Art and Artists

Thursday, August 25, 2011

lovely things — jewels, gems and treasures at mfa boston

One of the cur­rent exhibits run­ning at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is "Jew­els, Gems and Trea­sures — Ancient to Mod­ern". It exam­ines the notion that what we now con­sider gems, such as dia­monds and rubies, is much too lim­ited when look­ing at a broader world view. Many other items, whether seen as hav­ing pro­tec­tive value or sim­ply as being rare, have been trea­sured across the cen­turies. Fre­quently, tra­di­tional gems were mixed in with less pre­cious items, with the result­ing fab­ri­ca­tion an object of incred­i­ble beauty. Here are some of the amaz­ing pieces I saw this week:

Apolo­gies for this blurry pic­ture, but this suite of hum­ming­bird jew­els was made of, yes, real hum­ming­birds. Vic­to­rian excess at its most sublime.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston03

real hum­ming­birds as jewelry

Ancient pieces included rock crys­tal and enamel work along­side gems.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

This beau­ti­ful 19th cen­tury Chi­nese head­dress incor­po­rated gilt metal, king­fisher feath­ers, silk, glass and bone along with a host of semi-precious stones.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

19th cen­tury head­dress at MFA Boston

This 17th cen­tury Ger­man rosary fea­tured amber, believed at the time to have mag­i­cal prop­er­ties. Inter­est­ing choice for a Catholic I should think.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

17th cen­tury rosary at MFA Boston

Beau­ti­ful jew­elry in every color of the rainbow:

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

amethyst neck­lace at MFA Boston

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

a selec­tion of brooches at MFA Boston

A Faberge bull­dog, made of agate and semi-precious stones, in mem­ory of a beloved pet. Wow.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

faberge bull­dog

Enamel in com­bi­na­tion with moon­stones and pearls, sim­ply remarkable.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

A plat­inum, dia­mond and carved emer­ald brooch from 1928, owned and worn by Mar­jorie Meri­weather Post at her pre­sen­ta­tion to the Court of St. James. The cen­tral stone, carved in India, dates from the 17th cen­tury. 'Exquis­ite' barely cov­ers this piece.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

emer­ald brooch at MFA Boston

Finally, a brooch and cuff bracelet with less refine­ment of the stones, but cer­tainly plenty of char­ac­ter in the fin­ished pieces.

jewels, gems and treasures at MFA Boston

jew­els, gems and trea­sures at MFA Boston

There are many more won­der­ous exam­ples to see in this exhibit. I encour­age you to attend if you can; the show runs through Novem­ber 25.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

travel thursday — philip johnson's glass house — part 2

While the main attrac­tion at Philip Johnson's New Canaan CT prop­erty is the Glass House itself, there are sev­eral ancil­lary struc­tures on the estate that he and his part­ner David Whit­ney used to enter­tain and house some of their art collection.

philip johnson's glass house

philip johnson's glass house

From above the main house, you can see in this pic­ture a por­tion of the Brick House, designed for guests. In oppo­si­tion to the trans­parency of the glass house, the brick house has only three round win­dows on its rear façade. Accord­ing to our guide, the Brick House was inun­dated by water shortly after the the prop­erty opened to the pub­lic, result­ing in exten­sive dam­age to the inte­rior and its fur­nish­ings. The restora­tion project has been under­way since 2008.

the brick house for guests on the glass house property

the brick house for guests on the glass house property

To the right, out of frame in the pic­ture above, is the swim­ming pool, seen below.

the glass house swimming pool

the glass house swim­ming pool

As we con­tinue across the upper path, we arrive at what appears to be an under­ground bunker, but is in fact the Paint­ing Gallery. John­son and Whit­ney were avid sup­port­ers of con­tem­po­rary artists and col­lected a vari­ety of works. Many of their larger pieces are housed in this masonry and earth berm facil­ity built in 1965. Within the three cir­cu­lar pods, cen­ter spin­dles allow for stor­age of 42 works, although only a few are viewed at one time.

