Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Boxed In Exceeds Expectations

The invitation features the work of Merv Krivoshein,  a wood turning talent from Alberta.

On all accounts Boxed In appears to be a huge success, with two ample shows filled with 67 top-notch pieces drawn from a submission pool of close to 200 proposals.  The exhibition has work from all the provinces and territories–not something we get to see very frequently in our far-flung province.  And it was great to see a healthy representation of artists from away who traveled for the opening–like Elvira Finnigan from Manitoba.  This allowed me a wonderful opportunity to chat with her about her engaging collaborative piece, which incorporated a paper cutout crown by Paul Robles.  Flood Monkeys II represented the monkeys amid foliage in paper submerged in a Plexiglas container filled with brine.  As the water evaporates, salt crystals form on the paper recording the process and transforming the piece.  Elvira showed me other works at various stages of evaporation on her iPad, including a dinner setting that had an eerie Pompeii quality.  I will ensure that I revisit the show and her piece.

After a six-week period the shows in The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery and The Craft Gallery will trade places, which I think is a neat resolution to a thorny problem and fair to boot.  It will be interesting to see how the works appear different in a domestic scaled space after the vast exhibition halls of The Rooms.

With a show of 67 works, it is difficult to discuss the show adequately but I will isolate a few favourite pieces as this is a blog and not a proper review.  For example, Lois Schklar and Noah Gano's Three Point Perspective Drawing/Sculpture, which combines a living quality (its cord trembles and breathes in response to movement) that I associate with Schklar's more organic string drawings with an elegant geometric purity.  The cord draws a box in space.  It is downright sophisticated without being clever and the public marveled at it during the opening.  I am glad it has its own dedicated display space, which in the past I have seen used for videos.
Rosalind Ford's piece is suspended from the ceiling in the show and completes the visual metaphor of the birds' future 'hanging in the balance'.

Out of the work done by Newfoundlanders, I take my hat off for Rosalind Ford.  Her State of Canada's Birds is a quantum leap in terms of her career in soft sculpture.  The piece is composed of life-like birds made by Rosalind that are mashed together in the confines of a cage suspended by rope at eye-level.  The birds are naturally dyed, stitched meticulously and it is clear they have been loved into existence.  Rosalind's experience as a field biologist who has studied and handled the real-life versions is imbued in the heart-wrenching piece.

Frances and Maxine Ennis are also ably represented by a soft sculpture that to me signifies a major step forward for them.  I had seen their 3-dimensional efforts done with rug hooking and it is satisfying to see how they have refined their technique and combined it with a theme–women getting the vote and fighting for rights–that is near and dear to their hearts.

Other artists, like Reed Weir and Nicola Hawkins, are represented and give us their classic best on a smaller scale than we usually encounter but loses nothing in impact.

There is so much more I could say, for example, about themes that run like an under-current through the show (coffins, reliquaries, urns, etc) not to mention curator Denis Longchamps thoughtful essay.  I should make the effort of pitching the show as a review idea to a few magazines and see what happens.  Wish me luck!
This is an example of Lois Schklar's more organic work.  This one appeared in a recent show at Toronto's Aird Gallery.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Reclaim Your Stolen Artifacts!

I thought this was important to share and yes I will post about Boxed In in a few days.

Museum, Archives and Antique Dealer Thefts - Atlantic Provinces 1996-

Hello everyone, 

The RCMP has recovered hundreds of artifacts and archival items that were
taken from museums, archives, libraries and antique shops from across
Atlantic Canada over the past 15 or so years. CBC have already  reported
this story to the public. You can read the article by clicking on the link:
s.html. The initial estimate of approximately 600 items has grown to over
800 and they are still busy cataloguing. It is extremely important that you
all check through our records on missing items and forward a list to the
RCMP in Nova Scotia to see if anything can be reconciled. Important to note
- accession numbers and museum labels are still on some of the items!

At this time we ask you to please draft a detailed list of items that have
gone missing from your museum, including accession number, label info,
detailed description, measurements, and photos if possible. As you will read
below and in the news article, Cst. Darryl Morgan has already been able to
reconcile a number of items and we want to get our heritage home where it
belongs. Cst. Morgan stated that:

“… [W]e need descriptions of what ever each one of you have had stolen from
your location over the years, no matter how big or small. Photos of these
items, if you have them.   We have identified  and recovered pieces from all
over the Province already from Dal, SMU, Mt St. Vincent Libraries, The
Legislative Library, Parkdale Maplewood Museum (New Germany) Kentville
Museum, Fultz House Museum (Sackville) , Waverley Legion, Shand Museum
(Windsor) , Blue Shutter Antiques (Chester) , Borden House Antiques (Port
Williams), Brambells Antiques (Chester) .”

MANL would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone how crucial it
is to have security measures established at your museum. It is also very
important to have a current inventory of the museum collection. If you would
like to speak with someone at MANL and find out what you can do to try and
prevent this from happening at your museum call us at (709) 722-9034.

