Arts Travel: Inside Art Moves Out for All to See

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

Reginald Marsh’s painting “Savoy Ballroom” enlivened Detroit’s Rivard Plaza last fall.

If you happen to find yourself strolling through one of 11 communities in southeastern Michigan this spring, don’t be surprised to see a Renoir or a Fra Angelico placed inauspiciously on the street. The works are the result of the Detroit Institute of Arts’ third successful year of its Inside|Out program, an initiative that celebrates the richness and diversity of the museum’s extensive collection.

The project reaches audiences outside traditional museum walls by installing high-quality life-sized reproductions of some of DIA’s finest art in outdoor locations in the greater Detroit metro area.

The artworks are intended to add a splash of beauty to everyday life and to entice tourists and Michiganders to see the works in person at DIA’s newly renovated facility. “This project is a reminder of how important art is in our culture,” said Kathleen Fegley, a local business owner and participant in the project. Julie Farkas, director of the Novi Public Library, said of last year’s installations, “This was a great collaboration. Not everyone can make it to DIA, and this was a great way of bringing a taste of the museum to the community.”

From April to June, the Inside|Out project will present reproductions in 11 communities, and the pieces will be moved to 11 new locations in July, where they will remain until September. The program is scheduled to continue in 2013.

Arts Travel: Last Call

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

“The Plumed Hat,” a 1919 painting by Henry Matisse. Credit: National Gallery of Art/Chester Dale Collection

Some of the world’s most beloved paintings are on view in “From Impressionism to Modernism: The Chester Dale Collection” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibition showcases 83 paintings, mostly French, from one of America’s most important art collections. The Belle Époque masterpieces on view include works by Renoir, Cassatt, Picasso, Degas, Monet, Matisse … a veritable “who’s who” of the art world. The show was originally slated to close in July 2011, but its popularity has earned it some extra time. It will now close on Jan. 2, after nearly two years of delighting visitors.

Arts Travel: B&B Artfully

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

The only remaining hotel in the world designed by Frank Lloyd Wright has been reopened in Mason City after an $18 million renovation. Credit: Wright on the Park

Visitors to Mason City, Iowa, and aficionados of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright now have the opportunity to stay in a hotel that he designed. The Historic Park Inn Hotel reopened in August after an $18 million renovation. The world’s only remaining Wright-designed hotel, the 27-room inn is a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. (Although his aesthetic touch on the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix is obvious, he was not the architect of record.)

Each room mixes both historic design and modern amenities such as flat-screen televisions and wireless Internet. The historic inn also features 8,000 square feet of conference space, a ballroom, restaurant and bar, as well as many original features, including a ladies’ parlor, gentlemen’s lounge, billiards room and the Skylight Room, which features Wright-designed art-glass windows.

For room reservations, call (800) 659-2220; for more information, visit

Arts Travel: Artful Dining

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

Todd Gray’s Muse at the Corcoran features a fresh, clean look. Credit: Emily Clack

Two Washington, D.C., museums have combined art and cuisine for an enriching dining experience.

Fabric sculptor Lee Boroson’s “Lunar Bower,” is the newest addition to the Phillips Collection’s “Intersections” series. For the past two years, the museum has displayed mini-installations from contemporary artists in response to works found in the museum’s collection. The series’ latest piece—found in the museum’s ground-floor cafe—is a canopy of colorful felt and silk that filters the overhead lights, meant to give diners the moonlit aura of painter Albert Pinkham Ryder’s nighttime landscapes.

Across town at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the artistry is on the menu.

Todd Gray’s Muse at the Corcoran, in the gallery’s atrium, will offer handcrafted, seasonal options with a focus on sustainable, local ingredients. Some offerings are vegan or vegetarian. Expect artistic fare such as hand-pulled Amish chicken salad and a warm spinach wrap with grilled vegetables. To find out what will be on the menu for the winter season, visit

Arts Travel: Q&A Delray Beach

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

Handcrafted glass ornaments hang at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Credit: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Delray Beach, Fla., is a “Village by the Sea,” an oasis of small-town attitude in the midst of the bustling Miami metropolitan area. Just a hop, skip and jump from West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Delray Beach boasts a thriving gallery district, vivid public art, and even tranquil Japanese gardens.

Q: Why should I make the trip?
A: Delray Beach has over 100 years of history, from its humble beginnings as a farming community and through its boom times in the 1920s, to today. Fantastic restaurants, delightful B&Bs and a world-class tennis center draw visitors year round. However, the arts are of paramount importance in this little city. After all, it took artists and gallery owners to revitalize the town in the 1990s after decades of neglect. Today, Delray Beach is one of South Florida’s premier arts destinations.

