Saturday, July 23, 2011

History in the Making: Renwick Craft Invitational 2011

Where: Renwick Gallery

When: through July 31, 2011

Every other year, the Renwick displays the works of several artists that it feels are deserving of wider recognition. I went to see the 2009 show, and was delighted with the artist who created knitted superhero costumes. The video of him, wearing one of his creations, in a rocking chair, knitting away, as the 1812 overture played in the background was the highlight of the exhibit for me.

This year's offerings are not so "over the top" as the superhero costumes, which is unfortunate, but are still quite good. Ubaldo Vitali is a silversmith, and I was much taken with his 25th Anniversary Tea and Coffee Service, which uses lovely red accents to set off the silver. There is an Art Deco feel to these pieces which I liked very much.

Cliff Lee is a surgeon turned potter, whose work features beautiful, colorful glazes; my favorites were the oxblood, the chun blue and the imperial yellow.

Judith Schaechter makes stained glass windows with macabre themes. If one of the artists was really wild, it would be her. She went to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston as a small child, and sought out the most gruesome paintings to examine. I liked her work very much, but I'm not certain I'd really want it in my house...

Finally, Matthais Pliessing makes furniture by steam bending wood. The shapes are wonderful, but as one is not allowed to sit on the chairs or sofas, I'm not sure how comfortable it is.

At the end, there's a small gallery where you can actually touch the art - I always love this; you get a real sense of the pieces if you can put your hands on them.

Verdict: Go see this show. It's always great to see artists that are not yet big stars, and the Renwick itself is a very nice, uncrowded destination.

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