Arts Tour – Columbus

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Columbus’s Topiary Garden re-creates Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” in sculpted evergreens. Photo Credit: Experience Columbus

The problem with Columbus’s image, the joke goes, is that it doesn’t have one. There’s no Statue of Liberty, Golden Gate Bridge or other unmistakable monument marking the skyline. But the central Ohio city’s ever-expanding arts community could help Columbus not only distinguish itself from other cities in the state, but create a strong national presence as well.

Columbus’s artistic roots took hold more than a century ago, when the American Arts & Crafts movement began. Thanks in part to Ohio’s significant clay deposits and natural gas stores, the state soon led the art pottery revolution that was sweeping the country. Although Cincinnati was the birthplace of the renowned Rookwood Pottery, Columbus eventually became home base for three of Ohio’s best-known artists: Elijah Pierce, considered America’s foremost 20th-century folk art woodcarver; painter George Bellows; and Aminah Brenda Lynn Robinson, who today is gaining a national following for her cloth paintings and quilts documenting the history of her family and community.

Start your visit to Columbus in the Short North Arts District, a roughly 10-block-long corridor along High Street, which links downtown Columbus with The Ohio State University. Once a seedy section of town, the Short North began a slow but steady path to revitalization in the 1970s, fueled by the arts. Today, more than 60 funky and chic galleries and boutiques are clustered in the hip ‘hood, including Galerie Mac Worthington, which showcases the artist’s metal artwork; Sherrie Gallerie, which carries art jewelry and ceramic art by such famed national artists as Curtis Benzle and Thomas Hoadley; and Lindsay Gallery, exhibiting American folk and outsider art. (While at Lindsay Gallery, don’t miss Bill Miller’s inspired scenes, created from discarded vinyl and linoleum flooring.)

For more of “Arts Tour:Columbus,” pick up an October 2006 issue of AmericanStyle today!

The New Mona Lisa Mystery?

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

The Portland Museum of Art, in Portland, Maine, knows a good controversy when it sees one. It has in its permanent collection a painting called “La Gioconda”— a title also given to Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” which it resembles. An uncanny coincidence, yes, but there’s no explanation in sight.

After Henry H. Reichhold donated the piece to the museum in 1983, it was taken to the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies at Harvard University for analysis. There, researchers discovered that the painting was executed before 1510 by a lefthanded artist. The “Mona Lisa” was painted between 1503 and 1507; Leonardo painted with his left hand.

Unlike forgeries or common copies (painted for centuries as studies of the masters), the museum’s painting has a different background, is not the same size as the original and, most important, lacks the model’s signature smile. Given the evidence, it appears that this painting may be a study for the famous work.

Although experts may never be able to say for sure who painted the museum’s “La Gioconda,” you can get one last look if you rush to the exhibit before it ends on Labor Day, when the work goes back into storage. Good luck and happy sleuthing.

Good News for Missouri, California Arts

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

After years of decreases in funding, it’s been a rare event lately to hear arts advocates praising their state governments. Supporters of the arts in California and Missouri, however, have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the precarious state of their finances.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed 2006-2007 budget was passed by the state legislature on June 30 to include $105 million in ongoing funding for arts education, as well as a one-time award of $500 million for arts, music and physical education equipment to go to every school district statewide. California has made history by fueling instead of cutting arts funding and establishing a new precedent for art in America’s schools.

The Music For All Foundation notes that the funding is the first “meaningful investment” in arts education since 1978, when Proposition 13 resulted in dramatic budget cuts at school districts across the state.

Arts advocates in Missouri leveraged their state’s abysmal showing in the National Association of State Arts Agencies survey of agency funding. The Missouri Arts Council fueled a successful campaign that publicized the mere $500,000 provided from in-state funds for the arts, putting the state in 49th place.

A proposal by Governor Matt Blunt, which has been approved by the state Senate Appropriations Committee, increases funding for the council and its endowment by $2.7 million in fiscal year 2007.

Fashion Rules

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

When not reading Vogue or watching the Style Network, fashion aficionados are apparently visiting museums. Who’d have guessed?

The Art Newspaper has released its annual report of museum exhibition attendance figures, and the 2005 Decorative Arts Top Ten includes three American exhibitions, all related to fashion.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Chanel” exhibition claimed the No. 2 spot on the Decorative Arts list, drawing 5,519 visitors daily, well behind the 8,678 daily visitors to “National Treasures of the Toshodaiji Temple” at the Tokyo National Museum in Japan. The Met’s “Wild: Fashion Untamed” show came in 7th, with “Fashion, Industrial Design, Architecture” at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art claiming the No. 9 spot.

Overall, “Hokusai” at the Tokyo National Museum was 2005′s biggest draw of the year, bringing in an unprecedented 9,436 visitors per day to view the popular artist’s landscape paintings and other works.

