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I spent many, many wonderful hours studying the work of the 230+ artists presenting in the American Craft Council show. It was an incredible, overwhelming day to say the least!

My goal was to see the best of the best and a great variety. Mission accomplished! I very selectively collecting cards of artists that interested me and have a stack of over 40. The inevitable outcome is new inspiration and comparisons of this “established” art to my own.  I now have a notebook of ideas and many new directions to experiment in. But those insights will be saved for future posts. This one is about the work of others: my two favorites.

Art means different things to different people and an individual will experience art in different ways throughout their life. It is subjective. But sometimes there is a quality and vision in a work or collection that speaks so loudly it seems like a tangible, objective quality. The work of these two artists sung to me.

The two artists I would like to discuss are metalsmith Beverly Tadeu and enamelist  Judy Stone. Representative works from both are shown below. Both have very interesting constructions.

Rooted Ring by Beverly Tadeu

Rooted Ring by Beverly Tadeu

Beverly solders small pieces together to forge a larger vision one joint at a time. I found these pieces the most intriguing and was especially taken by her rooted rings. Created with gold, silver and oxidized silver they are fine jewelry yet they feel earthy. Their airy composition looks delicate but is strong. I am very excited to have met Beverly and to see how her work evolves. I WILL have a piece of hers in my own collection just as soon as I can!

Vessel by Judy Stone

Vessel by Judy Stone

While Judy does not create jewelry I found her work perhaps the most inspiring in the show. It has been evolving and is in an amazing place. Her copper bowls break the mold as they are torn apart and then reconstructed with rivets and wire. The final component, layers and layers of building enamel, add dimension that is just an amazing finish to say the least. I got lost in several of her pieces and then she took the time to talk to me about the evolution of her work, her process and what her work means to others. I really enjoyed meeting her and her work.

I have been mulling over their work to try to understand why it appeals so strongly to me. There are a couple commonalities.

My first thought is “space.” Each piece makes great use of negative space. It isn’t the focus of the pieces but the fact that each has negative spaces is interesting and entices you to look at the work and its more complex composition. It gives balance and an airy feel to works that could otherwise be very dense or heavy.

My second thought is “organic.” Both methods of construction lend themselves to imperfections. Neither is looking for perfection just balance. And it is enough. It is perfect… and interesting!

My third thought is “simple story.” It is easy to connect with these pieces. It is easy to see something of our own life in them. They are incredibly unique but also unassuming enough to lend themselves to the imagination of the beholder.

What do you think of these pieces and their creators?

I am grateful to have been able to spend the day enjoying such a diverse spread of art. Thank you all for sharing your work! Maybe I will have a booth among you one day.

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