Exhibitions

  • Preston Singletary Exhibition at Museum of Glass

     

    White Raven by Preston Singletary White Raven by Preston Singletary, 2017. Blown, hot-sculpted, and sand-carved glass. Courtey of the artist. Photo courtesy of Russell Johnson.

     

    On view now at the Museum of Glass, Preston Singletary presents Raven and the Box of Daylight. Glassmaking, goldsmithing, and jewelry design go hand in hand. Sometimes it’s important to step out of the box and look at things from outside your usual box. This is why I’m writing about this exhibition.

    Though the exhibit does not feature jewelry, the story just happens to hail from the oral traditions of the Tlingit people. If you recall, I recently mentioned the Tlingit people in a post about the Klondike Gold Rush Museum.

     

    The Tlingit

    The Tlingit peoples are indigenous tribes native to Southeast Alaska and Western Canada. In Alaska, they continue to occupy the coastal rainforest on the southeast shores. They also continue to occupy the Yukon area of Canada. Historically, they also lived in the Alexander Archipelago.

    As mentioned in my previous article, a group of Tlingit tribes held control of the Yukon passes. This placed them at the heart of the Klondike Gold Rush.

    Among the Tlingit, art and spirituality go hand in hand, as do the daily activities of life. Therefore, even such everyday objects as spoons and bowls are decorated in the imagery of their rich oral tradition.

    Singletary draws upon this oral tradition to tell the story of Raven and the Box of Daylight in his latest exhibition at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.

     

    Preston Singletary

    Preston Singletary, an indigenous artist from the Tlingit tribe, began working with glass in the early '80s. At some point along his path to mastery, Singletary discovered ways to blend his love for glass with his love for his culture.

    He began experimenting with Tlingit designs formed in glass. In his lifetime, his achievements have positioned him to inspire other indigenous artists to manifest their cultural language and philosophies in non-traditional materials.

    This evolution inspires all his work. His most recent is perhaps the most astounding immersive opportunity for museumgoers to experience the rich oral traditions of the Tlingit people.

     

    Raven and the Box of Daylight

    Perhaps one of the most important stories in the rich oral tradition of the Tlingit tribe, Raven and the Box of Daylight begins with an obsession.

    Raven Devises a Plan

    The Old Man at the Head of the Nass river tucked the sun, the moon, and the stars in three special boxes which he hid in a place of safety. Raven wants the light of the sun, the moon, and the stars for himself. Therefore, he devises a plan which he executes by first becoming a hemlock needle.

    Meanwhile, the Old Man's daughter ventures out to pick blackberries beneath the hemlock tree. Raven drops himself into her water cup. When she swallows the needle in a drink of water, Raven implants himself into her womb.

    Upon his birth as a boy, the Old Man devotes his affection to him, as he believes he is his grandson. He whines and complains until his grandfather gives in and gives him the box that holds the stars.

    The Stars and Moon Escape

    Transfixed by the light emanating from within, Raven opens the lid. The stars escape out the chimney and drift away into the heavens.

    Next, Raven begs for the box with the moon. He takes the moon out and plays with it like a ball. Eventually, it escapes from his hands and rolls out the door to follow the stars into the sky.

    Finally, Raven cries and begs until the Old Man gives him the box with the sun. Of course, the Old Man keeps careful watch over the boy with the sun. So though he wants to share his victory with his peers, Raven knows he cannot escape easily with it.

    The Sun Joins the Moon & Stars

    One night, after everyone else falls asleep, Raven transforms himself back into his bird form. He grasps the box in his beak and flies up through the chimney.

    Full of pride, he boasts to those he meets that he has acquired the light of the sun for himself. To prove it, he opens the box. Alas, the sun flees the box and joins the moon and stars in the sky.

     

    The Exhibition

    In sculptures made of glass, accompanied by audio and video elements, Preston Singletary provides an immersive, multisensory exhibition that brings this important Tlingit story to life.

    Set against the backdrop of shadows and projected images, the sculpted glass characters of Raven and the Box of Daylight appear to breathe with life. Projected through speakers, native Tlingit music overlays natural sounds of the Pacific Northwest coast.

    As visitors walk through the exhibit, they also hear recordings of native Tlingit storytellers narrating the story. (Click here to listen to samples of the audio tracks.)

    This immersive retelling of Raven's story is an important milestone in the continuation of the Tlingit oral traditions. Through the continued expression of art by indigenous peoples, their cultures live on, enriching the lives of all who participate.

    To plan your visit to the Tacoma Museum of Glass, visit their website for details.

  • China's Triple Parade Exhibition

    Triple Parade 2018

    Opening this month, China's Triple Parade exhibition features 12 Society of North American Goldsmith members. Open October 19, 2018, through January, 6, 2018, Triple Parade emerges as one of the leading contemporary applied art and design exhibitions.