The rest of the 2005 Top Five Exhibitions include:

2. “National Treasures of the Toshodaiji Temple,” Tokyo National Museum, Japan

3. “19th-Century Masterpieces from the Louvre,” Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan

4. “Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings,” Metropolian Museum of Art, New York

5. “Cézanne and Pissarro 1865-85,” Museum of Modern Art, New York

Cape Cod’s Third Eye?

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Conceptual artist Jay Critchley says Cape Cod could use another island. He’s submitted a proposal for “Martucket Eyeland Resort & Theme Park” to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Critchley, from Provincetown, Mass., on the Cape, says he envisions the park as a “third eyeland” to round out Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

As planned, Critchley’s 3 million-square-foot “Las Vegas-style” destination would be anchored by three big windmills. Tourists would take a boat or helicopter to the resort, which would have wind and nuclear energy parks, an oil-drilling station and an “intergalactic portal” for communicating “with the energy, sounds and intelligences of the universe,” he says. Entertainment options would include the Climate Change Casino, the Vanishing Oyster Bar & Grill and the Barbecue Beach & Cancer Treatment Center.

Cape Wind Associates was already fighting to use far more space in Nantucket Sound: it wants to build 130 windmills there to generate electricity. Martucket Island would be built on a corner of the planned wind farm. The federal agency reviewing the project is not expected to publish a formal recommendation until the winter of 2007-2008. Although the project is currently stalled, the effect the windmills may have on the local bird population must also be studied and those findings alone could potentially send both the Cape Wind Associates and Critchley’s projects down the drain.

The environment and AIDS have been past Critchley themes: in the 1990s, he won a legal battle for the right to market condoms packaged in stars and stripes. He founded and directs Theater in the Ground @ Septic Space in his backyard cesspool. His short movie Toilet Treatments won an HBO Audience Award in 2002.

For information on the theme park, visit

Arts Focus – Special Delivery

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Barbara Heller muses on home as a macrocosm and promotes the idea of a “galactic citizenry” in her card, “Milky Way Galaxy.”

Fiber artists Linda Wallace of Canada and Dorothy Clews of Australia shared a mutual frustration in their online discussions. How could they transport their tapestries overseas while avoiding shipping costs and the hassle of customs? Their answer: tapestry postcards. Twenty-six women, split evenly between Canada and Australia, were paired off and enlisted to weave two postcard-sized scenes, write (or sew) a note on the back and send them off to their overseas partners.

Tapestries have told stories for centuries and acted as both public and private art. A postcard is a public form of communication as well as a reminder of place and origin. To organize the experience around a theme, Wallace and Clews asked each artist to meditate on the meaning of home while weaving. By mixing the two forms, the project enabled each artist to tell her story of home. The exhibition “FindingHome” incorporates the women’s knowledge of their craft with their sense of identity.

What seemed like an uncomplicated process developed intricate layers along the way. Enlisting artists was the easy part; asking many of the women to pare their work down to a few inches in width and height was the challenge. Undeterred, every one of the artists completed her postcard art and mailed it.

For more of “Special Delivery ,” pick up an October 2006 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Swept Away

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Pass Christian, Miss., was hit hard by Katrina. Craig Campbell had to clear debris out of his metal studio and plead for electricity to repair his tools. Photography by Cornelia Carey.

As Hurricane Katrina gathered strength off the coast of Pass Christian, Miss., Craig Campbell and his family decided to ride out the storm. Their 105-year-old house had withstood Camille, the benchmark for disaster since 1969, so they felt their chances were good. And they were. Through a combination of faith and ingenuity, Campbell was back in his metal shop within weeks. And although surrounded by mountains of debris outside, he set to work inside on three ironwork commissions valued at more than $20,000.

“After the storm, I checked on my shop and thought it was all over for my business,” Campbell says. “As the days went by, though, I got a vision to clean it out. The city had shut down our area, but I explained to the leaders that I had one of the few structures that might have a fighting chance. They bent a little and hooked the power back up. That really gave me a boost.”

Campbell is also one of approximately 100 professional craft artists who received help after Katrina from the Craft Emergency Relief Fund (CERF), a nonprofit organization based in Montpelier, Vt., whose mission is to “strengthen and sustain the careers of craft artists across the United States.” By the summer of 2006, CERF executive director Cornelia Carey had made three trips to the Gulf Coast.

For more of “Swept Away,” pick up an October 2006 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Manhattan Transfer

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Multimedia artist Beth Dary used pins in works to symbolize the prickly uncertainties in everyday life. Photography by Lee Lawrence.

When Hurricane Ivan churned toward New Orleans in September 2004, thousands of residents boarded up their houses, loaded their cars and fled to high ground. Days later, they came back wondering what all the fuss was about. Ivan had barely left a puddle.

So when news of Katrina hit the airwaves late last summer, many treated the evacuation as a formality and left with little more than their toothbrushes, certain they would be home in a matter of days. Christopher Saucedo, a sculptor and professor at the University of New Orleans, took the time to screw on the light plate in the bathroom of his studio—the final touch in a 12-year renovation—before heading out with his wife and two children. Photographer Clifton Faust tossed a bag of laundry onto the back seat of his car, locked the door to his house and drove off. Artist Dan Tague didn’t even bother to do that. He stayed, getting together with friends for a barbecue under the clear blue skies Katrina had left in its wake.

