Arts Travel: Rural Barns As Urban Art Easel

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

David Ellis first took a group of like-minded artists on a trip to his hometown in rural North Carolina in 1999. During that pilgrimage, they spent the summer creating large-scale, wildstyle, post-graffiti collective murals on a series of old barns, tractor-trailers, shacks and farm equipment in Cameron, just east of Raleigh. The result? Cameron has become a mecca for the Brooklyn, N.Y.- based collective dubbed The Barnstormers.

The team of New York and Tokyo-based artists returns to Cameron every year, where it continues to experiment in design and collaborate on public art projects. The number of participants fluctuates between 25 and 30 artists, but all contribute to the eye-poppingly active murals influenced by urban streets, hip-hop and ’80s culture.

The Barnstormers have also produced a film on their collaborative work, 360, on DVD. As their first experiment in indoor and outdoor film, it captures their work from July 4 to Oct. 8, 2004, in Cameron. Images of their work and the video are available at

Arts Travel: Creative Inn-spiration

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

Ever wish you had time to learn more about techniques you admire in a piece of your collection? Look no further. The Nichols Taos Fine Art Gallery in New Mexico has teamed with the nearby Fechin Inn to provide workshops for guests.

The “Artist With-Inn” program provides half- or full-day workshops oriented for everyone from beginners to masters. During the lessons, local and international artists teach techniques in oils, watercolor, pastels, printmaking and clay.

Workshops are available on the extensive grounds of the inn, which span over 6 acres; the location is yours to choose. Prepare to be inspired by the ranging color palette of the Taos landscape.

Call the inn (800-811- 2933) to make arrangements; the package isn’t available online. For dates and details, visit or

Arts Travel: Miffy Goes to the Museum

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

Dick Bruna created “miffy,” one of the most internationally beloved characters, and more than 100 picture books. In February, the Netherlands honored him by opening the dick bruna huis at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. The addition features a retrospective exhibition of Bruna’s work, showing his early career all the way through the familiar picture books. It also includes many of his more than 2,000 book covers and 100 postcards and prints, and a documentary on his life’s work.

Bruna’s pursuit of the art of simplicity continues. Living and working in Utrecht, he published his 114th book last year.

For information, or to take a virtual tour of the museum, visit or

Arts Travel: Atlanta Greets Sculptural Romp

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

The largest collection of Niki de Saint Phalle’s outdoor sculptures ever gathered goes on view April 29 at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. “Niki in the Garden” features more than 35 of Saint Phalle’s large sculptures, which form a world of enormous animals, totem poles, sports heroes and her famous Nanas (French for “babes” or “chicks”)—oversized, powerful women celebrating life in the brightest colors. The sculptures, up to 18 feet high, are embellished with mirrors, glass, semi-precious stones and ceramic mosaics.

The prolific Saint Phalle created sculptures, paintings and illustrations. She also helped establish the Noveau Realisme movement during her studies and travels. Saint Phalle described her artistic process as “work in the darkness of a secret tunnel, always searching for the Sun, hiding from the Moon, and paying homage to the stars.” In keeping with the ideals of Saint Phalle, who died in 2002, the garden is a combination of art and nature.

The garden is open Thursdays until 9 p.m. so visitors can see the work in every light. Guests are encouraged to sit, or climb or crawl through passages in the garden, in what is intended to be a tactile experience.

The Niki Charitable Art Foundation organized the exhibition, which runs through Oct. 31. It is sponsored by the Turner Broadcasting System. For information or to plan your trip, visit

Heavyweight Looters

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

Collectors and museums beware: even a two-ton statue such as Henry Moore’s “The Reclining Figure” needs to be bolted down. Photography by Michael Phipps/Reproduced by permission of the Henry Moore Foundation

More than 20 large bronze sculptures, weighing as much as two tons, have been stolen from museums, sculpture gardens and private collections in and around London in the past year, according to The New York Times. The mystified police believe that the thefts must be connected.