Q: Where can I buy art in Delray Beach?
A: If you’re a collector, you’re in luck. The Delray Beach Art District features nearly 20 independent galleries clustered along Atlantic Avenue. The Avalon Gallery at 425 E. Atlantic Ave. is a must-see, representing around 120 different artists, all from the U.S. or Canada. Vibrant flowers are the subjects many of Ora Sorensen’s paintings. You can view and purchase her art at her gallery at 445 E. Atlantic Ave. Just to the north is the Pineapple Arts District, home to still more galleries and studios, including Salvatore Principe Gallery. Located at 200 NE 2nd Ave. No. 106, Principe offers his own paintings “inspired by the spirit of human emotion.” And just a few doors down, Spotted on 2nd Gallery at 200 NE 2nd Ave. No. 102 sells the work of over 100 American artisans in all mediums. The entire downtown area is very walkable, so you can take a day to stroll around the galleries and stop for a bite at one of the myriad of restaurants.

Q: Are there special arts events in Delray Beach?
A: Every third Friday night, art lovers come out in full force for the Gallery Walk along East Atlantic Avenue and its side streets. Many of the galleries serve cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and musicians play on the sidewalks. The city also hosts a number of arts and craft shows and cultural festivals throughout the year, including a spectacular First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve.

Q: What other cultural attractions will I find?
A: Delray Beach’s Old School Square Cultural Arts Center is a four-acre oasis for the arts. Its centerpiece is the Cornell Museum of Art and American Culture, whose five galleries present rotating exhibits of art from the region and around the world. The center also houses the Crest Theatre and the Old School Square Entertainment Pavilion, which host musical and theatrical events. Just a short drive from downtown Delray, the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens exhibits art and artifacts, as well as expansive, traditional Japanese gardens. Delray Beach is also loaded with public art, from murals on buildings to sculpture gardens, to artful water fountains. Check out for more.

Arts Reader

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

Explore the life of one of America’s most renowned furniture makers, Sam Maloof, in Maloof at 90: An American Woodworker, by Gene Sasse (Sasse Books, $21.95). The book opens with an introduction by former President Jimmy Carter and a short but powerful biography by artist Jonathan Leo Fairbanks before launching into a compelling visual retrospective of Maloof’s work. Interspersed with elegant photographs by Sasse of Maloof’s home, studio and iconic furniture are quotes from collectors, artists, art critics and Maloof himself. It’s a must-read for Maloof fans, as well as anyone else with a deep appreciation for 20th century craft.

Take a look at 13 residences built by some of the finest artists and craftsmen in America in the lavishly illustrated new book Artists’ Handmade Houses (Abrams, $60). Each house, from New York to California, was designed by the artist who lived in it to reflect and extend their artistic vision. Author Michael Gotkin and photographer Don Freeman capture the intimacy of the dwellings with spectacular photographs and anecdotal histories of each. Especially notable are the homes of George Nakashima in New Hope, Pa., which combines American and Japanese architecture and décor; and Sam Maloof, whose estate was built exclusively from California redwood, in Alta Loma, Calif.

The name Dale Chihuly and exquisite art glass are almost synonymous. See why in Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass (MFA Publications, $50 hardcover; $35 softcover), which accompanied an exhibition of the same name at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The book, written by curator Gerald W. R. Ward, focuses on the artist’s works and installations in relation to the spaces that generate, shape and surround them. The text, a mix of critical review and Chihuly’s own thoughts, provides a new entrée into the work, mind and creative process of one of America’s most acclaimed artists.

Diamonds, pearls, precious gems and crystals—the newly released Artful Adornments: Jewelry From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA Publications, $55) includes them all. Featuring more than 100 works and nearly 200 lavish color illustrations, the book, written by curator Yvonne J. Markowitz, details the museum’s comprehensive jewelry holdings, from ancient antiquities to modern marvels, from a gold necklace found in an Egyptian tomb to the contemporary kinetic necklaces of Alexander Calder. In just 204 pages, you can explore the variety and brilliance of the jeweler’s art from around the world and throughout the ages.

Parting Shot

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

Really big bugs. Credit: Mark Markin/Paul Kasmin Gallery

A beetle the size of a small dog took up residence last winter on one of Manhattan’s most exclusive streets. No exterminators were needed, though, since the six-legged fellow was made out of brass and part of “The Roses,” an installation by artist Will Ryman. Thirty-eight sculptures, some reaching 25 feet high, turned Park Avenue into a garden of whimsy. Each rose was fabricated from fiberglass resin and stainless steel, with brass aphids, bees, ladybugs, spiders and beetles peering out from their petals. In addition, 20 giant scattered rose petals festooned the Park Avenue Mall. In case you missed it, Ryman’s installations are traveling to new winter venues. One set is growing on the lawn of The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., through Jan. 5. In Miami, “Desublimation of the Rose” showcases Ryman’s tallest flowers yet at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden through May 31. To see more images of Ryman’s roses, check out the Paul Kasmin Gallery website at

All Creatures Great and Small

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

The Courtship of Purcist and Osmia: These two fowls are in the middle of a courtship dance. Purcist shows off his tail feathers, while Osmia struts. Each is trying to impress the other.

