Susan Cummins

Collector's Choice

Susan Cummins Since I have been asking others to pick their favorites I thought I would take this opportunity to post my choice. I chose a piece from my collection that I love and think embodies many of the qualities I value in contemporary jewelry.

‘What is your favorite piece of jewelry and how does it reflect your whole collection?’ I am thrilled to answer the question.

In truth I have many favorite pieces of jewelry that are held in a trust called the Rotasa Collection Trust. But I rarely get the chance to talk about any of them or reflect on why I like them, what they mean, the material they are made from, who made them and why that maker is interesting to me, what gallery I got it from and perhaps even a funny or sad story about the process of getting them. In fact I have taken advantage of a number of very polite visitors who feigned interest when I thought I could get away with it. I do love to share my enthusiasm but seldom get the chance.

I know right off the bat that the artist I chose is Dorothea Pruhl. I have eight pieces of hers and she forms the heart of the collection. I have a harder time picking the piece. But first let me tell you what I know about Dorothea. She was born in 1937 in Eastern Germany and until 1961 lived under Soviet rule. She went to school at Burg Giebichenstein in Halle and eventually came back to teach there. She developed new ways to teach that produced work that defied preconceived notions about design and what constituted artworks. She retired from teaching in 2002 and now continues to work in Halle and in the tiny rustic village of Augustenberg. Along the way she has received many honors and has achieved somewhat of a mythical status as a jeweler’s jeweler. She has done this by making big, powerful and bold jewelry with the very simplest techniques. It is this old-school quality of doing something simply and beautifully that has endeared her and her work to me.

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Susan Cummins
Dorothea Pruhl

Yasuki Hiramatsu (1926 - 2012)

Petra Hoelscher

Yasuki Hiramatsu Petra Hoelscher, senior curator at Die Neue Sammlung in Munich was so moved by the death of Yasuki Hiramatsu that she offered to write a memorial for him for the AJF blog. He lived a long and successful life and will be missed by many in the contemporary jewelry community.

‘My aim is to create forms with force and grace, which are built to bring the potential innate in materials into full play.’

Yasuki Hiramatsu, as we now know, passed away on April 11, 2012, in Tokyo. The Dutch jewelry designer Onno Boekhoud, one of the earliest protagonists of modern jewelry art, once said to the Japanese master: ‘For me, what you do is simply magic.’

Yasuki Hiramatsu is considered to have been one of the trailblazers of modern jewelry in Japan: as a jewelry designer in a country with a clothing-defined art of ornamentation, he was the first to highlight the idea of jewelry as decorative gems on the body; and as a teacher, working for over 30 years at the Tokyo University of Arts and two years at the Royal College in London, as well as being co-founder of the Japan Jewellery Designers Association (JJDA) which presents modern Japanese jewelry and arts and crafts at national and international exhibitions.

Pieces by Yasuki Hiramatsu appeared very early on in exhibitions in Germany, for instance from 1964 at the special show Schmuck und Gerät at the Internationale Handwerksmesse in Munich, from 1967 in the Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim’s Tendenzen (Trends) exhibitions and in 1971 in Nuremberg at the exhibition Gold und Silber – Schmuck + Gerät von Albrecht Dürer bis zur Gegenwart, which was conceived by Curt Heigl and groundbreaking for so-called artist jewelry. In the late 1970s and early 1980s he was represented in exhibitions by Inge Asenbaum at Galerie am Graben, Vienna and by Barbara Cartlidge at Electrum Gallery, London.

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Yasuki Hiramatsu
Yasuki Hiramatsu
Yasuki Hiramatsu

Innovation and Craftsmanship: The Jewelers of Quebec

Aaron Faber Gallery, New York, NY

Group photoAaron Faber Gallery in New York City is an established gallery in a hot location – right across the street from the Museum of Modern Art. Patricia Kiley Faber is the driving force behind the contemporary jewelry exhibitions at the gallery and she did some research in Quebec to bring these jewelers to New York. Working with an eye to traditional craftsmanship, she chose the jewelry and developed a virtual catalog and website  especially for it.

Susan Cummins: Can you give me a little history about your gallery?

Pacticia Faber: Aaron Faber focuses on three areas of expertise: contemporary studio jewelry, classic jewelry new and old and collectible vintage timepieces. It was founded by my husband, Edward Faber, in 1974 as a showcase for artist-made jewelry. In 1975, I joined Edward to open the gallery, dedicated to the presentation of changing exhibitions of contemporary studio jewelry. The gallery has been in its present location at 666 Fifth Avenue since 1977.

