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Metals on display – Part 2 of Susan Myers’ report on SNAG


The 2009 Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference (SNAG) ended this weekend after three days of exciting lectures from artists and historians including Neri Oxman, Camille Paglia and Albert Paley among others. Of course all the out of town conference attendees have nothing but wonderful things to say about Philly! On the eve of the final night banquet, which will feature the usual “questionable house band and dancing by those who should not be dancing”, I would like to continue my insider’s report on the conference exhibitions, many of which will still be on view long after the dancing is over. For this report I focused on Old City where four local galleries are featuring jewelry and metal exhibits. A complete list of galleries with locations and links are here at the SNAG conference website.

anti/icono/clastic. Myra Mimlitsch-Gray "Wooden" (Centerpiece) fabricated brass 14" x 17" x 40"
anti/icono/clastic. Myra Mimlitsch-Gray “Wooden” (Centerpiece) fabricated brass 14″ x 17″ x 40″

Wexler Gallery is presenting the work of Myra Mimlitsch-Gray in a survey exhibit entitled “anti/icono/clastic”. In my view, Mimlitsch-Gray’s artwork is an example of what keeps artists and metalsmiths like me going. It is smart, relevant, and always technically out of this world. As someone at the conference commented, “She can make anything out of metal.” On view are some of her unbelievable hand fabricated trays and transformed presentation silver, as well as her most recent work done while an artist-in-residence at the Kohler Arts/Industry program at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI. In case you could not guess, I am a real fan of her work. This is definitely a “not to be missed” exhibition.

Neoteric Matter Joshua Demonte "Curtains & Balcony Bangle Bracelet"
Neoteric Matter Joshua Demonte “Curtains & Balcony Bangle Bracelet”

Downstairs at Wexler Gallery is “Neoteric Matter 2: New Studio Jewelry”. This exhibit includes 30 artists and was curated by Daniella Kerner a professor at Tyler School of Art. The artworks in this exhibit are all comprised of 21st century or late 20th century materials. As I expected, there are many selections from the CAD/CAM community. After seeing so much of this type of work at the conference, my hope is that there will soon be an artist who can successfully take the abilities of this technology to another level. Much of the jewelry looks very similar in design and form, and I must admit I find the surface of the majority of rapid prototyped jewelry I have seen to be predictable, cold, and generic.

Minima Todd Noe fabricated bronze
Minima Todd Noe fabricated bronze

Minima is also showing the work of a metalsmith. In “Clairvoyant Memory”, Todd Noe continues his exploration of the commonplace object as artifact in several metal vignettes that are placed throughout the store. These hand fabricated bronze sculptures provide a welcome counterpoint to the modern and contemporary home furnishings showroom. And speaking of showrooms – Snyderman-Works Galleries has the work of several jewelers and metalsmiths featured downstairs in the gallery, in addition to the traveling exhibition, “The Enamel Experience: International Badge Exhibition”. For this exhibit English enamelist Elizabeth Turrell invited over 20 artists to respond to the badge collection at The Museum der Arbeit in Hamburg, Germany.

The Enamel Experience Kathleen Browne "Badge: Interrogation Expert, Guantanamo Bay" sterling silver, fine silver, copper, vitreous enamel
The Enamel Experience Kathleen Browne “Badge: Interrogation Expert, Guantanamo Bay” sterling silver, fine silver, copper, vitreous enamel

Even the Wood Turning Center had a hand in the SNAG conference organizing “The Art of Opening: Bottles and Their Toppers” which will run at the center through July 18th. This juried exhibition includes hand-made limited production corkscrews and wine bottle stoppers. The center partnered with WheatonArts and Cultural Center in Millville, NJ to work with local glass artists to create glass vessels inspired by each topper.

Decorative Resurgence Billie Jean Theide  "Hybrid (Rogers Wallflower)"
Decorative Resurgence Billie Jean Theide  “Hybrid (Rogers Wallflower)” at Rowan University
Bend, Mold, Cut, Join Jim Norton "White Pearl Bracelet" at DCCC
Bend, Mold, Cut, Join Jim Norton “White Pearl Bracelet” at DCCC

And finally, if you are up for a road trip, two exhibitions are just a one hour car ride away. Rowan University is hosting “Decorative Resurgence”, an international juried exhibition of jewelry and metalwork inspired by historic decoration and ornamentation, while Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts is presenting “Bend, Mold, Cut, Join: Small Works in Metal”, featuring jewelry, small-scale sculpture, and vessels juried by Ellen Lupton, curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

–Susan Myers is a visual artist and metalsmith who also works as a Project Manager at The Fairmount Park Art Association. Her newest installation “Memories of Happiness”, is on display at the Window on Broad project space at The University of the Arts Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery in conjunction with the 2009 SNAG Conference.