Tuesday, October 11, 2016

TOM HOLDMAN'S ROOTS OF KNOWLEDGE:Stained Glass Panorama of History by Polly Guerin

Tom Holdman, Stained Glass Artist and 'Roots of Knowledge'
The most inspiring work of art glass ever created may well be credited to the monumental "Roots of Knowledge" a panorama of history and human drama in stained glass splendor by glass artist Tom Holdman. He was commissioned to create the masterpiece, a series of 80 panels that come together in a vast undulating window that will eventually be 10 feet tall and 200 feet long, and comprising 60,000 pieces of glass.  It begins with fire. The creation of glass, an ancient process re-imagined and relevant today in a new art form, the "Roots of Knowledge" stained glass mural. This behemoth work represents years of painstaking research on the events and people that shaped humankind from the days of the woolly mammoths to the IPhone, and perhaps even more than meets the eye of the beholder.
        Illuminating Knowledge: Creating a Major Stained Glass Installation to Foster Engaged Learning at Utah Valley University is the first Artisan Lecture this fall at The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen of the City of New York, Monday, October 17th, 20 W. 44 St. Free Exhibition viewing, same day, from 11 am to 8:30 pm.  Advance registration recommended, contribution, $10,  to attend the 6:30 pm Panel Discussion and Reception. (Visit www.generalsociety.org for the other free exhibition visiting hours scheduled from October 12 to October 15.
ROOTS OF KNOWLEDGE  Stained Glass Mural utilizes the symbolism of a tree's roots connecting humanity

    This Artisan lecture will be in a panel discussion format and the program will discuss the creation of "Roots of Knowledge," a significant new work of monumental proportion that will soon be installed in the Library at Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, Utah. The mural utilizes the symbolism of a tree and the roots that flow through the windows include leaves from part of the world a section is depicting, along with a DNA strand running through the roots and connecting humanity.  Speaking at a Roots of Knowledge UVU meeting the artist said, "Our goal is to create the most inspiring piece of art glass ever created on this earth. I love the medium of glass, there is nothing else like that feeling, it just speaks."
      Roots of Knowledge invites the public's interest. It is an interactive piece. People will be able to click on a picture of the window and get more information about why the artists on the project choose certain elements."
      The program on the 17th will also touch upon the production of stained glass in New York City.
Roots of Knowledge: Conceived by Utah artist and former UVU student, Tom Holdman, and UVU President Matthew Holland, the work was commissioned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of what is today the largest public university in the state. In this program Mr. Holdman and President Holland will speak about the evolution and development as a fusion of art, education, and public spaces.
Tom Holdman  and his mural at Utah Valley University 
 Cybele Maylone, Executive Director of Urban Glass in Brooklyn, will give a short lecture, followed by a panel discussion with Tom Holdman and Kate McPherson UVU professor of English, from the Roots of Knowledge team and Rebecca Allan, moderator.

      TOM HOLDMAN:  Owns and operates Holdman Studios, Inc., located at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah. His works of art appreciated worldwide and represent many different techniques in glass. In a field where competition can be steep, he has committed himself to producing visually stunning, emotionally moving and inspiring pieces of art that stand the test of time. His journey has included enhancing edifices of all types---private and public, sacred and secular. 
     Tom Holdman is a visionary. Along with the incredible designs that fill his mind are the endless possibilities of how to use those designs to enhance the life experiences of others. Bravo to Tom Holdman, a man who overcame a speech impediment to express his genius in "Speaking Through Glass," which incidentally is also the title of a video documentary created about Tom and aired on PBS.
    Inquiries about this review may be addressed to pollytalknyc@gmail.com

