A Copper Alliance Member
Copper in the Arts
Issue #36: April '10 - Cont'd
Phoebe Adams Fine Art: Finding the Balance
Picassos that inspired her to become a sculptor, work she has designed out of blown glass and cast bronze can be found on display. Her work is seen every day in collections in the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan and the Guggenheim. Often conceptual, her work is inspired by organic imagery and pokes fun at the ambiguity of language. Whether evoking a strand of DNA or ironic turns of phrase, her sculptures echo a love of science-fiction; the bulbs of color often serve to soften the metallic, sci-fi edginess.Phoebe Adams is a visual artist who has had a high-arching career in fine art and sculpture. In the very same museums where she first saw the original
Growing up in the suburbs of New York City and fascinated by the natural sciences, Adams originally played with the idea of becoming an archeologist. She cracks herself up telling the story of her first expedition, organizing a gaggle of neighborhood kids to dig up her backyard. Her father, who clearly had a sense of humor, arrived home to find an open pit with catwalk planks suspending the now-uncovered sewage system. “I had dug up all the septic system and pipes and everything else,” says Adams, remembering that her father had laughed until he had tears in his eyes. “That was the end of archaeology for me.”
Kutztown University in eastern Pennsylvania. Although she never originally set out to teach and has admittedly sacrificed in order to do so, her passion for teaching is clear. Especially when she tells stories of teaching her sculpture students to avoid the runaround and negotiate for scrap in the junkyard.Having had a high-soaring career in fine art, Adams—now in her fifties—is finding a lot of her political, personal and feminist joy teaching her craft to young people at
“Politically,” Adams says, “teaching is one of the most important things I’ve done in my life.” She boasts about her students’ matriculation to VCU, Cal Arts and the Chicago Art Institute, some of the finest art schools in the country. But she is also quick to point out that she realizes that devotion to students requires a sacrifice on her part. Although she may not reap the outward rewards an artist hopes for—such as a solo show in Manhattan—she knows she has made a huge difference by giving her students real world counsel that will help them become truly successful. “It just doesn’t get me into the Whitney,” she laughs.
Between her efforts in voracious reading (she usually keeps her pace at a book a week) and teaching, Adams still does find time for her own work. In the Balance, a sculpture depicting her feelings in the balance between youth and old age, is made from carved wood, bronze and horse hair. The base is glazed to look like stone, with the distinct bodily quality sitting above with its horsehair pigtails. The bronze was cast in lost wax and then decorated with white to create the final effect.
Phoebe Adams continues to experiment with new ways of creating form in stone, bronze and other media. Recently she has been experimenting with wood turning, and is creating a piece that includes an eight-foot wide stone wall about the “real estate” of the body.
“It’s a life,” she says about her artistry in application. “I’m not making donuts. I am an adventurer trying to go to new places.”
Phoebe Adams Demonstrates Creating Bronze Sculpture Pieces Using The Lost Wax ProcessBack to Top
Rob Koehl: Serendipity Through Copper
Rob Koehl came by his love of working with metal at an early age, watching his father casting iron in the sweltering heat of his forge.
“My dad, when I was a kid, used to cast iron," recalls Koehl. "So, I grew up watching him work, from outside his foundry. After the day’s work was done, I’d watch him empty the furnace at night and you’d see all the sparks flying everywhere. On weekends, Dad would go in and grind some of the flashing off the moulds, and the sparks would fly. So I had that experience as a young kid, then I went to college and made the compromise. I wanted to study art, but thought I should be in business, so I found myself in graphic design. It didn’t take long to find out I didn’t like doing what other people told me when it came to being creative."
Ohio University had a good bronze casting program, and Koehl shifted his focus to sculpture. Through a recommendation from a professor, Koehl met a blacksmith and watched him create an angel fish out a piece of copper by hammering the sheet to make its form, and the seed was planted.
"I know a lot of people tend to come to copper sculpting through jewelry, but for me it was through blacksmithing,” explains Koehl.
Blacksmithing requires working the metal hot, but Koehl liked working with copper when it’s cold.
Koehl currently works in his Cottonwood, Arizona studio, and purchases his copper materials from Quick Ship Metals. To broaden the marketability of his work, Koehl is moving beyond the purely artistic, combining functionality with a copper sculpture that serves a useful purpose as well as being aesthetically pleasing. His concept is to have copper kinetic sculptures that use solar and wind power to charge a laptop or cell phone.
“You’d have a piece of art works off the wind----basically a pretty windmill that would put out enough DC current, maybe with a battery to store up a little bit of current that you could," he says. "I’m tinkering with that a little bit. It's probably not going to be completed in the next six months, but I’m working on it."
Rob Koehl, 1904 S. Contention Lane, Cottonwood, AZ, (928) 282-5028Back to Top
Copper in the Arts: HISTORY
Gary Rosenthal Collection: Contemporary Judaica Art Rooted in Tradition
Gary Rosenthal dropped out of college for a year to work for his father, a stove repairman, he never knew it would ignite his affinity for copper. But one day, when Rosenthal was torching a cast iron stove's heavy grates, something clicked.When
“I pretty much I fell in love with fire at that point,” he says offhandedly. During this time he also tinkered with metal sculpting, then went back to college to obtain his degree in Industrial Labor Relations from Cornell University. He showed his handiwork to a metal artist professor who bluntly told Rosenthal he didn’t possess any sense of aesthetics, color, form, light or shape. As he waited for the final insult, the professor said, “People are going to love your work and it will sell like crazy.”
