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Press Room

9/15/1999

Five New Pieces Add to the Renwick Gallery's Burgeoning Collection of Craft

Contact: Smithsonian American Art Museum's Public Affairs Office AmericanArtinfo[at]si.edu
American Art's Web site: AmericanArt.si.edu
Recorded information: (202) 633-8998


Five works by Sandra Enterline, Craig Nutt, June Schwarcz, Eddie Dominguez, and Mark Matthews are new additions to the Renwick Gallery's collection of preeminent craft. Each newly acquired piece confirms the Renwick's dedication to exploring craft's latest aesthetic and functional achievements.

Using objects discovered in tourist shops and markets near her San Francisco home, Sandra Enterline creates jewelry referencing California's gold rush days. "Mother Load," an opulent necklace given by the James Renwick Alliance, is one in a series of pieces using souvenir found objects. Displayed in a specially crafted, velvet-lined maple box, "Mother Load's" twenty glass vials contain gold dust suspended in alcohol. Each vial dangles from a series of gold rings in a chain.

Longing for a garden in his Northport, Al. home prompted Tennessee furniture maker Craig Nutt to incorporate vegetable imagery into his work. Nutt combines organic shapes, magic realism, exaggerated color, and humor with furniture-making craft. In his five-foot-high, vibrantly colored, carved and lacquered wood "Radish Salad Bowl," two large red salad bowls form the radish head. Radish leaves are salad servers, and the roots function as a table-high stand. The work was a gift of the James Renwick Alliance.

June Schwarcz explores her fascination with aesthetic form using enameled copper foil. Inspired by the fluidity of fabric, the artist first fashions a paper model to resemble the pleats and folds of cloth. Schwarcz then fires the enameled copper foil structure (translated from the paper model) two to three times to preserve the unfinished quality of the exterior. Nearly a foot high, "Vessel #2117," also a gift of the James Renwick Alliance, is a study in contrasts: The rough, almost molten surface is at odds with the polished delicacy of the salmon-colored interior.

For the last several years, Eddie Dominguez has turned his attention toward the creation of ceramic dinnerware. His pieces combine pottery, sculpture, and painting to reinforce the themes of home, family, and nourishment.

The profusion of flowers and family attention showered on Dominguez after the recent birth of his son Anton prompted the artist to create the vibrant ceramic sculpture "Anton's Flowers." The sculpture at first looks like a luxurious and bright pastel ceramic garden. But the piece also breaks into a set of dinnerware for twelve, with leaves becoming plates, stalks transforming into cups and glasses, and petals doubling as bowls.

Mingling nature photography, computer graphics and glass sculpture, glass artisan Mark Matthews represents a variety of rare wild animals in his 1998 piece, "Exotic Animal Pelt Spheres," a gift of the artist and family in honor of Francis M. Greenwell. Each of the eleven glass spheres depicts a different animal's pelt pattern. Animals include such exotic species as the Grevy's Zebra, Chinese Tiger and Reticulated Giraffe. Sphere size is directly proportional to the size of the animal represented. Opposing poles correspond to the design of the pelt's neck and tail. The spine pattern of the mammal's pelt is opposite the pattern of the stomach area on the sphere. The glass globes are organized in four diagonal rows of two to three spheres, ranging from the largest to the smallest animal.

"Exotic Animal Pelt Spheres" will premiere in the Renwick Gallery's latest exhibition, "Glass! Glorious Glass!" on view from Sept. 24, 1999, through Jan. 30, 2000, the exhibit will introduce a number of new pieces as well as showcase works from the Renwick's permanent collection.

The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum is dedicated to exhibiting American crafts of all periods and to collecting 20th-century American crafts. The Renwick is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street, near the Farragut Metrorail stations. Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily, closed Dec. 25. Admission is free. Recorded information: (202) 633-8998. Public information: (202) 357-2700 (voice); (202) 786-2393 (TTY); (202) 633-9126 (Spanish).

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