28 July 2009

Dear Rebroochful

In response to your recent confession in the comments to the post below, I say, swing baby swing:

I sense a place for you as a jewellery matchmaker. Or a Relationship Counsellor. I have a range of jewellery but wear only brooches. Should I remain loyal to this or develop an open relationship....

Dear Rebroochful,

You need to be brave and taste the rainbow. There is a wide world of jewellery delights out there so enjoy them all. Why limit your play to your lapels? Let your extremities get in on the action.... wrist, lobes, phalanges, collar bones are just the beginning. So pony up and parade your bedazzled parts with pride!
And never hesitate to confide your wearin' woes with me.

-Dr. Unfastenyee Finding

15 July 2009

To Brooch or not to Brooch that is the question?

Lets call this an ode to Mah Rana's Meanings and Attachments project.
I am back in the Cherry Capital, Traverse City, Michigan, the home of Rounds Diner.

Last year, I walked into Round's Diner with my jewellery and my mother-in-law. After a delicious omelet, I took advantage of the Midwestern friendliness and walked around talking to other patrons. I wanted to find out how people feel about jewellery, whether they wear it or not, and more importantly, if they wear brooches. I then let them choose a brooch I had made and took a photograph of them wearing the brooch.
I never got around to posting the photos and comments of all of my wonderfully friendly new jewellery mates last year, so here goes.

I was a bit nervous to start with so my mother-in-law, Carol was the guinea pig.

Carol liked this brooch best because of the color. It is hard to see here, but that is an old piece of copper with a rusty patina.

Being the friendly sort, Carol had started chatting to the the four year old a the counter and her mother. They became my next subjects.

Lorena wears jewellery on and off, usually when she goes out. She always wears her wedding rings. She just moved back to the US from Costa Rica and is married to a Costa Rican. In Costa Rica they wear the wedding and engagement rings on the right hand and they aren’t as flamboyant as in the US

Lorena might wear a brooch once or twice a year. The piece she picked is an old key-holder tin with a wooden cutout fixed onto it.

Even the waitress got involved. Amanda likes shiny things, She usually wears earrings and rings. She wears jewellery out of habit. She has an Irish callaghda ring that she wears pointing in when her heart is taken or and out when its free
Amanda doesn’t wear brooches, but she likes the twig brooch (cast, silver twig with pearl) because it kind of looks like a cross.

Feeling adventurous, I wandered into the other room and met a few other ladies

Pat wears jewellery all the time. She loves all kinds of jewellery. Pat is wearing a silver necklace with two flip flops on it, each has the birthstone of her two daughters on it. She just bought a new ankle bracelet and has asked my assistance with the hook. Pat has a cameo brooch but doesn’t wear it, but is currently reconsidering. She chose to wear the twig brooch.

Evelyn wearing Obama button, Breast Cancer Pin, Freedom pin, and my ‘copper assemblage’

Evelyn wears earrings and rings and her Obama pins. She likes to sign people up to vote and make sure the local government stays on the straight and narrow. She has a mother/grandmother ring (with birthstones of her kids and grand kids) that she loves. Evelyn’s daughter gives her brooches for Christmas and she wears them then. Her friend gave her a freedom heart pin when her husband died. One of her other pins was given to her for surviving breast cancer. Evelyn doesn’t consider her bouquet of pins brooches.

Many thanks to the friendly folks of Traverse City for sharing their thoughts.

10 July 2009

studio glorious studio

Shelton Walsmith hosting visitors in his studio in Brooklyn, as photographed by Evan Sung

I have just been reading From Studio to Situation edited by Claire Doherty. Daniel Buren's essay, "The Function of the Studio" made me think about the difference between the painting and jewellery which would be called "closest to its own reality". This essay makes many points which are relevant to both mediums, but highlights the fact that for centuries jewellery, being incomplete without the body, has flirted with the risky proposition of relinquishing control to the 'wearer' . It seems that jewellery's meaning is much more malleable in the hands of the wearer, than a painting's concept is as in the hands of the owner/interior decorator. And for me that interaction and risk is what makes contemporary jewellery so exciting.

Here is what Buren has to say (p17):

The studio, the first frame of the work, is in fact a filter which will serve a double selection, first of all the artist's, away from the eyes of others, and second, that of exhibition organisers and art dealers, so as to be seen by others. Immediately evident is that the work thus produced passes-in order to exist-from one refuge to another. Therefore, it needs to be at least transportable and, if possible, manipulable without too many restrictions for the person (other than the artist himself) who will adopt the right to remove it from the first (original) place, to allow it to access the second (promotional) place. Therefore as it is produced in the studio, the work can only be conceived as an object to be manipulated indefinitely an by whomever, in order for this to occur, and from the moment it is produced in the studio, the work is isolated from the real world. Meanwhile, it is at that very moment, and only at that moment, that it is closest to its own reality. The work will subsequently not stop to distance itself from this reality, and even sometimes borrow another reality unanticipated by anyone, including the artist by whom it was created. This reality can even be totally contradictory to the work itself, and usually serves mercantile benefits as well as the dominant ideology. Hence it is when the work is in the studio, and only at this moment, that it is in its place. This leads to a moral contradiction for the work of art, which it will never overcome, as its end implies a devitalizing displacement as to its own reality, as to its origin. If, on the other hand, the work remaining in this reality - the studio- it is the artist who is at risk... of starvation!