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Gregory's EARTH ton-size monumental
Waylande Desantis Gregory may not be a household name but Gregory’s legacy reminds us that he was one of the most innovative and prolific leading figures in twentieth-century American ceramics and helped to shape Art Deco design in the United States. His groundbreaking techniques enabled him to create monumental ceramic sculpture such as FIRE; a ton size glazed ceramic part of a twelve piece fountain Gregory executed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair in monumental proportions. He was a remarkable visionary and by the 1930s the artist’s career mirrored the changing focus of American ceramics.                                                
PRIME MEDIUM; CERAMICS   became Gregory’s primary medium and from 1928 to 1932, he was the chief design and lead sculptor at Cowan Pottery in Rocky River, Ohio.  Gregory created some of the Pottery’s finest works including three limited edition sculptures relating to dance: Salome, Nautch Dancer and Burlesque Dancer. The last two works were based on the dancing of Gilda Grey, a well-known entertainer from Ziegfeld Follies who inspired these sculptures.  In 1931, Gregory became artist-in-residence of ceramics at Cranbrook Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Although he worked at Cranbrook for only eighteen months, Gregory produced many of his finest works there including Kansas Madonna and Girl withOlive.                                                                                                     
PORCELAIN FIGURES Gregory’s oeuvre included small porcelain figurines, candle sticks, plates and numerous decorative ware. Unlike his large sculptures, Gregory’s porcelains were molded with lush glazes. His is speckled porcelain, Cranbrook deer of 1932 relates to his earlier Art Deco style dear sculptures produced at Cowan.  Gregory’s creativity was prolific and everyday events, even sports served to inspire the artist. When he lived in Metuchen, New Jersey he was inspired by the polo games at Schley field in nearby Far Hills, New Jersey and one of his most popular figures and one of the most ultra Art Deco themes resulted in the, “Polo Player,” which  was translated into motifs for table ware and other household items as well. Zebras, another popular Art Deco theme, also invaded the subject matter in his world but the smaller porcelain sculptures were his greatest contribution to Art Deco genre. The capstone of his success; most of the leading department stores in American carried his porcelains.                                                                                                         
WORLD’S FAIR COMMISSION Commissions  poured in and one of his finest hours was the commission for the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair to produce “The Fountain of the Atom.” It was comprised of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water, surrounded by eight electrons, four male and four female. He described the electrons as “elemental little savages of boundless electric energy, dancing to the rhythm of sculptured bolts of lightning-like fashion in brilliant colored glazes, their buoyant shaped bodies of richly modeled terracotta clays in warm colors.”
PROMISING FUTURE  As early as fourteen, Gregory showed promise when he made a bust of the school principal in only six sittings, as well as a ceramic statue called “The Spirit of Athletics,” After high school her moved to Kansas City to attend the Art Institute and immediately began to receive commissions for sculptural decoration of municipal buildings and parks. He attracted the attention of Lorado Taft, a sculptor who already had a reputation as a mentor to other American sculptors. Taft invited Gregory to be his assistant and to join him at the Art Institute of Chicago. The experience with Lorado Taft led Gregory to begin thinking of ceramic sculpture on a monumental scale. Rejecting Taft’s academic style he eventually branched out on his own.

Verdura in 1930
Duke Fulco di Verdura, the legendary Marquis of Murata la Cerda was an influential jewelry designer who left his indelible mark of genius on the history of remarkable men.  Verdura was born in 1898 into a world of beauty and elegance and spent a charmed childhood in the family’s bougainvillea-covered estate, Villa Niscemi in Palermo, Italy surrounded by beautiful Sicilian and Italian palaces. 
The Early Years: In this lush background, in his European-Sicilian-Italian-Baroque family, Verdura thrived and his fertile imagination took flight inspired by the noble gardens and the small private zoo which housed two baboons and camel, named , Momo.  Nothing could have been foretold that in this extravagant setting Verdura’s vivid imagination that he would be nurtured with such vivid imagery.
   It was the era of magnificent costume parties, staged like grand operas, and Verdura, the keen observer of the circus-like events and formal dinner parties, shaped his appreciation for extravagance and beauty.  Many other youngsters in such a setting might have developed a rebellious personality, but not Verdura, he embraced it all and with every frivolity his imagination soared.
Becoming a Duke:  By the way, it is interesting to note that the aristocratic Sicilian gained the title of Duke, when his father died in August 1923. Verdura was the last to bear the now-defunct , Sicilian title of Duke of Verdura. With his most enduring role as jeweler he would leave a brilliant legacy of design excellence.  Then, too, he had a noble cousin, the prominent Sicilian Prince, the writer Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, author of the famous novel, and later the film, The Leopard.
However, despite the noble title early on Verdura was limited financially and he realized that he would have to find a profession to fill the coffers to match his lifestyle and stature in society. A Duke without means wasn’t possible for Verdura, who became a bon vivant with a sharp eye for beauty.
The famous Maltese Cross Cuffs
Verdura the Jeweler:  At a meeting in 1919 he met Linda and Cole Porter, who became two of  the early backers of his work as a jewelry designer. Fortuitously several years later at a party hosted by the Porters in their palazzo in Venice, he was introduced to Coco Chanel.  At first she hired him as a textile designer, and it was under Coco’s observation that Verdura’s talent was recognized and she persuaded him to start reworking some of the jewelry she had been given by ex-lovers including the Duke of Westminster and Russian Grand Duke Dimitri.  Voila!!! He was hired as a Chanel jewelry designer.   In addition to designing some of Chanel's iconic pieces, particularly her famous Maltese cross cuffs, he became her friend and social escort of choice. Lest we forget, Chanel was the first couture designer to show her fashions along with costume jewelry pieces that replicated fine jewelry. The cuffs, for example, were copied many times.
Verdura Bon Vivant: Verdura was among the social intelligentsia of the time and spent the late 1920s charming and being entertained and became a regular among the entourage of Picasso, Hemingway, the Rothschild’s, Josephine Baker and many others.  Verdura’s richly-inspired childhood nurtured an adult “infant terrible,” and with his sparkling conversations, wild imagination and a bon vivant's appetite for fun he was one of the most sought after party guests, and host of the thirties.
American Verdura:  In 1934, Verdura traveled to the United States with Baron Nicholas de Gunzburg and the pair drove to Hollywood where Verdura reconnected with the Porters, who introduced Verdura round
town.  It was inevitable and soon stars like Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich became loyal customers, even wearing g some of his iconic jewelry pieces, perched on the shoulder of a suit, a broach on an elegant gown or pinned on a hat worn by the glamorous sirens in the movies of the era. New York also beckoned and there he met Diana Vreeland, the legendary fashion magazine editor, who introduced him to Paul Flato and “Verdura for Flato” designs became “must haves” for society’s “ladies who lunch” or were otherwise engaged on the fund-raising circuit.  Many of Fulco’s innovative and charming  jewelry pieces were also created for personal friends like socialites Millicent Rogers,  Slim Kieth, Liz Whitney Tippet and, of course, Linda Porter. Interesting to note Babe Paley became his muse paving the way for high society success.
The Final Curtain: In 1941, Fulco was moving in another direction and collaborated with Salvador Dali for a series of jewelry designs that reflect the surrealist’s oeuvre. Verdura also designed the famous “Night and Day” cufflinks for Cole Porter who in return immortalized Verdura in the show, “Let’s Face It!”
   The Duke Fulco di Verdura had scaled the heights of success and society and sold his business in 1973 and retired to London, England where he continued to sketch and paint until his death in 1978. In 2014 Verdura  celebrated its 75th anniversary with a magnificent exhibition “The Power of Style,”  in a gallery space adjacent to Verdura’s flagship store at 745 Fifth Avenue.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


