January 2013

Julia Barello

Julia Barello Charon Kransen Arts is a gallery and bookstore located on the Upper West Side of New York City. Their show schedule consists of a regular series of fairs. Charon Kransen Arts recently organized an exhibit for Art Palm Beach (January 24–28). We took advantage of this opportunity to feature one of the artists they represent, Julia Barello. Julia got her start as a jeweler and is now doing very large installations, which is what she will show at Art Palm Beach.

Susan Cummins: Julia, first can you give me some idea of where you live and about your background? Schooling? Etc.

Julia Barello: I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is the second largest city in New Mexico and part of a large metropolitan area formed by El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Las Cruces is part of the Chihuahuan desert (not the Sonoran desert of Arizona). The city is in a river valley formed by the Rio Grande, and the Organ Mountains form the eastern border.

I grew up in Bellevue, Washington and always considered myself a North westerner, but the Southwest has grown on me! My undergraduate education was at Fairhaven College, an interdisciplinary program housed at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. My degree was formed from research in anthropology, art history, and studio art. For the most part, I worked in textiles, weaving, and surface design, but near the end of my studies I discovered metals. I was taken with the processes and by the sense that I could use them to make anything from jewelry to teapots to sculptures and fit it all under that umbrella.

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Julia Barello

Portrait of Julia Barello Susan Cummins: Julia, first can you give me some idea of where you live and about your background? Schooling? Etc. Julia Barello: I live in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It is the second largest city in New Mexico and part of a large metropolitan area formed by El Paso, Texas, and

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The Danner Rotunda, Die Neue Sammlung, Munich

While there are museums in the world such as the Musée des Arts Decoratifs in Paris, the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London that have brilliant permanent jewelry galleries, few of them rival the impressive collection of contemporary jewelry on view in the Danner Rotunda at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. The Danner Rotunda is part of the Die Neue Sammlung (the International Design Museum), which is housed under the state-sponsored roof of the Pinakothek along with the Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität München (The Technical University’s Museum of Architecture), Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen (Bavarian State Painting Collections), and Staatliche Graphische Sammlung (The State Collection of Works on Paper).

What Rome is to ecclesiastic art or Brussels is to Art Nouveau architecture, Munich is to contemporary jewelry. Every year since 1959, the city hosts the Internationale Handwerksmesse (International Crafts Fair) of which “Schmuck,” the special, world renowned jewelry exhibition is a part and is sponsored by the Danner Foundation. The museum boasts that Munich is also the home of the German Werkbund (or Work Federation), founded in 1907. The purpose of this state-sponsored association, comprised mostly of architects and industrialists, was to encourage partnerships between traditional craft, design, and the industry.  

The Die Neue Sammlung began to exhibit international contemporary jewelry in 2004. Although, when touring the space with museum director Dr. Florian Hufnagl, senior curator Dr. Petra Holscher, and jewelry artist Karl Fritsch in March 2012, AJF learned this was not soon enough. Dr. Hufnagel told the group that when he joined the museum 22 years ago, he was surprised that it did not have a jewelry collection alongside the other decorative arts, and he made it his mission to establish one. Dr. Hufnagel traveled around the world to meet the most important artists working in the medium. The first donation came in 1995 when, on the eve of his 60th birthday, celebrated artist and professor at the Munich Art Academy Peter Skubic gave 60 pieces of jewelry from his personal collection, none of which were by him. As a result of this generosity, the Austrian artist Sepp Schmölzer also bequeathed his collection to the museum. This was followed in 1996 by a donation from Marianne Schliwinski and Jürgen Eickhoff, whose Galerie Spektrum is located just across the plaza at Theresienstrasse 46D. On the strength of these three donations, the Danner Foundation gifted DM 1,000,000 to the museum for the installation of the jewelry in its own dedicated gallery within the museum, the Danner Rotunda. Their first permanent loan to the museum came in 1999. The Danner-Stiftung (Foundation) has been collecting and supporting contemporary jewelry since the 1980s. It did not have a permanent exhibition space, so the partnership with the Die Neue Sammlung was very opportune for both parties. Professors Hermann Jünger and Otto Künzli were asked to curate the inaugural permanent installation. Both men are beacons in the field, both taught at the Munich Art Academy, and their work is in the collection.  

In March 2010, the collection was reinstalled under the guidance of its new curator Karl Fritsch. A former student of both Jünger and Künzli at the Munich Art Academy, Fritsch is seen as a one of the leading jewelers of his generation. Dr. Corinna Rösner is chief curator at the Die Neue Sammlung and oversees the Danner Rotunda. She said that Fritsch was chosen for the job because he represents a younger generation of artist jewelers, and his outlook on the jewelry field is very different from that of his predecessors. During the AJF visit, Fritsch divulged that he had approximately 1000 pieces to choose from, not including those he recommended the museum acquire. His first task as curator was to look at the entire collection. He felt that the first installation already encapsulated the best work, and the possibility of new loans made it easier for him to make his statement about the contemporary jewelry.


The collection of the Danner Foundation includes artists from all over the world. It begins with the avant-garde artists of the 1960s and takes us through to contemporary times. In fact, some of the work featured in the exhibition is so new that it begs the question whether it’s evolved enough to be included in a museum exhibition of this caliber. For example, the work of 2012 Herbert Hofmann Prize winners Alexander Blank and Despho Sophocleous is already on view. Their inclusion in the exhibition exemplifies why the Danner Rotunda chose Fritsch as the curator in 2010. A relatively young artist himself, Fritsch is familiar with the new generation of makers. But, should the work of such fresh talent already be part of the collection, and what are the criteria for the inclusion in the Danner Rotunda? The foundation would not comment on its acquisition policy for this article, and we are left to make our own conclusions.

