Style Spotlight: Artists’ Life

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Bill Horin has founded ArtC. Credit: Bill Horin Photography

Do you watch TV awards shows for the celebrity attire? Then you might have noticed the cast and producers of multi Emmy-nominated Boardwalk Empire wearing witty and nostalgic Atlantic City-themed cufflinks and pendants. The show is about the life of fictional 1920s gangster Nucky Thompson. The jewelry, by artist Paula Jerome, celebrates memories of childhood summers on the Boardwalk, including the “Bathing Beauty” charm, based on a 1940s photo of her mother posing on the beach. Executive Producer Terence Winter gave the jewelry to his crew as “lucky charms.”

A studio, a gallery, a museum and a theater, and it’s all happening in Oceanville, N.J. It’s ArtC, “the next logical step” for founder and executive director Bill Horin, a commercial photographer whose passion is promoting the arts in southern New Jersey. The program, based at the Noyes Museum of Art, brings together painters, sculptors, photographers, musicians, actors, dancers, teachers, students and art lovers for exhibits, sponsored events, partnerships, a website and a blog to promote and provide services for creative work. “The idea is to give voice to a powerful but sometimes overlooked population: serious artists working in South Jersey,” Horin said. The website is www.artcnow.com.

An eighth-generation basket weaver won the Best of Show award at the 2011 Santa Fe Indian Market in August. Maine resident Jeremy Frey learned the craft at a young age from his mother. He uses only locally harvested materials—sweetgrass and black ash in the winning basket—for his work, which he describes as “traditional/contemporary.” The market, held every year since 1922, is sponsored by the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts.

The man credited with turning blacksmithing into an iconic American art form, L. Brent Kington, has been honored by the Society of North American Goldsmiths, an association of artists, jewelers, designers and metalsmiths. The society dedicated its 2011 conference, held in May in Seattle, to Kington, the winner of its Lifetime Achievement Award. Kington, a distinguished metalsmith and teacher long associated with the Southern Illinois University Carbondale School of Art and Design, has also created silver toys, weathervanes, painted pieces and contemporary abstract sculptures in a career spanning some five decades.

First Lady Michelle Obama, noted for her style, brought it to the White House with a capital S to celebrate the winners and finalists of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards at a ceremony in September. The winners included: Lifetime Achievement: Matthew Carter, master type designer; Fashion Design: J. Mendel; Shelton, Mindel & Associates, corporate, cultural, retail, academic design; Landscape Architecture: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, high-use landscapes in complex urban situations; Product Design: Continuum, global design and innovation consultants.

Style Spotlight: One Tall Order for Pottery’s Ailing Chimney

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Pewabic Pottery’s chimney is in need of repair. Credit: Mario Lopez

Since the early 20th century, the 49-foot-high chimney has towered over the Tudor Revival structure that houses the historic Pewabic Pottery. The Detroit pottery, whose building is now a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places, is famous for its iridescent glazes and was at the forefront of the American Arts & Crafts Movement. Its artistic founder, Mary Chase Perry Stratton, is an honoree of the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

Traditionally, the pottery produced vessels, tiles, architectural ornamentation and jewelry. Today, it includes education, exhibition, museum, and design and fabrication programs. It conducts classes, workshops, lectures, internships and residency opportunities. In addition to fabricating tiles for all uses, including pieces for commemorative occasions, the pottery also makes garden ornaments and reproductions of its historic designs.

But now the chimney that has been so important to all the pottery’s work is threatened. Concrete and tiles are loose and falling off, and the historic chimney needs a compete restoration. There is also damage to the roof. Pottery artists are creating the tiles, but Pewabic needs help with restoration costs. The Save Our Chimney Drive hopes to raise $125,000. If you want to help—no donation is too small—visit www.pewabic.org.

Style Spotlight: In Memoriam

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Ardis Butler James. Credit: Geoff Johnson

Ardis Butler James, collector, philanthropist and lifelong lover of fabric, died at age 85 on July 7 in Stamford, Conn. Together with her husband, Robert, Mrs. James founded the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1997. The couple donated nearly a thousand quilts, then worth more than $6 million, to the museum, which now has a collection of more than 3,500 quilts.