The method is simple: thieves arrive at night in a truck and either use brute force or a crane to remove the sculptures. Once stolen, it is presumed that the statues aren’t resold—they’re too recognizable—but rather melted down for scrap metal.

Thieves removed “The Reclining Figure” from the Henry Moore Foundation’s grounds on Dec. 15. Worth over $5 million, the work will bring in a mere $9,000 if sold as base metal. Another famous work, Lynn Chadwick’s 1960 sculpture “The Watchers,” was irrevocably damaged Jan. 10 when one of its three figures was cut off and taken. One of an edition of only three, it had been on public display at Roehampton University for 40 years. The section was stolen even though the sculpture has an iron core.

Although many institutions are offering rewards, the police had no leads at press time. For information, visit or

Arts Travel: Stanford: 0, Canada: 1

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

No, it’s not a hockey score. Rather, our neighbors to the north have made a point for free speech. Fearing a controversy, Stanford University President John L. Hennessy rejected artist Dennis Oppenheim’s inverted church sculpture “Device to Root Out Evil” in 2004. This, despite the fact that the work had been commissioned by the university’s President’s Panel on Art.

The 25-foot sculpture has instead found a home on the waterfront in British Columbia. Purchased by Vancouver’s Benfic Foundation for more than $300,000, the work was permanently installed as part of the Vancouver International Sculpture Biennale: Open Spaces 2005/2006.

The event, which continues through November, brings outdoor sculptures by leading artists to public spaces throughout the city. Most of the 30 works will be on display only for the duration of the 18-month exhibition, though a handful will permanently make their home in Vancouver.

In addition to Oppenheim, whose “Engagement Rings” is also part of the Biennale, participating artists include Albert Paley, Sol LeWitt and Sophie Ryder. For more information, visit

Arts Tour: Coastal Maine

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

Peter Beerits shows fantastical sculptures at Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies on Deer Isle.

The rolling, pine- and spruce-studded landscape of Maine’s Blue Hill Peninsula can’t be contained by the mapmaker-challenging coastline. It repeatedly furls and unfurls itself, befuddling drivers and confounding direction mavens. Causeways and bridges connect islands, coves cosset sleepy fishing villages, and blueberry bushes and artists’ studios and galleries dot the byways.

This inspired and inspiring landscape is home to dozens of talented artists, many lured here by the internationally renowned Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. Touring provides opportunities not only to see work by up-and-coming craftspeople and established artists but also to visit their studios.

Blue Hill, a small town that serves as the area’s hub, provides a good entry to the region’s riches. Within steps of one another downtown are three studio-galleries: Handworks Gallery, North Country Textiles and Jud Hartmann Gallery. Handworks has been representing Maine artists for 30 years, including jewelers, potters, woodworkers and weavers. North Country Textiles sells “handwoven textiles and everything to complement them … 99 percent by regional artists,” according to owner Lois Quinn, who often works at her in-store loom.

Jud Hartmann’s goal for his limited-edition cast-bronze sculptures is to “impart life and capture the soul.” Every person or event depicted in his “Woodland Tribes of the Northeast” series is based upon historical fact, and he loves telling the stories. “I feel I connect with the spirit,” he says of his Native American subjects.

“Devilish fun” is how Laura Balombini describes both the playful, figurative sculptures she makes of polymer clay and handwoven wire in her downtown studio, and her sculptural teapots, which have a sophisticated yet circus-like appeal. Just off Main Street is Leighton Gallery. Owner Judith Leighton’s selection of contemporary art from about three-dozen nationally known and emerging artists draws serious collectors from New York and San Francisco. Don’t miss the backyard sculpture garden.

A small sign denotes Mark Bell’s gallery, about two miles south of downtown Blue Hill. Bell, who has exhibited widely, says the clay he uses for his vibrantly glazed and elegantly shaped, fluid porcelain forms is chemically similar to glass, so the process “is like being a glassblower and working at room temperature.”