     

    Triple Parade

    The exhibition takes place at the HOW Art Museum in Shanghai, China. The show aims to continue an ongoing international cultural exchange between China and the rest of the world.

    This year's theme, "Three Times: Dialogue Across the Past, the Present, the Future," places contemporary jewelry art at the forefront of a conversation about art in time and space in relationship to past, present, and future. Though several mediums are represented, jewelry holds a high position in the exhibit.

    "Jewellery is not just a form, [it] also explores the complex and dynamic relationships between people, people and objects, people and society, and people and the world as a whole." {source}

    I have certainly seen the truth of these words in my exploration of the noble and magnificent jewels that come up at auction, as well as in the spotlights on contemporary and past designers. I also see it in the passing of an estate jewel from one owner to another. Every time a gem changes hands, it adds a new chapter to the story it tells.

     

    Contemplating Value

    Triple Parade further explores the connection between time and space by expounding on the concept of value. A contemporary jewel possesses several levels of value. First of all, it carries an inherent material value in the cost of materials and labor used to create it. It also has an economic value - how much it costs and how much value it retains over time.

    At the same time, a jewel holds sentimental value, perhaps as an heirloom or a special gift. Some jewels also have humanitarian value. These days women in third world countries find value in exporting their handiwork. These jewels, made by hand using tribal and native techniques, support their families during hard times.

    Also, designers and high-jewelry firms release special collections from time to time which focus attention on specific humanitarian causes. These focused collections often serve as vehicles for raising funds for these causes, as well.

    Finally, certain jewels eventually acquire historical significance. Such jewels include those owned by royal families, those crafted with such distinction that serious collectors covet them, and those owned by celebrities.

    Triple Parade hopes to bring this conversation about national, international, contemporary, and historical value to the forefront. The exhibition enables this conversation by collaborating with a global selection of artists.

    Though their works are primarily contemporary, some of these artists draw on the past for inspiration. Others use materials that possess no value on their own, but transformed into wearable art they can now attain sentimental, humanitarian, and even historical value over time.

     

    The Exhibition

    Visitors to the HOW Art Museum will experience Triple Parade in four sections. To begin with, Intimate Encounter, featuring the works of artists selected through an international public invitation.

    After that, visitors move on to Like Attracts Like, a selection of works chosen by international galleries. Then, Arty Game includes artwork by contemporary visual artists.

    Finally, Viva la Different includes works selected by curators from ten countries and regions. It is in this section that our country is represented by the 12 SNAG artists.

    For more information about the exhibition, please visit their website.

  • Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle

    Exhibition at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle. Exhibition at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle. Photo courtesy Flickr.

    The Klondike Gold Rush brought gold to the forefront in Seattle between the years 1897 and 1899. It singlehandedly increased the population and stimulated the economy for years following.

    The Klondike Gold Rush

    It began when Skookum Jim, his sister Kate Carmack, and her husband George Washington Carmack found gold in a tributary of the Klondike River in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

    The next year, the Portland docked at the pier in Seattle, unloading hundreds of eager gold prospectors ready to make the trek north into the Yukon. Over the next few months, Seattle hosted thousands of visitors, becoming the gateway city to the Klondike.

    Rather than joining the ranks of gold diggers, most of Seattle’s merchants took advantage of the influx of prospectors. They began stocking the necessary supplies the men and women would need to make the long and treacherous 600 mile trek across the snowy Canadian terrain.

    By the end of the rush, Seattle outfitted over 30,000 of Canada's 70,000 goldseekers. It’s possible that the Klondike Gold Rush put Seattle on the map. From then on, the city prospered and was able to completely rebuild after the tragic fire of 1889.

     

    The Klondike Gold Rush Museum

    Given the importance of the Gold Rush to the city, the National Park Service opened a branch of their Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle.

    The museum is housed in the former Cadillac Hotel, a building built during the Gold Rush years. Inside, visitors can view several different collections.

    One such collection is the Hielscher Collection. John Hielscher lived in Seattle during the rush. In 1897, fully outfitted for the journey, Hielscher headed to the Klondike to search for gold himself.

    One of many who stayed in the Klondike for the duration of the rush, Hielscher remained in Canada for 15 years. Though he did not return with much gold, he did make a solid living providing support for the many stampeders who passed through the territory.

    His wife and son remained in Seattle, so in between running hoists along the trail and selling merchandise at the outposts, Hielscher made short trips home to Seattle to visit and bring money back to his family.

    In 2008, Hielscher’s descendants delivered a steamer trunk full of memorabilia from his time in the Yukon. These items are now on display at the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Seattle. These items include all of his tools, his correspondence, and other historical documents.

     

    History & Ethnology Collections

    The other two collections on exhibit include items related to the gold rush. The History Collection includes boats, chairs, buttons, cups, and even a streetcar. Most of these items were unearthed during archaeological digs undertaken in Skagway, one of the towns that sprang up during the rush. Most of them relate to daily life, as opposed to being specific to the prospecting efforts.

