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No. 10 September 2007

As summer ends and autumn begins, we hope you are enjoying nature's seasonal transition. This newsletter brings transition news for AJF with announcement of our new 2008 Board of Directors.

We finish our two-part interview with the Boston MFA's Kelly L'Ecuyer, and renew our interviews with current Board members. In May we interviewed Jo Lauria focusing on her work as Curator for "Craft in America" exhibition. This month we put Rika Mouw "in the forum". AJF thrives because of the creative energy of our board members, in the months ahead we'll hear from Elizabeth Shypertt and Pat Rodimer.

Another transition to note, next month Jane Shannon will assume responsibility for "AJFconnection". Jane is a world traveler, a terrific writer, and a long-time member of AJF. Surely, Jane will catch the typos I regularly missed, correctly spell artists names I flubbed and enjoy doing this newsletter as much as I did, hopefully more, certainly better. Thank you Jane for raising your hand to volunteer. Sally von Bargen

One Board Transitions to Another
Maria Phillips

AJF President Pat Rodimer announced the approval of the new 2008 Board of Directors. Susan Cummins, a founding member of AJF will serve as President, the Treasurer position is to be filled by Sally von Bargen, Susan Kempin becomes Secretary, and communication duties will be handled by Jane Shannon.

The incoming board assumes responsibility in January. Pat, who has served as AJF president for the past 7 years, commented: "We look forward to exciting new plans when the new board takes over, until then we'll work together on a smooth transition." Outgoing board members Pat Rodimer, Elizabeth Shypertt, Jo Lauria and Rika Mouw have done an masterful job and leave AJF better for their service, job well done.

Catch it at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, features "One of a Kind: The Studio Craft Movement," through Dec. 2, 2007. The exhibit, shown in the Modern Art, Design, and Architecture Gallery on the first floor, showcases approximately 50 works from the Met's collection, including furniture, ceramics, glass, metalwork, jewelry, and fiber. The Met's calendar bulletin notes the studio craft movement developed in the U.S. in the post-World War II years. The bulletin continues, "By the 1970s in both Europe and the United States, a shifting political climate and an 'anything goes' art scene encouraged a new freedom in artistic expression. Artists working with traditional materials began to experiment with new materials and techniques, producing bold, abstract, and sculptural art."

Our Conversation with Kelly L'Ecuyer - Part II

We conclude Susan Cummins' conversation with MFA Boston curator, Kelly L'Ecuyer in this newsletter.

Susan: What are your plans for the Farago collection in the future?

Kelly: The exhibition was organized quickly, in museum terms, opening just about a year after we acquired the collection. We are in the unusual position of opening the exhibition sooner and publishing the catalogue later, so that we have more time to do research for the catalogue, which will be published in 2010. The book will place this jewelry in a broader art historical context and trace the history of studio jewelry in the twentieth century.

In the meantime, the MFA's entire collection, including the Farago jewelry collection, is accessible on the Museum's website, You can go to Collections/Advanced Search and put in an artist's last name to see our cataloging records at any time. Not all the images are available yet, but they are published on the web as quickly as objects are photographed and our rights and licensing department can get permission from the artists and copyright-holders.

The jewelry from the collection will be displayed in the future in several different ways. The MFA is building a new American Wing, to open in 2010, and selections of modernist jewelry will appear in our gallery of art of the 1940s and 1950s. This will put the work of jewelers Betty Cooke, Paul Lobel, Art Smith, and others in a gallery with abstract paintings and sculpture, Eames chairs, and other art and design from the period.

An exciting development occurred last fall, several months after we acquired the Farago collection, when one of our trustees (AJF member Susan Kaplan) endowed a jewelry curatorship. Yvonne Markowitz, who has been with the MFA for many years in the ancient Egyptian department, was appointed curator of jewelry. She has general oversight of jewelry across all departments of the Museum, and in 2011, when the MFA's west wing is renovated, she will install a new gallery devoted to jewelry from all cultures and time periods. Some of the Farago collection will be featured in that gallery along with jewelry from other areas of our collection.

With the current exhibition and its extensive brochure, our website, the Farago lecture series, and the future gallery installations, we feel that we are presenting studio jewelry to the widest possible audience -- and that is what Daphne has wanted all along.

Thoughts on Wearing and Giving
Kelly Nedderman

This year AJF took a bold step. We offered our members two trips instead of one, first to Boston for the opening of the Farago collection at the Boston MFA; and this month 25 AJF members will gather in Houston for the premier of the Helen Drutt collection at the MFAH. Organizing one trip is a complex endeavor; organizing two in one year verges on insane. What would have us go to such effort? The fundamental answer, simply put is, "the giving of gifts." Helen Drutt and Daphne Farago gave gifts, and we honor them and the jewelry art form through our visits to the museums.

Many of us may not have the means or inclination to collect on the scale these gifts represent. Yet, there are many other ways to give. As you think about your collection or ways you might give consider the many options listed below. Due to the sometimes complex technical nature of tax law or estate planning, you should explore the intricacies of these types of gifts with your attorney and tax advisor. Our list is designed to stimulate your creativity by revealing the possibilities.

  • Grants and Sponsorships
  • Gifts of Life Insurance
  • Gifts of Real Estate
  • Gifts of Retirement Funds
  • Charitable Trusts
  • Bequests of Works of Art
  • Gifts of Cash

Lastly, consider the gift of your time: take a curator out to lunch, become a docent specializing in jewelry exhibitions or share your collection with students at a local college art department. The ways of giving time are endless. Your time is the most precious gift of all.

