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Showing posts from 2019

Caro-Nan Handcrafted Basket Purses, and Angionette's Dress Shop, Bozeman

Every once in a while three different stories collide, from three different locations, and it becomes a serendipitous event.  To create this story, a northern Virginia thrift store, a former ladies dress shop in Bozeman, Montana and a purse company founded in Jackson, Mississippi, all converged.

Most of us have never lusted after a vintage woven basket purse.  Instead, it is not uncommon to see a Louis Vuitton handbag on New York's Fifth Avenue; a Kate Spade bag coming out of Neiman Marcus in Dallas; or at the worst case, a Coach clutch by Tapestry coming out of a store at the Tampa Premium Outlet Mall.   

This hand crafted purse came out of a thrift store adventure in northern Virginia.  It started out by being an unknown basket purse.  It was handcrafted and upon further inspection, it looked like it was made for someone in Bozeman, Montana. The hand-painted street scene had storefronts with "MSU" and "Bobcats" written in the store windows.  Anyone tracking …

Vince Shaughnessy, b. 1959, Northwest Coast Kwakiutl Tribal Artist

Throughout history, man's imagination has populated the world with monstrous creations:  Satyrs, Cynocephali, Harpies, Centaurs, and today we look at Dzunukwa.

Shaughnessy was born into Kwakwaka'wakw royalty. His grandfather, Arthur Shaughnessy was the Chief of Kingcome Inlet, a principle fjord of the British Columbia coast.  He started his art carving apprentice under the coaching and mentoring of noted carvers, Kelvin Hunt and Jonathan Livingston at the Arts of the Raven Shop.

Cedar is plentiful along the northern Pacific Coast, and an excellent carving wood as it splits easily. Throughout his upbringing, he listened to the stories and myths of his people and developed the skills to portray these recited myths into Kwakiutl art, as in the cedar mask below.

Kwakwaka’wakw (Kwakiutl), British Columbia, c. 1978 Ceder, under Black and Red/Orange Pigment, Horse Hair  Alert Bay, Canadian Government Tag
Shaughnessy understood that Kwakiutl mythology is based on nature. During his…

Berndt Friberg (1899-1981) Sweden’s Most Noted Ceramicist

Berndt Friberg, in the world of Scandinavian ceramic design, he is just plain famous, there are no other words to describe this illustrious designer of the 20th century.  Perfection was in his blood and in his hands, creating delicate forms with magnificent glazes put him on the forefront of Swedish ceramic design. Friberg worked for Gustavsberg factory (a Swedish porcelain company) from 1934 until his death in 1981.

Friberg was born in 1899 into a family of noted potters in Höganäs, Sweden. He started as an apprentice in pottery at the age of 13 in Höganäs, and continued to work for various studios until he was 35, developing and perfecting his pottery skills. In 1934 he joined Gustavsberg working as a thrower and an apprentice to the famed art director, Wilhelm Kåge. In 1944, he started producing his own line of pottery at Gustavsberg.

Friberg’s technical perfection along with his simplicity of form and the use of glazes, plus his attention to detail was perfected during his endles…

Gerald L. Lubeck - Realist Painter and Printmaker

For nearly a lifetime, Lubeck has been creating bucolic pastoral scenes and the elements of country life.  Many have guessed that it is the Vermont countryside and lifestyle that provides inspiration.  He paints chickens in the farmyard, fresh new lambs in the pen, and dairy cows in the pasture.  His artwork is pleasant without being contrived and his brushstroke is intensely detailed.  It is this skill that allows me to share one example:  Lubeck was selected as the Judge for the International Miniature Art Show - Florida, 1984.  These artists frequently paint with one hair paint brushes, detailed, tedious and slow.