    The Ethnology Collection features a number of items from the Tlingit people. The Tlingit are Native Americans that lived in the Klondike region during the gold rush. Items in this collection include hand woven baskets, beaded regalia, and handmade garments.

    The Klondike Gold Rush Museum in downtown Seattle is open daily from 10AM to 5PM in the winter. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the museum opens at 9AM. For more information, visit the NPS website.

  • The Patek Philippe Museum and the History of Time

    Vintage Patek Philippe Eighteen Jewel Manual Wind Wrist Watch

    Vintage Patek Philippe Eighteen Jewel Manual Wind Wrist Watch. Click here for more details. Photo ©2018 EraGem Jewelry

     

    In 2001, Philippe Stern realized his dream when the Patek Philippe Museum opened to the public. The horological museum showcases over five centuries of watchmaking, including antique timepieces fashioned between the 16th and early 19th centuries. It also showcases a historical view of the company Patek Philippe, from their earliest timepieces made in the mid 1800s, to their technologically profound modern models.

     

    The Patek Philippe Collection

    Occupying several floors in an authentic Art Deco building in Geneva, Switzerland, the Patek Philippe Museum features four distinct sections. The first floor features a small cinema, where a historical video plays on a loop. Here, visitors learn the history of the company, in particular how the founding partners met.

    Next, visitors step back in time to the early days of the Patek Philippe workshops. Watches, clocks, and timepieces dating as far back as 1839 evolve into contemporary pieces made in this century. Together, they beautifully tell the story of over 175 years of luxury watchmaking.

    This portion of the Patek Philippe Museum demonstrates the important contributions the company has made to horology. In particular, Patek Philippe prides itself in its advances in complications. For example, The Grandmaster Chime.

    The Grandmaster Chime, manufactured in 2014, commemorated the company's 175th anniversary. It features 20 complications, two dials, 214 parts, and 1,366 components. {source} In addition to a minute repeater, an instantaneous perpetual calendar, and a second time zone, The Grandmaster Chime also boasts two firsts for a wristwatch.

    For one thing, it has an acoustic alarm that strikes the alarm time. For another, it possesses a function that chimes the date. This exquisite wristwatch, fashioned from 18k gold and etched to artistic perfection, demonstrates not only the technical skill of Patek Philippe, but also their commitment to exquisite artistry. The intricate etchings and scroll work make this a masterpiece of timekeeping.

     

    The Antiques Collection

    The next section of the museum is the Antiques Collection. Spanning time between the 16th and the early 19th centuries, the Antiques Collection focuses on the history of clocks and clockmaking. Every school and style of European horology are represented in this extensive and beautiful collection.

    Visitors see firsthand how ornate religious motifs gave way to more modern and simplistic designs. As well, museumgoers see the evolution from timekeeping as a man's domain to the introduction of ladies wristwatches. In addition, the museum exhibits a Fantasy Watch Collection and The Art of Automata Gallery. These house the museum's collection of horological art, such as musical automata and watches bearing enamel miniatures, all of which help tell the story of Swiss watchmaking.

     

    The Library of Time

    The final floor of the Patek Philippe Museum hosts the extensive horological library. Here, visitors see letters written by the founders, books on physics and time, as well as documents and books about the mechanics of clocks and the mechanisms of keeping time.

    This portion of the museum houses in total over 8,000 documents and publications related to time and time measurement. Also featured are the wooden table and machine and tools used early on to manually manufacture their clocks.

     

    Altogether, the Patek Philippe Museum portrays over 500 years of watchmaking history. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, with guided tours on Saturdays, available in either English or French. You will find all the details on the museum's website.

  • Faberge Twelve Monogram Egg at Hillwood Museum

    Twelve Monogram Egg by Faberge, 1896

    Twelve Monogram Egg by Faberge, 1896. Photo courtesy Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

     

    Faberge Twelve Monogram Egg, 1896. Photo by Alex Braun. Used with permission from Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens.

    This Faberge masterpiece, the Twelve Monogram Egg, is part of a special exhibition at the Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens. Faberge Rediscovered aims to reestablish Peter Carl Faberge as the premiere Russian decorative artist of his time.

     

    The Twelve Monogram Egg

    Perhaps the most exciting contribution this exhibition makes in jewelry history is the re-dating of three Faberge eggs. This one, once believed to have been fashioned in 1892, now holds court as the 1896 Easter egg. Presented to Maria Feodorovna that Easter, the egg serves as a memorial to the marriage and reign of Maria and Alexander III.

    Framed and set in red gold, the Twelve Monogram Egg consists of 6 panels made from translucent blue enamel. The central opening divides each panel into two halves. On the top half, each panel bears the Imperial Crown made of diamonds and the monogram of Maria Feodorovna made from rose-cut diamonds. On the bottom half, each panel bears the Imperial Crown and the monogram of Alexander III, also in rose-cut diamonds.