The Danner Rotunda is located in the sub-basement of the museum, reached by walking down a long flight of stairs. This area was used for museum storage before Dr. Hufnagel suggested it be put to better use. The gallery is a narrow circular space with a low ceiling and wide columns, and it is painted a dark chocolate brown. Light emanates from vertical wall-mounted vitrines that line the walls and from freestanding vitrines placed around the gallery’s circumference. The bursts of color come from the jewelry itself. Most pieces are not made of precious stones. Shimmering gold and silver settings are interspersed with bright plastics, enamels, or various found objects. One vitrine can have as many as 34 pieces on view, all different types, all in different materials, by artists as diverse as Lisa Walker, Jiro Kamata, Klaus Bürgel, Gerd Rothmann, and Francesco Pavan. Alternatively, some vitrines are dedicated to the work of just one artist. There are a total of 34 vitrines in all. The display cases have remained the same from the first installation in 2004. The only thing that has changed is the color of the walls, which were previously painted white. Originally, Karl Fritsch wanted to show all of the jewelry on shelves, with the entire collection on one side of the gallery and his “chosen” pieces on the opposite, but due to spatial constraints, this was not possible. Every visitor to the Danner Rotunda leaves with a memento: a brochure with a numbered sketch and information about every piece on display.

In my opinion, the most pivotal point of the Danner Rotunda is that contemporary jewelry is recognized as a vital art form on the same plane as the fine and decorative arts. While it may be relegated to the grotto-like sub-basement of this glorious museum, it is certainly not treated like an ugly step-child. In fact, when you get through the encyclopedic installation of the decorative arts galleries on the upper floors (80,000 objects are in the Die Neue Sammlung’s collection, the largest in the world), and you are left breathless aching to see more of Ruhlmann, Rietveld, and Mackintosh, you understand that this is an institution that takes itself very seriously. While the Danner Foundation’s extensive inventory is on a par with the Pinakotheke’s other permanent collections, the appointment of Karl Fritsch as collection curator, and his decision to exhibit the latest in contemporary jewelry reflects the foundation’s singular position within the museum. Its role is that of a partner of, rather than a witness to, a young and thriving creative field. The foundation is encouraging emerging talent (many of whom are graduates of the city’s Art Academy) by assuring them that their work can end up in this serious museum. Secondly, the foundation is educating its visitors by showing them, in one place, what is happening in contemporary jewelry right now.

Ruhlmann, Rietveld, and Mackintosh were considered “fresh talent” at some point too. A little encouragement goes a long way.

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Monochrome Noir

Laura Wood, Something Old Something New, brooch, 2012, handmade paper, sterling silver, copper, powder coat, repurposed jewelry, rose quartz, 60 x 50 x 20 mm, photo: Tara Locklear Susan Cummins: What inspired the theme of black with a color accent? Why not totally black? Michael Dale Bernard and Tara Locklear: All black jewelry is a

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Tanel Veenre: Interview

Tanel Veenre During his travels in Estonia, Center for Craft Creativity & Design fellow Aaron Decker connected with Tanel Veenre for another installment in his series of fascinating interviews with artists he met along the way.

Aaron Decker: Tanel Veenre is an intensely sharp artist. His scope of work encompasses a deep search into oneself, not literally, but through the winding road of following one’s mind and hands to make the path less traveled easier to navigate. With sensitivity to materials, color, and scale, he works like a maestro constructing visionary worlds through jewelry. Tanel will be exhibiting My Kingdom during Schmuck (March 8–10, 2013) at The Foundry in Munich, Germany (Schleißheimer Str 72).

How did you come to jewelry? What is your artistic past?

Tanel Veenre: There have been four or five generations of music teachers and musicians in my family. I think my father hoped I would become a musician, but I’ve felt a strong urge to make things with my hands since I was very young. If I picture myself as a child, I see myself on the floor drawing, just sitting there drawing. I would make piles of drawings, and it was decided.

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Clarisse Bruynbroeck: Het getekende lichaam (The Marked Body)

Clarisse Brunynbroeck vander A Gallery is owned and run by Françoise Vanderauwera in Brussels, Belgium. It represents a very challenging group of young artists who are taking fascinating risks. This month, Clarisse Bruynbroeck travels some very emotional terrain with her work called The Marked Body. By investigating the effects of anorexia on those close to the disease, she exposes a topic close to the site of jewelry—the body. It is a topic that has just been waiting to be explored.

Susan Cummins: Clarisse, what is your background? Where are you from, and where are you now? Where did you go to school, and was there a teacher who was a major influence on you?

Clarisse Bruynbroeck: I’m from Bruges and studied in the jewelry department at Sint Lucas Antwerp. There, I learned that there is more than the common jewel. Sigfried De Buck and Hilde De Decker showed me that, each in their own way. At Sint Lucas, I learned a lot about art, jewelry, and myself.

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Clo Fleiss

In 2011, I had the opportunity to meet French collector Clo Fleiss in Paris, thanks to an introduction from Benjamin Lignel, jeweler and member of La Garantie, an association for the promotion of French contemporary jewelry. Clo Fleiss is married to a well-known dealer in Paris who specializes in blue-chip modern art. Perhaps not surprisingly, her collection focuses on what’s known as artist-designed jewelry—jewelry designed by fine artists as opposed to art jewelry or contemporary jewelry, which is part of the studio craft movement. This interview took place in a cafe just down the road from Clo’s husband’s gallery. We spoke in a mixture of English and French with Benjamin Lignel kindly translating the passages in French. Clo Fleiss’s collection has been published in two catalogs. The first, Bijoux d’Artistes, was published in 2009 and the second, Bodyguard, in 2010. I began recording our conversation while we were discussing these publications.