entrance to the painting gallery at the glass house

entrance to the paint­ing gallery at the glass house

Within the entry of the Paint­ing Gallery, on the left is this Michael Heizer paint­ing of a sculp­ture to be made and  on the right, three pho­tographs by Lynn Davis.

michael heizer painting in the glass house painting gallery new canaan ct

michael heizer paint­ing in the glass house paint­ing gallery

Step­ping fur­ther into the three cir­cles, a few of the pieces on dis­play, the first two by Frank Stella:

frank stella multi-media work at glass house new canaan ct

frank stella multi-media work at glass house paint­ing gallery

frank stella multi-media work at glass house new canaan ct

frank stella multi-media work at glass house paint­ing gallery

Two more pieces, sorry I didn't catch the artist's name on these…

 

two large scale paintings at the glass house painting gallery new canaan ct

two large scale paint­ings at the glass house paint­ing gallery

From the paint­ing gallery, we next visit the Sculp­ture Gallery. The gallery fea­tures five lev­els and was designed to feel like a Greek vil­lage on the side of a vol­cano, where streets are stair­cases. The inte­rior play of light in this build­ing is stun­ning. Some of the most appeal­ing pieces (to me, anyway):

"Raft of the Medusa" by frank stella, aluminum

"Raft of the Medusa" by frank stella, aluminum

"two lovers on a bed" by george segal (right) and "the archbishop, the golfer and ralph" by john chamberlain (left)

"two lovers on a bed" by george segal (right) and "the arch­bishop, the golfer and ralph" by john cham­ber­lain (left)

a portion of andrew lord's "large vessels", bismuth clay and gold

a por­tion of andrew lord's "large ves­sels", bis­muth clay and gold

tubular steel rafters form the ceiling in the sculpture gallery

tubu­lar steel rafters form the ceil­ing in the sculp­ture gallery

The tour ends with a walk to the top of the dri­ve­way and a brief look at Da Mon­sta, which John­son con­ceived as a future vis­i­tor cen­ter after his death. Sadly it proved to be too small for that task.

da monsta at glass house - this image via philipjohnsonglasshouse.org

da mon­sta at glass house — this image via philipjohnsonglasshouse.org

Part of the joy of explor­ing this won­der­ful National Trust site on a beau­ti­ful day was spend­ing it with dear friends. Here we are hav­ing a well deserved rest in charm­ing New Canaan CT.

girls' day out was a blast!

girls' day out was a blast!

Be sure to book a tour of Philip Johnson's Glass House on your next visit to Con­necti­cut. You are sure to enjoy this mod­ernist archi­tec­tural gem in its pris­tine setting.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

in the atelier…karen rieger

I think you can safely say one of my favorite artists is Cana­dian Karen Rieger. We first spot­ted her work in Cal­gary, and over the years have col­lected seven of her pieces, both large and small. I still enjoy them every day — the vibrancy, the sub­jects, the decep­tive sim­plic­ity of the com­po­si­tions. I don't have an inter­view with her to share, but you can read her artist's state­ment here. Enjoy this selec­tion of her work, avail­able through a num­ber of Cana­dian gal­leries, and one or two in the U.S.

I feel her women are always indulging in hid­den thoughts:

"Evening" by Karen Rieger

"Evening" by Karen Rieger

"Primavera" by Karen Rieger

"Pri­mav­era" by Karen Rieger

"Citron" by Karen Rieger

"Cit­ron" by Karen Rieger

Rieger's flo­ral still life pieces are always lush with color:

"Tulips and Cherries" by Karen Rieger

"Tulips and Cher­ries" by Karen Rieger

"April Flowers" by Karen Rieger

"April Flow­ers" by Karen Rieger

What do you think of these gor­geous pieces?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

in the atelier…with cathie joy young

In the ate­lier today is painter Cathie Joy Young, whose work first came to my atten­tion via Twit­ter. In perus­ing her port­fo­lio online, I found I really had to stop and study each piece to try and inter­pret the mean­ing. The sto­ries are not under­stood at first glance. It's intrigu­ing that Cathie her­self feels the sto­ries are not hers, but rather bor­rowed.  The col­ors are rich, the abstract fig­ures always con­vey­ing emo­tion. With the artist as the con­duit for these visions, the viewer is invited to dive in and explore.

