Susan Cummins has been involved in numerous ways in the visual arts world over the last 35 years, from working in a pottery studio, doing street fairs, running a retail shop called the Firework in Mill Valley and developing the Susan Cummins Gallery into a nationally recognized venue for regional art and contemporary art jewelry. Now she spends most of her time working with a private family foundation called Rotasa and as a board member of AJF and California College of the Arts.
This month Gallery Loupe is celebrating a birthday date. Both Thomas Gentille and Peter Skubic were born on August 11 and so the gallery has paired them for the show Birthday Boys. I have separated the interviews into two parts, so each artist can have his say – as brief as they are. This is part 2.
Susan Cummins: Although you were born in Yugoslavia, you have spent most of your life in Austria. Someone once told me that Austrian jewelers believe in fairytales. Do you think that is true?
Peter Skubic: No, only when they go to Hanau where the brothers Grimm were born . . . said Helen Drutt.
You have taught at a number of schools. Can you give me an example of an assignment that really challenged your students?
I always challenge my students. It is central to my teaching.
Were you trained as a goldsmith?
I was never trained as a goldsmith. I learned it by myself. I was trained as an engraver in FACHSCHULE IN STEYR.
Your material of choice is steel and your incorporation of springs, tension, hinges and wire to hold the steel together are all tools of the architect. Did you study architecture?
These are materials and mechanisms of a craftsman, not only the tools of an architect. But I have contact with architecture because I live in a house. Today the tool of an architect is the computer and his material is concrete, steel, glass and sometimes a little bit of brick.
Do you do drawings in planning your pieces? Do they also express architectural concerns of proportion and building requirements?
Yes I do. Architects and jewelers work always for the human being. Architecture protects the human body and jewelry enhances it.
You often use mirrored surfaces in your brooches. Why mirrors?
Because mirrors are reflecting.
With all the wires and straight edges, your brooches don’t look very comfortable to wear. Are you concerned with wearability?
One of my major concerns is wearability and comfort.
You have been active in the contemporary jewelry field for a long time. Many people are discouraged by the current market place and the lack of support for this kind of jewelry. What are your thoughts?
My hope is that the value for my work is consistent with the value and recognition that comes to painters and sculptures. I am the same generation as Gerhard Richter; there is a world of difference between our values. This must change.
Thank you, Peter.
For a more complete interview with Peter Skubic, take a look at Contemporary Jewellers: Interviews with European Artists. The author, Roberta Bernabei, was able to get much more complete answers from Peter than I was. SC