    Each panel features a band of rose-cut diamonds. At the two crowning points of the egg, top and bottom, rest a portrait diamond surrounded by smaller diamonds.

     

    Surprise Rediscovered

    Inside, satin lines the egg to provide cushion for the surprise which was lost until just a few years ago.  When Maria Feodorovna opened the egg in Easter 1896, only several months following her husband's death, she found a grand surprise. A folding screen with six framed portraits of her husband and ten sapphires. Each portrait showed Alexander III wearing a different uniform. {source}

    Upon discovering what they felt was the Twelve Monogram surprise, historians put the jewel to the test. It passed without doubt. First, the red gold framing the surprise matches the red gold decorating the egg. Also, the deep blue of the sapphires matches perfectly the deep blue enamel of the egg itself. Next, the curators at Hillwood inserted the surprise into the Twelve Monogram Egg. It fit perfectly, as a hand to a glove.

    In addition, its dimensions and maker's marks match the notations written about it on the original Faberge invoice. Finally, descriptions in various auction catalogs demonstrated the appropriate provenance for the surprise.

    Passed Down Through Time

    In 1961, Prince Dimitri offered the surprise for sale through Christie's London. Prince Dimitri was the son of Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, the eldest daughter of Maria Feodorovna and Alexander III.

    Before passing down through time, the egg belonged to the Empress Maria Feodorovna. She received it from her son, Tsar Nicholas II, of the Romanov Empire in Russia, on Easter of 1896. Until her exile, the empress kept the egg in Anichkov Palace, the Imperial Palace in St. Petersburg.

    That year marked the first year the Romanovs commissioned Faberge to make two annual Easter eggs. One for the Empress and one for Nicholas II's wife, Alexandra Feodorovna. Alexandra Feodorovna was better known by her family as Princess Alicky. Born Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine, she was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the British Empire.

     

    A Treacherous End

    The Romanovs met a treacherous end, having been executed in their own home during the overthrow of Russia by the Provincial Government. Kept under house arrest, many previous attempts made by revolutionaries to storm the castle and murder the Tsar and his family were thwarted by the soldiers guarding the Royal family.

    Alas, eventually the guards chose sides with the Duma, the legislative body of the new Provincial Government. These soldiers, under the guise of ushering the family to safety in the basement, ambushed them at their most vulnerable moment. Every member of the family died of bullet wounds, beginning with Tsar Nicholas II, who held his infant son as he fell dying to the ground.

    Those treasures not secreted away by Maria Feodorovna and her allies wound up in the Kremlin Armory in Moscow, where they remained until the early 1930s.

    Thereafter, officials in Stalin's regime began selling items from the treasury to raise funds for the government. Hillwood officials estimate that a Paris-based jeweler purchased the Twelve Monogram Egg from Russian officials. Next, a Mrs. G. V. Berchielli purchased the egg and kept it with her in Italy.

     

    The Egg at Hillwood

    Finally, Marjorie Merriweather Post, going by her married name of Mrs. Joseph E. Davies (1935-1955), purchased the Faberge egg from Mrs. Berchielli.

    Marjorie Post kept the egg at her home until her death. Today, it remains part of the permanent collection at Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens.

    As I mentioned before, visitors have a special opportunity to view this gorgeous Faberge egg enveloped in the history of the artistry of Faberge at Hillwood's Faberge Rediscovered exhibition.

    The exhibition remains on view until January 2019. For more information, please visit Hillwood's website.

  • Faberge Leaf-Shaped Box on Display at Hillwood Museum

    Faberge Leaf Box Hillwood Museum Faberge Leaf-Shaped Box, 1899-1908. On display at Hillwood Museum as part of their 'Faberge Rediscovered' Exhibit. Photo by Alex Braun. Courtesy of Hillwood Museum, Estate, & Gardens.

     

    Peter Carl Faberge crafted this exquisite leaf-shaped box between 1899 and 1908 in St. Petersburg, Russia. It's possible he crafted it for a member of the Romanov court. Today it belongs to the estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

     

    Faberge Rediscovered

    An avid collector of Russian decorative arts, particularly those of the house of Faberge, Ms. Post purchased this box and kept it in her bedroom. Upon her death, she bequeathed the box to her estate with the expectation that it would remain in on public display in her bedroom at Hillwood Estate.

    Usually, this is exactly where it rests, in a display case with other favored Russian boxes collected by the Postum Cereal heiress. However, at this time and through January of 2019, this gorgeous serpentine box has been relocated in the mansion, as part of a special exhibition called Faberge Rediscovered.

    This exquisite exhibition showcases the work of Peter Carl Faberge, as well as the works of his contemporaries, in order to draw attention to Faberge's unique and important place in the history of Russian decorative arts.

    Visitors to Hillwood Museum, Estate & Gardens walk through three display halls to experience the exhibition. Located in Washington, D.C., the museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays.

