Week 2: Cabinets of Curiosity

Text and sketches by Sketch Artist Amy Forsyth

No sooner had we returned from Echo Lake than it was time to pull our postcard together for our upcoming exhibition.  The only problem was that we haven’t really had enough time to finish anything (or maybe even start anything?) to photograph for the card. Drawing to the rescue! I suggested that I sketch everyone with an object that is representative of what they plan to work on for the next weeks. And so… here’s the sketch of us that our genius graphic designer is in the process of turning into our publicity for the exhibition and also our open studio day on July 13th.

postcard image

The drawing for our postcard.  From left to right, John-Duane Kingsley (our scholar, who will arrive for a week in July), Jacob, with a multi-material turning, Ellie, with some brightly colored wood slats that she’s glued together, Josh, with one of his one-day sculpture projects, Per, with some wood strips he’s experimenting with using steam bending, Heide, with a bent wood experiment, Hartmut, with his giant octopus tentacles emerging from behind him, and me, with my ever present sketchbook.

Per, our Swedish resident, invited us to a Midsummer dinner he prepared, as best he could, from food found in our local supermarkets. We feasted on three different kinds of pickled herring, which were tasty with sour cream and potatoes, along with more familiar foods such as smoked salmon, roasted potatoes, salad, shrimp, and a cheese platter.  The main dish is called Jansson’s Temptation, and was made of potatoes, onions, and anchovies, and served with asparagus.  We washed it all down with beer and vodka, since akvavit was not available. Heide provided some twinkle lights for mood, and there was much merriment.

One of the most exciting events of this residency is the opportunity to visit collectors and see the amazing things they’ve accumulated over the years. Many of these collectors are in the Washington, DC area, and so we were able to combine a whirlwind tour of our nation’s Capital with a visit to several collectors and friends of wood art.

We were treated to lunches, dinners, snacks, as well as food for the mind, as the collectors and wood aficionados are all extremely knowledgable and passionate about their objects and spaces.

Dc trip 1 copy

We drove through some rainstorms, Josh at the wheel, and arrived at our first stop, A Workshop of Our Own (WOO) in Baltimore, around dinner time. Here is WOO’s mission statement:

WOO’s mission is to create a professional woodworking environment which cultivates and promotes the careers of women and gender non-conforming craftspeople in our field. In doing so we aim to:

AMPLIFY OUR VOICES

BE A COLLABORATIVE SPACE FOR PROFESSIONALS

TRAIN ALL SKILL LEVELS IN A SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENT

PROVIDE APPRENTICESHIP OPPORTUNITIES

We had a tour of their facilities, and they generously provided pizza, salads, and lots of other treats for dinner, which we ate with the staff and volunteers in their outdoor picnic space between the building and the stream.  Tucked between a stream and the light rail line, their industrial site is an urban oasis, shared with other artist run venues.

Some pictures from WOO:

We then went on to our hotel in Bethesda, strategically located within a few miles of nearly all of the collectors.

Our schedule was jam packed, and very specific on timing, precise in scheduling, and had clearly been arranged by someone who knew what they were doing. We found out later that our last host, Judy, a physician and docent at the Renwick, among other impressive activities, had arranged this for us.  For the sake of the privacy of the collectors, I will not identify them. But let it suffice to say that we were overwhelmed with the quality of the objects we were invited to explore, guided by our hosts.  None of us are wood turners, which had been the original focus of this residency, but we all marveled at the craftsmanship and beauty of the turned objects we were invited to hold in our hands, and we also were thrilled to see pieces of furniture that we’d previously only seen in magazines or publications of The Furniture Society.  We also visited with some local wood artists and the Director of the Renwick Alliance at Barbara Wolanin’s house.  The ITE residents had stayed there in previous years, when Barbara’s husband, Phil Brown, used to organize this trip.  Although he passed away about a year ago, his memory is being honored by many of those whose lives he touched.  We left there with some of his rough turned bowl blanks that will become an art project. There were several more visits that day, and we were intrigued to see how different collections can be, from those who have a wide range of interests to those who are fascinated primarily by one material (wood) and all the myriad things one can do with it. We were treated to lunches and dinners and thoroughly spoiled throughout the trip.

DC trip 2

Some drawings of some of the wonderful things (and people!) we saw on our trip.

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We had a few hours between visits to stop in Washington, DC to visit the Renwick, where we saw examples of their permanent collection, and we also managed to get to the Washington Monument and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, where there was a retrospective of wood artist Ursula von Rydingsvard, whom we all admired.  There were some other outdoor wood sculptures by Foon Sham, but we only found one of them. Our last stop was at Jeff and Judy’s, where we had a delicious dinner along with a master class in wood art, much of it masterfully turned on the lathe and then often shaped and carved.  There were also beautiful baskets, and assorted other gorgeous objects. We headed back to Philadelphia after dessert, and fell into our beds around midnight, our heads full of images and ideas.  Thank you to all our generous hosts!

DC trip 3

Some more of the amazing objects we saw on our trip

Some pictures from the collections:

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And now, to work!

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