Mrs. James, who grew up in Omaha, Neb., always collected fabric and was a quilter herself. Once, offered a fur coat by her husband, she chose a sewing machine instead. The couple began collecting quilts in the late 1970s and at one point had to build an extension onto their house to hold the growing collection. Mrs. James said she loved quilts for their tactile nature and connection to the people and places of history.

Inventor, artist and imagineer Bob Cassilly, 61, died doing one of the things he loved most: moving dirt. He was found dead Sept. 26 after an apparent accident at the site of his latest project, turning an abandoned St. Louis, Mo., cement plant into a fantasyland of his signature giant animal figures and huge sculptures of ordinary objects like a 79-foot No. 2 pencil and a 4-foot-wide Slinky.

Cassilly was identified over his four-decade career as a sculptor, businessman, restaurateur and museum director, but he refused to be defined by labels. He built a giant giraffe for the Dallas Zoo and hippopotamuses as playthings for children in New York. But the creation he will undoubtedly be most remembered for is the City Museum in St. Louis and featured in the Summer 2010 issue of AmericanStyle, which includes a five-story jungle gym, a walk-through whale, working shoelace machines and skateboard ramps with no skateboards. On the roof are a Ferris wheel and a giant statue of a praying mantis. More than 600,00 people visit every year.

Lecturer, writer, critic and ceramic artist Polly Ullrich died in Woodruff, Wis., on July 6 from injuries suffered in an auto accident. A vibrant supporter and participant in the arts community in Chicago, she was 60.

Ullrich began her career in journalism and increasingly focused on art and the art world. In 1980, she began concentrating on her skills as a ceramic artist. In addition to showing her work in Chicago, Milwaukee and New York, she lectured widely at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine. She also taught at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Painter Lucian Freud, grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and a controversial and influential character in his own right, died in London on July 20 after a brief illness. He was 88. He is known for his unadorned, often harsh and mostly nude portraits, many of them of his friends and family. The Economist said of him, “Bare flesh … cushiony, shiny, lumpish pink-white thickly shadowed in gray and blue, was everywhere … His candor was shocking.” But The Guardian quoted Sue Tilley, the model for his famous “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping,” as saying, “He wasn’t cruel—he painted what he saw.” The 1995 painting sold for $33,641,000 in 2008 at Christie’s in New York.

Style Spotlight: News From the Gallery Front

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Jack and Lisa Frost entertain at Goldenstein Gallery. Credit: Mal Cooper

Eating local is a big deal for diners. Could buying local be just as big a deal for art lovers? Owner Linda Goldenstein, of Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona, Ariz., thinks so. The gallery, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, has achieved success through its commitment to showcasing the work of local and regional artists. It features a new show each month and hosts notable First Friday events with live music, wine and artists. One recent event featured an Apache medicine man offering a traditional corn blessing.

Aspen, Colo., just got a little more artsy with the opening of a new venue. Drasner Gallery features paintings, photography, prints, sculpture and glass from artists such as Robert Indiana, McKay Otto, David LaChapelle, Tomas Sanchez and Andy Warhol. The gallery, which had its grand opening Aug. 5, also shows owner Lora Drasner’s photographs, taken during her travels around the world. “It’s very eclectic,” Drasner says of the gallery’s offerings.

Shopping for sparkly things is always a treat, but it’s even more fun in a really cool place, like the six-story, 12,500-square-foot, National Register of Historic Places-registered building on Washington, D.C.’s, Connecticut Avenue that is the Tiny Jewel Box. Indeed, the gallery took first place in the Big Cool division of INSTORE magazine’s list of Coolest Stores for 2011. The store, established by President Matthew Rosenheim’s grandparents in a 100-square-foot breezeway, is now big enough that you can find both a jewel and a handcrafted jewelry box to put it in. And buy a really fashionable handbag to carry home the receipt. How cool is that?

Downtown Bethesda, Md., is getting a new space for artists and art lovers. The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District and Bethesda Urban Partnership are teaming up to offer Gallery B to interested artists and arts organizations for one-month rentals. The gallery will consider painting, photography and sculpture, but it is not limiting itself to those mediums. The gallery takes no commissions on artwork sold during an exhibition. To find out what’s on display or to submit an application to use the space, go to www.bethesda.org/bethesda/gallery-b.