     

    A Bloody Stone

    When you visit, make sure you set your eyes upon this gorgeous leaf-shaped box. Fashioned out of bloodstone, it features delicate golden leaves and bezel-set diamond berries. The weight and feel of this bloodstone creation must be so delectable to hold.

    Bloodstone, often mistakenly called heliotrope jasper, is a form of green jasper. The base color can range from the dark teal-green you see in the Faberge box, to light green. It typically includes zones of varying tone and color saturation. The most distinctive characteristic of bloodstone, though, is the bright red flecks that pepper the base color throughout.

    At one time, people believed that these flecks of red appeared for the first time at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ. Apparently, drops of the Christian savior's blood dropped upon the jasper stone at the base of the cross he died upon. They soaked into the stone and transformed it into bloodstone.

    As a result of this widespread legend, Christian artisans during the Middle Ages often carved scenes of Jesus' crucifixion, as well as the martyrdom of the saints, into bloodstone, ensuring that the red flecks genuinely looked like blood.

     

    Bloodstone Jasper

    Modern geologists, of course, dispelled the myths of Medieval Christians. Bloodstone is chalcedony (green jasper) with blood-red inclusions of iron oxide. These inclusions can range in color from bright blood red to a dull brownish red.

    During the 1700s, sculptors fashioned bloodstone into snuffboxes, cups, vases, and other decorative objects. {source} During the 1800s, bloodstone continued to find favor among artisans for boxes and small decorative objects, as well as for signet rings and seals. {source} In like manner, Faberge favored the stone for many of his decorative creations, primarily ornate boxes like this one and his famous jeweled eggs.

    Ancient sources of bloodstone included Egypt, Africa, and the East Indies. By the time Faberge came on the scene, most of these mines were either exhausted or closed to Europe. European jewelers sourced their bloodstone from India, China, Bulgaria, and Brazil. Faberge may have found sources for bloodstone in Russia. However, that is not certain.

    Today, bloodstone comes primarily from Australia, as well as the United States (California), Germany, Brazil, and China. The most recent supply was found on the Isle of Rum in Scotland.

    Bloodstone is gorgeous, and we hope you'll be able to find the time to see this gorgeous Faberge leaf-shaped box in person to see for yourself. For more information about the exhibition, please visit Hillwood's website.

  • Sotheby's Exhibits "The Collection of Marsha & Robin Williams"

    Robin Williams Dead Poets Society Watch by Hamilton Watch Co. Robin Williams Dead Poets Society Watch by Hamilton Watch Co. Photo Courtesy Sotheby's.

     

    Robin Williams truly personified entertainment. In the wake of his tragic suicide, he left a hole in the movie industry, as well as in the hearts of his fans. Of course, the hole he left in his family is the most keenly felt by all.

    As a tribute to his life, his second wife, Marsha Garces Williams, along with their children, partnered with Sotheby's to release a portion of their art and personal collections for exhibition and sale.

     

    The Collection of Marsha & Robin Williams

    In the nearly 20 years they were married, Marsha and Robin Williams collected decorative art, fine art, and outsider art for their home. The majority of the pieces represented gifts they gave each other, "as different pieces would remind us of each other," Marsha told Sotheby's. {source}

    Marsha explained that they "chose things that made us laugh, think, or want to be its caretakers for a period of time so that we could see them regularly." The pieces that "elicited immediate responses from ourselves, each other, family and friends" became their most beloved. {source}

    Sotheby's calls it "an uncommon collection," populated with film, entertainment, and sports memorabilia; Contemporary and Outsider art; bicycles; furniture and decorative pieces; and our favorite, roughly 40 designer watches.

    "He was always the creature of habit, so he would wear a specific watch all the time for a while. And then he would fall in love with another one," Marsha told Sotheby's. {source}

     

    Robin Williams' Watches

    Robin Williams owned a sizable collection of designer watches. Of course, he wore the biggest names in luxury jewelry - Cartier, Bulgari, and Dior.

    He also wore watches crafted by the most prestigious watchmakers in the world - Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Audemars Piguet.

    The entertainer clearly favored Graham, Swiss watchmakers since 1695. He also compiled a fair number of watches by IWC. Founded in 1868, by an American, the International Watch Company combines precision engineering with timeless design.

    Robin Williams had a keen eye for design, precision, and fine craftsmanship. This month, Sotheby's offers a rare opportunity for those traveling to New York.

     

    The Exhibition

    On September 29, 2018, at the York Avenue Galleries in Manhattan, Sotheby's offers a singular view into the artistic taste of one of America's most beloved actors.

    In addition to the forty watches Robin Williams owned, the exhibition also features paintings, sculptures, bicycles, decorative arts, and movie memorabilia.

     

    The Dead Poets Watch

    Indeed, visitors can view the watch featured above, which Robin Williams wore in his acclaimed role as Keating in Dead Poets Society.