Damian Skinner: How long have you been collecting jewelry?

Clo Fleiss: Since 1990.

And why did you start?

Clo Fleiss: I always like to collect. I used to collect jewelry from the 1930s Art Deco to very modern work. Eventually, I started to sell it because I had enough, and I started to collect jewelry by artists. The first one was Niki Saint-Phalle. This one.

Right. The snake.

Clo Fleiss: It was made for La Société des Amis du Musée Pompidou (Society of Friends of the Museum Pompidou). And this piece was the last one. It belonged to Niki Saint-Phalle herself.

So you collect jewelry made by artists.

Clo Fleiss: Yes.

You collect work by artists from all over the world?

Clo Fleiss: All over the world. And when I started, I did not start very slowly. My husband and I were impatient when we started the collection. Act fast! Buy one a week or every two weeks! I had no thought to exhibit the jewelry. I collected it so I could wear it, not to put it on show. Later, museums began asking me if they could exhibit the jewelry because of pieces like this one by Meret Oppenheim. I think she made three bracelets. This one was from Aube Breton, the daughter of Andre Breton. So, this one is very well known, and everybody wants to borrow it.

Meret Oppenheim is famous for the fur cup and saucer.

Clo Fleiss: Yes.

Where do you buy the jewelry?

Clo Fleiss: First, I bought it at auction. Because my husband is an art dealer, we receive all the catalogs. Very often, mixed in among the paintings, auction houses sell jewelry by artists, too. And once people knew I was a collector, they started to call me, and artists started to call me, and they started to make pieces for me.

So, people begin to come to you. You don’t have to go to them.

Clo Fleiss: Yes, eventually I did not have to look. People came to me.

What do you like about this jewelry? Why do you collect it?

Clo Fleiss: Because it’s completely different. It’s not jewelry as everybody knows it. It’s not like jewelry from one of the big jewelry houses on Place Vendome where you can walk in and buy something. This is completely different. You have something very personal and unique.

Do the artists make the jewelry, or do other people make it for them?

Clo Fleiss: Few are made by the artists. Alexander Calder made all of his jewelry, but most are designed by the artist and made by a goldsmith, primarily in Italy.

Do the artists decide to do this themselves, or do people approach them to make jewelry?

Clo Fleiss: Some decide to have it made for a wife, mistress, or special friend. Picasso first designed something for his wife, and then he decided to make it a business.

I think my oldest piece of jewelry is by Julio Gonzalez and dated 1938. It was very fashionable at that time. Artists such as Picasso made jewelry, but they stopped because women didn’t like to wear it very much. Only a few women would actually wear this style of jewelry. Women would prefer to wear a big diamond or ruby or something like that. Artist-designed jewelry fell out of fashion, and then became fashionable again when I started to collect. Artists also started to make it again. But I bought a lot from the 1940s, 1950s—every period.

Of your collection, how many would be older pieces, and how many would be newer pieces?

Clo Fleiss: 180 out of 500 are older pieces, made before the 1960s.

Do you know of other collectors of artist jewelry?

Clo Fleiss: Oh, yes.

How many are there?

Clo Fleiss: When I started collecting, I influenced some friends. When I started to buy, people would propose two or three pieces from artists, but I couldn’t buy that many. I’d buy one, and then I’d call my friend and he’d have to buy one. I’m the only collector in Paris with 500 pieces. There are maybe 10 collectors in Paris with 100 to 200 pieces. In America it’s different. You can get a very large collection.

A lot of the artists seem to make their work in editions.

Clo Fleiss: Usually, it’s an edition of 20. Some make 50 or more, but some make eight.

What makes it valuable, the name of the artist or the size of the edition?

Clo Fleiss: The name of the artist.

So, Picasso’s work is going to be worth more than other artists?

Clo Fleiss: Yes, of course Picasso. The most expensive is Alexander Calder.

Why is that?

Clo Fleiss: Probably because Calder made it himself. But if someone less famous made the piece, the price would stay at the not-so-famous level. The work of Jacqueline de Jong, for example, is priced only on her artistic excellence, not on her name. If a piece was made by Andre Breton, it would cost a fortune!

At what point did you realize that you were a collector, as opposed to just buying jewelry by artists for yourself?

Clo Fleiss: First of all, I don’t want to be a collector. I want to buy artist jewelry because I like it, I want to wear it, and I want to be different from all of the women who wear diamonds. I’m in the art world. It’s very funny that when I go to the vernissage (exhibition preview) the first thing the men and women say to me is, “What are you wearing today? Who is the artist?” It’s become like that.

Do you ever buy a piece of jewelry because it relates to something else in your collection or because you don’t have anything by that artist and feel you should buy something?

Clo Fleiss: No. There is no logic for me. If I was shown a Calder piece from a period I don’t own and I know that the piece is important but I don’t like it, then I am not going to buy it.

When I started buying, the jewelry was not as expensive as it is now. I got pieces for nothing. I could not buy them now because the prices are completely crazy. I would love to buy Calder’s jewelry. I would love to buy 10, 20 pieces, but it’s impossible.

You started buying in 1990?

Clo Fleiss: Yes.

So, in the past 20 years, prices have changed entirely.

Clo Fleiss: Incredibly.

Do you wear everything that you own?