One door opens, another closes. After more than 27 years, Vespermann-Cooper Gallery in Atlanta closed on Aug. 31. The gallery is credited with introducing Atlanta-area residents to art glass. Seranda Vespermann will continue to design corporate awards and execute stained-glass commissions, and Jeannie Cooper will continue to paint and do commissions. While they’re disappointed that the gallery has shut its doors, Vespermann said, “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to be sad or melancholy about doing the smart thing.”

Style Spotlight: Sold!

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

“Isla” by Cristina Cordova. Credit: Steve Mann

Pittsburgh Glass Center’s annual Art on Fire Celebration & Auction Sept. 23 raised $110,000 to benefit its educational programs and exhibitions. More than 400 people snacked on sorbet, milkshakes, pizza, tacos and barbecue during the live and silent auctions. The live auction brought $7,900 for Dante Marioni’s reticello acorn.

The Houston Center for Contemporary Craft celebrated its 10th birthday Sept. 22 with a Martini Madness! party. A silent auction before the party and an auction during the event raised more than $28,000. Every guest chose a handmade martini glass for the evening and was encouraged to dress up in mid-century cocktail attire. Special guest Dyna Moe, illustrator of Mad Men: The Illustrated World, flew in from New York to present awards to the best dressed. Proceeds from the event are to benefit the center.

The highest bid at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center’s 31st Annual Auction Aug. 13 was for a mixed-media work by Chicago artist Theaster Gates, at $39,000. The event attracted nearly 200 people to the facility in Snowmass Village, Colo. There were 260 pieces in the live and silent auctions, which raised more than $500,000. The auction funds classes, residencies, lecturers, visiting artists, guest critics and scholarships.

The Penland School of Crafts 26th Annual Benefit Auction broke records for the western North Carolina school: highest attendance, with more than 600 people; and highest net income, at $456,405. The Fund-A-Need project raised $84,100 for a new house for Penland’s core fellows. More than 250 current and former Penland instructors, resident artists and core fellows contributed more than 240 works in all mediums for auction. Top-selling pieces were “Isla,” by ceramic sculptor Cristina Cordova, at $30,000; “The Four Seasons,” by glass/video artists Tim Tate, at $25,000; and “Two Objects,” by glass sculptor Daniel Clayman, at $13,000. Penland also honored Fred Fenster, metalsmith and professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as 2011 Outstanding Artist Educator.

Style Spotlight: Museums Update

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Judy Kensley McKie’s 1994 “Monkey Settee.” Credit: Tom Little

OPENINGS & CLOSINGS
The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., will open the Edgar N. Putnam Event Pavilion, a 2,500-square-foot glass structure, in the spring. The pavilion will host exhibition openings, lectures and musical events.

The Aspen Art Museum has broken ground for its new building. The structure will have 12,500 feet of exhibition space, including a classroom, cafe and rooftop sculpture garden. The design, by architect Shigeru Ban, incorporates strong wood and glass elements, and is meant to echo the museum’s mountain surroundings.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston is set to reopen Jan. 18 after a nine-week closure for construction of a new wing, restoration of the museum’s tapestry room, lighting upgrades and changes to the entrance. The new wing, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, adds 70,000 square feet and will house galleries, a greenhouse, a restaurant and a 296-seat concert hall.

Exhibition galleries at the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, which closed in July, are expected to reopen in 2013. The galleries, located in New York’s historic Carnegie Mansion, are being renovated as part of a $64 million campaign that will increase exhibition space by 60 percent, improve the National Design Library, and increase the endowment.

Also closing for a major facelift is UrbanGlass, which is renovating its space at the historic Strand Theater in Brooklyn, N.Y. When it reopens in 2013, the facility will have new furnaces, as well as gallery and retail space.

GIFTS AND GRANTS
The Akron Art Museum in Ohio has opened the largest public collection of glass by the artist Paul Stankard, who is renowned for incorporating realistic sculpture in paperweights. The collection, a gift from Mike and Annie Belkin, contains 64 glass pieces. The works will be on display on the museum’s Myers Industries, Inc. Balcony, renovated especially to house Stankard’s work.