North Brooksville potters Scott Goldberg and Paul Heroux share a studio and gallery overlooking a tidal cove well off the beaten path, but are well worth finding. Goldberg’s functional pots ref lect a mix of European and Asian styles, while Heroux’s vases echo his love of gardening.

Melody Lewis-Kane specializes in porcelain. The works at her Clay Forms Pottery, on Route 15 South, are more functional than Bell’s, reflecting her belief that “it’s important for people to use handmade items in everyday life.”

Fiber artists dot Route 175 from Sedgwick to Brooklin. Eggemoggin Textile Studio is a visual and textural treat, filled with scarves, wraps, hangings and pillows, all woven from hand-dyed silk, wool and alpaca by Christine Leith. “My work is all about landscape and light,” she says.

Just down the road is Reach Road Gallery, where Holly Meade (not to be confused with art quilter Holley Mead on Deer Isle) sells her detailed woodblock prints. “My favorite surface is to find old pastry boards that are worn, because the marks come through when I print,” she says. She also sells original watercolor collages, many from children’s books she illustrated.

Return to Route 15 and cross the soaring pray-as-you-go bridge onto Little Deer Isle, home to Morrow Wilson Studios. Douglas Wilson approaches blacksmithing as an art form. His detailed works, including railings, fireplace tools, candlesticks and sconces, are often inspired by the landscape. Jennifer Morrow Wilson’s eye-catching three-dimensional paper collages are hard to resist. She makes the papers, paints them, then stitches them together, often resulting in quilt-like works. Many are lighted from within.

Cross the serpentine causeway onto Deer Isle to find Ronald Hayes Pearson Design Studio. The gifted jewelry designer’s works are among those in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Pearson died in 1996, but a team of talented artists continues to create his nature-inspired works in silver and gold. Behind the Pearson Studio is a forge where Farrell Ruppert creates sculptural and architectural steel.

Another double treat is the Greene-Ziner Gallery. Melissa Greene shows her painted and carved ceramic vessels at the Smithsonian Craft Show. Her “IDLUK: Fabulous Fish” vessel is part of the Renwick Gallery’s permanent collection. Her pots evoke classical Grecian vases, but the narrative scenes are sophisticated in style and color, with African, Native American and Asian influences.

Greene’s husband, Eric Ziner, is another of the many blacksmiths lured here by Haystack. Ziner designs and forges handrails, balustrades and chandeliers on commission, but for fun he scrounges dumps for odd parts and welds them into shapes. “I hope these turn into representational items of artifacts of our century,” he says. “Young people don’t know what a brake drum is… I’m creating a kind of time capsule.”

A top-notch craft gallery in Deer Isle Village is Elena Kubler’s Turtle Gallery, where shows rotate in the barn, exhibits continue in the farmhouse and sculptures cluster in the front and back gardens. Call ahead to make an appointment with Carol Scott Wainright of nearby River Horse Rugs. Her handwoven, tapestry-like designs feature organic or geometric shapes on linen warp and hand-dyed wool in deep, vivid colors.

Just south of the village is Dock- side Quilt Gallery, where native islander Nancy Knowlton, daughter Kelly Pratt and daughter-in-law Rebekah Knowlton create oneof- a-kind heirloom-quality cotton quilts.

On Sunshine Road, which leads to Haystack, is Peter Beerits Sculpture at Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies. Giant dragons, old men playing cards and other fantastical creatures fill the woods and fields around the jam-and-jelly kitchen, tea room and studio gallery. Time a visit to coincide with a tour of Haystack, offered Wednesdays at 1 p.m. ($5).