Clo Fleiss: Nearly.

What don’t you wear?

Clo Fleiss: I don’t wear some of the pieces artists made for me because I don’t like them very much. Some are too enormous.

Do you have special furniture for the jewelry?

Clo Fleiss: I used to put some pieces in a shoebox in the safe. Some are gold. For the little ones, rings and brooches, I use a small cabinet. I’ve bought various things, including a dentist cabinet. When I bought that it still smelled of formaldehyde! I’m not precious. They all sort of tangle up together. I’m not particular about how they’re laid out. I don’t really worry about wearing them and taking special care when I wear them. I wear them as if they are costume jewelry.

A number of museums want to show my collection and to borrow pieces. After participating in two exhibitions and taking out insurance to exhibit the jewelry, I realized that the jewelry costs a fortune, and so I don’t like to wear it anymore. It’s in a safe. I’m not afraid of it being stolen because no one would steal this. Most of the work just looks like metal. But I am afraid of loosing or damaging the jewelry when I wear it.

So the fact that it is made by artists and the fact that it is jewelry actually conflicts with each other. You can’t wear it because it is so valuable.

Clo Fleiss: It’s frightening. Exhibiting the collection twice has actually slowed my willingness to collect. Sometimes the desire kicks back in, but I have less interest in expensive work. I don’t want to wear it anymore unless it’s a special occasion.

So you stopped?

Clo Fleiss: I did not stop. I just prefer to go for the younger people, the contemporary jewelers or designers.

It’s almost like the collection turned back into art as opposed to being jewelry for you. At first you could wear the jewelry, and then they became art works and you can’t wear them.

Clo Fleiss: Yes. It was jewelry first, very different jewelry, but when I had it insured, it was like an electroshock in my head. Often, museums from around the world call me and ask if I want to exhibit my collection. I say, “No. I stopped. It’s finished.”

What are you going to do with your collection?

Clo Fleiss: I don’t know. I want to sell it, but my husband doesn’t want to, and my daughter and son don’t want me to sell. I could sell now. Really, I could. I’m a crazy collector. When I stop, I sell, and I start again. So, I could sell it. I don’t think it would be sad.

In other instances when you’ve stopped collecting something and sold it, did you have a similar experience? Did something happen to make you think you don’t want to continue collecting these objects?

Clo Fleiss: I’ve started every collection when the objects were cheap and nobody was collecting them. It’s not fun to collect things that are expensive. It’s easy to go in a shop and say, “I want this, this, and this.” To buy something expensive in a gallery is easy. It’s a question of money. But, to find something and hunt it down—there’s a commitment. When I see Calder in a catalog, I would love to buy it because it is so beautiful, but it’s impossible. It’s not for me. It’s for a rich American, but not for me. The price is too high now.

Do most collectors of artist jewelry wear their collections?

Clo Fleiss: Yes, like me, they wear it.

Do you have special emotional investment in these pieces, and does the fact they are made by artists affect that investment?

Clo Fleiss: Of course. It’s very emotional to wear a piece that’s made by a very famous artist.

Some of your jewelry has been made for you or given to you by the artists themselves. How did that come about?

Clo Fleiss: The artists know I have a jewelry collection, and they ask if I would be pleased if they made a piece for me. And I say, “Okay.” Sometimes I ask the artist. I say to them, “Would you like to make me something to go to my collection?” and they agree with pleasure.

Artists respond well to that sort of request?

Clo Fleiss: Oh, yes. All of them. And sometimes when I ask, it gives them the idea to commercially produce the piece of jewelry.

How does the art world view this kind of jewelry? Is it the same as the other art that the person makes, or is it treated slightly differently?

Clo Fleiss: No, it’s not as expensive as painting or sculpture, but it’s very well known.

Why do you think it is valued differently?

Clo Fleiss: Because it’s jewelry. At the beginning, it was not a very serious activity for a painter or sculptor. It was something playful.

Looking through the catalogs, it appears that you have become more experimental than the market, because the market would prioritize famous artists, but you’ve become interested in interesting jewelry.

Clo Fleiss: Yes. I have started to choose jewelry that is more effective. For example, Frederica Matta is the daughter of Roberto Matta. This woman is not very well known, but her work is very interesting.

In the end, it doesn’t have to be a famous artist, but it has to be an interesting piece of jewelry.

Clo Fleiss: Yes, exactly. I have pieces where I don’t even know the artist. I think the work is interesting, but there is no value. But you know, when they have an exhibition in a museum, the curators have to choose a big name. If they feature a minor name, then nobody will go to the museum, so they have to include a big name.

When I started collecting, it was only artist jewelry. Later, I saw so many beautiful things made by jewelry designers, but the majority of my collection is artist jewelry. First, the artist was more important because my husband is an art dealer. But after I saw so many beautiful things, I said why not?

Part 2

After our first interview took place, the collection was shown again, for the third time, at the Crédit Municipal de Paris (October 8, 2012 to January 8, 2013). This institution was founded in 1637 to emulate the Italian Monte di Pietà. It is a state run pawnshop located in the center of Paris in an ancient private hotel across from the old public library. Like any pawnshop, Crédit Municipal de Paris takes collateral, mostly in gold and silver, for the money they lend. Unlike most pawnshops, they have a 92-percent re-acquisition rate and a policy to remainder whatever profit they might make on resale back to the depositor. This made for an oddly appropriate new setting for Clo Fleiss’s exhibition and seemed to justify having another chat with her. Emmanuel Guigon, director of the Musée du Temps in Besançon, curated the first and last exhibitions of Clo Fleiss’s collection. His comments were submitted by email and incorporated into this second interview.