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Matthieu Cheminee
Group photo
Christine Larochelle
Claudio Pino
Barbara Stutman

Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele: Organic Metal – The Old, the New and the Ambivalence in Between

ATTA Gallery Bangkok Thailand

Atty TantivitAtty Tantivit opened ATTA Gallery in Bangkok a year and a half ago. After acquiring an MA degree in Marine Biology, Atty took one of those detours to jewelry that led her to Europe and eventually to opening her gallery. She says, ‘I wanted to open a gallery in Thailand as I would like to share with other people the kind of jewelry that I fell in love with. If I can fall in love with it, I am sure there will be other people who will as well and I just have to give them opportunity to see more of it. Also I had some artist friends in Thailand who had no platform to showcase their works. Having a gallery opened the  door for them as well. We have some well-known artists who made it big abroad but are nobody at home. I think this needs to change.Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele’ So how is she doing? ‘I like to think that the first year was the time that ATTA Gallery learned how to crawl and how to stand up. Now we are walking slowly but steadily. I hope that next year we will be running!’ During the month of May 2012, Atta Gallery is showing the work of Austrian artist Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele He has a unique way of working as he explains in this interview.

Susan Cummins: What is your background? Where are you from? Where did you attend school? Where do you live now?

Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele: I am a goldsmith and jewelry artist with a master’s degree from the Konstfack University in Stockholm, Sweden. I live between Italy and Sweden and I was born in Austria.

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Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
Bernhard Stimpfl-Abele
ATTA Gallery
Atty Tantivit

Delphine Joly: Jewels Stories

Vander A Contemproary Art Jewellery, Brussels, Belgium

Vander A GalleryFrançoise Vanderauwera opened Vander A Contemporary Art Jewellery in November 2011 in Brussels, Belgium. She is young and energetic and comes at jewelry from a design perspective and it will be interesting to watch the course she charts in the coming years. Her current show is Jewels Stories by Delphine Joly. It is a very curious and unique collection of jewelry – qualities that also apply to Delphine herself.

Susan Cummins: You are really new on the scene. Can you give me some background what lead you to decide to open a jewelry gallery?

Françoise Vanderauwera: Yes, I am very new on the scene. I knew four years ago that I wanted to open a gallery to show much more of these wonderful artworks to a wider public. The starting point for me was design. I grew up using cutlery by the architect-designer Arne Jacobsen, which my father, who was also an architect, received personally from him. A few years ago, when a Brussels design shop I used to visit closed I began looking for contemporary creators and was amazed by how many high profile gold- and silversmiths, object designers and new jewelers I could recognize. I learned and traveled a lot and now the gallery is up and running.

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Delphine Joly
Françoise Vanderauwera in Vander A Gallery
Françoise Vanderauwera
Delphine Joly
Delphine Joly
Delphine Joly
Delphine Joly
Delphine Joly

Rachelle Thiewes

Mobilia Gallery Cambridge, MA

Libby and Joanne Cooper Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was established in 1978 by Libby and Joanne Cooper, a sister team. Since then, this dynamic duo has been featuring high quality decorative arts, sculpture, paintings and studio jewelry. Rachelle Thiewes has been showing with Mobilia since 1994 and this is her second solo show. Rachelle is a professor at UTEP and an articulate and unique maker. I was delighted by her responses to my questions. If you are interested in seeing more of her work you can purchase a recent publication about a collaborative project she recently completed.

Susan Cummins: What is your background and how did you come to be interested in art jewelry?

 Rachelle Thiewes: I grew up in a family that made things. My parents built our first house, kitchen cupboards and all, my mother designed and made most of my clothing (and hers) she made white feather Christmas trees in the 1950s (pre Target) and sold them in Dayton’s department stores, we invented, crafted and made most everything it seems. My mother felt quite strongly that everyday us kids needed to spend significant time playing and creating. The one TV was pretty much off limits except for Disney on Sunday night. It was a rich childhood.Rachelle Thiewes

In many ways I was destined to become a jeweler. My father was a hand engraver, freelancing for many jewelry stores, including Tiffany. I spent countless hours in the studio watching him engrave and often accompanied him to our local jewelry stores when delivering work. I have two older brothers that are artists so it seemed natural that I too would study art. I had no idea that ‘metals’ was an art subject until I saw the first student show at Western Illinois University. I was fascinated by the possibilities of the medium and quickly changed over my major from sculpture to metals.