“Calligraphy: The Art of Beautiful Penmanship”
In an age when even penmanship is becoming a lost art, Bernard Maisner, a master calligrapher, upholds the time honored standards of the venerable art of fine craftsmanship in a field of creativity that commands the talent of an inspired artist.  Maisner’s skill and talent identifies his work as a virtuoso artist who has made his style of custom calligraphy recognizable worldwide. He is a modern day visionary and his distinctive execution of personalized calligraphy is synonymous with luxury and the most celebrated social events and high-end occasions.  In a recent presentation of the Artisan Lecture Series at the (GMST) General Society of Tradesmen and Craftsmen Maisner beguiled the audience with the vast scope of his distinguished career, his expertise on social calligraphy, as well as his retail line of fine stationery.  In his calligraphy Maisner brings his talent as a contemporary artist to all aspects of calligraphy. His works which have been exhibit in museum nationwide attest to his multifaceted talent.
CUSTOM STYLE  Maisner says that calligraphy has the potential to be alive in a way that typesetting can never be. His elaborately embellished letters, invitations and envelopes turn something ordinary like a plain piece of paper into a work of mesmerizing beauty. His masterful script is a combination of Spencerian and Copperplate writing with intricate flourishes and letterforms. As I watched his demonstration at the GMST lecture he mentioned that the calligraphy pens needed to warm up before being used, but after a few minutes he dipped the nip of pen into the ink pot and as he drew a guest’s name dramatic flourishes filled the page.  In 2000, Maisner began his foray in social calligraphy, creating elaborately embellished styles. On display at the GMST were samples of custom designed wedding, anniversary and epic birthday invitations, menus, party and event announcements, placecards and personal stationery—all enhanced with the flourishes of the master calligrapher
COMMERCIAL SUCCESS Maisner is sought after by major corporations that commission him to give their name or message a unique identification. If you ever looked at out-of-ordinary calligraphied advertising, logos, slogans, books, retail advertisements and even CDs you may not have realized that these were Maisner-specific creations. On another interesting note, Maisner is also sort after for his ability to create lifelike re-creations of historical writings done for fictional characters in motion pictures; writing as Daniel Day Lewis’ hand in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence. He puts a great deal of research into jobs were historical accuracy is imperative. As a result of his film work he has become a member of SAG, the Screen Actors Guild and frequently works for the movie industry writing live-on-camera and creating written document props. Case in point: He wrote on camera for a documentary film about the Oswald/Kennedy assassination.
BECOMING A CALLIGRAPHER  Maisner says that he was self-taught and his fascination with lettering began when he made signs for rock bands. “I had a lot of lettering practice in high school and was even asked to create a certificate. I used Gothic lettering.  My father saw it and thought that it was good and the next day he came home with calligraphy model books, pens, paper and inks. He encouraged me to practice every day.”  Maisner was on his fledgling way towards segueing into calligraphy and later attended the art school at Cooper Union in New York. His teacher Don Kunz was impressed that he had never met someone who had done so much on his own. Obviously with such praise, Maisner was impressed with himself and thought that he knew it all. Kunz put him in the right direction in “beginner calligraphy,” which retrained his eye and hand properly.
Maisner honed his skills over the years and  is now regarded as a prominent scholar and expert in the art of Medieval and Renaissance manuscript gold illumination techniques and has lectured at prominent museums and galleries. His works have appeared on Martha Stewart Living and in New York magazine as well as other major magazines and the Wall Street Journal as the definitive expect on social calligraphy. Visit Bernard Maisner Studio at bernardmaisner.com
For more information about the GSMT Artisan Lecture Series, held at 20 West 44th Street contact the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen at 212.840.1840, ext 2.  Or email the program director Karin Taylor at karin.taylor@generalsociety.org  Visit www.generalsociety.org.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013