In a small studio in Santa Fe, N.M., a modern-day alchemist bends over his worktable. Around him lie piles of twisted sticks, bicycle tires, baling wire, rusted screws and washers, torn canvas, medallions and a few tools. Layer by layer, contemporary sculptor Geoffrey Gorman builds charismatic creatures that, with the final touches, suddenly become “real.” As the puppet Geppetto once carved from wood turned into the boy Pinocchio, so do Gorman’s creatures come alive, exploring the territories between reality and legend, science and imagination.

Commenting on why collectors are increasingly attracted to Gorman’s work and why she is pleased to represent it, Jane Sauer, of the Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe, said, “Geoffrey captures whimsy in the midst of a serious dialogue on the relationship between man and animal. His pieces are so complex that you can return again and again and see new details. For me, it was love at first sight. Geoffrey has an uncanny ability to illustrate the core traits of any animal, yet make them quite human.”

Degeeri: This otter-like creature uses a rock to break clamshells. The Degeeri is expressive and energetic and can be found on the beach.

Gorman’s childhood seems to have been custom designed to encourage imagination. The youngest of four boys, he ran as freely as Huckleberry Finn on his family’s farm outside Baltimore, Md. A dozen ramshackle buildings, some dating back centuries, surrounded the main house. He remembers exploring abandoned houses, checking out local wildlife and ambling around in the wood for days without bumping into anybody else.

An assortment of unusual family pets was routine: four or five dogs, a red fox, a monkey, a raccoon, a goat, chickens and snakes. Geoffrey’s mother was a talented artist and his father a travel agency owner. They were lively, social and outgoing, and their home was often filled with creative types. His great-uncle was Ogden Nash. It’s no wonder the boy grew into an original force in the art world.

Gorman explored photography in high school and studied it formally at the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He continued his education at Franklin College in Lugano, Switzerland and spent a year as an apprentice to renowned furniture maker Michael Coffey, from whom he learned many of his woodworking skills.

Jayakari Pauses: This small, curious creature pauses as he comes into a clearing, looking and listening for anything dangerous. An old odometer on the Jayakari’s leg still calculates all the miles he travels on the open plains.

Ten years as a furniture maker, followed by successful careers working in galleries and as an art dealer and business adviser to other artists, kept Gorman immersed in the art world.

“I always knew that at some point I’d go back to my woodworking roots,” he says. “The year I turned 50, I went on a trek in the Himalayas. It had a profound effect on me.

“I realized that, most likely, I had less time remaining on earth than more, and that I’d better start doing what I really wanted to do.” A short time later, he found himself co-curating a show at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. His contribution to the show was a Huckleberry Finn sculpture he created solely from materials at hand. That sculpture became the catalyst for everything that followed.

Melanotus: Fast, sleek, intelligent and sometimes scary, the Melanotus is a trickster. Do not turn your back on him.

Initially Gorman meant his work to be a reaction to the overintellectualization of art, saying that he wanted to keep the dialogue between art and viewer as direct as possible. His early meditative human figures eventually gave way to more expressive animals. “There is a thin membrane dividing the animal and human worlds,” he maintains, “and I wanted to pierce it. Animals are very spiritual and have profound learning experiences to share.”

Many of Gorman’s works are skeletal, shaped into forms from weathered branches, sculpted wax or hard foam. Ragged scraps of stained cloth are fastened with wire, tacks or nails. Riveted bits of tin cans form ears. Collages of materials transform into faces. Rusted steel wool adds texture to a baboon’s head; a door latch forms a dog’s private parts.

Each animal is adorned with hanging talismans marked with tattoos or tribal symbols. Gorman says, “I try hard to incorporate materials so that they transmogrify in unexpected ways, becoming something new.”

Apetola Investigates: During his mysterious journeys, the Apetola has attracted various talismans to his belly like magnets to metal.

Long hours of research and observation have taught Gorman about the unique attributes of animal species. Before starting a piece, he checks out a range of reference materials. He then takes his time choosing materials and settling on a “caught in the moment” pose.

He regards the broader surfaces on his largest pieces as “paintings” in which texture, color and contrast create depth. His intuitive sense of when to emphasize or exaggerate certain iconic aspects of each creature has been honed by years of exploring nature.

Each new animal is often the first iteration of a series he develops on a larger scale. Each design generation incorporates characteristics inherited from its predecessor, plus innovations he arrives at from increased familiarity with the materials. As he explains it, “It’s like conjugating a verb: it’s not just a one-shot deal.”

The Geoffrensis travels between past worlds and future environments. He is known for his fascination with discarded artifacts and “animology.” He is pictured here with the Alpinus, a dog-like creature shown in two positions.

