Jeweler April Higashi runs Shibumi Gallery in Berkeley, California. She shows mainly local jewelers and American jewelers who make well-designed, wearable work. Her gallery is located in a retail/manufacturing area, and her living quarters are right above the gallery. It is a wonderful space. April has discovered a lovely maker named Maya Kini, who is having her first full-scale solo show, Silk, at the gallery. Maya brings a complex background to her work.
Susan Cummins: Maya, can you tell me about your background? Your place of origin? Your schooling? How you became a jeweler?
Maya Kini: I was born and raised in the Boston area, the fourth of five children by parents from vastly different worlds. My mother is Italian American from New England, and my father emigrated from India in 1957 to get his PhD. He decided to stay in the US after meeting my mother. From a young age, I was given jewelry by visiting Indian relatives—bangles, anklets, and fine gold chains. Adornment begins at a young age in India and evolves into a complex language of beauty, wealth, and status.
I studied sculpture and literature at Reed College and eventually wrote my thesis on the translation of Catholicism and its earliest dispersion into New Spain. I received my degree in Spanish literature in 2000. In 1996, I was introduced to jewelry making in Mexico, and that seed developed into further study, apprenticeships with other jewelers, and eventually an MFA in metalsmithing from Cranbrook Academy of Art. I received my degree in 2007 under the guidance of Gary Griffin (2005–2006) and Iris Eichenberg (2006–2007). Currently, I operate my own small studio that focuses on commissions, multiples, and one-of-a-kind pieces.
With Nhat-Vu Dang, Jantje Fleischhut, Gésine Hackenberg, Iris Nieuwenburg, Evert Nijland, Ted Noten, Ruudt Peters, Lucy Sarneel, and Manon van Kouswijk
Jim Cotter is a jeweler and the owner of J. Cotter Gallery with two locations in Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado. He exhibits his work in his own galleries as well as others around the country. J. Cotter Gallery also features the work of other jewelers. Vail is a famous ski resort and a community that relies on the support of its seasonal visitors. Theresa Hauser, the gallery director, has chosen nine artists for a show of earrings called Au Courant: A Contemporary Earring Exhibition. The featured artists are Cheryl Eve Acosta, Kristine Bolhuis, Allyson Bone, Caroline Gore, Misato Iijima, Masumi Kataoka, Katie Poterala, Kristi Sword, and Amy Tavern.
Susan Cummins: Theresa, tell me about your role at the J. Cotter Gallery and the path you took to get there.
Theresa Hauser: I am currently the gallery director of our Vail gallery. In 2010, I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Metals from the State University of New York at New Paltz. Since the fall of 2010, I have spent time as a bench jeweler in Jim Cotter’s studio and have been a sales associate in our two galleries.
Galerie Elsa Vanier in Paris, France, is in tune with the season with a show called Jardins d’Hiver, or “Winter Gardens.” The exhibit features the work of gallery artists Nathalie Dmitrovic, Esther, Karen Gay, Patricia Lemaire, and Laurence and Philippe Ratinaud, as well as perfumes by Ann Gérard and Bertrand Duchaufour. The theme of the garden is meant to cheer us up in the dead of winter, which is a lovely poetic thought.
Susan Cummins: How did you come up with the idea of Jardins d’Hiver, or “Winter Gardens,” as the theme for a show?
Elsa Vanier: We were coming out of a Niessing exhibition, and we needed some diversity. The winter/Christmas exhibition always features a group of jewelers, and because the time of year and the economy are so grim, we definitely wanted color. The name just came to me. I like poetry. In French Jardin d’hiver is a room in a house with lots of windows where you can keep your plants in the winter. It is also a room with a view of the garden, which in winter would be all black and white.
The Society for Contemporary Craft in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a nonprofit space devoted to exhibitions of contemporary craft, as well as to education and outreach events for the community. For the past several months they have had an exhibition called Badges & Buttons, Waistcoats & Vests, which was curated by the international team of Robert Ebendorf from the USA and Elizabeth Turrell from the UK. The participating artists, mainly from the UK and USA, are Dail Behennah, Michael Brennand-Wood, Stephen Bottomley, Ken Bova, Melissa Cameron, Jim Cotter, Susan Cross, Robert Ebendorf, Beate Gegenwart, Caroline Gore, Jane Harrison, Gretchen Goss, Arthur Hash, Thomas Hill, Timothy Information Limited, Basil Kardasis, Felix Lindner, Megan McGaffigan, Trish O'Hara, Matthew Partington, Maria Phillips, Marissa Saneholtz, Marlene True, Elizabeth Turrell, and Jessica Turrell. It is a meditation on and contemporary interpretation of the use of metals and badges today. This show was previously featured at Velvet da Vinci and now is at the end of its run.
Susan Cummins: How did the idea of Badges & Buttons, Waistcoats & Vests come about? Was it a personal interest?
Elizabeth Turrell: Yes, it is a personal interest.
The exhibition title—Badges & Buttons, Waistcoats & Vests—alludes to the fact that we think we have a language in common, but as this play on words indicates, these words separated from their past have assumed subtle new meanings through function and practical necessity.
This is the second in a new series called “in Sight.” We have asked a maker, a curator, and an historian to discuss From the Coolest Corner, an ambitious event that was just launched in Oslo, Norway.
For many years, Facèré Jewelry Art Gallery owner Karen Lorene has been interested in writing as well as jewelry. She has published a series of books called Signs of Life matching writer to jeweler and vice versa. An expert in estate and contemporary jewelry as well as writing, Lorene has planned a perfect show to match her dual interests called Women Working Words. The women chosen for this exhibition are Kristin Beeler, Nancy Bonnema, Kat Cole, Kathleen Faulkner, Nadine Kariya, Marcia Keefer, Mary Hallam Pearse, Gail Rappa, Jacquie Rice, Katherine Richmond, Sarah Wauzynski, and Kristi Zevenbergen.
Susan Cummins: Karen, you have been interested in both words and jewelry for many years. How did your interest develop in each area, and when did you decide to merge these two interests?
Karen Lorene: Some 20-plus years ago, an advertising consultant suggested I write a booklet for Facèré. I didn't hear the “let” part. I thought he wanted me to write a book. And so I produced Buying Antique Jewelry: Skipping the Mistakes. Writing that book was so much fun, I decided that fiction had to be even more fun! And it was. I’ve been writing ever since. Dancing with Bear is my first novel and fifth book. A second novel is underway.
Dutch artist Lucy Sarneel is presenting new work in the exhibition Soulmates at Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, through February. Sarneel continues to reinvent her work while still keeping her signature use of zinc forms. This jewelry is fresh and colorful with a liveliness often missing from well-established artists’ work. She seems still open to experimentation and new ideas. Nice job.
Susan Cummins: Lucy, I understand that you studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, that you taught there for many years, and now you are about to become the head of the department. Congratulations. Many incredible jewelers have come from that school. Can you tell me what is the secret to their success?
Lucy Sarneel: I have taught in the jewelry department of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie for almost four years with some short periods of guest teaching previously, so it’s not that many years by my count. The secret to the school’s success could be attributed to the emphasis on the working process rather than working toward the result. Developing ideas as a constant dialogue between the idea and the material. The attempts and the failures. The doing and reflecting. Thinking in possibilities and not in solutions. This way of working opens personal potential and ways of looking, thinking, and making that the student learns to rely on, making him or her an independent artist.
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.