Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Gallery Installation!

My local artisan group (one of two great artisan networking groups in which I enjoy membership) spent several hours last Saturday setting up for a group exhibit at the Creative Spirit Art Center in Potsdam, NY - which runs from March 6 to April 3. The exhibit's Opening Reception is scheduled for this Friday (March 6) at 7 PM. There'll be music, food and the pleasure of our company as well as some smiles, awe, and amazement over our collective creativity. We're a talented bunch .. even if I do say so myself!

Creative Spirit, while off the beaten path on a side street in Potsdam (Raymond Street, off Market .. around the corner from the University Book Store), is quite a large and impressive space. At street level are several large rooms full of jewelry, pottery, textiles, photography, woodwork, music, books, greeting cards and glass, among other wonderful works of art .. the Artisans of the River Valley exhibit is located on a lower level, spread out among multiple light and airy rooms. What you're met with as you descend the stairs to the lower gallery is a fabulous mosaic tile design on the floor that wends its way through the gallery .. a work of art all on its own!

This is Steve Kroeger - who has an incredible skill for expressing light, shadows and reflections in his works.

This is Deb Monteith who, prior to just recently, was creating works involving primarily the St. Lawrence River and its surrounding environs. She's recently experienced a renewed burst of creative energy and has shifted her focus. In the photo above she's placing a placard with a piece of poetry on it that goes with the large canvas to her left. The beautiful wooden cabinet in the center (the doors on the sides swing open) is one of Bill Smithers' pieces ... that's my mom reflected in the mirror. As mentioned in the previous post, she was visiting this past weekend and went with me to this gallery installation extravaganza.

John Miller III lining up a display of his Thousand Island Picture Paddles .. if I remember correctly, there were several other free standing versions of his paddles in other areas of the gallery. The little sculpture is one of Wayne Brown's whimsical structures made of forgotten, scavenged and recycled machinery and obsolete tools.

Bill Smithers .. woodworker extraordinaire .. fussing (as we all were that day) with a table of his turned bowls. Another of Wayne's fanciful creatures is in the foreground; others of us are milling around working out our own displays. My display cabinet is on the other side of that wall with large shell painting ..

Last fall - back when we knew we were all going to be participating in this exhibit - the director of the gallery explained that anyone requiring a display case for small items would have to provide something of their own. As it happened, I had met a young woodworker at a show we both did at Clarkson University - we happened to be side-by-side. He had wooden toys, small jewelry and trinket boxes, cutting boards and other small things at the show; but he also had a portfolio full of furniture and cabinetry that really demonstrated his talents in the extreme.

I have a truly inexpensive, flat, 24" square tabletop display at a small gallery down in Lewis Co. .. I felt this exhibit, however, required something a bit more ... artsy and elegant. So I called this young man and told him what I needed .. I sent him a check for the lion's share of the cost (based on his estimate) while I still had money in my business account (!!). We went back and forth a few times - he, sending preliminary plans based on my initial description of size and design; I, returning comments and edits on the design until he was set to begin.

We had discussed my needing the cabinet for this exhibit, so he had completed it for pick-up on Feb 21. I sent a small check representing the balance, but didn't pick it up until last Saturday on my way back home from the exhibit set-up. Turns out the gallery had an extra display case; and as it provided a bit more room than the 34" high, 14" square display cabinet I had commissioned, I decided on using theirs instead of mine.

Mine is now slated for a space at Mare's Wares Pottery .. sometime in June when the summer resident population (and sales) pick up. I had told him I would love to have something in a Mission or Arts and Crafts style .. he came back with a computerized design that included a little Mission flourish around the top:

I responded with a photo of a Mission-style mirror I had seen at Cherry Tree Design's website and asked if we couldn't do something like that instead .. including the little flair of the post extensions at the top. And the photo below is what I got .. it's absolutely stunning (the photo doesn't do it justice)!! And a spectacular value for a handcrafted piece of cabinetry.

I spent a lot of time looking for something like this online .. and the closest I could find was almost twice the cost, not nearly as handsome, and mostly metal and glass. This one is oak. Should you wish to see some other things of Conrad's, you can view some of his portfolio at www.northernwoodworksonline.com. Tell him I sent cha!

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