shows complement large, evocative canvases by Carter and the late master William Halsey. City Gallery at Waterfront Park (34 Prioleau St., 843-958- 6484) opened in 2003. This city-run gallery spotlights new, innovative works in an airy, glass-fronted setting.

Fraser Fox Fine Art (12 Queen St., 843-723-0073) is known for West Fraser’s Lowcountry landscapes, Kent Ullberg’s engaging wildlife sculpture, and goldsmith Sarah Amos’ exquisite jewelry made from ancient coins and semi-precious stones. Smith Killian Fine Art (9 Queen St., 843-853-0708) is a showcase for painter Betty Anglin Smith and her triplets (photographer Tripp Smith and painters Shannon Smith and Jennifer Smith Rogers). Playfully vibrant bronze sculptures by Darrell Davis reveal a talented wit.

Around the corner, Nina Liu and Friends (24 State St., 843-722-2724) presents three floors of “artists who really have something to say in a very personal way.” Priscilla Hollingsworth’s colorful ceramics and Mana Hewitt’s sculptural shrines are among the thoughtfully chosen. Wells Gallery (17 State St., 843- 853-3233) features fine painters and David Goldhagen’s brilliantly f luid blown glass.

A stroll up cobblestone Chalmers Street is Charleston’s other City Gallery (133 Church St., 843-958-6459), in the historic Dock Street Theatre. It specializes in experimental work by emerging visual artists. Past St. Philip’s Episcopal Church is One of a Kind Gallery (164 Church St., 843-534-1774), where 6-foot oxidized- copper frogs guard the entry to whimsical blown-glass jellyfish, stained-glass kaleidoscopes and artfully functional pottery. End this loop at Meeting Street, where talented artisans, including some weaving the region’s sweetgrass baskets, grace the open-air Market Hall.

A second downtown loop, focusing on King Street and its cross streets, offers a good overview of South Carolina artisans. You can begin at the city’s oldest fine craft cooperative, the Charleston Crafts Gallery (87 Hasell St., 843-723- 2938), which features works by 25 to 30 artisans. During Piccolo Spoleto it hosts crafts events at Wragg Square.

Cone 10 (285 Meeting St., 843- 853-3345) is the working studio of 20 ceramists. Its rich diversity of styles is the intimate gallery’s strength. Raymond Clark gallery (307 King St., 843-723-7555) specializes in functional American-made craft, including Michael Bruner’s sculptural glass goblets and Larry Watson’s earthy, spiral-handled teapots.

On Saturdays between April and December, you could spend hours at the Farmers Market in Marion Square (King and Calhoun streets, 843-724-7309), where juried artisans rub elbows with local farmers. Also nearby, at the College of Charleston’s Simons Center for the Arts, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art (54 St. Philip St., 843-953-5680) hosts several fine international exhibitions a year, plus the “Young Contemporaries” show, which debuts works by select students.

You can end your tour by following St. Philip Street to Elizabeth Carlton’s radiant ceramics studio (85 Wentworth St., 843-853-2421), which is sure to make you smile—if you aren’t already.

The Year of O’Keeffe

December 2006 | BY | Issue 53 | NO COMMENTS

From a motorcycle ride to a lecture series, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M., celebrates its 10th anniversary with a year of memorable events.

The City Council of Santa Fe has declared 2007 “The Year of Georgia O’Keeffe,” and the entire city will be invited to the party, which officially kicked off in November 2006 to coincide with the renowned artist’s 119th birthday.

Featured events include a lecture series, a celebrity reading of O’Keeffe’s letters, the Ghost Ranch Motorcycle Ride, dinner at O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu home, a gala fundraiser, a concert at the Santa Fe Opera and a free community celebration.

Since its opening in 1997, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum has hosted more than 1.8 million people. For a complete schedule of its anniversary events, visit www.okeeffemuseum.org.

Arts Travel: All Aboard

December 2006 | BY | Issue 53 | NO COMMENTS

Art sets sail this summer on a floating gallery that will bring works from some of the world’s finest galleries to ports of call from Massachusetts to Florida.

The maiden voyage of SeaFair’s “Grand Luxe” launches from Long Island Sound on June 5, and continues down the Eastern seaboard with tour dates scheduled through spring of 2008. Stops include Cape Cod, Mass., New York, N.Y., Baltimore, Md., Washington, D.C., Miami, Fla., and Savannah, Ga., among others.

The luxury megayacht features restaurants, bars and three decks of gallery space where work from international art galleries, such as the Silver Fund in London, England; Marlborough in New York, N.Y.; Duane Reed Gallery in St. Louis, Mo., and Hackett-Freedman in San Francisco, Calif. The boat will remain docked at each destination.

Admission to the yacht is by invitation-only and is limited to qualified collectors, designers, consultants and others. To request an invitation and view the complete tour schedule, visit www.expoships.com.

Arts Travel: Yo, Adrian, Rocky’s Back!

December 2006 | BY | Issue 53 | NO COMMENTS

That’s right, the 8-foot bronze statue of Rocky Balboa has been placed back in a position of honor outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Sylvester Stallone made the steps to the museum famous in the 1976 movie Rocky, and fans have been mimicking his climb to glory every since.

The sculpture was created as a prop for 1982′s Rocky III, in which the fictional mayor ordered that it stand at the top of the museum’s front steps. A real-life controversy began when the city’s Art Commission rejected keeping the statue there after filming ended. The 1,500-pound work by A. Thomas Schomberg was moved to the Wachovia Spectrum sports arena, where it stayed for 25 years.

Stallone put the statue in storage after using it in Rocky Balboa, the sixth in the series, then offered it to the city again. The Art Commission voted 6-2 last September to move the statue to the lawn, beside the museum’s steps.

All that’s left for supporters to do is climb the stairs in celebration.

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