What prompted you to exhibit your collection at the Crédit Municipal de Paris? How was the deal brokered?

Clo Fleiss: The Crédit Municipal approached me. They saw the exhibition of my collection in Besançon, called the museum director Emmanuel Guigon, and asked if I would be willing to lend them the work. They opened this exhibition space very recently. Bijoux d’artiste is only the second show they’ve hosted.

It is an unusual place to exhibit jewelry, isn’t it?

Clo Fleiss: Emmanuel Guigon thought the link between a pawning institution and a jewelry exhibition interesting, as did I. The place is also called “My Aunt” after some heir to the throne who gave up his watch to the Crédit Municipal. He told his mother, the queen, that he had left the watch at his aunt’s. There is something shameful about pawning. Some artists exhibited in the show did not like the link between a pawnshop and jewelry. But, other artists understood, like one of them who had to re-melt some work to pay the bills. It was OK for them.

The exhibition seems to be a tighter selection than the previous ones? Is that the case? Who made that choice?

Clo Fleiss: There are about 160 pieces in the current show—about a dozen more than in the first exhibition at the museum of time in Besançon but 50 less than in the second exhibition, which took place in 2010 at the Passage de Retz, a commercial gallery in Paris. We decided to show only artists in this final exhibit, no designers or contemporary jewelers. Curator Emmanuel Guigon and I met with the people of the Crédit Municipal. He brought in the scenographer and the lighting designer. We selected the jewelry together.

Do you feel that each exhibition was a reinterpretation of your collection or that it revealed a different aspect of it?

Emmanuel Guigon: In Besançon, the exhibition took place under the eaves of a magnificent Renaissance palazzo in a large room that looks like the upturned hull of a boat. Because of this analogy with traveling, I wanted to occupy that space and give it a meaning by creating a series of waves, literally. The display platforms were undulated like waves. Depending on their size, the jewelry showcases were islands or islets of sorts. They let the visitor travel across different jewelry “time zones,” starting with the pioneers—Gonzalez, Manolo, Hugue—then the surrealists, the kinetics, etc.

In Paris, the room is smaller, badly lit, has a lower ceiling, and the space is interrupted by an excessive number of square columns. We wanted to use the columns to create the scenography, girdling them not with waves but with cloud shaped platforms that would make the space more ethereal and less heavy. We also had to create some rhythm between these showcases, all of different heights and sizes, to create interesting viewpoints from wherever you stood in the small space.

Clo Fleiss: The first and the last exhibition are not very different. Emmanuel Guigon is a conservator and favored historical pieces. Also, his museum in Besançon and the Crédit Municipal are public spaces, so we had to choose big names, such as Picasso and Man Ray, to attract the public. This was important for them, but not so much for me. I would have preferred younger artists. I liked both exhibition designs. The only thing I would have preferred is more showcases.


The second exhibition in the Passage de Retz was a big mistake. It was extremely laborious, and the team there was very badly organized. They did not have a pedestal maker or a light specialist. Really, they had no means. In the end, I had to sort out most things myself, and it cost me a lot. Also, the catalogue is really poorly put together. It falls apart as soon as you touch it. But that show included designers, contemporary jewelers, and minor artists, and I really liked that. The show was more complete, more representative of my collection, and much bigger. The scenographer was a Brazilian woman from the Musée d’Orsay, and it was really beautiful.

Some of the cases seemed to have been arranged to encourage “conversations” between pieces—pairing artists within the same artistic movement, but also more interestingly, artists from different generations with formal affinities. How did this come about?

Clo Fleiss: This is the work of Emmanuel. He made the selection and put Picasso with Derain and Niki de St Phalle with César and Hains. Sometimes, I convinced him to change something, place a piece into one cabinet instead of another, but mostly the layout was his responsibility.

Emmanuel Guigon: The selection for each showcase was essentially dictated by periods, schools, or a shared fascination of similar forms, such as Dubuffet’s and Hare’s taste for brut and primitivisms. Some artists were linked because they worked with the same designer— Barceló and Bourgeois worked with Chus Burres. Sometimes it was dictated by the restricted height of the showcases. Sometimes, a small showcase lets you isolate, and therefore see better, an extraordinary object such as the piece Eduardo Arroyo made for Clo.

Has your perception of jewelry changed since you began collecting 20 years ago?

Clo Fleiss: The current fad for artist jewelry really annoys me. It is in fashion, a bit like contemporary art, with prices going through the roof. Galleries are opening for artist jewelry. I know of three that just opened in Paris. Galerie miniMasterpieces on rue des St Peres is one example. And so I continue to collect, because I cannot resist, but mostly designer or contemporary jewelry. They are much cheaper. I love Naila de Monbrison. She was the very first one to sell artist jewelry, but now she is selling contemporary jewelry, too.

Last time we met, you said you were not interested in exhibiting your collection again. Yet one year after, you did. Are you still “not going to exhibit it again?”

Clo Fleiss: Well, it’s a lot of work and I don’t really want to do it again—but if the Prada Foundation in Venice asked me, I might be tempted!


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Ulla + Martin Kaufmann

Ulla and Martin Kaufmann, Rings, 2004, 18-karat gold, various stones, photo: M Hoffmann Susan Cummins: Ellen, your gallery is having an exhibition with Ulla and Martin Kaufmann. Can you tell me something about their background? What is their relationship, and how do they work together? Ellen Maurer-Zilioli: (On Background) There is a background, but it

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Gallery Funaki, Melbourne, Australia

Gallery Funaki in Melbourne, Australia, has a unique reputation in the Australian jewelry scene. Katie Scott, who now heads the gallery founded by Mari Funaki, answers some questions posed by Susan Cummins and Kamal Nassif.

