Category Archives: Exhibits

Maker and Muse, part 1: Exhibit and Book

Maker and Muse Exhibit
maker and muse
Child and Child tiara
maker and muse
Stained glass dome in the Driehaus Museum

I recently visited the exhibit Maker and Muse, Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry at the Driehaus Museum in Chicago.  Curated by Elyse Zorn Karlin, author of Jewelry and Metalwork in the Arts and Crafts Tradition, the exhibit explores the multiple roles women played in the creation of early 20th century art jewelry as makers, patrons, and subjects.  About half of the 250 pieces in the exhibit are drawn from the collection of Richard H. Driehaus – founder of the museum – and half are on loan from other museums and private collections.  I was in Chicago to attend the annual conference of the Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts (ASJRA) which was focused this year on the subjects covered in the museum exhibition.  For my post on the conference click here.

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@Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz

An important exhibit by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei recently opened on Alcatraz.  Called @Large:  Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz the exhibit is installed throughout the prison; the artworks address themes of freedom and imprisonment using different media and methods of interacting with the viewers.

Ai Weiwei is an internationally renowned artist known for provocative work that often has political themes.  He achieved worldwide fame beyond the art world as part of the design team for the Beijing National Stadium, known popularly as the “Birds Nest”, for the 2008 Summer Olympics.  In 2011 he was arrested and held for 81 days for being a prominent and outspoken critic of the Chinese government.   As of this writing in October 2014, the Chinese government has retained his passport, keeping him from leaving China.

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Jewelry Exhibits: the Newark Museum and “Gilded New York” at the Museum of the City of New York

Jewelry exhibits
Newark Museum Jewelry Gallery

One of only four museums in the United States with a gallery space dedicated to its permanent jewelry collections, the Newark Museum is a little-known gem that deserves better recognition by jewelry lovers.  To people unfamiliar with jewelry history the crime-plagued city of Newark may seem like an odd place for a museum committed to the display of jewelry, however from about 1850-1950 Newark was the fine jewelry manufacturing capital of the United States.  According to Ulysses Grant Dietz, curator of decorative arts at the Newark Museum and author of “The Glitter and the Gold, Fashioning  America’s Jewelry”, it is estimated that in 1929 approximately ninety percent of solid-gold jewelry made in the U.S. came from Newark factories.

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Charles James Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

More often than not I’m disappointed by the exhibits at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Rather than being in-depth studies of a fashion designer, style, or theme they often end up being product placement for the sponsoring designer. However the current exhibit, Charles James: Beyond Fashion, is everything I want in a fashion exhibit.  While I’m not sure what the curators mean by “Beyond Fashion” – as if the sublime clothing in this exhibit needs to apologize for being “fashion” –  they presented it superbly.

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Artfully Adorned: Jewelry from the Christie Romero Collection at FIDM in LA

Scottish Agate Brooch
Scottish Agate Brooch

A few weeks ago I was in Los Angeles to attend the Vintage Fashion Expo and was excited to learn that nearby, at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) museum, there was an exhibit of jewelry from the Christie Romero Collection.

The late Christie Romero was a renowned jewelry historian and author of Warman’s Jewelry, a guide to jewelry of the 18th through 20th centuries.   If I had to choose one jewelry book to recommend to a novice, out of the dozens I own, it would be Warman’s Jewelry 3rd edition because it is highly informative, covers all eras and genres in surprising detail, and contains a realistic range of prices; it also contains Romero’s invaluable timeline of jewelry history alongside landmarks of world history and industrial history.  This book is out of print but can be found on Amazon.  Warman’s Jewelry 5th Edition is also excellent and more widely available.

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