When the folks at Tile Heritage Foundation (THF) and Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (PMG) announced their juried exhibition Tell-Tale Tiles & Fractured Fantasies (TTTFF) last August, we thought the idea was brilliant.
“Someone has connected the dots through the years between the work of famed of Arts and Crafts tile designer Henry Chapman Mercer and ‘outsider’ contemporary mosaicist Isaiah Zagar. It’s story telling, pure and simple.”
Well, the exhibition opened on March 19th and, glorioskees. It turns out the execution is every bit as brilliant as the idea was.
Everything about this event was done has been done with care and appreciation for the art form. The concept is terrific. The venue (PMG left) unbeatable. The accepted works exquisite. It’s part of a city-wide arts celebration that includes the 44th Annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and Philagrafica 2010, Philadelphia’s “independent festival celebrating print in contemporary art.” And — here’s the kicker — if you can’t make it to Philadelphia, you can enjoy the exhibit wherever you are because the catalog is available FREE online.
Are these folks serious about celebrating clay story telling, or what?
Here are the four winning works as selected exhibition’s juror Susan Tunick, an internationally recognized ceramic/mosaic artist living and working in New York who is also President of the Friends of Terra Cotta. (Do check out her website.)
Pastime Near A Rigorously Modern Building
19 x 19 x 1 inches Low-fire ceramic
24.5 x 21.5 x 3 inches Stoneware tiles, glaze, poplar frame
Tile Heritage Award
Polar Bear and Inupiaq Girl
Edwin R. Mighell, Jr. Anchorage, AK
12 x 12 x 0.5 inches Collograph print on glacial clay
TTTFF also has a series of events lined up. Check with PMG for more information.
- Tuesday, March 30 6:30 pm: “Henry Chapman Mercer and the Moravian Pottery and tiles works” lecture by Vance A Koehlder, Curator, Moravian pottery and Tile Works
- Thursday April 1 8:00 am: Isaiah Zagar lecture at NCECA Conference
- Thursday, April 1 5:00 – 8:00 pm: NCECA public reception
One last thing. TTTFF has also done a terrific job of attracting and acknowledging a number of great supporters, including the “Exhibition Hosting Sponsor”, LATICRETE International, Inc. (A company we’re proud to call part of the Family of MAN.)
We take our hats off to the folks at PMG and to the wonderful Shiela Menzies and Joe Taylor of the THF (a very classy organization) for creating this first-rate art experience. The exhibit runs through April 19th. If you are in Philadelphia, GO! If you’re not, then grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and head for that catalog.
Enjoy — Nancie
We are absolutely thrilled to pass along word that the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington DC is going to display works by Niki de Saint Phalle (1930 – 2002) right smack dab in the middle of one of that city’s major traffic arteries — New York Avenue.
From NMWA’s press release:
The nine 15- foot high whimsical, visually playful and colorful works celebrate women, children, heroes, cultural diversity an love. the works represent major themes within Saint Phalle’s career, including the Nanas, Black Heroes, Animals and totem. The works were selected in consultation with the Niki Charitable Art Trust and federal and local agencies.
Copyright Niki Charitable Art Foundation, All rights reserved
We spoke with curator Kathryn A. Wat whose enthusiasm for Saint Phalle’s work is genuine. “Saint Phalle’s sculptures are visually playful, but they are also thematically provocative and enigmatic” she said. An example: “In referring to her female figures as Nanas– ‘chicks’ or ‘broads’ in English — Saint Phalle made an ironic allusion to the politically charged place of the liberated woman in the twentieth century.”
Copyright 2010 Niki Charitable Art Foundation, All rights reserved
With their intense colors and organic shapes, Saint Phalle’s Nanas and sculptures in other series, including animals, totems and “Black Heroes,” are joyful expressions of love and diversity. yet these works also suggest Saint Phalle’s keen awareness of human folly and fear.
#23 Basketball Player, 1999 Photo by Thomas Marlow
Copyright Niki Charitable Art Foundation, All rights reserved
Saint Phalle’s sculptures will be placed right in front of the museum itself in the median at 13th Street and New York Avenue. We understand that the gift shop is quickly turning into Niki Heaven, a terrible temptation. Lucky for us, we already have our own private Nana.
To learn more about Saint Phalle: http://nikidesaintphalle.org/
Enjoy — Nancie
Every time the Society of American Mosaic Artists (SAMA) meets at their annual Summit magic happens. The 5-day Mosaic “Brigadoon” is filled with thrilling moments of reunion, discovery, inspiration and approbation. It takes incredible planning and a host of volunteers to create the structure for magic to happen — and for that we have to applaud SAMA.
