The early months of the year are unpredictable, with the usual cold temperatures and nasty weather typically making it tougher to travel from place to place. On the other hand, it encourages picking a single place or district to settle into for the day and playing closer attention to the exhibitions they visit. It’s also a good time for artists and artisans to settle in to address those projects they’ve put up during the warm weather season.
Over the past few months, during the holiday fair season, I’ve contemplated the lasting value of a work created by furniture and jewelry makers, potters, sculptors and fiber artists, especially at a time where communities herald their roles in the maker culture. How does one truly judge which work being created today will find itself part of a museum display centuries from now? Or will that be up to the curators of 2219 to decide?
With these thoughts in mind, I asked Suzanne Volmer to review “Adorning Boston and Beyond: Contemporary Studio Jewelry Then + Now” at the Society of Arts + Crafts in Boston’s Seaport District. In our discussion on the assignment, Volmer pointed out how she’s observed that it seems that where body art had been a status symbol for millennials over the past decade, many young professionals are taking to wearing unique jewelry as a personal showcase.
That review is complemented by Linda Chestney’s look at what defines “fine art” as opposed to “decorative art” through the work of Maine and New Hampshire artisans Annette Kearney (glassworks), Wendy Hammer (jewelry), Don Felix (weathervanes and sculpture) and Ellen Fisher (fused glass).
Elizabeth Michelman writes on how members of the southern New England chapters of the Surface Design Association “borrow and challenge craft traditions while transcending disciplinary boundaries” with a “willingness to critique signifying structures, concern for contemporary politics and consciousness of feminist issues in changing times” in “Context: Language, Media and Meaning,” a juried exhibition of fiber, handmade paper and textiles at the Fuller Craft Museum.
Somewhere in-between those three shows is Evelyn Davis-Walker’s “House + Wife Revisited” readymade installations that have turned the Cambridge School of Weston’s Thompson Gallery into a 1940s home through period objects and collages that explore the advertising imagery of the mid-20th century. Jim Foritano took in the show just as its final touches were being put in place.
Ron Fortier returns to our pages with two exceptional features; one looks at the supportive role partners have played in the careers of some of his former Southeastern Massachusetts University (now the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth) classmates. The other piece shares the experiences of a Massachusetts art collector in building his collection and what he’s learned about what happens to the artwork of deceased artists when their estate wants to bring it to the art market — and how collectors should approach acquiring such works.
Many artists explore other sources of income from their craft. Catherine Carter recently opened her own art studio to host classes and workshops at New Bedford’s Hatch Street Studios; she’ll be able to teach by example, as her “Filigree Acrylic Paintings” will be on exhibition at the Attleboro Arts Museum throughout January.
Artscope publisher Kaveh Mojtabai attended November’s gathering of the New England Museum Association in Stamford, Connecticut; he was joined by Kristin Nord, who shares some of the ideas conveyed at the conference and how the region’s leading cultural institutions are working to attract new visitors in this issue.
Similarly, we’re always looking for ways to attract new readers to Artscope and while we understand the need for fresh faces in museums and galleries, we always stress to those institutions that much of our readership is made up of the artists, the makers, the designers, the collectors, gallery workers and people who look forward to First Friday and other monthly events and who load their cars up with friends and other artists to travel great distances throughout the New England region to see important exhibitions. That’s why we hope they’ll continue to, and consider, partnering with us in bringing you the best coverage possible.
That’s why Mojtabai returned to Miami Beach for Art Basel and Miami Art Week 2018, where our November/December 2018 issue stood out at the Art Basel Collective Booth in the Magazines Sector and from which national correspondent Nancy Nesvet spent endless hours looking at work at over 20 fairs in compiling this issue’s reports on how during a time of great political turmoil, the art world turned to more familiar, comforting work – while engaging new artists from around the world.
All of New England is represented in the 2018 Arts Connect at Catamount Arts exhibition in Saint Johnsbury, with some of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom’s most beloved artists featured in Marta Pauer Tursi’s review of the show that compliments the venue’s neighbor, the Athenaeum Library and Gallery, in creating a one-two combination that makes a trip north a worthy and sure-to-be-memorable winter art wanderlust adventure.
One artist to keep an eye out for is California-based artist, Deborah McDuff, whose powerful “Impact on Innocence: Mass Incarceration” charcoal drawings will be on view at New Africa House’s Augusta Savage Gallery, on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, for three weeks in February before traveling to the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT) Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut the following month.
Thanks to all of our Artscope writers, graphic designer and media development associate Vanessa Boucher, copy editor Bryanna F. Drew and junior designer Gabrielle DiPietro for their many hours of hard work helping to put together this issue with a tough pre-Christmas deadline so that we can be in your hands to start 2019 on a positive note. We’re sure you’ll enjoy this collection of stories.
Looking forward to crossing paths with you in the new year.
| Brian Goslow, Managing Editor