Stonington, a traditional fishing port, is shedding its rough-andtumble image. Isalos Fine Art and gWatson Gallery are especially worth visiting. Just outside downtown is cabinetmaker Geoffrey Warner’s workshop gallery. Warner combines classic techniques with contemporary style accented by Eastern, Arts and Crafts and nature-based inf luences. He obviously had fun with “Which CD Do I Listen to Now,” a CD cabinet accented on the exterior with recycled CDs. “It’s about decision making, and all the choices we have to make,” he explains, calling it a “metaphor for life.”

Perhaps it’s also a metaphor for the decisions faced by collectors desiring to visit the multitude of inspired and inspiring artists on Blue Hill Peninsula. Better book two weeks.

Galleries and Studios

Blue Hill

Handworks Gallery
48 Main St./Route 15

Jud Hartmann Gallery
79 Main St./Route 15

Laura Balombini
Main St./Route 15

Leighton Gallery
24 Parker Point Road

LoonSong Gallery
232 Falls Bridge Road
Represents nearly two-dozen established and emerging artists.

Mark Bell Pottery
289 Mines Road/Route 15
Bell hosts kiln openings in July and August.

North Country Textiles
Levy House, Main St./Route 15

Rackliffe Pottery
Route 172
Known for its vivid blue pottery.

Rowantrees Pottery
Route 177
Kiln in operation since 1934.


Sihaya Hopkins
7 Main St./Route 175
Glass bead and jewelry maker next door to Naskeag Antiques and Artisans.

Virginia G. Sarsfield Handmade Papers
Route 175
Sarsfield creates lampshades, books and other goods.

Deer Isle

Conary Cove Glassworks
3 Black Point Road
Glassblower Joleen Dodge shares her studio with her husband, Casey, a woodturner.

Deer Isle Artists Association’s Gallery
13 Dow Road

Dockside Quilt Gallery
33 Church St./Route 15

19 Dow Road
Pottery, tinware, jewelry, wire baskets and more by Ellen Wieske, Carole Ann Fer and Susan Webster.

Greene-Ziner Gallery
73 Reach Road

Holley Mead/Bruce Bulger
Seamark Building, Church St./Route 15
Mead makes art quilts and Bulger crafts furniture.

John Wilkinson Sculpture
41 Church St.

Haystack Mountain School of Crafts
Sunshine Road

Parish House Antiques
7 Church St./Route 15
Janice Glenn carries vintage textiles.

Peter Beerits Sculpture
Nervous Nellie’s Jams and Jellies
600 Sunshine Road

Pitcher Masters Studio/Gallery
Good Dog Run, 45 French Camp Road

River Horse Rugs
Call for directions and appointment

Ronald Hayes Pearson Design Studio
29 Old Ferry Road

Turtle Gallery
Route 15

Little Deer Isle

Harbor Farm
Route 15
Fine craftwork and an enormous selection of handmade tiles.

Morrow Wilson Studios
455 Eggemoggin Road

North Brooksville

Bagaduce Forge
140 Ferry Road
Joseph Meltreder forges both the practical and whimsical.

Scott Goldberg and Paul Heroux Pottery
2032 Coastal Road


Clay Forms Pottery
Route 15

Eggemoggin Textile Studio
Reach Road/Route 175

Gallery at Caterpillar Hill
Route 15
Fine art and craft with stupendous views over Penobscot Bay to the Camden Hills.

Mermaid Woolens
34 Reach Road/Route 175
Elizabeth Coakley hand-knits vibrantly colorful vests, socks and sweaters.

Reach Road Gallery
Reach Road/Route 175


gWatson Gallery
68 Main St.

Geoffrey Warner Studio
43 N. Main St./Route 15

Green Head Forge
5 Old Quarry Road
Upstairs, Harriett Hemenway’s jewelry and sculptures all emphasize form. Jack Hemenway’s free-form metal sculptures fill the downstairs.

Isalos Fine Art
26 Main St.

Julie Morringello
26 School St.
Contemporary furniture, lighting and accessories.

ShapeShifter Turnings
Call for directions and appointment
Fine woodturning by Joaz Hill.