For all the amazing experiences that were planned for us by SAMA, there was one wee, totally unscripted event that — for us — surpassed them all in the magic category.
Gather ’round children, while we tell the story which of course, has a happy ending . . .
Once upon a time, there were Three Amigos who decided to see Chicago for themselves before they were chained to their booths in the SAMA Vendor Show. Leaving the cushy confines of the Palmer House, they ventured forth to nearby Millennium Park.
Amigo # 1 Michael Welch of Mosaic Rocks
Amigo #2 Dana (I’m Not Bill) Hazell of Mosaic Rocks
All Three Amigos (including moi) reflected in the magnificence of Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate.
The Amigos were on a mission — to see the Mosaic Art International Exhibit so, after having taken the obligatory silly pictures, they hurried off to the Navy Pier. There, they were delighted to see some masterworks of contemporary mosaic art amidst the splendors of the Stained Glass Museum.
When the Stars Line Up For You, Yulia Hanansen
Alas, while the works were held safe in their cases, it was difficult to take good photos. In person, the works were fascinating and The Three wandered through the Museum for quite a while, praising and picking at them with old friends and new.
Came lunchtime and the Three Amigos sat down for a quick repast in a restaurant at the street end of the Navy Pier. Immediately outside of the restaurant was an area where buses parked to disgorge and pick up their passengers.
As the Three were tucking into our pastas, a group of school children came spilling out the front door of the Pier. They were probably 1st graders, full of smiles and energy and probably not just a little sugar. Several adults herded the kids into a corner right outside of our booth, pressing them against the wall of windows that separated us from them.
The Three, of course, responded to the moment by, ahem, becoming children themselves. Pretty soon everyone was making faces with wild abandon and giggling uncontrollably, even the herding adults.
Then, a funny thing happened. Amigo #1 pulled his mosaic exhibit catalog out of his backpack and thumbed through it quickly, tapping on the glass at a little girl on the other side at the same time. Finally, he pressed a page of the catalog up against the window and pointed at her.
The little girl stopped, her eyes got wide, and she smiled the broadest smile in the world.
This is what she saw . . .
This work from the Exhibit, Fabulous Hair, by Carol Shelkin, was the spitting image of the little girl on the other side of the glass — right down to the barrettes of many colors and megawatt smile.
We are sure we heard the art angels sing.
Enjoy — Nancie
Photo of Fabulous Hair by the artist
It’s the weekend and we’re usually pretty inactive on the blog. But, today we stumbled into some fun stuff and just had to do a quick post.
If ever there was a poster boy for “Found Art”, it would have to be Jason Mecier — whose Celebrity Junk Drawer portraits are made up of trash those same celebrities have sent to him on request. Prescription bottles, used toothbrushes, Geritol bottle tops, fake pearls, dried sausages, a stuffed Kermit the Frog — Mecier makes tesserae of them all.
The San Francisco-based artist is EVERYWHERE on the web these days, especially after his latest show opened. There are portraits galore including Lady Gaga, Phyllis Diller (the first to say yes to the trash request) and Elvira.
No need for us to do an interview. Everything you need to know about Mecier can be found on his website and in these videos.
You’ll hear one critic call Mecier a “one trick pony” and another compare his work to a train wreck. You’ll also hear a collector absolutely gush about the mosaics.
We’re not going to jump into the debate. We love the work and Mecier because they are just plain FUN. Isn’t that what Saturdays are supposed to be all about?
Enjoy — Nancie
For our Facebook Fans:
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We are in awe of mosaics that fit perfectly into their environments. In order for that bit of magic to happen, there has to be a happy — and intelligent — convergence of the right vision with the right design and the right materials.
When we saw this beautiful shell mosaic by Connie Chantilis of Dallas, Texas, we knew we had an example of this kind of perfection. We weren’t alone in deeming this work special. Grotto just won a Juror’s Choice Award in the Society of American Mosaic Artists‘ Mosaic Arts International 2010 exhibit currently running at the Navy Pier in Chicago, IL.
The couple who commissioned this work for their home envisioned this space as a private “sanctuary.” With that as a directive and two existing statues as inspiration, Chantilis worked with Lambert Landscape Design to create something that is totally appropriate for the space.
The mosaic combines the elegant symmetry of the Romans with the lush fantasy of French 16th century garden grottos. Geometry and fleur de lis blend beautifully, creating a feeling of timeless serenity.
The design also manages to pull together a fairly difficult combination of strong visual elements within a small space: the domed shape of the grotto itself, the coved wall and oculus of the water feature, the strong arch at the opening of the space, the rock used to flank the water feature and those two glorious statues. Take another look.