Calder Shadows cast a new venue of the artist’s mobiles and stabiles in an exhibition that dramatizes kinetic shadow impressions in a group of rare Calder works.  Showcased in darkness---the ‘Venus Over Manhattan gallery in New York invites you to step into the expansive dark gallery, where each of Calder’s sculptures, created between 1929 and 1974, are lit so that its shadows become the exhibition’s subject.
WHIM OF THE LIGHT Dancing on the walls and moving at the whim of a light breeze or gently prodded  the shadows cast on the walls, ceiling, and floor of the gallery provide a fascinating interpretation of the metal forms on display.  Ever changing the wire versions become oscillating line drawings and flat metal forms become independent presences. The fascinating shadows captivate attention as the shadows seemingly change position and present an entirely different view of the object. Case in point: A mobile does not stand still and as it gently moves a new perspective of the work emerges as a different shadow version on the wall.
CALDER'S OEUVRE Calder’s mechanized works gave way to his mobiles and stabiles, sculptures that disparate metal elements, made from bent wire and flat sheet metal cut-outs were constructed with such masterful equipoise that their movements occur naturally and unpredictably in response to the energy of surrounding atmosphere.  
INSPIRATION After visiting Piet Mondrian’s studio in 1930, Calder began the experiments with abstract construction that would come to define his oeuvre. He drew inspiration from the playful work of Joan Miro and Paul Klee, making hand cranked and motorized kinetic sculptures that challenged the definition of a sculpture as a form fixed in time and space.
CALDER REMEMBERED As a student in the mid-1920s, the man who would become the celebrated sculptor, painter, illustrator, printmaker and designer, worked for the National Police Gazette newspaper and was assigned to sketch the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.  One of the artist’s most enduring beloved works, first fashioned in 1926, is his Cirque Calder; a miniature circus made from wire, string, rubber and found materials, which today resides in the Whitney Museum of Art in New York. Today his works can be seen in other prestigious museum collections.
Alexander Calder (1898-1976), the renowned American artist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and died in New York City, which often proclaims him as their own native son.
VENUS OVER MANHATTAN is located at 980 Madison Avenue, between 76th and
 77th streets, on the third floor and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday
 from 10 am-6pm. Additional info contact: info@andreaschwan.com
Polly Guerin author: The Cooper-Hewitt Dynasty of New York (History Press 2012) 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

MILLER, JOE Lyrical Landscapes By Polly Guerin

The imprint of being born and raised in the mountains of the West is perhaps the core influence of visionary painter, Joe Miller’s lyrical body of work. His boldly rendered paintings of land forms, rainwater and rivers, mountains and rocks present nature in paintings that are not a pictorial representation of place. Instead Miller’s imagination takes the viewer on a journey where the essence of the place translates into shapes, lines  and forms rendered in sun-drenched colors and pigment reborn with angularity and a mystical aura. Pictured left: "In Deep Woods." 
THE ARTSOURCE INTERNATIONAL Unique and exciting art works are presented in Joyce Towbin Chasan’s loft showroom, The Artsource International, LLC. She recently presented Joe Miller’s body of work, including paintings, watercolors and drawings in her creative exhibit space at 333 Park Avenue South, Suite 2A, New York City. Ms. Chasan, a successful gallery owner and art consultant is very selective in presenting artists and Joe Miller’s exhibit does not disappoint. The inquiring public  can view the show by appointment through November 30th; call 917.295.5016 or email joycechasan@aol.com. 