William Turner
Call for directions and appointment
Heirloom-quality furniture by a classically trained cabinetmaker.

Toothpicks + Glue + Patience = Art

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

The essence of patience” is Steven J. Backman’s motto. Patience is certainly a characteristic he possesses: the artist uses tens of thousands of toothpicks to create sculptures that sometimes take years to complete.

Backman seriously took on toothpick art 20 years ago when he created a cable car sculpture. He has designed and completed several boats with functional motors; they stay afloat thanks to fiberglass resin finishes.

His work ranges from Art Deco to modern abstract art and has been featured in many galleries. This year, the Empire State Building’s Fifth Avenue Gallery joins the list with an exhibition running through May 23. Several of Backman’s works will be on display, including a 28-inch sculpture of the Empire State Building that took more than 7,000 toothpicks to create.

Backman’s new book, Toothpick Sculptures by Steven J. Backman, is available for purchase from Memento Press. For more information, visit

Media Firm Acquires SOFA

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

San Francisco-based dmg world media has acquired Expressions of Culture, the producer of SOFA Chicago and SOFA New York.

Mark Lyman, founder and president of Expressions of Culture, and Mark Carr, executive vice president of dmg world media, say they look forward to the partnership. “When I first visited the dmg office in London, Mark Carr stressed their commitment to the long term. I had created SOFA for the long-term development of the contemporary decorative arts, so I saw an immediate synergy,” Lyman said.

Carr and Lyman have already worked together for more than two years. In January 2005 their companies produced the first Palm Beach3, combining three fairs into one by adding a SOFA fair to the contemporary and photography fairs that dmg began nine years ago in West Palm Beach, Fla.

dmg world media produces over 300 trade exhibitions, consumer shows and fairs, and publishes 45 trade-related magazines, newspapers and reports. It has offices in London and new headquarters in Marin County, Calif., outside San Francisco. Lyman will maintain his offices and staff in Chicago to run the SOFA shows.

Doll House Mania

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

If you ever had a crush on a playmate’s toys, this is the book to end all envy. Flora Gill Jacobs has written The Small World of Antique Dolls’ Houses: Six Decades of Collecting Mansions, Cottages, Shops, Stables, Theaters, Churches—Even a Zoo! (Lake Isle Press, $85) to satisfy every curiosity about life in miniature. Still collecting after 60 years, Jacobs wanted to give an (almost) complete display of her collection of doll houses, which span centuries and cover the globe.

Jacobs’s journey began with a book that evolved from a children’s how-to into the first historical account of doll houses for collectors. In conjunction with the start of her research for the book in 1945, she began collecting doll houses. She explains, “If this collector sees an object in miniature, she tends to want it in full-size” and vice versa.

Jacobs’ collection is not just about doll houses; it’s about the history of interior design, architecture and social customs. Jacobs includes a story about every featured house and over 1,200 color photographs. It’s definitely worth taking a look at one historian’s dream collection.

Art in Rochester New York: Clear Skies, Beautiful Windows

April 2006 | BY | Issue 49 | NO COMMENTS

Glass artist Nancy Gong was commissioned to create a piece for the Port of Rochester in upstate New York in June 2004. “Another Little Adventure,” two stained-glass windows each 7-foot-square, is now on permanent display in the north and south towers of Fast Ferry Terminal’s Departure Hall.

More than 100 entries were reviewed for Rochester’s public art project. Only four artists were awarded this opportunity to showcase their designs and help revitalize with creativity the Charlotte waterfront community on Lake Ontario.

Gong was inspired by a phrase that her parents-in-law often repeat when embarking on a new trip: “It’s another little adventure.” Realizing that travelers never know what might be coming their way, she depicts the possibility of stormy conditions in her leaded art glass windows. Her goal is to capture the expressions of daily movement in glass to create a three-dimensional experience.

Largely self-taught, Gong is the founder and director of Gong Glass Works in Rochester and has created art glass sculpture for more than 25 years.

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