WOOD - Exhibition Review - J. Cotter Gallery

Christine J. Brandt

“Lavender Kiss, Ring

African Olivewood & Purple Fluorite Crystals


By Marissa Saneholtz

The eight artists represented in this exhibition come from several different countries and have created a varied and interesting compilation of pieces with the use of one common material: wood. Using wood as a material for the construction of jewelry and wearable objects is not a new idea, but it is pushing the boundaries of what people perceive as fine jewelry.

The exhibition has been curated by Theresa Hauser and Jim Cotter and will be on display from December through March in the J. Cotter Gallery locations both in Beaver Creek and Vail, CO. The opportunity to show wooden jewelry at the J. Cotter Galleries is just another chance for Jim Cotter to show his clientele what kind of pieces are being made in the contemporary art jewelry world. Jim is known for his use of gold and diamonds as well as many non-traditional materials including steel, rocks, wood, cement, found objects, feathers, and powder coat. “I have always had a little place in my heart for wood. I have been using wood while creating sculpture and jewelry for quite some time now, but it seems like in the past few years it has become more popular as an alternative material in the field. There are some artists out there making some really interesting things, “says curator and gallery owner Jim Cotter.  Along the lines of Jim’s ideas of the pushing parameters of wearable art and acceptable materials in jewelry, the artists in this exhibition push wood to extreme and the results are stunning.

Manipulating the material by cutting, carving, bending, painting, dyeing, and other techniques the artists are able to produce one of a kind art pieces that are just as unique and beautiful as they are wearable. Since wood is a lighter material than what is commonly used to make jewelry, the normal size restrictions do not apply. A very large necklace or ring that could almost be considered a small sculpture is achievable when using wood as the main material in construction. The large wearable neckpieces created by Marjorie Schick are a prime example of blurring the line between jewelry and sculpture. By utilizing the malleability of the material, Gustav Reyes constructs simple silhouettes with a Bauhaus aesthetic that also have a very sculptural feel.

An alluring contrast of materials is evident in the pieces created both by  . Brandt’s sinuous forms carved out of wood are paired with raw stones for a striking juxtaposition of smooth and rough. Contrastingly, Furman employs the raw state of wood, using sticks and bark and pairing them with the cold, mechanical feel of metal chain.

Wood is commonly used in everyday objects; from floorboards to toothpicks. Artists Margherita Marchioni and Maria Cristina Bellucci capitalize on this fact in their one of a kind pieces made out of colored pencils. Marchioni constructs neckpieces that are voluminous, airy and striking when worn. Alternatively, Bellucci bonds the colored pencils together and carves them as if they were a solid block of wood. Both methods result in work that is colorful with a touch of whimsy.

The work is all masterfully installed in large steel cases using magnets and the J. Cotter Gallery staff is accommodating in letting viewers try on pieces. The contrast between the black steel of the displays and the wooden jewelry really allows the work to pop.

“These Were Trees” showcases the variety of work that is achievable in wood. “We selected artists that approach wood as a material from many different aspects,” comments curator Theresa Hauser. “We were really excited to choose a medium that people see on an everyday basis, but our clients don’t necessarily have “wood” in their jewelry vocabulary. We have a range of aesthetics, finishes, techniques, and formats to help people get a full understanding of what artists are making.”  This exhibition is just more proof that there are not limitations of what jewelry artists are able to create.



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Tags: Bellucci, Brandt, Christine, Cotter, Cristina, Exhibition, Furman, Gallery, J., Kate, More…Marchioni, Margherita, Maria, Review, WOOD, crafthaus


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