But this time the levees gave way, and by the second day the water rushed in “so fast,” Tague recalls, “there were whitecaps.” Seven days later a motorboat rescued him from his roof, and Tague joined the ranks of the evacuees.

For more of “Manhattan Transfer,” pick up an October 2006 issue of AmericanStyle today!

A Good Life

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Maloof’s walnut double rocker sits in the living room of his personal residence.

His handshake is strong. His hands seem slightly too large for his frame. Bits of wood shavings cling to his black T-shirt and jeans. At 90, woodworker Sam Maloof still works “six days a week, 10 hours a day,” he says. “But it’s not really work.”

Maloof turned 90 on Jan. 24, and he celebrated with a party for more than 500 friends, clients turned friends, fellow artists and extended family, catered by In-N-Out Burger, a California (and Maloof) favorite. Ground was broken on a new education center that will provide much-needed gallery and lecture space on the grounds of the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts in Alta Loma, Calif., where he lives and works. The Los Angeles Woodworkers Guild presented him with a tower of individual boxes as a gift, and the Mingei International Museum in San Diego is celebrating with a birthday retrospective through Oct. 15.

In Maloof ‘s woodshop sits an unfinished double rocker. “I’ve made double rockers before,” he notes as he runs his hand gently, lovingly over the back of the piece, “but this is a new design.” A signature Maloof rocker, like the ones made for Presidents Carter, Reagan and Clinton, runs about $25,000 in walnut (Maloof ‘s favorite wood), with a three-year wait. Carter, himself a woodworker, and Maloof remain friends, visiting each other at least once a year, but “his furniture sells for more than mine,” laughs Maloof.

Crafting a Comeback

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

The rush to buy his plein air disaster paintings surprised Phil Sandusky. “I thought the art market in New Orleans would be dead for two years.”

New Orleans, often called the northernmost Caribbean city, is a place of the senses. In music, food, history, architecture, the arts and now hope, few other places have so captured the imagination of so many people. Yet in the weeks following Aug. 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and large swaths of the Gulf Coast, soulful images of a human catastrophe gripped both the world’s conscience and its heart.

Prior to Katrina, New Orleans had grown to become a leading art center in the South. Its art—paintings, sculpture, glass art, jewelry and literature—was distinctively New Orleans, inspired by the rhythms of time and place. More than 80 galleries thrived in the French Quarter, the nearby Arts District and uptown along Magazine Street. Katrina badly damaged that renaissance, but only temporarily.

After the storm, galleries were among the first businesses to reopen. Nearly a year later, all but two of the 18 galleries in the Arts District are open and the dozen or so on Magazine Street are back. In the French Quarter, only half the 50 or more galleries are still in business. All nervously await the return of tourists, who make up most sales. Fortunately, these three historic districts escaped the flooding that inundated 80 percent of the city.

For more of “Crafting a Comeback,” pick up an October 2006 issue of AmericanStyle today!

Editor’s Note

September 2006 | BY | Issue 51 | NO COMMENTS

Sam Maloof and his craftsmen fashioned the inviting spiral staircase that connects the lower level with a loft in the Maloof complex. Maloof has been building and expanding the space for more than 50 years.

Life is a puzzle, a staircase, a maze.

It’s a door that opens, then closes again.

It’s a test, a challenge and sometimes a wall.

If you’re lucky, you have companions to help you along. If you’re really lucky, your own faith, fortitude and good humor do the rest.

Nowhere recently has this become more evident than with the stalwart residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. From photographs of the damage and debris still coming out of the region, you would think Hurricane Katrina had struck last week. Yet it’s been more than a year now, and although some galleries and art spaces are open for business, nearly everyone has some kind of storm story to tell.

The real question is what to do next. For many Gulf Coast artists, cleanup and assessment are the easy part. Whether to rebuild and stay on in a region that’s nurtured their art and their souls is proving much more difficult.

“One Year After Katrina,” a three-story report in this issue, turns a spotlight on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as writers John Kemp, Lee Lawrence and Lynda McDaniel spell out the situations facing individuals in the arts community in places from the French Quarter and Magazine Street to Bogalusa and Pass Christian, Miss.

Their stories are devastating and heartbreaking and uplifting. They also point out the incredible, edifying resilience of the human spirit.

What do you call a man who’s spent “10 hours a day, six days a week” for nearly 60 years doing what he loves? A very contented master craftsman.

The man in question is woodworker Sam Maloof, and on the occasion of his 90th birthday, contributing editor Pat Worrell met with him in his home at the foot of California’s San Gabriel Mountains to talk about life, love and legacy.

It’s one story you won’t want to skip.

Hope Daniels

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