In the painting below, the location could be anywhere; eastern Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska or somewhere else in the heartland.  It speaks to the viewers who understand farming: It is the struggle of being too wet to plant in the spring and the desire to fill the grain-silos before the first major hail storm.  The farmer hopes for acceptable prices in the comm…

The Kennedy Center Years and Irene Ryan Evening of Scenes

As a college senior I spied a bulletin board notice: Kennedy Center Internships. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, send out the notices to over 300 colleges in 1979, including Montana State University. I put my entire effort into my application, now realizing that my childhood and background was lacking. They sent a nice letter back, saying that I was not selected but I had been a runner up and should someone drop out I would be contacted. It was like saying "thank you" but don't call.

I have always possessed tenacity, a sense of persistence that was beyond my control. I proceeded to write to both of my US Senators and Congressmen (at that time Montana had two Congressmen). I told them about the internship program and figured out how to visit the Kennedy Center offices that summer in Washington. My letters and visit caused a stir and even the Dean for the College of Arts and Architecture was wondering what I was up too. In the end, I think the…

The Nostalgic Art of Sascha Maurer

Sascha Maurer (1897-1961) could be described as a bipolar or maybe a tri-polar artist. He is now the famed poster illustrator-graphic designer, whose works are highly collectible and if original, very expensive. Likewise, he was a major contributor to the magazine: Ford Times. The Ford Times, was a free magazine to everyone that purchased a Ford and he handled that account from 1953-58. And his career as a watercolor artist, that created tightly illustrated rural and small town landscapes of New England.

Maurer's Background and Graphic Design:

Maurer was German-born, the son of an artist and it is said by some accounts that he descended from Russian royalty. He studied at the School of Applied Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts, both in Munich. Additionally, some report that he studied independently with noted designer Ludwig Hohlwein. Hohlwein created the German “plakatstil” (poster style) wherein he eliminated all the ornamentation and embellishments that had been part of the …

The Classified File Room for the Iran-Contra Affair

The Tower Commission Report on the Iran-Contra Affair for President Ronald Reagan
Around 1986 as a designer for the US General Services Administration, I had finished designing space for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). There new location was right on New York Avenue in Washington, DC, and the project was most interesting.  The Division was handling a large telecommunication concern. It was my job to create space where both sides of the legal case could not know what the other side was doing. The case was United States v. AT&T. The design project turned out successful, and in August of 1987, DOJ offered me a job.

I was attending a church retreat at the University of Maryland, staying in the dorms, when the phone rang out in the hallway. In those days, no one had a cell phone. I picked it up, and there was DOJ Personnel offering me a job. It was one of those moments that I knew that the Department could find you in the bottom of a haystack in the mid…

An Audience - Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, Now the Emperor and Empress

The Audience with His Imperial Highness and Her Imperial Highness: The Crown Prince and Princess of Japan
In a previous life, I was a Maureen and Mike Mansfield Fellow from the US Government to the Japanese Government. In those days the selection process was rigorous, it consisted of a review of your academic and work background, your understanding of Asian cultures, interviews by Japanese experts (business, Fulbright, etc.) that evaluated your study and work proposals. In the fall of 2007, my name appeared in the Washington Post. The announcement changed the next two years of my life: Fiscal Years 2008-2009. I attended Japanese language school and US State Department's Foreign Service Institute to study all things Japanese and the neighboring countries. I went off to Japan, to continue my studies in the city of Kanazawa, and then was sent to Tokyo to work at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport, Building Services Department. I returned to Washington in late …

Mary Wood Forman (1918-1989) Photographer

Mary Wood Forman lived only what could be described as an exotic - well traveled life. She was born to American Presbyterian missionaries that were stationed in India and was born in Mussoorie. It is located north of the capital of New Delhi and at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains. During her childhood it was a scenic place of beauty, likewise a place where she was captured by the cross-culture of being an American child in a truly foreign land, even though Britain ruled India at this time.

Her parents returned to Columbus, Ohio in 1923 so the children could attend school. Forman went on to get a degree from Ohio State University (1940) and a graduate degree in Social Work from Western Reserve University in 1944. After college she spent many years abroad, lived in New York City, and then moved to Hartford, CT in 1956.