Deena and Jerome Kaplan, of Bethesda, Md., have given the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh a sizeable collection of contemporary crafts. The 23 objects, on view at the museum through 2012, include ceramics, wood and furniture by artists including Kenneth Ferguson, Viola Frey, Sam Maloof and Judy Kensley McKie. The Kaplans’ home and collections were featured in the Spring 1996 issue of AmericanStyle.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has received a gift from collector and patron Fleur Bresler to create an endowment for the position of curator of craft at the Renwick Gallery. Nicholas R. Bell, the current curator, will hold the title of The Fleur and Charles Bresler Curator of American Craft and Decorative Art. In 2010, the Breslers, who assembled a notable collection of American crafts, gave the Renwick 66 pieces of wood art.

AWARDS & CELEBRATIONS
Bruce W. Pepich, executive director of the Racine Art Museum, has been given the Wisconsin Visual Art Lifetime Achievement Award. Pepich, whose career with RAM spans 37 years, oversees a collection of more than 5,000 works and a studio art program that offers classes for children and adults.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Cape Cod Museum of Art in Dennis, Mass. Founders Harry Holl and Roy Freed were honored at a program in May. The museum’s two-fold mission is to exhibit works by artists with Cape Cod associations and to preserve the heritage of this artistic community.

COMINGS & GOINGS
Larry Wright is the new managing director of the Bellevue Arts Museum in Bellevue, Wash. Wright was formerly chief executive of the National Mentoring Partnership in Washington, D.C.

Heather McElwee has been named new executive director of the Pittsburgh Glass Center. A glass artist, McElwee has been with the center, a nonprofit public-access studio and gallery, for 10 years.

The Art Institute of Chicago has chosen a former curator, Douglas Druick, as its new director. Druick, who joined the museum 26 years ago, headed the department of prints and drawings. He replaces James Cuno, who left earlier this year to become head of the J. Paul Getty Trust.

John Spiak, formerly curator of the Arizona State University Art Museum in Phoenix, is the new director and chief curator of the Grand Central Art Center of California State University Fullerton. The center is in Santa Ana.

The Rhode Island School of Design has named John W. Smith director of its Museum of Art. Smith was formerly director of the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.

Style Spotlight: Web Spot

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Ever wonder what people think about the museum they’ve just visited? You can see what visitors were saying about the Museum of Modern Art in New York when, as requested, they scribbled, sketched and soliloquized on notepads provided by the museum for just that purpose. Some themes emerged: descriptions of the cafe’s food, reflections on the art, secrets, drawings, or (a common thread) love—found, lost and celebrated. MoMA has created an online gallery showcasing the notes, which range from juvenile (“Tipped over an exhibit and nobody noticed.”) to touching (“Just lovely to be here. I’ve waited 70 years for it and feel I deserve it!”). To view the gallery, go to www.moma.org and click on “I went to MoMA and …

Style Spotlight: Quilts Tell Life Stories in TV Series

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Why Quilts Matter airs on PBS.

What matters to historians, artists, politicians, anthropologists, collectors, curators, scholars, ordinary folks, small children and, yes, to the people who make them? Quilts, that’s what, and if you don’t see how all these people could be involved, the nine-part television documentary series Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics will supply the answers.

The series was produced by The Kentucky Quilt Project, Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 to create quilt documentation projects. The episodes deal with everything from how quilts are made and valued to why people create quilts, to the history of textiles in quilt making, to quilting culture (one interviewee described it as “the greatest mass movement nobody ever heard of”). Series host and executive producer Shelly Zegart, a co-founder of The Kentucky Quilt Project, has been involved in the quilt world for more than three decades.

One episode showcases the unusual abstract quilts made by African American women in Gee’s Bend, a hamlet in southern Alabama. These quilts became a national sensation in 2002. Another episode deals with the scholarship of quilts, from the study of material culture to sociology.

The series began airing in the fall and will be available to PBS stations until 2014. However, if you’ve missed it, or if your station hasn’t shown it yet, the series is available on a two-DVD set. The discs, which include a number of exclusive bonus features, cost $39.95 and can be ordered from www.whyquiltsmatter.org.