05 July 2009

San Francisco Dreaming

* photos courtesy of Velvet da Vinci

Yep, that's right. Jet lagged, and sleepy I tramped over Russian Hill and paid a visit to the wonderful, Velvet Da Vinci!

It's a preeminent jewellery gallery on the west coast of the states, and it is packed with treasures. I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to explore all of the multitudes of vitrines, but there was some very reasonably priced Arthur Hash pieces, and more work from Hillary Pfeifer begging me to add to my lone piece, etc, a veritable wonderland, oh boy!

The current show involved Jane Adam Jewelry and Thomas Hill Sculpture. Hill's drawings were really fantastic. They were done on foam board and setup vertically and free standing. I was less excited about the sculptures that went along with the drawings. But, this was a quick first impression. I am excited to give the whole gallery more attention on my way back through at the end of July.

04 July 2009

Unica Zürn: Dark Spring @ the Drawing Center

Unica Zürn, “Untitled,” 1961. Ink on paper, 12 3/8 x 9 1/4 inches. Courtesy of Ubu Gallery, New York & Galerie Berinson, Berlin. © Brinkmann & Bose Publisher, Berlin.

Unica Zürn, "Untitled," 1963. Ink on paper, 19 1/2 x 25 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Succession Zürn, Berlin. © Brinkman & Bose Publisher, Berlin.

A highlight of our trip back to New York was walking into the Dark Spring exhibition at the Drawing Center. Unica
Zürn's drawings are phenomenal and could easily be mistaken for current work showing at the hippest gallery, ie very Vitamin-D. Then we noticed the dates.. 1950, 1960 and were blown away. And it gets better, Zurn was a surrealist writer and these works are related to her short fiction. Here is an excerpt from the Drawing Center press release:

Already an established author in postwar Berlin, Zürn, was introduced in the early 1950's to the practice of automatic drawing, and to the Paris Surrealists with whom she would collaborate and exhibit, by her partner, Hans Bellmer . Though largely unrecognized contributions to late Surrealism, the resulting drawings and texts, the majority of which were produced during an intensely productive two decades also marked by a series of mental crises, are imbued with the movement's fascination with the poetic force of madness and
Zürn's own vivid experience of illness. At once playful and haunting, Zürn's body of work in drawing evinces one of the most febrile imaginations of the past century, tragically cut short by her suicide in 1970.

Zürn produced numerous expressionistic short stories that were published in German newspapers throughout the 1950s before moving to Paris with German Surrealist artist, Hans Bellmer. During the following decade and a half, Zürn produced paintings and drawings while living in Paris, becoming acquainted and exhibiting with many artists in the Surrealist circle, including Andre Brenton, Max Ernst, Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp. From 1953 to 1964, Zürn composed nearly 124 anagram poems, many of which provided the central framework for her later experiments with prose, including her autobiographical novella, Dark Spring (1969), and more avant-garde texts such as Im Hinterhalt (1963) and Die Trompeten von Jericho (1968). In the early sixties, she began suffering a series of mental crises leading to intermittent hospitalisation during which she continued to draw and write poetry. In October 1970, having been released from a clinic, Zürn returned to Paris and Bellmer; on the morning of October 19, Zürn leapt to her death from the balcony of the apartment the couple shared on Rue de al Plaine - as she had described in the last pages of Dark Spring.

I cannot recommend this show highly enough.
It is at the Drawing Center from April 17 – July 23, 2009

books glorious books

Yeah!! These just arrived and I cannot wait to read them right up.

02 July 2009

portrait of the portait

Although my photography knowledge is limited, I sure do know that there is an art to a portrait shoot. Making people feel comfortable while getting sorts like me to hold still, carrying on a conversation and still getting the right shot mid-sentence. No easy feat.

Shelton Walsmith is always involved in interesting projects, one of which is a series of photographs of couples/friends on the roof/balcony outside of his studio in Brooklyn. Still bleary eyed, Craig and I spent the afternoon with Shelton and Evan Sung, another amazing NY photographer and friend. Evan shoot digitally while Shelton took the old fashioned route. These are Evan's beautiful pictures. I love images of hands, especially of my relatives so I am digging these headless shots!

The thing about being in NY is that we are surrounded by such inspiring friends, who are really starting to have success in their artistic careers. That energy gave me such a buzz, that although I was exhausted, sleep evaded me... I was just twitching with excitement.