Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Obects of Inspiration

In 1928, Virginia Wolf wrote an essay called “A Room of One’s Own". She argued that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. Since then, the concept of “A Room of One’s Own” has become a sort of shorthand to describe the need that artists of all persuasions share; the need to create an oasis, a sacred and inspiring space where they can work away from the disturbances and interruptions of daily life.

As professional artists, most of us at Spectrum Art and Jewelry have our own rooms or studios (I’m one of the rare exceptions—these days the gallery doubles as my studio). But how do you create the feeling of a room of one’s own, if you don’t actually have a room? How about with a few objects of your own?

Naturally, inside any art studio you will find the tools and materials that artist needs to create: paints, brushes, glass, tools, buttons, canvases, metals, and stones. But what else will you find? Objects. Those special iconic pieces that transport us, encourage us, and serve as muses that connect us to our source of creativity.

Seashells are a great object to inspire creativity. Simply holding them or looking at them can take you back to the ocean and that feeling of connection to Nature and Spirit. Rocks and beach glass fragments are also wonderful natural objects to keep close by. Conni Mainne keeps her pulse on nature by working in a room with a great view of the Pacific Ocean, while Ann Hair’s favorite nature-inspired object is a cobalt blue vase filled with sunflowers.

Travel photos, family photos and postcards are another great way to inspire your creativity. Family heirlooms that evoke special memories can also get the creative juices flowing: Kristen Gibson keeps her grandmother’s teapots, her first pair of glasses, and vintage linens nearby while she paints.

Looking at books, magazines, and other people’s artwork can also spark great, new ideas. And many of our artists listen to music while they create.

You don’t have to wait for a room of your own, to unleash your creativity—surround yourself with inspiring objects and let your imagination soar!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Art Star of the Week: Eric McRay

Star here: I first met Eric McRay at an Open Studio Event in Raleigh many years ago. As I recall, he was speaking on the phone as I admired his work. I was about to slip out of the studio, when he finished his call, looked up with a smile, and asked me: “So, what’s your favorite?” To paraphrase that line from Jerry Maguire: He had me at ‘So…’
A wonderful professional working relationship was born from that first conversation. As to choosing a favorite, that’s a tough thing to do. I admire Eric’s use of pure color and his splashy, playful style. Here’s a little more insight into the expressive Eric McRay:

Star: Describe yourself in three words.
Eric McRay: Ambitious, Passionate, and Independent

Star: What other jobs have you held besides artist?
Eric McRay: Personal Financial Analyst, Computer Salesman, and Housekeeping Supervisor.

Star: Who are your major influences?
Eric McRay: Picasso, Andy Warhol, Matisse, Romare Bearden, Robert Motherwell, and Peter Max.

Star: In what other areas of your life do you let your artistry shine?
Eric McRay: Gardening.

Star: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Eric McRay: Reading comic books.

Star: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Eric McRay: A robot body so I would never have to sleep or eat. I could perpetually make art.

Star: What’s your personal motto?
Eric McRay: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp”.

Star: Complete this sentence: My life is…
Eric McRay:…a dream come true.

Star: How about this one? Art is…
Eric McRay:… my life.

Star: What’s the best advice you could give to a new artist?
Eric McRay: Develop a thick skin, be disciplined, and never give up.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Causeway Cacciatore

By Nicole Wilkinson

Putting a coastal spin on an old recipe, I have changed some ingredients and added others. Serve over a bed of white rice.

1 15oz can stewed tomatoes
1 medium vidalia onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped,
1/2 cup of mushrooms (buttons cut in half)
1 chopped rib of celery
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic

Place all in a stock pot and simmer over high heat for 20 mins. Once onions are soft, add 1 lb of fresh peeled shrimp and 1 8oz grouper filet cut into chunks. Cover pot with lid, reduce temp to low/medium on the stove and let simmer for 15 mins.

Serve immediately over white steamed rice.

To see more of my original and collected recipes, CLICK HERE!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Everything Old Is New Again: Customer Testimonial

Star here: What do you do when you inherit a piece of antique jewelry that’s not your style? Read how we helped one of our customers, Debbie Shegog, create a new piece that reflected her modern style while still honoring the past:

I majored in Art Education at East Carolina University, and jewelry-making was my preferred medium. Consequently, I have a strong appreciation for quality design, and I recognize a good jewelry artist when I see one. Star’s gallery, Spectrum Art and Jewelry, is one of the best I have ever encountered. Star is not only a talented jewelry designer, but also a wonderful business woman. Her staff members (all artists themselves) are knowledgeable, responsive, and professional, making each visit to the gallery a delight.

My primary residence is a farmhouse about two-and-a-half hours away, but my family also has a home at the beach. Whenever we’re staying at the beach house, I make it a point to visit Spectrum Art and Jewelry at least once a week. Between the ever-changing collections, the special events the gallery hosts, and unique programs like the Jewelry Box Review (which I’m dying to do!), there are plenty of reasons to drop in.

Over the years, I have purchased gifts, jewelry, and artwork for our homes, but I consider my collaboration with Star on a custom-designed ring as my favorite:

My great Aunt on my father’s side was a very interesting woman. Born at the turn of the century, she worked as a journalist, living first in Virginia and later in Kingsport, Tennessee. She married, but never had children. My aunt did, however, take a shine to me and my younger sister. In later years,=20 after losing her husband, my aunt became reclusive and increasingly eccentric. As a result, we lost touch. But when she passed away, she remembered us, leaving beautiful rings to both me and my sister.

My ring was a large, clear diamond set in a very traditional platinum setting. Although I recognized the quality of the diamond, the setting did not reflect my personal style and more modern sensibilities. I took the ring to Star and we collaborated together on creating a new design to showcase the diamond.