Susan Cummins: For those who haven’t visited you in Melbourne, would you please give us a history of the gallery and its physical location and qualities?

Katie Scott: Mari Funaki opened Gallery Funaki in 1995. She had recently graduated from the metals program at RMIT University, and she wanted to establish a space that would show what she considered the best of international contemporary jewelry—pieces that hadn’t had an audience in Australia before—and show it in a way that really did the work justice. She also wanted to promote Australian jewelry in this context, placing it beside and showing its equality with the international movement. The gallery is located in a small lane in central Melbourne, an area known for its culture and history. It is a small, narrow space fitted out very simply with two long shelves as the exhibition space and a series of drawers in which pieces are kept. Mari felt it was important that the jewelry shouldn’t be behind glass but accessible to the hand and eye. People can really examine and interact with jewelry here in a way they can’t do anywhere else.

Kamal Nassif: Mari was both a maker and a gallerist. How do you feel this dual identity influenced her decisions as a gallerist?

Katie Scott: Mari approached the gallery very much from the perspective of a working artist. Her studio practice gave her a unique and very specific insight into how she ran her business, and she understood things implicitly from an artists’ point of view. That made her gallery a very sympathetic place for artists to exhibit. In terms of display, for instance, she always resisted showing a lot of work at once. Her aesthetic was always extremely minimal because she understood that each piece needed space. The level of perfection she insisted on when showing her own work naturally carried over to showing other artists’ work. Her dual practice also allowed her to talk with artists about jewelry and their work in a way that fostered close relationships and great respect.

Kamal Nassif: Can you speak more about absence of glass between the viewer and the work in Mari’s approach to display? Do you feel this changes the way viewers perceive work?

Katie Scott: We’ve become partially known for the absence of glass. It was simple aesthetic decision to a degree, because Mari didn’t like the look of glass cabinets. But, back in 1995 when the gallery opened, people in Melbourne really didn’t have much understanding of contemporary jewelry. Mari’s idea was that by allowing them to look at pieces from all angles, to pick them up and feel their weight, to relate in a direct, tactile way to the materials and texture, they would find contemporary jewelry exciting and accessible. There is an extent to which jewelry is inevitably deadened when it’s put behind glass. Jewelry, as we all relate like a mantra, is about the human body and human relationships. Allowing people to touch and look at it without glass as a mediator triggers people’s sense of their own involvement in that paradigm. It becomes inclusive rather than rarified and distanced. Certainly, many visitors to Gallery Funaki find the experience remarkable. Some are even quite terrified to open the drawers because they’re so unused to this freedom in a gallery. But, most take to it with utter glee.


Susan Cummins: Can you describe the role that Gallery Funaki played in bringing Australian jewelry to the attention of the world?

Katie Scott: Gallery Funaki was the first gallery to show Australian jewelry in an international context and in a gallery space rather than a shop. This elevated Australian jewelry in the eyes of the public. The gallery quickly established a significant reputation overseas. International artists and collectors appreciated the quality and originality of Australian work in a new way, too. Important Australian artists Carlier Makigawa and Marian Hosking had significant exhibitions early on, and their involvement meant the gallery had a reputation for excellence from the beginning. Mari also took Australian work overseas and promoted it in centers for contemporary jewelry such as Munich and Amsterdam. The Delicate Works exhibition at Galerie Ra, showing the work of Mari Funaki, Mascha Moje, and Marian Hosking, was a very important moment in the promotion of Australian jewelry to the world.

Kamal Nassif: How would you describe the Melbourne jewelry scene in an international context? What do you think are key qualities that identify works as Australian?

Katie Scott: That’s a tricky question. I’m not an expert on the Melbourne jewelry scene by any means. There are galleries here that specialize much more in that area. I would say that we have one of the most vibrant, active scenes in the world. We have university programs at Monash University and RMIT, excellent TAFE programs (all of which soldier on despite savage cuts in funding) and galleries that represent all points on the spectrum between commercial and art jewelry. That means there are a lot of makers and a lot of exposure to the craft here. I don’t think it’s going too far to say that contemporary jewelry is part of the city’s identity. 

I honestly don’t believe that there are key qualities that distinguish Australian work from any other now, and I’d say that’s increasingly the case with any country. Contemporary jewelry is, though vibrant, a very small industry. Everyone sees everyone else’s work through gallery websites and online forums. While this has created an explosion of makers, exhibitions, and conversation, it has also tended to have a homogenizing effect overall I think.

Susan Cummins: How did you end up running the gallery? Are you now the owner?

Katie Scott: I started working at the gallery in 2005, during my third year at Monash University. I gradually took over the day-to-day management of the business as Mari devoted more time to working in her studio. Mari and I worked very closely together for five years, and towards the end of her life, she asked me to take over the gallery. I’m now the owner and director.

Susan Cummins: What is your background?

Katie Scott: I took a fairly circuitous route to get where I am. I worked in design, administration, and event management before starting a fine arts degree in metalsmithing at Monash University, under the supervision of Marian Hosking, Mascha Moje, and Simon Cottrell. After graduating in 2006, I worked part time as a jeweler and also at Gallery Funaki.

Susan Cummins: Can you describe the aesthetic vision of the gallery under Mari Funaki? Have you maintained the same vision?