It was in Connecticut that she become interested in photography. She continued with her travels to Europe and the American West, recording what she sa…

Kimura Ichiro (1915-1978), Mashiko Master Potter

Mashiko, approximately 60 miles north of Tokyo is linked to the world famous potter, Shoji Hamada (1894-1978).  Hamada was the Japanese designated Living Treasure, who promulgated the virtues of pottery folkcraft (mingei).  Mashiko is famous for pottery wares that serve as the prime examples of mingei.

Kimura, a Mashiko native started his studies in Kyoto, but transferred to study under Hamada from (1935-1947), where he was powerfully influenced by his instructor.  After his apprenticeship he set up his own studio and kiln in Mashiko.  Much like the other fellow apprentices that studied under Hamada, he went on to become a major Mashiko fixture, though his premature death short-circuited his fame in the pottery world. 

Kimura was not widely known outside of Japan, yet within Japanese circles he was a master potter from the Mashiko region.  He had two important exhibits in Japan including one at the Tokyo National Museum (1964) and a full retrospective at the Mashiko Ceramic Art Museu…

Gladys Kashdin (1921-2014) Florida Artist

Dr. Gladys Shafran Kashdin was a combination of several remarkable people: Artist, Researcher, Writer, Teacher/Professor, Department University Administrator, Volunteer, Naturalist and Philanthropist.  Being dearly loved within the Tampa Bay region, the Museum of Science and Industry named its "Welcome Center" after her.

She was known for developing her artistic style from realistic figures to her increasing interest in nature, abstraction and conceptual forms. A recurring theme in her later work included the Everglades, the wetlands preserved into a national park.  She believed in the ongoing restoration of the Everglades, an effort to remedy the inflicted damage on the southern Florida environment. Her nature subjects were frequently executed in ink drawings on paper, however she is known for creating other subjects in paper and cloth collages, acrylic paintings, and serigraphs.

Kashdin's Everglades Series was a personal and scientific exploration of this unique Flo…

African Masks - Ethnology and Aesthetics

The concept of "Art" was alien to traditional Africans and "Art for art's sake" was rare in Africa.  Spirits inhabited everything in African life; the rivers that provided fish, the fields that produced the crops, and the forests that housed the game animals to eat.  Likewise, masks and sculptures were parts of rituals such as fertility and initiation ceremonies, as well as special royal court and agriculture celebrations.

A performer might dance at the end of a dignitary's funeral with a wooden mask and costume created with oil paint, feathers and fabric, with the hope that the newly departed spirit will find their way to the land of ancestors.  The living will appeal to the deceased spirit world from time to time for intercession and assistance with burdens and concerns.  Where the Africans saw their older masks as "sacred" carrying great spiritual weight, the early 20th century cubists such as Picasso and Juan Gris appreciated these masks for b…

Margaret Casey Gates, Washington, DC Artist (1903-1989)

Margaret Casey Gates, Washington, DC Artist (1903-1989) Normally, I accomplish extensive research before I sit down to write my artist blog.  Today is different, the information on Margaret Gates from the Archives from American Art website is so good and complete.  I am going to share it with you:   Margaret Casey Gates was born in 1903 in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. She studied art in the studio of Bertha Perry, and from 1924 to 1926 at the Corcoran Art School. She later studied under Henry Varnum Poor at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. After working as a commercial artist from 1928-1929, Casey began studying at the Phillips Memorial Gallery in 1931 under C. Law Watkins. There, she met her husband, painter Robert Franklin Gates, and married on January 7, 1933. Robert Franklin Gates (1906-1982), who came to Washington, D.C. in 1930, also studied at the Phillips Gallery Art School and worked with Karl Knaths between 1934 and 1947. Between 1934 and 1941, Robert Gates, …