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Walters Art Museum Jewelery Show This Weekend

Jan 12, 2011 07:00PM ● By Anonymous


The Skinny

What: Can You See What I See: Jewelry Fair at the Walters
When: Friday, Nov. 5th through Sunday, Nov. 7th, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. each day
Where: The Walters Art Museum, 600 North Charles Street, Baltimore

A Gem of a Show

A precious gem, a wrap of silver, and the delicate manipulation needed to wield the two together into an eye-fetching fashionable ring . . . or perhaps an elegant necklace; these are the elements of fine jewelry and of the skilled artisans that create one-of-a-kind pieces. Early this November, the Walters Art Museum will host a treasure trove of local jewelry artists and their bejeweled examples of craftsmanship during the seventh annual event, Can You See What I See: Jewelry Fair at the Walters.

The Jewelry Fair is organized and presented by the Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum, whom collate a group of the nation’s premier gold- and silver-smiths to display their jewelry during the weekend-long event, held in the exquisite Walters’ Sculpture Court. The event grew as an off-shoot from the Committee’s largest annual event, Art Blooms, held each spring, featuring interpretive floral arrangements by local garden clubs. Several jewelry artists were invited to participate and vend; as their popularity grew within Art Blooms, the Women’s Committee saw an opportunity for a unique, separate event.

Savilla Rody, member of the Women’s Committee since 1987 and this year’s event co-chair, explains how the Walters fair is unlike many other jewelry fairs. “Most big shows in the region, like D.C.’s and Philadelphia’s, are sponsored by the American Craft Council and, therefore, are juried. Because we have space for about 20 jewelers, ours is not juried. We started with lots of networking and were fortunate to recruit top talent to the Walters. The goal is to have the same caliber of jewelry as the art hanging on the walls.”

Event Co-Chair Rachel Seba is equally excited and impressed with the talent, saying, “The Jewelry Fair is a terrific opportunity to bring the creativity of modern craftsmen, in many ways sculptors in precious metals and jewels, to The Walters, showcasing the pieces in a historic setting. It’s a combination of modern and historic with a common appreciation of craftsmanship and this marriage underscores the vitality of the Walters and the Women’s Committee.”

This year’s fair, held November 5th–7th, coincides with the Walters’ exhibit Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos & Toys in the Attic; a retrospective of the world-famous author and photographic illustrator, featuring several of his handcrafted, meticulously detailed installation models accompanied by large-format color photographs of the illustrations from his books (read more about the exhibit on page XXX). As such, the weekend offers the opportunity for the entire family to visit the Walters and enjoy both fair and exhibit. “The exhibit highlights Wick’s elegant and playful view of the world and his narratives, much as our jewelers do in their own work,” says Seba.

Playing on this whimsical theme, the Women’s Committee has planned several engaging experiences, among them Finders Keepers; a treasure hunt being held throughout the museum each day, in which patrons of the Jewelry Fair will search for hidden jewelry objects with the finder literally keeping the piece they find. ““If you see it first, you take it home,” says Rody. “We’ve been most fortunate to have the jewelry donated. There will be at least one piece every day.”

Additionally, free gallery talks, each led jointly by a curator and jeweler, will provide insight into the collection and its craftsmanship. Cynthia Alderdice, an Annapolis-based jewelry artist who’s participated in the Walters fair annually since 2004, explains the artisanship that goes into the unique pieces of jewelry. “We create classical and ancient jewelry techniques such as gold granulation—much like the ancient Roman, Greek, and Etruscan methods using 22-karat gold. Bob Kulicke [1924–07, famed New York-based painter, goldsmith, and designer] figured out how the Etruscans created the beautiful gold granulation. We alloyed our gold to the formula that worked for this technique.

“The Walters has an incredible collection of this ancient jewelry. We work with mainly ruby, sapphire, tourmaline, and whatever stones that fit the piece of jewelry we are working on. We also create art jewelry using the technique of cloisoneé enamel. Many of our pieces are one-of-a-kind. These can take as long as a month the complete.”

Rody confirms the extraordinary craftsmanship on display at the fair. “There’s been so many fabulous pieces; freshwater pearls from a specific lake in Japan, bracelets of carnelion. We had one jeweler who did wedding pieces for sheiks in the Mid-East.”

And just in case you’re curious about price points of the jewelry, Rody says there’s something for every budget. “There are pieces from $50 to $30,000 and several pieces in the lower $1,000s; though the Women’s Committee doesn’t get involved with the business of the artists.”

Lastly, Ray Mitchener of Ruth Shaw will lead the “Jewel Box Fashion Show” event on Friday morning, demonstrating how pieces from different jewelers can be worn in unexpected and interesting ways. “It’s almost like a jewelry fashion show, but without the runway,” explains Rody. “We’ll have dancers in black leotards wearing jewelry designs, local students wearing jewelry, and perhaps gothic-dressed individuals wearing jewelry; all mixing and mingling among the crowd.”

“The Walters Jewelry Fair is always a wonderful event with 20 of the most incredible jewelry artists participating,” sums Alderdice.