Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts and Wood

Lately I have really been immersing myself in the flowing beauty and simplicity of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement that flourished in the early years of the 20th Century. The Art Nouveau style is exemplified by artistic geniuses such as Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Louis Comfort Tiffany and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. During the same time period, other artisans such as Gustav Stickley, Elbert Hubbard, and Charles Rohlfs, and architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Greene & Greene contributed to what came to be known as the Arts and Crafts Movement. Both movements became interwoven and formed a new design style which was a deliberate departure from the overly ornate Victorian style that preceded it. Each artist, artisan and architect had his or her own style, yet each expressed a common belief in simplicity of form and a communion with nature. The art of this period took a critical look at the new age of machinery and mass production. As an alternative, it emphasized hand craftsmanship and locally skilled creative workers.

Personally, there is no other period of time which has produced so many pieces of art that can take my breath away. Walking through a Greene and Greene home gives me more pleasure than eating an ice cream sundae…and at zero calories. My wife and I had the opportunity to tour the Gamble House in Pasadena, CA, a beautiful city which is the “Mecca” of Arts and Crafts on the West Coast. The house was built in 1908 as the winter retreat for the son of the founder of Proctor & Gamble. It was designed by the upstart young architect brothers, Charles and Henry Greene, who had just been to the World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, where they became influenced by Japanese architecture. The whole place is a symphony in wood. Mahogany, teak, maple, oak and cedar. Each room is a new treat. The joinery, the carving, the details! It’s an overdose of some of the best wood craftsmanship I have ever seen. If you are ever near Pasadena, a tour of this National Historic Landmark should be on you itinerary.
The above photo shows a detail of the carved cedar frieze in the living room of the Gamble House. The artist used the deep natural grain of the weathered cedar plank as part of the carving. This freize circles the entire living room. It was subtle yet overwhelming at the same time...if that's possible. I found myself staring at it with an open mouth.

If you’re stuck on the East Coast but still want some indulging Arts and Crafts desserts, I recommend the Gustav Stickley exhibit at the Newark Museum going on until Jan 2, 2011. I was especially impressed by the inlay work in some of the pieces. See Stickley chair on the left.

If that isn’t enough dessert for you, I suggest the special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City called “The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs”. It ends Jan 23, 2011. See Rohlfs chair on the right.

Immerse yourself in the pleasures of Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau as I am doing, and let me know what you think.

PRESS RELEASE: Sandra Berbeco at 215 College Gallery in Burlington

The next exhibition at 215 College Gallery is Been There: Three Series of Paintings, recent work of gallery member Sandra Berbeco. The opening reception is Friday, November 5 from 5-8pm.

Been There: Three Series of Paintings contains visual statements of idyllic to distressed locations, both real and imagined. Overall, they may appear to be placid land and seascapes; however, they confront issues of flooding and neglect along with a quiet absence of life. Where there is sunlight, it is weak; where there are clouds, they are foreboding. In its entirety, these three series encompass travel the artist has recently done in Greece, Italy, Albania, west and east coast of America and Vermont as well as places yet to be traveled.

Sandra's exhibition can be viewed until November 28, 2010 from 12-8pm on Fridays, 12-6pm on Saturdays and 12-4pm on Sundays.

Image: 6am- Looking Towards Spain, 2010, acrylic on linen, 28 ¼” x 32 ¼”

DitreItalia - sofas, seats & beds design with Italian chic


ESEDRA - design furniture


Francois & Co - Stone architectural elements & surfaces for interior & exterior applications


PRESS RELEASE: Brian Whitney at Francis Colburn Gallery in Burlington

Like so many before him, Brian Whitney packed his bags and headed towards the Great American West! Equipped with a motorcycle, a camera, and his sense of adventure (among various other supplies), Brian set out to have his own great "western" experience. O! West
documents this young American’s trip.

Recent UVM Graduate Brian Whitney has now returned to his Winooski residence, where he spends most of his time trying to commune with his dog. He hopes to some day make a connection with her, and sell his artwork.

PRESS RELEASE: Jennifer Ranz Art Talk in Craftsbury

First Friday Art Talk by Jennifer Ranz
The Art House Gallery
1146 North Craftsbury Road, Craftsbury Common
Friday, November 5, 2010
6:30 - 7:30 pm

Join us as Jennifer Ranz, potter and watercolorist from Greensboro, Vermont, takes us through a slide-show tour of her career as an artist. Jennifer shows examples of her sculptural, whimsical, and functional ceramic work, and speaks about her experiences and creations.

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