Friday, November 20, 2009

All Art Friday

All Art Friday

Poetic Abstraction

Laurel Lukaszewski, a founding member of Flux Studios, Mt. Rainier, Maryland, has a solo show at Project 4 Gallery (1353 U St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009; 202-323-4340) through December 18. If you are not familiar with the poetic, elegant, and imaginative work of this local ceramics artist, please visit the show. Conceived, according to the gallery's press release, as a response to the artist's interest in the Japanese phrase "ichi-go ichi-e", roughly meaning "one moment, one time", the works in Lukaszewski's solo exhibition are all made of porcelain. The sculptures, both wall and floor pieces, go by such evocative names as "Ghost", "Morning After", "Pause", and "Sakura". I especially like "Sakura", which reminds me of the delicate flowers of the Japanese cherry trees that bloom every spring along the Potomac. There is also something wistful about the twisting, piled up, intersecting or singularly distinct forms Lukaszewski creates; one wonders what stories of loss or sadness or longing they hold.

I first visited Lukaszewski's studio two years ago during a Mt. Rainier open-studios event. She's a thoughtful, accessible artist who will take time to talk about the materials she uses and her sources of inspiration.

Discoveries in Mosaics

Mosaics, as I wrote in a post in September, have become a new interest, and I have been enjoying my discovery of exceptionally talented mosaic artists as I browse the Web or follow the links at Mosaic Art Now, which features the finest contemporary work from around the world.

Recently, I learned about Stephen Miotto, of Miotto Mosaic Art Studios in upstate New York. Miotto has ties to my area, specifically to Washington, D.C.; his firm installed the fabrication of the Redemption Dome mosaic in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic church in the United States. The Basilica is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Embellishment and ornamentation of the Shrine in Romanesque-Byzantine style has been ongoing since the late 1950s.

Unveiled in 2006, the gold Redemption Dome mosaic (others are the Incarnation Dome and the Trinity Dome) depicts 12-foot figures and four scenes of redemption:  the Crucifixion, which can be seen on walking into the Shrine; the Resurrection, visible on exiting the shrine; Christ's temptation in the desert; and the descent into hell. To ensure the mosaic glass tiles, called tesserae, would fit precisely, the dome space was measured by laser and the laser appraisal — that is, the calculations — used to create a computerized image from which Italian mosaicists made drawings (these were exact copies) of the dome.

When the tiles for the Redemption Dome were packaged for shipment from Italy to Washington, D.C., they were layered on sticky paper in scores of numbered boxes. Using a kind of mosaic-by-number approach, Miotto and his team of artisans completed one section of the dome at a time, putting in place some 2.4 million tiles to create a mosaic almost 3,800 square feet. Later, at the culmination of the project involving the Incarnation Dome, they installed more than 2.4 million tesserae in more than 1,000 colors.

Interesting facts you might not know:

* Mosaic art dates to 2,000 B.C.
* Tesserae typically are backed with gold leaf.
* Tile arrangements are not grouted, and they may be set at angles to reflect and refract light.
* The mosaic interior of the Basilica of the National Shrine is 75,545 square feet.
* The Basilica's Christ in Majesty mosaic, one of the largest such images in the world, is fashioned in more than 4,000 shades and colors. [Source: Website of the National Shrine]

When you visit Washington, be sure to go to the Shrine, which is open daily, year round. The domes are astonishing artistic achievements.

Miotto's firm also has installed mosaic fabrications throughout New York City's subway system. One example, Andrea Dezso's "Community Garden" at the Bedford Park Boulevard-Lehman College station, can be seen here.

For some other examples of stunning liturgical mosaics, click here. These epitomize the statement of Father Marko Rupnik, director of Rome's Centro Aletti,  that "[a]rt is the best way to communicate faith."