You can reach Cst. Darryl Morgan at:

Darryl Morgan 
Street Crime Enforcement Unit 
Halifax District 
1171 Cole Harbour Road,
Cole Harbour, N.S.
Cell # (902) 448-6523
Office # (902)244-7208    


Sarah Wade
Outreach Officer

Museum Association of NL
15 Hallett Crescent, Suite 201
P.O. Box 5785 
St. John's, NL A1C 5X3 
Tel: (709)722-9034 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Gallery Do's and Don'ts by David Hayashida

Despite a snow storm we had a good showing at the first ever Member Mixer at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador where I spoke about the SOFA Chicago 2012 show and event.  Executive Director of Craft Council, Anne Manual had on hand David Hayashida's tip sheet that he put together after the ACTS 2012.  In case you are interested, I am printing it below.

As a reminder, don't forget this Friday the Boxed In exhibit opens at The Rooms, Provincial Art Gallery this Friday…I'll be sharing my view in the next blog.

A sauce boat and to catch the sauce drips - a saucer!  Guess we know the origin of the word saucer now.  Both by King's Point Pottery.

Gallery Do’s and Don’ts from Gallery @ ACTS 2012, Halifax, NS Canada.
Author: David Hayashida of www.kingspointpottery.com

Here are the points that made the most impact on me from the truly amazing opportunity to hear 4 American and 3 Canadian fine craft galleries talk about the gallery and the fine craft artist.

Top 10 Do’s
1.) Do think monumental in scale! In the USA most galleries want bigger work because it can be more lucrative! After all millionaire buyers do not live in small houses.
2.) Do get it in writing - have a written contract with the gallery. Who is responsible for what and especially if things go wrong . . . i.e. damaged goods, discounted sales, payment percentage, how long it will stay in the gallery,…
3.) Do invest in the highest quality professional images of your work. Each gallery has their own standards but 300 dpi 5” x 7” is a good minimum to start with. And have all the details of size, materials, dates…attached. (Never send large file images to galleries unless requested.)
4.) Do ask other artists how they feel about that particular gallery. Do they pay on time, are they easy to work with…
5.) Do attend gallery shows and SOFA if that is what you are aiming for. Nothing replaces seeing and experiencing first hand how the game really works. Only the most ambitious world class artists will succeed.
6.) Do look outside of your medium for inspiration. Galleries are always looking for the next big thing that is totally new and different.
7.) Do name drop. Buyers love the connections to other world class individuals. ie… this work is inspired by Picasso’s blue period.., Van Gogh’s sunflowers.., Einstein’s theory...
8.) Do be consistent and dependable. Is your work consistently improving in quality? Does your work arrive on time? Are you in for the long haul…“in it to win it”?
9.) Do consider preparing a short promotion/teaser card with some print information that of course includes a gorgeous image of your work for the prospective gallery to consider. Also have hard copies and of course a disc with a full presentation package available for the interview. Have an updated cv, artist’s statement, bio, images…Be ready to sell yourself!
10.) Develop a strategic plan for your fine craft career. Then make a work back schedule to create measurable milestones to achieve your goal.  Things like competitions, special projects, group shows should all be on there.

Top 10 Don’ts
1.) Never (ever) approach a gallery to consider you as a new artist during an opening or other major event! Galleries are only selling machines at these events and not about buying. (And isn’t that what you’d want from a gallery.)
2.) Keep your ego in check. Galleries are looking for a long term, friendly and uncomplicated relationship with their artists. Remember they have hundreds of other helpful talented artists to choose from.
3.)  Don’t assume those fragile stickers will make any difference with the shippers. You must become a world class double box perfect packing expert. Tips: use green painters’ tape over bubble wrap, hand cut foam cushions, minimum of 2” between boxes, provide images of the work on the outside, images of how to unpack/pack your work inside, images of how to install/display…(Think Murphy’s Law here for sure.)
4.) Don’t expect a simple email inquiry to trigger a reply. Some galleries have a policy of only responding to phone inquiries. Find out what their policy is on reviewing new artists and tailor your professional artist’s package accordingly.(Are they even considering any new artists at this time?)
5.) If your work too closely mirrors that of the existing artists at a gallery...don’t expect they will automatically want more of exactly the same. Covering the same artistic territory can cause unwanted ego conflict among gallery artists and does not increase overall sales for the gallery. Consider other like minded but less similar galleries.
6.) Don’t assume you will suddenly make more money selling through a gallery (in the short term). You will be responsible for the cost of perfect packaging & shipping to the gallery, the gallery will of course take their percentage, some galleries may charge a display fee, you may have to travel to the openings, some artists will be asked to share any collector discounts,…and remember commercial galleries price the work to sell; they don’t want to display work without sales.
7.) Don’t show old work. They are not interested in how you got there. The galleries want to see only the artists most current, innovative & visionary world class work. Your work is either better than the hundreds of other talented artists from around the world who have applied or not. Getting a referral from an artist they already work with can be very effective.
8.) Don’t think solo show for your first experience. Most galleries initially think group or themed shows with solo shows typically reserved for only the best of the best of their proven artists.
9.) Don’t be shy in either the work or your promotion of it. Initially it’s totally your responsibility to get the message out there and allow the public to discover you are a star.
10.) Don’t give up. Remember most galleries will not be the right fit for you but there is a good match out there if you are persistent.
A fine teapot, salt and soda fired by King's Point Pottery.