    Crafted by Hamilton Watch Co., the watch features a silvered two-tone dial with applied gold-plated Arabic numerals. The case is plated with yellow gold, and the stainless steel back is engraved: "Robin Williams Dead Poets Society 1988."

    Catch a few glimpses of this movie watch, as well as one of the best scenes from the film, in this video clip. Then, head into Manhattan for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the collection of Marsha & Robin Williams on display at Sotheby's Art Gallery.

     

    Details and information available on Sotheby's website.

  • "Revealed" Exhibition at VisualSpace Gallery in Vancouver, BC

    On view at 'Revealed' exhibition, VisualSpace Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia. "Chorus" necklace by Canadian Art Jeweler & Goldsmith Mary Lynn Podiluk. On view at 'Revealed' exhibition, VisualSpace Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia.

     

    Revealed remains on view through this coming Saturday, September 8, 2018. Visitors to the VisualSpace Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia, can expect to see the works of international jewelry artists who push traditional boundaries of jewelry design.

     

    Imagination and Ingenuity Revealed

    Sponsored by the Craft Council of British Columbia, Revealed showcases the works of contemporary art jewelers who use materials, techniques, and concepts that explore the theme of making known that which was once hidden.

    These unique works were curated by Barbara Cohen, Canadian jewelry and textile artist. Barbara uses the materials she works with outside of their usual contexts. She aims to push the boundaries herself, compelling those who see her work to question their preconceptions of value and meaning.

    Hence, it is no surprise that Barbara wished to invite other artists to push the boundaries with her. One of the artists featured in the Revealed exhibition transcends the traditional with her work, both in concept and materials.

     

    Mary Lynn Podiluk

    Mary Lynn Podiluk submitted three pieces of her spectacular jewelry art for display in the Revealed exhibition. Her necklace called "Chorus" is featured in the above photo. In addition, her earrings "Hush" and "Amplify" also share the spotlight.

    All three are made using sterling silver in combination with vibrant glass-like resin. This pairing of traditional silver with the novel resin produces beautiful works of art.

    In addition, Mary Lynn adds another layer of novelty in her incorporation of language and her exploration of particular themes, such as metaphors and resonance.

     

    Metaphors

    Chorus and Hush are part of Mary Lynn's Metaphors collection. Inspired by the concept of objects, phrases, and ideas that represent the abstract, Mary Lynn took natural forms and recreated them in ways that invite further exploration through the filter of language.

    At a distance, the fluted portions of her Chorus pendant appear to be etched with intricate flourishes. Upon closer inspection, these flourishes become letters. Suddenly, the vibrant red resin globes issuing forth from the flutes take on new meaning. A chorus of sound blooms in the imagination, and the potential meanings behind the piece emerge in concert.

    Could it be a chorus of trumpeters heralding an important edict?

    Or is it a concert of trumpeters welcoming a royal envoy?

    What if it's a megaphone empowering the voice of a once-silent witness?

    The possibilities are endless, and the beauty becomes timeless.

     

    Resonance

    Mary Lynn Podiluk's Resonance collection explores language as art. The contour and fluidity of this collection facilitate an investigation of the relationship between conversation and artistic expression.

    In this collection, language transcends its function to become art. For instance, her Amplify earrings feature amber pools of resin set within hollowed vessels of gleaming silver. Inside the vessels, Mary Lynn stamped letters upon the surfaces. Without doubt, her fascination with language and sound culminates in these mesmerizing earrings.

     

    What Once Was Concealed

    Mary Lynn Podiluk chose to exhibit these three pieces for their unique interpretations of the theme Revealed. To begin with, these three pieces embody the word in the ways that the silver and resin interact. Chorus and Hush feature hidden resin concealed within hollow silver forms. These tiny bursts of color reveal themselves only when viewed at particular angles.

    Likewise, when the amber resin pooling in the hollow of her Amplify earrings catches the light just so, they cast an amber glow upon the gleaming silver. What typically shines in a cool tone suddenly becomes awash with radiant warmth.

    Furthermore, both Chorus and Amplify feature stamped lettering upon the surfaces. While at a distance these look like etched flourishes, upon closer inspection they reveal themselves to be letters. One can almost imagine words forming to communicate with the observer. The invitation they extend compels the beholder to engage in the conversation.

    As I mentioned earlier, Revealed remains on display for only this one final week. To see these works, and those of the other artists, on display in person is to enter the realm of mysteries concealed and mysteries revealed.

    For more information, we invite you to visit VisualSpace Gallery's website.

  • Catherine the Great Egg on Display at Hillwood Museum

    Faberge Rediscovered Exhibition Features Catherine the Great Egg Catherine the Great Egg on special display during Hillwood Museum's 'Faberge Rediscovered' Exhibition. All photos used with permission.

     

    The Catherine the Great Egg is on display now at Hillwood Museum as part of their latest exhibition, Faberge Rediscovered. The exhibition promises to enlighten visitors as to the most recent discoveries about Faberge's works.

