Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #39

Contents

AA JEWELER’s SIGNATURE PIECE AT MFA

PLAYWRIGHT EXPLORES STEREOTYPES

ELLIOT NORTON AWARDS HONOR THEATER BESTS

ORIGINATIONS RECITAL SHOWS OFF STUDENT TALENT

CLASSIC TREASURES SEE NEW LIGHT

EXIT HOLLYWOOD AND GET MOVIE WITH HEART

SHREK 3 HAS ITS MOMENTS

JAMAICAN THEATER COMES TO BOSTON

UP-COMING EVENTS


AA JEWELER’s SIGNATURE PIECE AT MFA

by Kay Bourne

41b614f6c9c70f78cb0ce119347cff0c.82.124 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #39 A necklace by African American jeweler, ART SMITH is the signature piece in a dramatic collection of studio jewelry on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

The exhibit featuring nearly 200 pieces, “JEWELRY BY ARTISTS: THE DAPHNE FARRAGO COLLECTION,” displays some of the outstanding examples of a recent gift to the MFA by Daphne and Peter Farrago of more than 600 pieces of contemporary jewelry by leading American and European artists. At a press tour of the striking, wearable art, the MFA director Malcolm Rogers said that the new acquisition means that the museum now has “the most comprehensive collection of contemporary jewelry in the world.”

Rogers added that viewers of the exhibit, which opened May 22, will likely agree with Daphne Farrago that “jewelry is a miniature version of sculpture.” Farrago had special cabinets built into her Rhode Island and Florida homes to hold the pieces.

Farrago has not given up all of her studio art jewelry as yet, and one of the “promised” pieces she held back because she wants to continue to wear it is the Smith necklace pictured above. The swirl of sterling silver implanted with semi-precious stones is an excellent illustration of the bio-morphism style the innovative jeweler was famous for. The organic shapes which appear to have the capacity to grow has its imaginative roots in African and Mezo-American cultures. The necklace is the first piece you see as you enter the West Wing gallery.

Other pieces by Smith are in a display case with jewelry from Sam Kramer who was also one of the early jewelers to operate their own shops and make a living from their craft.

Smith, who was a native New Yorker, maintained his jewelry shop for 30 years at 140 West Fourth Street. He’s studied art and design at the Cooper Union in New York and apprenticed to jeweler Winifred Mason in Harlem. Smith was 64 when he died in 1982. His work is also in the permanent collection of Arts and Design in New York.

Some of Smith‘s best known work is identified with dancers. He produced body ornaments for Pearl Primus, an early proponent of the African dance renaissance in America, and for the dance company of Talley Beatty, the choreographer of “The Road of Phoebe Snow,” among other famous works, and the initial director of the ballet of the National Center of Afro American Artists, the Elma Lewis School Fine Arts in Roxbury. Smith was the vice president of the Duke Ellington Society, a group of enthusiasts who put on a concert of Ellington’s music every spring.

The exhibition presents jewelry masterpieces by modern artists such as Alexander Calder, Max Ernst, and Pablo Picasso, and also includes a dramatic pair of gold earrings designed by Man Ray and worn by French actress Catherine Deneuve in a famous photograph by Ray. More recent pieces include mixed media assemblages by Robert Ebendorf, and magnificent twined gold forms by Mary Lee Hu.

The studio jewelry movement evolved after World War II and continues today. Lectures related to the exhibit will begin in September; the exhibit continues in the MFA’s Studio Craft / Lee Gallery until March 2008.

Museum of Fine Arts official website


PLAYWRIGHT EXPLORES STEREOTYPES

by Kay Bourne

(pictured: Karani Marcia Leslie)

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