Juried Show of Jewelry, Holloware, Small Sculpture
December 2, 2010 – January 2, 2011
studied at the California University of Pennsylvania and is now an Ethical Metalsmith from Washington. PA. James is well known as the technical editor for SNAG News, with articles in Earthworks Magazine on green metalsmithing Issues. His curated exhibits have traveled internationally and his work has been widely published including the book 500 Necklaces—Lark Books.
It was a pleasure to view the work of the members of the Washington Guild of Goldsmiths. The variety of work and the creativity in the art made for a wonderful experience. The quality of the work allowed me to focus on specifics during the critique portion of the juror’s review and the review process itself provided me the opportunity to really spend time with the work and observe it more closely than I normally would be able to.
Whenever I am asked to jury a show, the first thing people want to know is how I look at the artwork and how I arrive at my decisions. I start by looking at four areas:
A great concept, poorly executed, will fall apart- sometimes literally. If I cannot get past sloppy solder, file marks, or uneven stone settings, I will most likely never get to enjoy the concept to the fullest extent. Think of the dented can of soup or box of cereal on the store shelf. What do you do? You push it aside and grab the undamaged can or box behind it despite the fact that the contents are the same. Now take that thinking and apply it to art. Your concept may be as good as the next piece, but the viewer will push it aside if the craftsmanship is not there.
Composition and Concept
I admit to modernist leanings. Composition is very important to me, often more so than the concept. If I don’t ‘get’ the concept, I should at least enjoy the composition. When I look at Duchamp’s Big Glass, I enjoy the composition, the materials, and the mystique of the piece. I do not need to understand all of the symbolism in the work to enjoy it, but because it is so well crafted and so well composed, I take the time to dwell upon the ideas presented in the work. A well-crafted and composed piece will keep your audience present long enough for them to discover your concept. A concept is just an idea, hopefully well thought out, sometimes very personal, and sometimes as simple as, “I wanted to make something beautiful”. The key is to understand what you are doing and why. Write it down. Make it concrete. My biggest revelation in my own work started with, “I am an object maker,” and went on to fill three pages of my sketchbook.
Complexity is something we don’t often think about. It is a matter of knowing when less is more and when more means MORE. Robert Irwin, who searched for decades to distill painting down to its purest state, to the point were he spent three years trying to place a few perfect lines upon a canvas, placed hundreds upon hundreds of slate tiles edge up in the fountain at the Getty Museum in California. The visual effect is wonderful. The reason why he said he did it was so people could look at it and say, “I can’t believe they did that!” Sometimes knowing when to stagger your viewer, whether through scale, technical difficulty or the shear magnitude of labor, and when to use economy, through the subtleness of the form or a barely noticeable color transition, can make or break a piece. Like Irwin, know your intent.
There are so many other thoughts going on when looking at any artwork, some happen on a subconscious level. As with anything, the initial reaction is the gut reaction. The idea is to go from there. By having those four areas to start with, I can disengage myself from personal likes and dislikes. Maybe I don’t like teddy bears showing up in jewelry, but I need to be able to recognize when it is a damn good metal teddy bear. Fortunately, the members of the Washington Guild of Goldsmiths made my work easy for me. From novice to the experienced professional, I found something to enjoy in all the artwork. And from novice to professional, I hope I was able to add some helpful advice or constructive critique. There is nothing worse than, “It looks good, I like it” as a critique, it gives the artist no new insight or path to explore. The critiques were quick and more like brainstorming sessions, but my hope is that I, and the other jurors, gave all participants new paths to explore. As always, it is up to the artist to decide what to do next.
I look forward to following the work of the many talented artists I was privileged to jury. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your creative process.
received her MFA and BSG from the University Wisconsin-Madison. She is the Current Head of the Metals/Jewelry program at VCU. Susie has trained with the Revere Academy & has been exhibiting her unique work nationally since 1997. Her work has appeared in both 500 Necklaces and 500 Bracelets—Lark books. She is currently represented by Quirk Gallery—Richmond and Velvet de Vinci—
As one of the 3 judges for this year’s Washington Guild of Goldsmiths Biennial Exhibition I was honored to have participated. Our field is thriving with a broad range of work that is on one side of the spectrum, rooted in tradition, and on the other pushes the boundaries of convention through concept and material exploration. It was fantastic to see these attributes reflected in the work of the artists in the Washington guild.