Katie Scott: Mari had a very clear and uncompromising vision for both her gallery and her own art practice. She knew what she liked and what she didn’t. It was a subjective vision and unapologetically so. She had an extraordinary eye. Within seconds of looking at a piece, she could pinpoint its strengths and weaknesses and why it would or wouldn’t work in her gallery.

Kamal Nassif: Do you collaborate or interact with RMIT?

Katie Scott: Yes, we collaborate with RMIT in presenting lectures and workshops by visiting artists. We have a good, longstanding relationship with the institution, and their students are among the gallery’s most passionate followers. They bring so much energy and enthusiasm. They’re wonderful.

Thank you.



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Rock Hushka, Tacoma Art Museum

Rock Hushka is Director of Curatorial Administration and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art at Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, Washington, USA. His museum is the major collector of craft—including contemporary jewelry—in the Seattle region. Along with the Bellevue Arts Museum, which doesn’t have a collection, the Tacoma Art Museum is responsible for making Washington a dynamic place to see contemporary jewelry. In 2010, Hushka gave the AJF lecture at SOFA NY, which you can read on the AJF website.

I had the opportunity to speak with Hushka in 2011. We spent some time walking around the museum, looking at the different spaces and talking about the institution’s relationship with contemporary jewelry.

Damian Skinner: What’s the responsibility of the museum to different kinds of culture?

Rock Hushka: Well, our director is really keen on making sure that our collections and exhibitions relate to the entire community in various ways. It can be a community show, meaning something really popular like Norman Rockwell or St John’s Bible, or it can be an exhibition like HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture that speaks to a specific community of people. I’ve found that thematic shows can help address community needs better than one person shows, although Norman Rockwell is wildly popular with elderly white people of a certain generation.

Do you collect all kinds of art?

Rock Hushka: All types of art, but mainly artists of the Pacific Northwest. We do have legacy collections. We have a major collection of Japanese woodblock prints, we have a small collection of European Impressionists, and we have some American works from the American-British colonial era to the early twentieth century. But, I would say two thirds of our collection are works by Northwest artists.

What do you mean by the Northwest?

Rock Hushka: It covers western Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia and with an eye towards Alaska. So here we encounter contemporary jewelry. This is a recent acquisition by Trudee Hill.

Tell me about the curatorial team. What’s your official title?

Rock Hushka: Director of Curatorial Administration and Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art. My colleague Margaret Bullock is Curator of Collections and Special Projects, so she deals in more of the historic material from the 1950s and earlier.

What role does contemporary jewelry have within the program? For example, how often do you have exhibitions?

Rock Hushka: My vision is to have one or two projects a year, plus a permanent collection open storage in one of our galleries. We plan a major project about every three to five years. It is usually thematic in scope, but on occasion it’s a survey of a Northwest artist, such as Nancy Worden.


Have you begun to think about what your next big thematic survey is going to be?

Rock Hushka: No is the short answer. The more complicated answer is it will probably be based on the talk I gave at SOFA NY in 2010, which explored the notions of how jewelry is worn and what it means to the wearer and the viewer; a play on all of those emotions. One of the things that it might do is look at the collectors who are patrons of the museum—how they build their collections and what are their connections with the ideas and the artists. I think that’s a really interesting way to think about collecting and how its different than collecting paintings or photographs. These things are worn and adopted. They become like totems or amulets for the wearer.

This is this case always dedicated to jewelry?

Rock Hushka: It has been since I’ve been here, but I’ve got a plan.

Can you tell me what that plan is?

Rock Hushka: We do these small, what I call ‘vest pocket’ exhibitions of artists or works from the collection. We have works by Seattle ceramist Howard Kottler in these adjacent cases. It’s sort of a retrospective from purportedly his first pot made in the late 1950s to his later massive monumental work called Devil Dog Walk, which is essentially a self portrait. Kottler died of pneumonia in late 1994.


That’s a sad end.

Rock Hushka: He did not have an uneventful life, so we can celebrate all of the things he did. These works are all from our collection, with the exception of some of the earlier works, which are loans from a private collector. In anticipation of the 2012 NCECA ceramics conference, we’ll supplement the display with additional works from other collectors, and then we’ll publish a little brochure.

How did the museum come to represent so many kinds of art?

Rock Hushka: That’s one of the good things about being in the far west. The boundaries of the fine art world were slowly chipped away, largely from craft traditions in this part of the world and people such as Howard Kottler and Dale Chihuly. There is this fluidity between process and object and conceptual foundation. I think that’s a really fascinating thing about this region’s history.

Has contemporary jewelry always been collected by the museum?

Rock Hushka: We started collecting in the early 1990s, right after we did a Ken Cory project. The jewelry collection is the fastest growing component of our permanent collection. I’ve tried to be really thoughtful about how we grow it. I’ve been a little bit conservative in a certain way, in that I’ve always focused more on narrative jewelry rather than wearable, purely decorative, more production-line stuff. I’ve shied away from that because it’s easier to tell the story to a visitor. Artists like Nancy Worden or Ken Cory or Laurie Hall or Kiff Slemmons have really infused their works with certain kinds of meaning, so to preserve that history has been first and foremost on my docket. But now that I’m feeling a little bit more comfortable with the history and the tradition and the makers, I’ve slowly been bringing in other kinds of work. Although, in a museum context, its way easier if there’s narrative content.

How long have you been working at the museum?

Rock Hushka: Eleven years. 

So the collecting of contemporary jewelry started before you?

Rock Hushka: Right. It began largely with the advocacy of Nancy Worden and her help with the Ken Cory estate and the work of former curator Barbara Johns. A lot of interesting forces came to bear on the moment that led to collecting contemporary jewelry. We are supported by an active group of collectors in this region.

