Friday, August 31, 2012

Guest Star #100...Jorge Manilla

Today's Guest Star (and number 100!) is Mexican-born, Belgian-based jeweler, Jorge Manilla.  I met Jorge at the opening for "Patro(o)n" and spoke with him more later that day at the opening of "Rijk!", both in June. I could tell when we talked that he is a devoted teacher and a generous artist. I emailed him shortly after that and asked if we could get together to talk about my work for "Observation/Translation" and he said yes. I went to Gent last week to visit and feel very fortunate that I got to spend that time with him.

Jorge's work includes personal narratives about his life with themes of religion, family, dreams, and memory, using a variety of materials and processes to convey and confront his message  The work is often haunting and always beautiful.

See more of Jorge's work at Apparat.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In Fine Detail

I visited the Mayer van ben Bergh Museum a few weeks ago to see its collection and also a rare showing of prints by Pieter Bruegel. The exhibition was held in a dark room with each print lit from the back so that every detail could be seen. On view were prints made from sketchbook drawings of Italy, a series of views of peasant life, the Seven Deadly Sins, and the Seven Virtues. You can see many of the prints at the Metropolitan Museum of Art website and can even zoom-in to see all the details for yourself.

The museum is the collection of Fritz Mayer van den Bergh (1858-1910), an avid art collector. His collection includes fine art and objects mostly from the Gothic and Renaissance eras. He chose works that were "important" but also chose things simply because he liked them. The collection has a very personal feel. One of my favorite sub-collections was the room of portraits, both of individuals and families. I have posted two images here. (Look at their sweet faces and those lace collars!) Finally, I was very happy to see a lovely collection of historical jewelry but, unfortunately, I could not take any photos. 
 Frans Vekemans by Cornelis De Vos, 1625 
 Elisabeth Vekemans by Cornelis de Vos, 1625

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Maps


The final series of work for Observation/Translation is the three map necklaces. I wrote about making them a few weeks ago and put them together last week. I spent hours soldering jump rings to all those bows and then the bows to that tiny chain. I haven't soldered like that in while. I felt like a machine, in a good way. The three finished pieces are delicate and have nice movement with the bows floating around.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day Trip, Gent

I went to Gent on Friday to spend the day with my friend, jeweler Jorge Manilla. Jorge met me at the train station and we walked to his place where I got to see his studio and his work, always good moments for me. Then he took me to the center of Gent and showed me all the sights. 
Our first stop was St. Bavo Cathedral to see "Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck. It's an incredibly complex painting and stunning in person. I used a head set to listen to commentary about the work, something I don't usually do. I realized quickly that it was an important tool to better understand the rich detail and symbolism of the work. After a few more sights Jorge took me down a narrow street with wall-to-wall graffit. I was in heaven! We even snagged some pieces of the wall composed of layer after layer of paint.
At the end of this little street was a nondescript house that is actually a gallery called "Verzameld Werk." The interior of the house is a work of art in itself--walls have been modified, furniture is placed just so, and there is a glowing, cylindrical hallway. The house also serves as an exhibition space and has a sparse, but wonderful selection of objects, jewelry, and books for sale.
We also visited Pont & Plas, a lovely art jewelry gallery near the Korenmarkt. Currently, the work of Malvine Marichal is on view and a beautiful show. I also got to see the work of Karin Seufert and Jantje Fleischhut, two favorites of mine.
rings by Malvine Marichal

Finally, Jorge and I spent some time with the work for my show. I laid it all out on the table in his living room and we had a great conversation. He was supportive and complementary and gave me some insight for a few simple changes that will make the work stronger. We even did a small display mock-up and he recommended that I give the work lots of room. 

More images of Gent on Flickr.

P.S. More on Jorge on Friday.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Longer Statement

I completed a more in depth statement over the weekend. Here it is for you to read now:

"Observation is the act or instance of noticing. As a resident in a new and foreign place, my power of observation has become important to me in unusual and often unexpected ways. It has also become heightened in a way that allows me to simply see more. Over the course of more than two months I have recorded my daily observations with photographs, drawings, and text, everyday encountering things I have never seen before. These observations are moments between specific inanimate objects and me, and, unbeknownst to them, between other people and me. They are also impressions of the beauty I see in my surroundings, such as the often-gray sky of Belgium or the sense of history preserved in its architecture and urban decay. Finally, they are representations of maps and walks and the work of the Baroque painters.

Translation is a change from one form to another.  Also as a resident of a new and foreign place, I translate almost everything I do: language, time, measurement, temperature, currency. At first my ability to translate was slow and challenging, often taxing. Then gradually with practice, the process became quicker until eventually translating was nearly second nature.

My new work focuses on my observations and the way I translate them to tangible objects. I observe, I record, I translate in my mind, I form an opinion. Then I develop an idea for an object and translate it again into a new, physical form. This process and the resulting pieces are how I understand my new home and share the experience with others. Ultimately, they are the reverent manifestations of a personal collection of memories."

Here are the details of the show:

New Work by Amy Tavern
Beyond Fashion
Pourbusstraat 7
Antwerpen Zuid

September 6-October 20
Opening Reception - September 6 from 6-10pm
Artist Talk - September 5 at 7pm

Refreshments will be served at both events and the opening will be part of the first gallery walk of the season.