Creating the Optical Illusion of Perfection
According to Chantilis, the greatest challenge of this project was creating “the optical illusion of perfection.”
At the start of installation, Chantilis quickly discovered that the two outside walls of the water feature did not match in height and width. This required that adjustments be made as each tiny shell tesserae was applied to the border with tweezers. All that appears symmetrical is not so — a real design tour de force.
An admitted “inventory freak”, Chantilis was more than prepared to create a sample board for the clients to consider using shells she already had in a stash. Sourcing them in large quantities, however, proved to be a challenge. “You’d go to pick up 17 sacks of shells and 3 of them would have come from a different ocean and were totally unusable.”
An enormous amount of time was spent culling through thousands of shells — sorting for color variation and physical characteristics. “Shells aren’t man made, they’re God made so there are natural inconsistencies that have to be considered.”
The three-month project started off with a chalk drawing in the grotto for client approval. Then, it was time to apply the custom-tinted thin set. The chalk drawing quickly disappeared and was recreated several times in the installation process.
“The worst part was that working with the tinted thin set was not forgiving at all. The drawing had to be perfect at that point. you could not adjust – no washing away or chipping – they showed in a big way and any repairs would negate the smooth cohesive look that we wanted to achieve with the tinted thin set.”
Then there were the long hours in contorted positions in a domed, coved, and cramped space applying thin set with a trowel and shells with tweezers. “It felt like we were paying Twister,” says Chantilis, “but I enjoyed every minute of it.”
We say, brava, Ms. Chantilis. The next time we hear the word “sanctuary” we’re going to think Grotto.
- To see more of Chantilis’ work go to www.cacmosaicdesigns.com Additional photos of Grotto can be seen under the Latest Projects category.
- For more information about the Mosaic Arts International Exhibit go to www.americanmosaics.org
- All photographs supplied by the artist
Enjoy — Nancie
“Tileista” is a monthly column that explores the beauty of artisan tile. JoAnn Locktov is the author of two books (Mosaic Art and Style, The Art of Mosaic Design) and numerous articles on contemporary mosaics and tile. Her public relations firm Bella Figura Communications represents creative individuals and businesses in design, architecture, art, and travel. Follow her musings on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jolocktov “Tileista” articles on MAN can be found here.
“Tileista” is a monthly column that explores the beauty of artisan tile. JoAnn Locktov is the author of two books (Mosaic Art and Style, The Art of Mosaic Design) and numerous articles on contemporary mosaics and tile. Her public relations firm Bella Figura Communications represents creative individuals and businesses in design, architecture, art, and travel. Follow her musings on Twitter: http://twitter.com/jolocktov
“Tileista” articles on MAN can be found here.
Find out this Sunday, March 7th at 3:00 PM on The Mosaic of Art with George Fishman.
DR. SCOTT SHIELDS is the Chief Curator and Associate Director of Sacramento, CA’s Crocker Art Museum. He has written books, catalogs and other scholarly articles — especially about California painting movements and contemporary ceramics. He speaks about his recent commission to jury the Exhibition in Print that is featured in Mosaic Art NOW – the 2010 edition. It wasn’t an easy selection process from among more than 500 submissions. He describes his methodology, highlights several of his favorite pieces (see below) and suggests what is needed for the mosaic medium to gain greater recognition.
ELLEN BLAKELEY won the Best in Show award and $1,000 for her sculpture Meredith in that exhibition and she reveals her inspirations, work methods and personal history. Besides her distinctive one-of-a-kind mosaic artworks, Ellen has also developed a line of mosaic tiles for the national — and even international — design market. Is this something you aspire to? Ellen shares the ins and outs of that endeavor as well.
Tempered glass, surface treatments, bark.
(photo by Douglas Sandberg)
Other works Dr. Shields will refer to in the interview include:
Smalti, gold, vitreous glass, millefiori, pebbles
(photo by Ben Charny)
Ramblings by Maylee Christie 70 h x 60 w centimeters
Smalti, stained glass, semi precious stones, gold, mirror, millefiori
(photo by the artist)
Yellow travertine, cement.
(photo by Elad H. Friedman)
February Morning, Paris by Kate Kerrigan – 32h x 24w inches
Italian stone, gold.
(photo by Sibila Savage)
MAN 2010 cover artist Ann Gardner just sent us photos of her latest commission in Seattle, Washington.
“The two yellow arcs that form Convergence curve down and inward toward an intimate point on the wall. The small yellow/gold glass tiles become more intense toward this point, seemingly gather the light and energy of the plaza in this one particular place.”