     

    Imperial Easter Eggs

    Peter Carl Faberge established himself as the premiere designer for Russian royalty, a position that eventually expanded his reach into Europe and the United States. Perhaps his most delectable contribution to jewelry history is his collection of Imperial Easter Eggs.

    The House of Faberge crafted each egg annually for Tsarina Maria Feodorovna, and later for her daughter-in-law, Alexandra Feodorovna. Faberge made a total of 50 Imperial Easter Eggs between 1895 and 1917.

    Until 2014, experts believed that only 42 of these exquisite eggs have survived the ravages of the Bolsheviks and the passage of time. The discovery of one of the lost Imperial eggs brought to light new facts regarding the eggs. Experts re-dated three of the imperial eggs as a result:  Twelve Monogram Egg, Blue Serpent Clock Egg, and Catherine the Great Egg.

     

    11.81.1-2h.jpg

     

    The Catherine the Great Egg

    Tsar Nicholas II presented the Catherine the Great Egg (also called the Pink Cameo Egg) to his mother, Maria Feodorovna, on Easter morning, 1914.

    Henrik Wigström, workmaster for Faberge, oversaw the creation of the Catherine the Great Egg. The egg is fashioned with eight monochrome panels. Within these panels sit two rectangular and six oval plaques painted in camaieu (monochromatic rose). The two rectangular panels feature allegorical scenes painted in opaque white enamel by Faberge designer Vasilii Zuev, after the fashion of artist François Boucher. {source}

    The oval plaques feature various scenes with cherubs resting, frolicking, and/or playing musical instruments. Each oval portrays these cupids during a different season. A single row of seed pearls frames each of the plaques.

    The intricate enamel work is inset into quatre-couleur (four-color) gold. The gold-work surrounding each panel is exquisite, replete with many flourishes in keeping with the Louis XV style so favored by the Russian court at the time.

    The egg is further embellished with sprays of leaves and bow-knots fashioned from rose-cut diamonds. The spandrels (triangular spaces formed between the curves of the egg) are chased in four-color gold. These panels are further decorated with musical trophies and laurel leaves on a matte gold ground.

    The top and bottom of the eggs feature carved rosettes of leaves and berries. The top rosette holds a portrait diamond with the Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna's cipher. On the bottom, the date 1914 reads in another portrait diamond. Each of these rosettes is framed by rows of seed pearls and borders of white enamel.

     

    11.81.1-2i.jpg

     

    The Surprise

    Every Imperial Easter Egg opened to reveal a special surprise. At the time, Faberge employed a skilled workman, Andrei Plotnitskii, who fashioned a fair number of the Easter automaton surprises. The Catherine the Great Egg was no exception. The top of the egg opens to reveal a velvet-lined space which once held the surprise.

    Unfortunately, during the egg's tumultuous journey to the Kremlin, this surprise was separated from the egg and remains so to this day. Tatiana Muntian confirmed to Alexander von Solodkoff that the surprise took leave from the egg before it reached the Kremlin Armory. {1}

    A 1922 inventory lists: 1 gold and enamel sedan chair with 2 blackamoor bearers. According to a letter written by the Dowager Empress, the surprise inside her Easter egg that year was what she called a "porte-chaise carried by two blackamoors walk." {2}

    A Faberge automaton fitting this description took to the block in the Christie's Geneva sale on November 13, 1985. However, the measurements of the piece eliminated it as the surprise. It did not fit inside the egg. As a result, experts believe that Plotnitskii must have fashioned two such pieces for Faberge in the same year. The egg's surprise remains missing, as far as I can tell.

     

    A Bloody History

    Four years after giving the egg to his mother, Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra, their children, and several household staff members walked into an ambush in their home.

    Ten armed men, under orders from Bolshevik officer Yakov Yurovsky, led the group of surprised royals to the basement of their home. Under the impression that their lives were in danger, the royals obliged the officers willingly. The soldiers even brought them chairs so they could sit comfortably.

    However, as soon as the Tsar and Tsarina took their seats, the officers drew their weapons and began shooting. The entire family and staff died on the floor that day. Apparently, Nicholas II was the first to die, his infant son likely falling from his arms. For the Bolsheviks, their deaths represented a victory of the highest order.

    Subsequently, the rebels proceeded over the next months to confiscate the entire collection of art and jewels in the Romanov palaces. Soldiers cataloged and packed every piece of treasure, including the Imperial Easter Eggs for storage in the Kremlin Armory. Every piece, that is, except the one which the Dowager Empress smuggled out of the country upon her exile. {source}

    In 1927, Joseph Stalin discovered the treasury in the Armory and decided to sell the pieces off to support his new regime. Regardless of their orders, several staff members at the Armory managed to hide the Imperial eggs for a number of years. Unfortunately, their efforts failed in 1930. Over the next three years, Stalin sold fourteen of the eggs to foreign art dealers and gallery owners.

    One of these was the Catherine the Great Egg.