I also posted titles for all the pieces on Facebook and Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Star #99...Ria Lins

Today's guest star is Ria Lins. I first saw Ria's work at Patro(o)n here in Antwerp. Then the other day as I walked to my tattoo appointment I saw her jewelry in a shop window. It is so lovely in person. I can't tell exactly how the pieces are constructed but they appear to be woven or sewn chains and thread. I like the delicate yet voluminous feeling of the work and the repetitive texture created by the rows of fine chain.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ruffs

The Artist and His Wife by Peter Paul Rubens, 1609

I am a big fan of Peter Paul Rubens and the entire Flemish school of painters. I have been able to see many masterpieces during my stay in Belgium which, given my love for the Baroque, has been truly remarkable. I was also taken by the ruffs and lace collars depicted in so many of these paintings and decided to make a few of my own for the show, also indulging my interest in lace. Here's a little glimpse...they are constructed in a similar way with the material gathered on satin ribbon and use lace in four different formats: paper, plastic, cotton, and metal. I wanted the pieces to echo the original style and look luxurious.
 plastic lace

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

And Done!

I finished the work for my show yesterday. I feel good about what I've made, especially considering I didn't have much time and faced new challenges. Being in a different studio and not having all one's tools is difficult to deal with at first. I had to find the tools I needed which meant borrowing things and visiting others' studios to use tools. Not having the kind of access to materials I am accustomed to in the U.S. was tricky, too. (It's so easy to just call up Rio Grande and order something for 2nd day delivery on short notice.) I had to figure out where to get everything and took the bus all over the city. I also had to adjust to my new home in a foreign country, also tricky, to say the least. Looking back I think it was good that I took the first month to settle in and get set-up, look around, and think. I needed that time to find and develop my ideas. I also got generous help from some wonderful new friends. Then with very few distractions I was able to make a piece a day for three weeks straight, keeping a regular schedule of 9:30am-6pm Monday through Friday. I like routine and this one definitely helped me to stay focused. Now I have three collections. One is based on daily observations in my new home, another is about using maps and the walks I took, and the third is about the ruff. There are 24 pieces altogether.

Even with the work done there is still much to do. I'm happy I have a few weeks before the show opens so I can give my attention to these things, all of which are very important for pulling off something like this show. Here's my list:

title the pieces
price each piece
measure each piece
take photographs
write a more in depth artist statement
prepare lecture
decide on the display 
promote the show and send invitations

Today I will measure, title and price. Tomorrow I will take pictures. 

I have posted lots of process images on Flickr...I hope you will take a look. I will post pictures of the other series soon.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Star #98...Els Vansteelandt

Today's guest star is Els Vansteelandt. I like this work for its simplicity and beautiful craftsmanship. Els focuses on form and uses minimal surface decoration to create designs that echo her surroundings. I especially like her use of subtle detail--a high polished edge contrasted with a soft, matte finish or a tiny key to connect the ends of a bracelet. Very nice.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Tiny and Huge Lace Museum

Last week I left the studio early just so I could go to the Lace Museum at Carolus Borromeus. It is only open on Wednesday for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. I'm glad I didn't miss it! When I arrived I had about an hour and didn't want to loose a minute so I asked where I could find it. I was escorted by a very nice woman named Maria who led me through several doors, down hallways, and up a few flights of stairs. When I told her of my interest in lace and embroidery she got very excited and said I was going to "love" the museum. And I did. It's very small, just two rooms, literally tucked away in this giant church. The first room includes various liturgical items and tapestries. The next room and the larger of the two has all the lace, several cases of examples from the 16th-19th century. My favorite pieces were definitely the oldest ones from the 15 and 1600's, pictured here. There were also two women making bobbin lace which is fascinating to watch. Their hands move so fast as they move around scores of bobbins and set pins to create the pattern. This is definitely something I would like to learn how to do someday. 

More pictures from the museum and of Carolus Boromeus Cathedral on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day Trip, Brugge

a view from the Belfort
I went to Brugge a few weekends ago. I arrived at 10am and headed for the Belfort and its 366 steps. It was a gorgeous day so the view was incredible. Then I wandered around Grote Markt and the Burg before taking a 30-minute boat ride along the canal. After this I went to the Groeninge Museum, the Cathedral of Our Lady, and St. John's Hospital (Memling Museum). On my way back to the train station I walked around the Beguinage. It was a busy day and a wonderful one. My only regret is that I did not get more time to wander aimlessly around the winding streets, one of my favorite things to do when I am exploring a new place. I was so tired by the 6pm, I could barely walk to the train.
Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold
My favorite, inspiring things from the trip were both unexpected. When I visited the Cathedral of Our Lady, I went to see the remarkable Michelangelo sculpture and discovered the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. I had read about them in my handy guidebook, but did not realize how incredible they were until I saw them. I did not want to leave and found myself returning two more times before I actually left the church.
While at the Groeninge Museum I was awestruck by the Flemish Primitives and the Bosch, but was stopped in my tracks from across the room when I saw Mater Dolorosa by Simon Marmion. This painting is so beautiful and rich with emotion. It made me cry. It is paired with one of a deceased Jesus and Mary is looking at him, weeping. Her eyes are red. I did not want to leave, again.

Here are a few more highlights from the trip...
 Portrait of a Young Woman by Hans Memling 
at St. John's Hospital
(Look at her hands, they are resting on the frame:
a lovely trompe l'oei effect.)
Portrait of Margareta Van Eyck by Jan Van Eyck
(the detail of the fabric around her face is incredible)

You can see all my pictures form my day trip to Brugge on Flickr.

Thanks for reading.