As he works, Gorman imagines a life story for every animal. He assigns each a Latin species name to hint at what “family” it belongs to. Like the novelist who creates entire histories for fictional characters, Gorman gives his creatures backgrounds and biological attributes: they emerge from an enchanted world, tucked between the pages of history. As each workday begins, he looks around his studio and asks, “What blend of fantasy, nature and imagination can I make of this?”

Ancient alchemists claimed they could transform base metal into precious gold. Geoffrey Gorman’s art takes the discards of America’s throw-away society and blends them with a full measure of science and craftsmanship to forge connections to the natural world. It’s an evocative treasure of a different sort, but one that continues to rise in value and popularity as Gorman’s menagerie grows.

Fall Arts Preview: Art Galleries, Museums and Fairs

September 2011 | BY | April 2009, Fall 2011, Issue 77 | NO COMMENTS

El Anatsui’s “Black River,” will be displayed in the new Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Here comes autumn, and with it a host of new museums, revamped exhibition spaces and enough retail show and exhibitions prospects to set any craft lover’s heart racing.

Click the links below for plenty of ideas to fill your fall arts calendar.

New Life, New Spaces

The Best Is Yet to Come: Exhibitions Calendar

Where the Fairs Are: Shows Calendar

Meet the Masters

Best in Show

Di Rosa Preserve: An Unending Love Affair

September 2011 | BY | Fall 2011, Issue 77 | NO COMMENTS

A group of visitors tours the grounds of the di Rosa Preserve. CREDIT: Charles Lucke

Driving past rows of grapevines in the Carneros region of California’s Napa Valley, you may do a double take as you spot a flock of sheep on a low hillside. These are in fact no ordinary livestock; flat sculptures of polychromed steel, they bid you welcome to the di Rosa Preserve.

You have arrived at a unique place—a 217-acre preserve for art and nature. The beautiful landscape, with grassy meadows, oak-studded hills, lush vineyards and a placid lake, is the setting for one of the country’s foremost collections of regional art. The di Rosa inventory encompasses 2,000 works of sculpture, painting, and photography by more than 800 artists who have lived and worked in Northern California over the past 50 years.

Both the collection and the preserve reflect the singular vision of two extraordinary people, Rene and Veronica di Rosa—environmentalists, philanthropists, and lovers of art.

As a young man, Boston-born Rene moved to Paris, intending to write the great American novel. That never happened. Instead, he befriended bohemian Left Bank artists, bought his first painting, and began his lifelong love affair with art.

Frustrated and abandoning his literary pursuits, Rene relocated to California for a reporting job at the San Francisco Chronicle. It was the late 1950s, the Beat era, but despite the city’s lively art scene he soon grew tired of urban life.

Wishing “to investigate an existence closer to Mother Nature and Father Soil,” as Rene later wrote, in 1960 he bought 450 rural acres and planted grapes. Eventually he turned his farmland into a renowned vineyard and helped establish the Carneros Valley as a significant wine-producing region.

While studying grape-growing techniques at the University of California at Davis, he grew bored with the lectures and started hanging out in the art department, where Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Manuel Neri and William T. Wiley were instructors. Rene was intrigued by the work that they and many of their students were producing. Artworks he obtained from them became the foundation of his collection.

At the time, critics and collectors of the New York art establishment were ignoring Northern California artists, allowing them to push the envelope and pursue art in highly individual ways. That sense of freedom appealed to Rene, and he took great joy in discovering and supporting new artists.

For more of “An Unending Love Affair,” pick up the Fall 2011 issue of AmericanStyle, on newsstands Sept. 6!
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The 2011 NICHE Awards: Defining Excellence

September 2011 | BY | Fall 2011, Issue 77 | NO COMMENTS

“Citrus,” by Dorothy McGuinness of Everett, Wash., is a hand-painted paper basket that explores the interplay of weaving, color and pattern.

Craft collectors are always on the lookout for new work, new artists and emerging talent. One of the most consistent sources for finding all of the above is the winners’ list of the NICHE Awards, an annual juried competition begun 22 years ago by AmericanStyle’s sister publication, NICHE magazine, as a way to recognize talent and encourage creativity in all craft mediums.

The 2011 edition of this prestigious event, held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia earlier this year, celebrated the creativity of North American craft artists in 38 professional and 13 student categories, from art glass and jewelry to baskets and home furnishings.

A six-member jury, which included craft retailers, arts advocates and art organization executives, chose 179 professional and 67 student finalists out of nearly 1,600 entries submitted. Each work was judged on technical excellence, both in surface design and form; a distinct quality of unique, original and creative thought; and market viability.

What you’ll see here is just a sampling of some of the artists’ winning pieces. A full list of all the winners and finalists, complete with photos of their work, can be found at

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