Today, that has proven to be an understatement.
“I’m self taught, but I have a knack for making things people like,” Rosenthal admits. He started making artistic pieces out of copper sheets, cut nails and steel rods; figurines of “people doing things,” as he puts it. Like a fully formed one inch figure “skiing” down white limestone, or a 50 pound rock with two figures on it with a thin copper wire between them so they looked like rock climbers. He was showing his work at a Jewish community center in Baltimore and someone asked him to make a menorah. So he set out to make several, and they all sold out like proverbial hotcakes. Rosenthal soon realized his niche and quickly filled the need for people in search of handmade copper Judaica, like menorahs, candlesticks, goblets, Seder plates and other objects for use in temple ceremonies or in someone’s home.
“We were ahead of the curve and we dominated the market,” he says. “After WWII America became such a nice open place to live that people began to feel comfortable and at that point Judaica was a market niche that needed to be filled. I know the houses were empty of Judacia because mine was.” At his zenith he employed 50 people working overtime to keep up with demand. “When I first got started I went to the junk yard and got copper scrap, but now we buy a couple of tons of sheet copper each year,” he says. That sheet is often 16 or 20 ounce from roofing supply companies, even up to 1/8 inch plate. But copper markets have changed and copper is now sourced from all over. “I prefer to get materials from this country as it’s been my experience that the quality is higher,” he admits, speaking of some frustrating experience with foreign brass. For his sheets he will cut it down, punch it out to create details on his pieces, even using 3/8 diameter copper wire. And his collection of Judaicia is very contemporary, exuding a playfulness with his use of form and colored copper, something his old art professor would be proud of.
All the U.S. presidents since Jimmy Carter, and other heads of state, have received his work as gifts from other heads of state. Recently a group of Jewish diplomats on the way to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Morocco commissioned Gary to make a set of dreidels each with personalized plates the tops can spin on, which were then given to prime ministers. “Of all the metals we work with, stainless steel, bronze and brass, copper’s my favorite, the way it looks, the way we can color it both hot and cold,” he says. “You go all the way back to the original ark of the covenant and copper was used on it.” Copper therefore has a sacred background. “For me, its God’s metal,” he says.
Is addition to finding his work at stores nationwide, his work is also available in such noted museum gift shops like the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery, Corning Museum of Glass in New York, the American Craft Museum, Skirball Museum of Culture in Los Angeles, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The Gary Rosenthal Collection, 4218 Howard Ave., Kensington, MD, (301) 493-5577Back to Top
Copper in the Arts: NEWS
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University Receives Two Major Bronze Sculpture Acquisitions - April 05, 2010
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University recently announced the addition of major works to its collection, including two acquisitions of sculpture by artists Isamu Noguchi and Magdalena Abakanowicz.
The sculptures by Noguchi and Abakanowicz enhance a collection of 20th-century sculpture that already includes works displayed at the museum and throughout campus by artists such as Joan Miró, George Segal, Jacques Lipchitz, Gaston Lachaise, Elie Nadelman, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, Henry Moore, and Jean Arp.
“Thanks to our longtime loyal friends and to new donors, I am happy to say that we added 160 works to the collection in 2009,” said Thomas K. Seligman, director of the Cantor Arts Center. “Late last year, gifts enabled the acquisition of the Isamu Noguchi bronze sculpture Victim, one of the most significant acquisitions the Center has made during my 18-year tenure as director, plus the marvelous sculpture Sage E by Magdalena Abakanowicz, and an important series of prints by Warhol. With acquisitions such as these, we are exponentially raising the quality of the Center’s collection, which will provide for future engaging and educational presentations.”
A work by innovative Asian-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi has long been on the museum’s wish list. Victim was cast shortly before Noguchi’s death in 1988 and is number four in an edition of six bronzes that was first produced in 1962. The son of a Japanese poet and an American translator, Noguchi is well known for his work, which includes landscape architecture, stage sets, and mass-produced lamps and furniture. Born in Los Angeles and trained in Europe, Noguchi traveled to Japan during his lifetime and was exquisitely attuned to issues of Japanese-American relations.
In Victim, Noguchi wedded the characteristic simplicity of his design with a profound evocation of despair to create a sculpture that speaks silently and eloquently about the tragedy of war, devastation, and inhumanity. Victim has entered the collection thanks to donors Jill and John Freidenrich, Deedee and Burton McMurtry, Marilynn and Carl Thoma, and Bobbie and Mike Wilsey, and Cantor Arts Center funds.
Abakanowicz, born in Poland in 1930, has created sculptures that profoundly reflect the years of war and oppression that she witnessed as a child and in her life behind the Iron Curtain.
“Although her art stems from her personal history, the figures she creates partake of universal artistic language relating to themes of alienation, individualism, and community,” explained Hilarie Faberman, curator of modern and contemporary art. “Sage E is one of a number of seated, headless torsos inspired by a group of sculptures originally made in burlap. When realized in bronze in 1990, the form was simplified — the hands were placed on the figure's lap and melded into the knees, making the subject more monolithic and iconic. As in many of Abakanowicz's works, the ceramic shell remains on the roughly textured surface; this patination gives the work the appearance of having just been excavated.” The acquisition of Sage E was made possible by a bequest from Jane B. Miller and the Center’s Modern and Contemporary Art Fund.
Sage E by Abakanowicz and Victim by Noguchi are on view in the museum’s H. L. Kwee Galleria.
Cantor Arts Center Stanford University, 328 Lomita Dr., Stanford, CA, (650) 723-4177Back to Top