As juror, I based my evaluation on a work’s design and concept, the ability of the artist to realize the outcome of the piece through craftsmanship, and ultimately the piece’s context in the contemporary framework of our field today. Work that stood out for me demonstrated innovations in design, technique, and/or material understanding that I found surprising, refreshing, and ultimately exciting.
I sincerely hope my suggestions documented during the jury process by the biennial organization committee are helpful. Thank you again for including me.
Betty Helen Longhi
has been working for 25 years developing the art of shell forming in her jewelry & sculpture. She’s studied at University of Wisconsin & the Cranbrook Academy and is now a metalsmith from Lexington, North Carolina. Betty Helen is the founder of www.Fluidformsinmetal.com. She shows & teaches her techniques widely, including Penland & Haystack
As a former long term member of the Washington Guild of Goldsmiths I have always felt a strong connection to the Guild. Therefore, I was very honored to be invited to serve as a juror for this year’s Biennial show. I have many friends and colleagues in the membership and participated in many of the shows in past years so this was a wonderful opportunity visit and see the work that is being produced by the current membership.
Since the membership of the Guild covers such a wide range of experience from beginning students to established professionals, the body of work to be juried also covered a wide range from simple basic work to very complex objects. Given these parameters, it was a pleasure to see very simple pieces that worked because of the quality of the design and also enjoy the beauty of a complexly constructed form. The work also ranged from small jewelry to large wall-pieces and included many interesting enameled objects. It is exciting to see that the guild’s membership is attracting such a wide range and work and talent.
Because of the educational aspect of this show the jurying process was more complex than I had experienced in jurying other shows and so was a learning experience for me. Not only did I have to decide the relative merits of each piece, but also explain my opinions in a way that would be meaningful and useful to the artist. One could not just say “this is good” or “this is not working”. Instead I attempted to explain why it was not working and hopefully give suggestions as to how to correct the problem. Having been a teacher for many years I enjoyed the challenge of this process. I am also very grateful to my scribe Nancy Mulder who was extremely effective in keeping up with all my thoughts and comments. It would have been impossible without her help.
I want to thank the Guild for inviting me to participate in this jurying process and congratulate the membership on all the excellent work that was presented
As President of the Washington Guild of Goldsmiths (WGG), it is my privilege to welcome you to our memberships’15th biennial exhibition and sale, METALWORK 2010. This juried event is the premier showcase for our extraordinarily talented members’ recent work, which you are sure to enjoy. The Guild includes artists new to metalworking, those with some years of experience, and many established and highly-regarded metal, jewelry, and enamel artists
The WGG exists to promote the fine craft of metalsmithing through shows and education in the form of many outstanding workshops on specific techniques and processes that each member might incorporate into their own work. Our membership is comprised of a diverse gathering of artists, from students to professionals interested in metals and what can be accomplished with them. Information is freely shared within our community regarding opportunities to further their learning and skill sets, to apply to national and international exhibitions and shows, as well as other areas of common interest. Thanks to the efforts of volunteers over the three decades of the Guild’s existence, the WGG enjoys an excellent national and international reputation.
The Show Committee has done a wonderful job as a perfectly united team. Nick Barnes, Marla Rudnick, Mia Schulman, Winifred Anthony, Nella Fischer, Cecilia Tao and Donna Wilson (WGG Board Members) miraculously coordinated the application and jurying processes, the show venue and schedule. Nick Barnes has been our exhibit designer extraordinaire for many, many years of biennial shows. Special thanks go to Nick this year for the design and creation of our new, exquisite display cases. Additional thanks and appreciation must be expressed to the many other volunteers and their support throughout the show development process. This wonderful event, METALWORK 2010 would not be possible without the support of our members. Finally, we thank the Target Gallery for hosting us, as well as all of those who come to view METALWORK 2010.
President Washington Guild of Goldsmiths