Arts Travel: Historic Sites Decked Out for the Holidays

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Old-fashioned hospitality and delicious desserts await visitors to the Wickwood Inn. Courtesy of the Wickwood Inn

’Tis the season to be … indulged? This December, why not let somebody else do the decorating? Historic sites around the country are celebrating with lavish decorations and fabulous art.

In Rhode Island, three Newport Mansions are dressing up in their holiday best. Hundreds of yards of garland and thousands of seasonal flowers will deck the halls at The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House. The mansions, once the homes of magnates and millionaires, are showcases for late 19th- and early 20th-century art and antiques. On Dec. 31, from 6-8 p.m., The Breakers will open for a Holiday Evening. Tour the resplendent 1895 house and enjoy live music, desserts and eggnog. After you’ve seen the grand homes, shop for art and crafts in downtown Newport.

Pittock Mansion, a 1909 chateau overlooking Portland, Ore., will be transformed into a winter wonderland. More than 100 volunteer decorators will adorn the mansion with trimmings celebrating “Christmas Around the World.” A free shuttle carries visitors to the site, perched 1,000 feet above the city’s skyline, through Jan. 1. And while you’re in town, check out the galleries in the Pearl District or any of the city’s artsy neighborhoods.

If you want to experience luxury firsthand, the staff at the Wickwood Inn in historic Saugatuck, Mich., is ready to pamper you. The inn is owned by legendary cook and food writer Julee Rosso (of Silver Palate fame), and she welcomes guests with champagne brunches and mouth-wathering delights. Every room is decorated with fine art and, through Jan. 2, will have a Christmas tree of its own. Relax and wander Saugatuck’s shopping streets–the town was voted No. 4 on AmericanStyle’s 2011 list of Top 25 Small Cities for Art.

Arts Travel: Freer Lets the Light Shine In

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery of Art. Credit: Freer Gallery of Art

For the first time in 25 years, visitors to the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art will be able to see the famous James McNeill Whistler “Peacock Room” in natural light—if you’re in the right place at the right time.

Subtle details, such as peacock motifs, the textures of the ceramics and the embossed patterns of the wall hangings, can be seen clearly as the museum—briefly—unlatches the shutters on the room’s windows.

The shutters will be open only from 12-5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month. A docent will be on hand from 12-2 p.m. for informal conversations, and there will be an in-depth tour of the room at 2 p.m.

The room was originally designed by architect Thomas Jeckyll for London shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, who wanted a place to show off his Chinese porcelain. American expatriate artist Whistler redecorated the room in 1876 and 1877 as “A Harmony in Blue and Gold,” inspired by the ceramics. The room was bought by Charles Lang Freer and moved to Freer’s Detroit mansion in 1904. Freer filled the room with his preferred Asian and Middle Eastern pottery. “The Peacock Room” was moved again when the Freer Gallery opened at the Smithsonian in 1923.

The museum has installed film on the windows to filter ultraviolet and visible light, minimizing the fading effect of having the shutters open. The gallery is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Arts Travel: Lots and Lots of Little Bricks at Legoland

December 2011 | BY | Issue 78, Winter 2011-2012 | NO COMMENTS

Times Square, made of Lego bricks in the park’s Miniland USA, is almost just as exciting as the real thing. Credit: Chip Litherland Photography

You have to wonder how the folks at Legoland Florida put all those tiny bricks together to make buildings, statues and other miniatures. Puzzle it out for yourself at the world’s largest Lego theme park. The park opened in October in Winter Haven, between Tampa and Orlando. With more than 50 rides, shows, restaurants, shops and lush botanical gardens, it’s a destination for everyone and a must-see for Lego fans.

Among the numerous attractions is Miniland USA—a celebration of America made from the tiny bricks, including an ode to Florida, with Legos depicting state landmarks from Mallory Square in Key West to Bok Tower Gardens and carillon in Lake Wales, to the antebellum mansions of the Panhandle. There’s also an expanded area for the Kennedy Space Center and an interactive Daytona International Speedway. Miniland Las Vegas features the renowned Strip and, of course, a miniature wedding chapel. Miniland Washington, D.C., has the White House and U.S. Capitol, and Miniland New York City includes a fountain in Central Park and animated taxicabs. Visit www.legoland.com to plan your family’s trip.

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