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Libby and Joanne Cooper
Rachelle Thiewes
Rachelle Thiewes
Rachelle Thiewes
Rachelle Thiewes
Rachelle Thiewes

Donna Schneier

Collector's Choice

Donna Schneier Donna Schneier is an important collector and pace-setter for the contemporary jewelry scene. She has assembled several collections over several decades and then given them to museums with a shrewdness and single mindedness that is inspiring. Her collection of work from the 1980s went to the MAD museum and became a traveling exhibition under the name of Zero Carat. She split another part of her collection between the Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin and the Metropolitian Museum of Art in New York. In 2013 the Metropolitan Museum will showcase this work with a catalog and show. Donna knows that placing her collection in the proper place will enhance the value of the whole field and encourage the scholarship necessary to give the work the legitimacy it deserves. She seemed to be the perfect person to ask about her favorite piece of jewelry.

It is difficult to choose a favorite from among favorites. If pressed I would say that the Mary Lee Hu Choker # 70 from 1985 – which is now on view at the Metropolitan Museum as part of the collection highlights show – stands out for many reasons.

I first encountered the work in Ettagale Blauer’s book Contemporary American Jewelry Design, published in 1991. Somehow I knew it belonged to an American Craft Council Trustee, so no matter how much I longed to have, hold and wear this collar it wasn’t meant to be. She was the mayor of San Diego.

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Mary Lee Hu
Donna Schneier

Iris Bodemer

Jewelers'Werk Galerie Washington DC

This month Jewelers’Werk Galerie in Washington DC is showing the work of Iris Boedmer, the German jeweler from Pforzheim. Ellen Reiben has been in the jewelry business a long time. She has had the gallery since 1988 when she took it over from the founder, Dutch jeweler Joke van Ommen. I asked both Ellen and Iris some questions about the gallery and the fabulous work being shown.

Iris Bodemer and Ellen ReibenSusan Cummins: Ellen, how do you describe what you show?

Ellen Reiben: I show contemporary international jewelry by artists, in a range of materials. What is most important to me is a sense of a clear and original vision that does not feel derivative in concept or implementation. The work must speak of its time (I am not fond of the term ‘timeless’) and I am also very attracted to subtlety. Having been in this field for a long time and having seen so much work, it is still inspiring to me to find new work that is truly provocative and powerful and seems to speak its own ‘language.’ My intuition plays a role in selection – an intuition that has grown and that I now trust, from so many years in this field.

What is your background and what led you to run a gallery showing art jewelry?

Ellen Reiben: I have an MFA in jewelry from Rochester Institute of Technology and I studied with Gary Griffin. My work was mostly in non-precious materials. I was an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin and studied with Fred Fenster. Since then I have done a broad array of exhibition design, theatre props and my own jewelry. Now, however, I focus on my gallery and my daughter, who is fifteen. The gallery was called V O Galerie in 1984 when Joke van Ommen opened it. She was killed in an automobile accident in 1988 and her family asked me to take over. At the time I had my work in her gallery. I changed the name of the gallery for legal reasons and carried on with her goals of bringing international artist jewelers' work to the United States.

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Iris Bodemer
Iris Bodemer
Iris Bodemer
Iris Bodemer
Iris Bodemer
Iris Bodemer and Ellen Reiben

Curse of Symmetry: Ulrich Reithofer

Caroline van Hoek/ Contemporary Art Jewelry, Brussels Belgium

Ulrich Reithofer Caroline van Hoek in Brussels, Belgium, has had her gallery for five years. The storefront she occupies was once a grocery store and the original awning still refers to Fruit and Legumes. She has participated in a number of high profile fairs like Design Miami and has tried to expose art jewelry to new audiences. Her show in April 2012 with Ulrich Reithofer, an Austrian living in Amsterdam, presented a full and rich range of his latest work. Ulrich took a while to get back to me with answers to my questions and apologized with a song by F R David called ‘Words Don’t come Easy.’I think you will find that his words might not come easy but they are pretty damn poetic.

Susan Cummins: Please tell me where you went to school and where you are now.

Ulrich Reithofer: I was in a technical college for civil engineering in Austria during the 1990s and in 1998 I entered Fachhochschule Trier, Fachbereich Idar- Oberstein in Germany where I learned gemstone cutting and jewelry design with Theo Smeets. That was followed by two years at the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam getting a Master of Applied Arts with Marjan Unger. I am now living and working in Amsterdam.

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Ulrich Reithofer
Ulrich Reithofer
Ulrich Reithofer
Ulrich Reithofer
Ulrich Reithofer
Ulrich Reithofer
Ulrich Reithofer

Spain's Jewelry Hotspot: The Massana School of Barcelona curated by Montserrat Lacomba

crafthaus

crafthaus is an online community with close to 2000 members. Brigitte Martin, who is the originator of crafthaus and keeps all their balls in the air, is also a gallery member of AJF. crafthaus is a place for professional craft artists to display their work and connect internationally across all fields of interest. Each month, one of the members is asked to curate an online exhibition.

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Montserrat Lacomba
Myung Ursu
Silvia Walz

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