THE ESSENCE OF PLACE The artist states, “I paint from my imagination because I prefer to paint with a relatively free line with shapes and colors unrestrained from the brush and the color demands of realism.” His oeuvre creates dynamic compositions that draw the viewer into paintings that clearly take inspiration from nature, but astonish by their emphasis on minimalistic shapes and color impact. Miller works in a variety of media and infuses his work with elegant, minimal lines that evoke dynamic compositions in large- scale paintings. Pictured above: Detail from "Below the Mountain."  Check out Joe Miller’s website: joemiller4.com.
The artist says, “My imagination is excited by landscapes set above and below, and beyond the sea. As in the desert I still work from my vision.” Of his paintings Miller concludes, “These colors, shapes, marks and lines are like musical instruments capable of producing a beauty in their relationships and controlled freedom of application.” 

Saturday, October 26, 2013


THE FASHION WORLD of JEAN PAUL GAULTIER FROM the SIDEWALK to the CATWALK: This theatrical spectacle, the first international exhibition celebrating the career of the legendary French couturier Jean Paul Gaultier, who has shaped the look of contemporary fashion with his avant-garde designs, makes its only east coast stop on an international tour, organized by the MMFA, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in collaboration with Maison Jean Paul Gaultier, Paris. Where? At the Brooklyn Museum on view through February 23, 2014.  “I am proud and honored that this exhibition is presented here, where the true spirit of New York lives on. I was always fascinated by New York, its energy, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, that special view of the sky between the tall buildings,” said Gautier of the Brooklyn presentation where some mannequins seemingly come alive, their eyes blink, the lips move and the words uttered grip the viewer with uncanny realism.
THE COLLECTION This breath-taking overview of Gautier’s extensive oeuvre includes exclusive material not exhibited in previous venues of the tour, such as pieces from his recent haute couture and ready-to-wear collections and stage costumes worn by Beyonce.  The 150-piece lineup, curated by Thierry-Maxime Loriot, MMFA, includes some of Gaultier’s most iconic pieces, like Madonna’s original cone-bra bustiers and bare-breast suspenders, and looks from his collection inspired by Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn. There are several pieces that have never been exhibited before, including a glittery jumpsuit worn by Beyonce.
AVANT-GARDE DESGINS Distinctively different from traditional couture, Gaultier’savant-garde designs demonstrate a deep understand of the issues And preoccupations of today’s multicultural society. For inspiration he has turned to a variety of cultures and countercultures.  The show is organized into seven thematic sections: The Odyssey, The Boudoir, Muses, Punk Cancan, Skin Deep, Metropolis, and Urban Jungle. Accompanying the designs are sketches, excerpts from films, concerts, and dance performances, and photographs by Richard Avedon, Any Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and others---all testifying to the daring genius of Jean Paul Gaultier.
AMAZING LIFE-LIKE MANNEQUINS You will need to take a second look as the fascinating mannequins seemingly talk the talk and flirt with you. Many of the mannequins used to display Gaultier’s designs revolve to reveal all angles of an ensemble.  Some circulate on a continuously moving catwalk and many wear remarkable wigs and headdresses created by renowned hairstylist Odile Gilbert and her Atelier 68 team.  Throughout the galleries, thirty-two of the mannequins come alive with interactive faces created by technologically ingenious high-definition audiovisual projections. A dozen celebrities, including Gaultier himself, model Eve Salvail, and bass player Melissa Auf de Maur, have lent their faces and their voices to this project. The production and staging of this dynamic audio-visual element is the work of Denis Marleau and Stephanie Jasmin of UBU/Compagnie de creation of Montreal. Jolicoeur International of Quebec realized all the custom-made mannequins with different skin tones and positions.
ORIGINS OF DESIGNAs for inspiration Gaultier admits, “If I do fashion, it’s because of “Falbalas,” a movie from the 1940s, before I was born. It was about a couturier at a Paris couture house, inspired by a woman to give him the idea for a collection. He made a beautiful collection because he was in love with her. It was so explicit, so perfect in the description of the workings that when I started to work at Cardin and Jean Patou, I thought, ‘Oh, but I am in Falbalas.”’ One of the most adorable items in the show is Nana, Gaultier’s childhood teddy bear that, at age six, he customized with a cone-like bra made from newspaper pinned onto the stuffed animal. "It was before Madonna,” he said.
For his part, Gaultier hopes visitors will “not be bored but surprised and amused, and have a good time and fun.” 

Polly Guerin, author, COOPER-HEWITT DYNASTY OF NEW YORK (History Press, 2012)