Linda Nochlin Webcast

I was privileged to attend Wednesday night a talk by esteemed art scholar Linda Nochlin. In the last of the 2009 Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Ms. Nochlin focused her discussion on the differences to be found in women's artistic approaches to domestic subject matter, using images of works by Mary Cassatt, Sally Mann, Dorothea Tanning, Judy Chicago, and other women artists (some of whose names I did not recognize), as well as quotations from informative critical appraisals or the artists' own words. SAAM's Webcast of the lecture, titled "Consider the Difference: American Women Artists from Cassatt to Contemporary", is here. The lecture was approximately an hour long and was followed by questions from the audience. Referencing Ms. Nochlin's seminal essay "Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?", one man asked why has there been such discrimination against women who are artists. We all laughed as Ms. Nochlin impishly suggested that the question required a whole other lecture just to begin giving the answer.

An ArtNews interview with Ms. Nochlin is here. An extract from her essay, which first shook the art world some 38 years ago, is here.

Let's Give Her a Hand!

I'm clapping as loud as I can, because my friend, the enormously talented writer L.L. Barket, has a book of poetry, Inside Out, forthcoming from International Arts Movement. L.L. made her announcement on her blog last week, by asking her readers to vote on a choice of covers for the book. I agree with our mutual friend Glynn: L.L. deserves a shout-out. So, L.L., CONGRATULATIONS! And lots of good champagne and chocolates on the book tour.

Welcome a New Gallery

It's a pleasure to welcome Winter Studio Contemporary Realism, a new gallery owned and operated by artists Natasha Mokina and Victor Pakhomkin. The gallery's opening reception for "Black Kitchen Magic, Etc.", featuring Mokina's and Pakhomkin's art, is tonight, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Winter Studio is located at 1054 31st St., N.W., Washington, D.C., Canal Square @Galleries 1054.  We wish the gallery a long and successful stay.

Even If You Miss It You Can Get It

The Music Center at Strathmore in Bethesda, Maryland, offers a wide-ranging array of music. If you've missed a performance or don't live in the area, don't despair. Just turn on your computer and experience the music virtually via Strathmore Podcast.  Some events now available include performances by Gaelic Storm and banjo virtuoso Bela Fleck and The Original Flecktones. The podcasts are free.

Do You Know About This Artist?

Some time ago, I found the Website of CFM Gallery in New York City. The gallery offers work by an extraordinary group of artists, including one of my favorites, Leonor Fini. If you are looking for the finest examples of work from Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and other movements, CFM is one of the best places to visit. The art available through the gallery ranges from paintings, drawings, and original graphics, to jewelry, antiques, and rare art catalogues and books. I've purchased from CFM, run by Neil Zukerman, several beautifully designed books featuring the art of Anne Bachelier.

Currently, the gallery is presenting, through December 6, "Out of the Nowhere... Into the Here", with work by the sculptor Ailene Fields. Fields considers herself a story-teller; her "idol", according to an online artist profile, is Hans Christian Andersen, and she writes that she is drawn to myths and legends and folk stories from all over the world because of "their essential wisdom, so concise and profound — that life is what you make it, which is, of course, a function of how you see it." She adds, "What I want, more than anything else, is  to make a difference in the way people see the world, so they can make a difference in how it is. . . . "

Fields casts bronze sculptures, carves stone such as alabaster, designs jewelry using gold and silver and raw rubies and other gems, and works with burl and other beautiful woods. Her commissions include a St. Francis sculpture given as a gift by parishioners of a local (Bethesda, Maryland) church. She delights with her whimsical sculptures of imaginary animals — dragons in bronze (one she titled, humorously, "Do you mind if I smoke?"), the Cheshire Cat, the Frog Prince — and gives expression to the mysterious "softness [in] apparent hardness" (see, for example, her "Sacred Spaces" pieces on the CFM site), peeling away, uncovering, transforming what lies within the natural materials that her hands work.

If you're in New York before the show closes, stop by the gallery in Soho (112 Greene St.) and allow yourself the pleasure of seeing the world through alchemist Fields's eyes.

CFM will be moving next month to Chelsea (236 W. 27th St., Ste. 4F West). For hours or other information, telephone 212-966-3864 or e-mail

Holiday-Related Art Events

At this time of year, museum shops and other arts venues all over the Washington, D.C., area feature unusual, often elegant, sometimes delicious, and just-plain-fun gifts for holiday shoppers. Below are a few of the many art-related holiday bazaars and other holiday arts events coming up locally.