     

    On Display at Faberge Rediscovered Exhibition

    According to Alexander von Solodkoff, Stalin's people sold the Catherine the Great Egg to Hammer Galleries in New York for 8,000 rubles. In 1931, Eleanor Barzin purchased the egg from the New York firm.

    Subsequently, Ms. Barzin gave the egg to her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, as a birthday gift. Ms. Post added the egg to her growing collection of Russian decorative arts, displaying it front and center in her Icon Room in her home, Hillwood Estate. Following Ms. Post's death, the egg became part of the trust bequeathed by Ms. Post to what would become Hillwood Museum.

    Today, visitors to Hillwood Museum may view the egg, along with two other Faberge Imperial Eggs during their Faberge Rediscovered exhibition.

    The exhibition examines Faberge's place in the history of Russian decorative arts and beyond. This special exhibition will remain on view until January 13, 2019. For more hours and directions, we invite you to visit Hillwood's website.

     

    BIBLIOGRAPHY
    1. Lowes, Will and Christel Ludewig McCanless. Faberge Eggs: A Retrospective Encyclopedia. Scarecrow Press, 2001.
    2. Ibid.

  • The Gem Collection of Richard Berger - Masterpieces of the Earth

    Gem Collection called Masterpieces of the Earth Concretions from France are among Richard Berger's favorite pieces in his Masterpieces of the Earth collection.

     

    The gem collection called 'Masterpieces of the Earth' is perhaps one of the most spectacular collections of gemstones in the world. Indeed, it's right here, hidden in plain sight, in downtown Seattle.

    The collection includes more than 100 specimens, many of them larger than a compact car. My favorite is the amethyst cave, which weighs 3,800 pounds and looks like a giant's geode filled with purple icicles.

     

    A Gem Collection Forms

    Richard Berger amassed his spectacular gem collection over the course of nearly 40 years. While taking a break (for the second time) from medical school, Berger discovered his first crystal in a rock shop in Wyoming.

    "...it was just this tiny little piece sitting on a shelf. I realized, in retrospect, that I was looking through a pinhole into my future; that my destiny and my entire journey for the next forty years was represented through that stone, even though I was not aware of it all," Berger tells his audience.

    He never looked back. For the next forty years, Richard Berger traveled the world for three months every year. As a result, he established a network of miners and others who helped him add pieces to his gem collection every year.

    While at home in New York, he worked in his natural crystal and fossil gallery. Later he moved to Seattle and opened a gallery at the Alexis Hotel.

     

    Ambassadors of the Earth

    In the mid-1990s, Berger closed his gallery and dealt solely with individual clients, including museums. A number of his finds made their way into the collections of the Smithsonian, as well as the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

    The museum pieces are spectacular; however, they don't compare to the 100 pieces Berger has held onto for a long-awaited dream. He calls them "ambassadors of the earth," which he brought together from different countries, different continents, and different time periods. Some are as young as 2 million years old. Others are a thousand-million years old.

    Berger dreams of sharing his important collection with the world, particularly with Seattle. His purpose in collecting these exquisite, singular gemstones and fossils "...was for it to be an experience that tens of thousands of people can enjoy, in a place of peace and beauty," he told Sandi Doughton of the Seattle Times. {source}

     

    Seeking Investors

    Around February 2016, Berger contacted media outlets to help him find a buyer for his important gem collection. "I just want to alert Seattle to the fact that this exists and give it my best shot to see if there is any interest in keeping it here." {source}

    Potential buyers contacted Richard, but they either wanted to take the collection out of the States or they wanted to purchase individual pieces. At the time, he remained adamant about keeping the gem collection intact. {source}

    Throughout 2017, Berger's gem collection was on view to select visitors in its private warehouse location in downtown Seattle. He launched a website (see link below), sharing Masterpieces of the Earth with the public for what appears to be the first time.

     

    Where is Berger's Gem Collection Today?

    Did this phase of his introduction of the collection work its magic? Did Richard Berger find the investors he sought to transform his warehouse gemstone gallery into a Planetary Museum of Ancient Wonders?

    I sent a message to Richard Berger, hoping to learn how I could visit Masterpieces of the Earth. He responded swiftly: "We are no longer open for showings but are hoping to build the museum here in Seattle which will be open to the public. So sorry that we can't accommodate you now."

    You cannot begin to imagine my disappointment. Indeed, I am heartbroken that these beautiful specimens are still without representatives who will build them a suitable home. That being said, I'm thrilled that Mr. Berger continues to hold out for a buyer/donor who will keep the collection together in Seattle.

    Only with all the specimens displayed together can Berger realize his vision to integrate each piece with water features and tropical plant life. He hopes visitors will find peace and tranquility among the ancient stones as they reflect in private spots designated for prayer and mediation.  {source}

    Until such a time, his website is the only way to view a portion of this spectacular gem collection.

Items 1 to 10 of 69 total