How big is the jewelry collection?

Rock Hushka: About 290 objects.

 And how big is the museum’s collection overall?

Rock Hushka: About 4200 objects. Here’s the gallery that relates to the grand plan I mentioned earlier. The plan started with the Nancy Worden and Helen Drutt show in 2009. To re-engage with the permanent collection, we built these four cases. The next phase is to reconfigure them in this gallery space. We’ll use the top of these plus wall-mounted cases for the Flora Book exhibition. There are about 30 works in the show with a small publication. We’ll have the cases positioned in such a way that we’ll be able to rotate other jewelry shows in this gallery.

So this will become a dedicated contemporary jewelry gallery?

Rock Hushka: Yes, for the foreseeable future.

In terms of contemporary jewelry, is there a Northwest aesthetic or movement?

Rock Hushka: I think there are a number of them that sort of entwine. There’s the narrative jewelry, the Ken Cory-Ramona Solberg group, that comes from Pop in 1960s, the hippie movement, and using found objects. There’s this other, more refined kind of conceptual practice that’s being beautifully developed and articulated by people like Anya Kivarkis at the University of Oregon.

In Washington State, we’re at a very peculiar moment because the University of Washington has ended its program. Ellensburg is experiencing an interesting moment as Keith Lewis focuses more on administrative work within the university rather than training students. So, how is jewelry going to develop here? I think most people would describe it as a crisis moment, although everyone’s very reluctant to give it that name because of its dire consequences. What Pratt, a fine arts sort of workshop institution, does in Seattle, and what Cornish College does, could be interesting. What the University of Washington does will matter. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen without a way to generate subsequent artists and train them and teach them the history and give them the parameters from which to create. It’s hugely problematic.


There has to be a focus. Formerly, The University of Washington was that center. There was this ability to bring people from around the country to the university as visiting artists and as lecturers because there were students. Now what’s going to happen when there’s not that center? That intellectual energy has most definitely shifted to the Oregon School of Arts and Crafts and the University of Oregon. All of that creative energy is there. I don’t believe it’s the role of the museum to be that. My job as an archivist is to give meaning to it and to correct or revise the artists on the record. And if there’s nothing to revise, then we have a problem. So, I think the next five to ten years will be crucial. There are support mechanisms—there’s a very active Seattle Metals Guild, there’s the Fine Arts Center, there’s Artists Trusts—but will it be enough? Will it do more than draw people here? Will it be a way to let people churn and define who they are and present that to the rest of the world? Or will it be just this accumulation of really interesting people who are focusing their energy outward?

Do you also take any responsibility or have any interest in collecting items of contemporary jewelry that are not from here but are somehow critical to the story?

Rock Hushka: Absolutely. We have a very small number of those kinds of works, ranging from Swiss artist Verena Sieber-Fuchs to people like Robin Kranitzky and Kim Overstreet. We’ve also just collected a work by Ford & Forlano because of Cynthia Toops relationship with them and polymer jewelry. So yes, when really good works come to us as gifts, then we very carefully consider them. When there’s not a connection, then it becomes really tricky. Our collection committee and Director are very focused on our goal of becoming the premier collection of Northwest art. What that means is somewhat fungible. It’s amorphous, and it means different things on different days, but we do have a collection plan. We have goals. The Flora Book exhibition is one example. In 1986 and 1987, we did a project with Flora. The recent project was sort of a survey, a documentation of her career from the early 1980s to the present. It was fun.

Are you interested in forming relationships with collectors to develop the museum collection?

Rock Hushka: Yes. There are a couple of things that come to mind when you ask that. One is the responsibility of a collector. It’s not just to amass things. The tricky questions are: what does it mean to move from a private collection, a useful collection, into an archive; and is there the understanding that there is usually some refinement? We can’t take everything. We can’t keep everything. The longterm care and cost associated with an object, the intellectual enterprises surrounding the object, and the securing the patronage aspect…that’s just one component. Then there are other, really fascinating things that the collector won’t see, can’t see, and shouldn’t see. Things they should let the curators figure out.

Given your focus on Northwest art, would you also be interested in good examples of jewelry from other places that cast light onto Northwest cultural production?

Rock Hushka: If a collection was offered or if there was an opportunity to acquire such jewelry, we would very seriously consider it because of the role that jewelry has played in this region and its connections with the rest of the art.

Do you have an acquisitions budget?

Rock Hushka: A very, very modest one. We have the Ramona Solberg endowment, which we doubled recently. Our last purchase with those funds was Nancy Worden’s Frozen Dreams from her Loud Bones exhibition here. We’ll have to let those funds accrue for a while now. We’ve just acquired a Trudee Hill work, and we’ve just been gifted a Ford & Forlano necklace and nice Laurie Hall example. Part of our endowment campaign includes a $1.5 million dollar fund for endowment and acquisitions.


Tell me about your audience. What’s the Tacoma community like?

Rock Hushka: It’s fairly diverse in terms of ethnicity. Income and education are at slightly lower levels than Seattle. We have everything from Port Tacoma longshoremen to blue collar transportation to light manufacturing, and then there’s the university and a downtown core of financial services and internet startups, so pretty diverse. The survey we’ve done shows our primary visitor is female, 55 and over, usually with grandchildren. A lot of families and a lot of school tours visit, largely white. Our visitorship reflects, per capita, the demographics of the county. We keep track by zip code analysis. We’d like to increase our number of African American and Latino visitors. We found that our biggest barrier is affordability, because Tacoma is largely a blue collar area.


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