* Tonight, 7:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m., Alexandria, Virginia  ~ Holiday House Party benefiting Empowered Women International, at the home of Ann Stone, EWI Chair Emeritus. The in-home bazaar offers jewelry, scarves, clothes, pottery, sculpture, paintings, cards, and accessories for home and office—all made by hand by EWI artists. To RSVP and obtain directions, please e-mail Ann at

* November 28 ~ Black Friday Specials at Ayr Hill Gallery (141 Church St., N.W., Vienna, Virginia 22180; 703-938-3880). The gallery is offering a 20 percent discount on its merchandise, which includes handcrafted jewelry by Israeli artists in the Negev region, glass pumpkins by artist Doug Brown, and cards designed by local artist Bill Harrah, which are perfect for signing and sending to our troops abroad. The gallery will send through Operation Pinecone any cards and gifts donated for service members in Afghanistan and Iraq. Updates on what's available are here.

* December 3, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ~ 2nd Annual Holiday Bazaar at Sewall-Belmont House & Museum (144 Constitution Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002). More than 20 vendors, including local and international artisans, present an array of eco-friendly products, jewelry, paper crafts, art, textiles, and fine tea and chocolates. Free gift-wrapping services, seasonal refreshments, music, and a wine tasting promise to make shopping here a little extra special.

* December 4 -6 ~ 7th Annual Artful Weekend Art Show and Sale at Ft. C.F.  Smith's Hendry House (2411 24th St., Arlington, Virginia 22207). Opening reception with participating artist-members of the Arlington Artists Alliance is Friday, December 4, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. The Art Show and Sale opens Saturday, December 5, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and runs through Sunday, December 6, 12:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Paintings and other unique art-related items will be available.

* December 12 ~ Giftmania, Holiday Gift-Making Workshops for children return for the third year to Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia). The sessions are: Printmaking, for grades K-2, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.; 2-D Collage, for grades 3-5, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.; 3-D Collage, for grades K-2, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.; and Fabric Arts, for grades 3-5, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Registration is open now; space is limited. $40 per workshop. Telephone AAC at 703-248-6800.

* Until December 12 ~ Workhouse Gift Bag Raffle at the Workhouse Arts Center (9601 Ox Rd., Lorton, Virginia 22079; 703-495-0001). During this special holiday event, visitors to artists' studios will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Workhouse Gift Raffle. The raffle offers 7 Gift Bags, valued at $350 or more, that will be created especially by the Workhouse and artists resident in the center's buildings, each of which is devoted to a particular art form (glass, painting, ceramics, etc.). Items from the Workhouse Gift Shop and Art Supply Store will be donated for each Gift Bag, and every Gift Bag will be personalized to reflect each building's artists. For example, one might contain an artwork, another a coupon for a private art lesson, and yet another an invitation to have tea at the Workhouse. The cost: just $5 for three tickets.

The Workhouse is sponsoring on November 28, 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 a.m., its 2nd Annual Glaze Your Own Ornament Fundraiser. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Lorton Arts Foundation and the Workhouse Ceramics Program. Each pre-bisqued ornaments is $22.00. Participants will have the option of a raku-firing or an electric-kiln-firing.

Shameless Promo for Transformational Threads

My company, Transformational Threads, offers custom, limited-edition hand-embroidered art inspired by art. Based on licensed images of original fine art, the "thread paintings" are created exclusively for Transformational Threads by highly skilled Vietnamese artisans still practicing a centuries-old craft in-country. Currently available are the gorgeous Peacock, the lovely Waikiki Gold, the charming Koi, and the stunning Nerium Oleander. E-mail me directly ( or via my Website if you're in the area and want to see the work up close. Purchasing details for Peacock are available here; buyers' information about the other editions is here.

Art of a Little Something Different

How's this for a ceiling? Its source may surprise you.

1 comment:

L.L. Barkat said...

Maureen, thanks for the celebratory mention! :)

Your threads pieces remind me of something my grandmother used to do. She called it "bunca". Silken threads, brilliant in color. Is this a similar process?