Best of luck to all the fine craft artists seeking gallery representation!
(Any comments on this article would be most welcome.)

Special thanks to everyone associated with the Gallery@ACTS project especially the visiting galleries: Rick Synderman of the Snyderman Works Gallery (Philadelphia, PA), Barbara Silverberg of Option Art (Montreal, QC), Jo Anne Cooper of Mobilia Gallery (Cambridge, MA), Scott Ashley of the Perimeter Gallery Inc (Chicago, IL), Christian Bernard Singer of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery (Waterloo, Ontario), Victor Armendariz of the Ann Nathan Gallery (Chicago, IL) and Cheryl Fraser of the Zilberschmuck Art Jewellery Gallery (Toronto, Ontario).
Author: David Hayashida of www.kingspointpottery.com

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Craft Council Launches Member Mixers

One of the impressive shows and catalogues at SOFA 2012 organized by a collector's group.

This coming Friday, the 18th of January the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador is launching its series of Member Mixer events.  These will be 30-minute long presentations that bring together the membership of the Council for conversation about issues that impact them as professional craftspeople and light refreshments.  The presentations will be Skyped if possible.  You can contact amanuel@craftcouncil.nl.ca.
For more information.

First up will be Jason Holley and myself speaking about the SOFA Chicago 2012 Art + Design Expo.  Jason will speak from the artist's perspective as he was a recent solo featured artist and I will speak from a curator's point of view.  As a curator I end up with a dual passport that gives me entry to both the collector and dealer's worlds.  So, if you'd like to know what it is really like to deal with the platinum credit card set south of the border this event should interest you. 

The event starts at 4:30, with the presentation at 5 p.m.  It should wrap up in time for about 6.

I will be talking about the trends I noted during the Art Fair; what the dealers shared with me regarding what they are looking for and how they view artists and fine craft makers as well as how they are coping with the financial ups and downs; and tidbits like who, among the public, visited SOFA 2012.  Here's a hint of what's up my sleeve:  I was told that fewer and fewer galleries are hosting opening receptions.  "They are just parties for the artists' friends" one dealer lamented to me.  The serious selling happens before the opening or afterward.  The trend is toward joint openings held among galleries within the same geographic region or neighbourhood and these are geared toward building new audiences or public relations.  Galleries are trying to work together rather than compete. 
These gloves are by Ellen Green who is originally a tattoo artist and someone whose work I am following since SOFA 2012.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Crafty collaboration-Alexis Templeton and Susan Lee Studios produce stunning results

I am always on the look out for new product ideas and I am especially interested in creative collaborations in the craft world.  My definition of a good collaboration is where the two or more makers jump start each others' creative process and they come up with something that would not be possible otherwise.  Potter Alexis Templeton is someone who consistently is setting herself new challenges and it seems like she has found a good match in up and coming jeweler Susan Lee Studios.  They both have an affinity for the natural world and its small gems like seashells - Alexis has worked with midnight blue mussel shells and Susan with cross sections of a nautilus.  They are also both drawn to crystals, and the myriad of patterns found in nature's textures.

This is Susan talking about how she worked with the porcelain pieces by Alexis:

 I've received great feedback at craft fairs from my customers on our project.  So many of them are familiar with Alexis' pottery, and because the crystalline glaze is so decorative, the idea of taking home a bit of it in a piece of jewellery gives them an opportunity to showcase it more publicly than they otherwise would be able to on her dinnerware.  I think there is also an appeal in obtaining the workmanship of two craftspeople in one object of fine craft. 
I always eagerly await new cabochons, as they challenge me to pursue new directions with my jewellery designs.  First I must consider the weight of the cabochon and decide what type of jewellery it might be appropriate for since the clay itself is not light, and the yet crystals need room to grow in the kiln so Alexis cannot make the porcelain cabochons very small.  I try to interpret the pattern the crystals have made in the glaze onto the metalwork in some way.  Sometimes they have suggested Queen Anne's Lace or frost, another time it was a butterfly's wings, or a chameleon's eyeball.  I then manipulate my silver, bronze, copper, & brass to fill in the details of the "story" that I see suggested in the glaze.

With her typical business flair Alexis showcased the new product line with a "See How It's Done" demo in her studio/shop.  That's a great way to bring in existing customers for a return visit as well attract new customers.

Susan has also Facebooked about the event and posted a photo album.  Here is the link she has provided:
The best place to see the whole series of Crystalline Collaboration pieces is on my Facebook Page.  The link to the relevant photo album is here:

At the time of our initial See How it's Made demo, I also wrote this blog post: http://susanleestudios.blogspot.ca/2011/07/crystalline-collaboration.html