Star had great ideas; she suggested keeping one side of the ring in the traditional platinum style and melding it with a modern yellow gold look on the other side. The ring is now a fusion between the past and the present, representing my family history but also reflecting the modern life I’ve created for my own family. I wear the ring all of the time, and get many compliments from people who admire its unique custom design. I love that my ring tells the story of my great Aunt who led an untraditional life for a woman 20 in her day. It also tells my story of a woman who loves art and jewelry design, but who loves family even more. I hope this special ring will be a family heirloom for generations of women to come. —Debbie Sheegog

Monday, October 12, 2009

Art Star of the Week: Anne Boysen

Star here: I first met artist Anne Boysen at an art show in Philadelphia. I fell in love with abstracted floral paintings because of their incredible, spontaneous energy and vibrant color.

Anne lives in a huge, historic home in Germantown that is stuffed to the gills with her artwork. I have the great pleasure of staying with her twice a year when I travel to art shows in her area. It is always an adventure to visit her and a delightful challenge to pick out my favorite paintings to bring back to the gallery (I want so many!). Here’s more about the vivacious Anne Boysen:

Star: Describe yourself in three words.
Anne Boysen: Spontaneous, resilient, energetic.

Star: What was your childhood ambition?
Anne Boysen: To be a ballet dancer.

Star: What other jobs have you held besides artist?
Anne Boysen: Handywoman, Sales, Toy Demonstrator, Psychologist, and Banker.

Star: In what other areas of your life do you let your artistry shine?
Anne Boysen: Cooking, decorating ideas, gardening, and my wardrobe.

Star: How would you describe your fashion style?
Anne Boysen: Early thrift store with Spectrum jewelry.

Star: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Anne Boysen: Breakfast at MacDonald’s.

Star: So far, what’s been your proudest moment?
Anne Boysen: A book, Art of Exuberance, published about my artwork.

Star: What’s your personal motto?
Anne Boysen: Keep on truckin'.

Star: Complete this sentence: My life is…
Anne Boysen:…great, I'm lucky to be an artist doing what I want to do.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art Star of the Week: Rollin Karg

Star here: Studio glass artists are like the rock stars of the art world. Assembling a big, heavy glass art creation requires an entire band of players working in concert. It’s an edgy, dangerous, and sweaty undertaking, which makes it all the more hip and glamorous to fans of the craft. I’ve carried Rollin Karg’s glass artwork in our store for almost ten years. He’s shared a number of video productions with us to demonstrate just how involved each project is. His art glass has become a perennial favorite with our customers. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that there’s a little bit of rock and roll in Rollin’s soul (and his wardrobe). Here’s what I uncovered in my recent “Art Star” interview with the impressive Rollin Karg:

Star: Give us a few words that describe you.
Rollin Karg: Old, talented, alive, fisherman.

Star: What was your childhood ambition?
Rollin Karg: To be a forest ranger.

Star: When the well runs dry, how do you recharge your creativity?
Rollin Karg: I go fishing.

Star: What’s the best advice you could give to a new artist?
Rollin Karg: Become an accountant. (joking)

Star: Which artists do you most admire?
Rollin Karg: Paley, Van Gogh, and Gaugin.

Star: In what other areas of your life, do you let your artistry shine?
Rollin Karg: When I’m fishing.

Star: Is that when your best ideas come to you?
Rollin Karg: Yes, but also when I’m flying, driving or listening to music.

Star: Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
Rollin Karg: The Everglades.

Star: What’s your most cherished item in your wardrobe?
Rollin Karg: A Rolling Stones hat.

Star: Do you listen to music when you create?
Rollin Karg: Yes; Rock ‘n roll, R&B, and Classical

Star: What’s your personal motto?
Rollin Karg: Go for it!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Don’t Read My Lips; Read My Jewelry!

Most often we think of jewelry as beautiful decoration or adornment, but jewelry also has the power to communicate important messages. Recently, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has brought this idea to the spotlight with her book Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box , which has been published in conjunction with the Museum of Arts and Design’s first major exhibition of jewelry from Ms. Albright’s personal collection.

In 1997, Albright was named the first female secretary of state and became, at that time, the highest ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government. While serving under President Bill Clinton, first as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and then as secretary of state, Albright became known for wearing brooches that purposefully conveyed her views about the situation at hand.

It all started when Albright criticized Saddam Hussein. Hussein’s poet in residence responded by calling her "an unparalleled serpent." Shortly thereafter, while preparing to meet with Iraqi officials, Albright decided to make a diplomatic statement by wearing a snake pin she happened to have in her jewelry box.

From that day forward, pins became part of Albright's diplomatic communication. She used them to convey all kinds of messages. Lauren Collins, journalist for The New Yorker who profiled Albright’s new book writes, “A stalled negotiation might have elicited from her jewelry box a tortoise in lapis lazuli; a friendly summit, the dandelion with a moonstone for its puff; a contentious encounter, a turquoise wasp or a copper-pincered crab.” Visit TheNewYorker.com to see a slideshow of some of Albright’s pins: Ms. Albright says: "Before long, and without intending it, I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal. Former president George H. W. Bush had been known for saying 'Read my lips.' I began urging colleagues and reporters to 'Read my pins.'"

The Huffington Post reports that: “The nation's 64th secretary of state became so famous for her pin diplomacy that when she wore a necklace to a nonpolitical event where she was the featured speaker, the organizer insisted the secretary go out and buy a brooch before taking the podium. Albright, now a professor at Georgetown University, is said to have complied.”

Not surprisingly, Albright’s pin collection is both international and democratic, including not just designer creations, but also family heirlooms and dime-store costume jewelry.

Do you have a piece of jewelry that you wear in certain situations, or that you feel says something about you? Please share your story with us here in the comments. We look forward to “reading” your pins and rings and necklaces too.