A Little Something to Think About
Rika Favortie 5b

"The combination between jewelry and art is not always obvious. Jewelry means service to a defined function, realized in a suitable material, with extremely good taste. Art is first an expression, and cannot be motivated only by aesthetics. In art story and plot are interwoven with something hiding. But a jewelry piece can, like art, be narrative, abstract, socially moving or rebellious, reactionary or simply tender. Real jewelry is real art. The jewelry wearer is expected to think about the vision of the artists and furthermore propagate it."

Jan Walgrave, quoted from "20 Jahre -- Galerie Spektrum" 2001

IMAGE CREDITS from top to bottom

  • Portrait of AJF Member Rika Mouw.
  • Maria Philips, 'Spires', Neckpiece, 2001, enamel,sterling silver, promised to the Tacoma Art Museum, photographed by Doug Yaple.
  • Portrait of Kelly L'Ecuyer, Assistant Curartor of Decorative Arts, Boston Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Kelly Nedderman, 'Double Pendant', Necklace, sterling silver, optical lenses, handmade paper.
  • Snapshot of Rika Mouw with artists and friends: Nancy Worden, Ron Ho, and Ramona Solberg.
  • Sophie Hanagarth, Untitled, Necklace, formed sheet iron beads strung on steel cable.

In the Forum: Rika Mouw
Rika Mouw

Homer Alaska is a fishing and art community near Bristol Bay. The vast and breathtakingly beautiful Bristol Bay ecosystem is home to immense fisheries, the world's largest concentration of brown bears, massive herds of caribou and countless species of migratory birds. Homer is where artist and conservation advocate Rika Mouw lives. Rika makes and collects jewelry. As Rika ends her term on the AJF board, we invited her to share with us her thoughts about collecting and images of her favorite pieces. Rika was interviewed, via email by Sally von Bargen

Sally: Rika, how did you learn about AJF and what motivated you to join?

Rika: I first learned about AJF in 1999 through a notice in Ornament Magazine about an upcoming art jewelry collector's trip in San Francisco. I contacted then president, Sharon Campbell, about the trip. It was exciting to learn there was actually a group of people who sought out art jewelry, was serious about learning more about it and collecting it. I felt like the trip was planned just for me.Being a member of AJF has been enormously enriching for me on many levels. I have gained meaningful friendships interesting, wonderful people who share my passion. The yearly trips have broadened my experience of the art jewelry field and taught me more than I could have imagined. Not only about art jewelry, but its support network of universities, museums, galleries, collectors and dealers. I have been exposed to art in different parts of the world that wouldn't have been possible otherwise.

Sally: Art Jewelry lovers often have an "ah-ha moment", a specific recollection about how they discovered it, will you share yours?

Rika: I first became aware of art jewelry in the mid 80's when I attended a New Art Forms Expo before it became SOFA. I was drawn to the Susan Cummins Gallery booth where I experienced an 'ah-ha' moment right then and there. I remember seeing Pat Flynn's work with his use of rusted steel set with diamonds. From that experience I viewed jewelry as an art form and have been drawn to it ever since. . Thank you Susan for being there and opening up this world to me!

Sally: What do you enjoy most about art jewelry?

Rika: I am a hopeless art addict. What I love about art jewelry is that its scale allows me to wear it as well as display more of it than most other art forms. I love that I can wear art and make a statement. I often wear particular pieces for specific occasions in order to create dialog. I particularly enjoy that art jewelry has a 'voice' and I love using it in that sense.

Sally: Tell us about your collection and how it developed.

As a maker, I started purchasing old ethnic jewelry and rare beads about 20 years ago. Since then I've purchased pieces that caught my design sense, it never occurred to me to 'collect' per se. During my first AJF trip in 1999 the idea of 'collecting' materialized for me. My collection has developed and changed through my exposure by the AJF trips over the years. It has grown quite a bit and somewhat eclectically. It is a collection that is now primarily contemporary work that includes pieces by well recognized artists as well as emerging from all over the world. I am intrigued with the inventive uses of organic materials so I have many pieces made with wood, paper, plant materials and fibers. Most pieces have a 'voice' that resonates with me. Others works are pieces made by artists I know and admire, making them important to me to have in my possession. It is not a particularly large collection, perhaps 50 pieces, but each one has special meaning to me.

Sally: Do have a long term plan for your collection?

Rika: Because my collection is as eclectic as it is, I do not see it as one that will stay intact. Several pieces I intend to be given to appropriate jewelry collecting museums. Other pieces will likely go to other private collections. Several pieces are promised to friends.

Sally: Last question, any advice for other art jewelry collectors?

As with anything I think the more informed you are about your subject matter, the better choices you will make and the more you will gain out of the experience. Collecting is educational and it is truly enjoyable. It is a journey actually. No matter the size of one's collection I think it is a good idea to keep as much information about each piece as possible. A file with this information will always be helpful either to yourself or whomever your pieces will be passed on to. Have fun with it. I just have to say that for any art jewelry collector, the Art Jewelry Forum is a great place from which to learn, share and interact with others who have this passion. Art jewelry 'speaks' and I guess I love the sense of voice it projects, wearing it connects me with the maker and my 'art tribe'.

Among the photos Rika sent for this newsletter was this photograph of a cherished memory. Rika told me, "the picture was taken in March of 2005 when Nancy had her fabulous solo show at the William Travers Gallery. I was in Seattle for the opening. Ramona had recently gotten out of the hospital from her heart surgery and was able to socialize on a limited basis. She very much wanted to attend Nancy's opening but was not strong enough for that, but we decided to get together for a special dinner at Ron Ho's house. It was a very special time. Ramona even made the dessert. If my memory serves me right, it was her famous strawberry cream pie. Ron and Ramona have a long history together and of course Nancy has a long connection with Ramona as well" -- a memory worth sharing.

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