In her own words, here is Cathie Joy Young:

"Shall the Meek?" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Shall the Meek?" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

1)   What path led you to your life as an artist?

My Dad was a painter. When my brother and I were very young both par­ents encour­aged us to draw and later to paint. My Dad painted in oils and his stu­dio was in our home so I was around it all the time.

When I was about 12 my Dad started show­ing my work along­side his own at casual out­door art shows. It was all rep­re­sen­ta­tional work. I sold occa­sion­ally and that was inspir­ing. When I would get too cre­ative – as in work from my imag­i­na­tion instead of from ref­er­ence it was frowned upon because I was actu­ally mak­ing good pocket money doing water color roses and pen and ink horses. I did not take art classes in high school and was not active with art again until I decided to apply to art school. I fig­ured I needed to go to col­lege and I really did not want to have to deal with required under­grad­u­ate classes like math and sci­ence so I thought  a pri­vate art col­lege was the way to go. I got accepted to the Pacific NW Col­lege of Art in Port­land, OR, and intended on major­ing in Graphic Design. Half way through my first year I changed my major to paint­ing. After grad­u­a­tion I worked in restau­rants and painted at home and would show occa­sion­ally. Even­tu­ally I got art-related jobs so that I could make a liv­ing that way. I worked at a stag­ing and prop com­pany called Stage Right. I free-lanced at dec­o­ra­tive paint­ing jobs and then I con­tracted to McMe­namin’s and did mural work in their var­i­ous hotels, the­aters and pubs.  After leav­ing that job there were a few years when I did not paint at all, and then in 2005 I started all over again in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way.

Since then I’ve been show­ing my work at var­i­ous gal­leries and shows in the US and sell­ing my work inter­na­tion­ally online.

"Inside Miracle" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Inside Mir­a­cle" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

2)   Please describe three sources of inspi­ra­tion for your art.

My inspi­ra­tion comes from painters I came across while I was in art school years ago and from authors I read going back as far as child­hood. The visual artists I most admire are Odil­lon Redon, Marc Cha­gall, Ivan Gen­er­alic, El Greco, and many of the Expres­sion­ists as well as medieval painters. The writ­ers who have helped shape the way I think are Her­mann Hesse, Aldous Hux­ley, John Galswor­thy, Thomas Hardy, Doris Less­ing, Tove Jans­son, and George McDon­ald. Besides the listed artists and writ­ers I am also inspired by the act of paint­ing. What I mean by this is that the very action of pro­duc­ing inter­est­ing imagery keeps me going.

"Egyptian Faience" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Egypt­ian Faïence" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

3)   What was the last item you brought home from a trip? Where did you go, and why that item?

I was recently in Hawaii and I brought home shells, coral, and inter­est­ing small rocks that I found at the beach. I really like rocks and shells and I always try to bring home a rock from wher­ever I go. I stayed away from bring­ing home a lava rock though because my Hawai­ian friend told me I would be cursed if I did. I don’t like to take chances with curses!

"Unexpected Clues" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Unex­pected Clues" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

4)   Please fill in the blank: If I was not an artist, I’d be:

A writer of books.

"Opening Sky" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Open­ing Sky" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

5)   What advice do you have for peo­ple who are afraid to buy art?

The pur­chase of Art has a dif­fer­ent and more endur­ing value than say the lat­est Iphone. The lat­ter will be out­dated in a few months and need to be replaced in a cou­ple of years. A piece of art is age­less and time­less and if you really love it, you always will.

"Astro Coo" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

"Astro Coo" by Cathie Joy Young, acrylic on wood panel

I hope you've enjoyed get­ting to know Cathie a lit­tle bet­ter! Please visit her web­site to see more of her work. You can also email her at catjoy@cathiejoyyoung.com or shop online here. Please leave a note and let me know what you think of these fas­ci­nat­ing pieces!

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