Tag Archives: gallery loupe

A Wrap Up:  The Opulent Project

By Misha Kahn

Apologies for the time lapse on this review; in movie like form, Kellie and I ran into each other at JFK, and I got bumped and rerouted to go with her to New Orleans for Christmas – so the distraction was mutual, and now fully rested, we’re ready to blog! 


As always, there’s something wonderful and challenging about viewing work from younger artists. Usually the challenge is that you start striking connections between your own work and your peers with whom you have a charged relationship, unsure if the direction is valid or progressive.  In this case, Meg Drinkwater and Erin Gardner’s reverence to antiquated ornament is one I can relate to and struggle with myself.  In contemporizing their chosen forms they bring in some exciting new ideas about how jewelry fits into American society.  The work steers clear of gaudy – and even finds a way to present ornament as non-ornament in a sense (hint: paint the wall to match your own ornament to achieve this affect at home!)

The wallpapered wall in a print of a patterned cube in perspective – a familiar pattern of Italian marble floors and a reoccurring visual reference of the likes of Babetto and other Padovan goldsmiths – begs the question of whether the wall itself was as singular piece, or simply a clever way to display the scattered and camouflaged pieces. This optical challenge played into one of my favorite types of unconventional display in the field; I like to call this “find the jewelry,” where the viewer is forced to approach and interact more closely with objects through some sort of slight trickery.  With jewelry’s small scale, it can be hard to draw people in close enough to really examine a singular piece individually.  With that said, Drinkwater and Gardner’s installation was a fairly effective ploy to get the viewer to look more closely at each jewel. Like chameleons, earrings were powder coated and painted with the same geometric pattern of the wallpaper.

The choice of this almost Escher-esque parquet as a two-dimensional formal reference was strong, as the work feels young and a bit op-arty even though it’s a much older pattern, allowing it to be paired more logically with the silhouettes of the jewelry.

During the show opening, Erin swooped in to show me how the necklaces and earrings can share parts, with pendants from one necklace able to de-attach and clip onto the companion earrings.  Another necklace had a brooch pin on the back with a detachable chain.

This transformation was both engaging and humorously aware of the current economic recession (not sure that contemporary jewelry and the economy are so entangled, but at least it’s paying attention). Somehow this sentiment of frugality also leads into the thought that to own one necklace or ring from the wall was to own part of something larger.  No one wearer could solely own the entirety of this work – one has to willingly accept that your piece relates to others, as all the pieces share parts of the larger pattern.  At least to my naïve eyes, I think American culture is becoming slightly more okay with a transforming sense of the individual. The new individual understands their uniqueness through a lens of being part of a larger group – which is how the jewelry on this wall related to each other.

The plastic laser cut earrings also on exhibition exist in an interesting place in the context of the high priced world of art jewelry; a work you can take home for around $30 shares a roof with other objects that might be worth more than any of the cars I’ve ever owned.  THIS ALWAYS WORKS, and here’s why:  a true bred American is only capable of thinking about whether they like something through imagining owning it – and when one can actually own something, it makes the imagination of owning the other, more expensive works, more vivid.  Of course in the design world, this is more expected, with Droog offering easily produced objects for 20 bucks alongside their more in depth conceptual work, or Murikami opening a Louis Vuitton store inside LACMA alongside his “artwork.”

I think the component which can make this relationship stronger, is when the two feel like they have a sibling relationship – where one feels related but slightly less developed.  And in this case, and even though the ties between ornament and silhouette where there, I wasn’t really able to figure out how the two types of pieces went together.  Visually, the plastic earrings (hung on a white wall) presented vivid colors against a blank, while alternatively, the contrast between the visual delicacy of the camouflage work drew the eye in to the other, and what seemed like the less exciting wall overall… I’m still pondering if the two relate in a really logical way or really if they have to.

I will also briefly mention that although the delicate lines were well executed, the modern silhouettes of classical jewelry ain’t the most revolutionary of ideas (see Islay Taylor, Constanze Schreiber, etc).

Perhaps my favorite piece, which I think did exist between the two semi-disparate projects, was a pair of earrings made of dipped clear plastic. These magical earrings reexamined the idea of the historical silhouette and added a dash of industrial design fin model, slightly asymmetrical and drippy.  Basically each of these elements are a semi-surefire way to make any object visually appealing; this sounds like knock against the Opulent Project, but really it isn’t; it’s good and simple decision making. All together, the effect adds up to an enticing ice-palace treat; perhaps even a humorous nod to the camouflage wall as well, as a see-through earring might just reflect the color of the wearers ear and become a bit surreal.

If you also look forward to seeing what the Opulent Project will come up with in the future, follow them here:

To view photos from the exhibition opening, please visit Gallery Loupe’s Facebook page —> here

Misha Kahn,  RISD BFA Furniture ’11 and Fulbright Fellow, Israel 2011-12, lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

To see a previous review written by Misha, please click ——> here

The following is a delightful review of Gallery Loupe’s recent show, The Birthday Boys by ≥’s first guest writer (!), Misha Kahn. Please see the previous post for photos. 

Kellie was visiting me in NYC, over at my house trying to convince me to get on approximately 15 trains to go look at tiny things in Montclair, New Jersey.  It was one of those Saturday afternoons that puts you into a sleepy daze, the kind that doesn’t make you want to trek out into the boonies for really anything one ain’t able to afford.  But after a bit of convincing I came along –  I’m not entirely unfamiliar with contemporary jewelry, but my understanding of it is largely through an easy comparison to my own playing field – furniture.  It’s a similar set of problems, mostly peoples’ curiously rigid logic that design or craft or art should all get processed in different parts of the brain.  Sure, aesthetics can translate but at the end of the day that little pin-back or those four legs force it into some other part of cerebral processing.  And, rather hypocritically, I process most of these types of “craft” media in terms of whether or not I want to own it, wear it, or put it in my house.  Unlike most people though my fantasy shopping isn’t limited by comfort or practicality or really any pragmatic concerns that the mainstream would use to evaluate “design” objects.  

Let me tell you, I wanted everything at this show.  Now, let me tell you why:

The Birthday Boys’ work was divided diagonally down the gallery, between a line of optically perplexing mirrored structures with delicate metal feelers on one side and little nuggets of perfection on the other, part memphis part maquette part tiny silly color texture pattern blocked objet d’brooch.

Peter Skubic’s mirrored mini chosms where like tiny little fun houses for your lapel.   The way they reflected your face, fragmenting it and introducing your neighbors faces and body parts, re- configuring them felt reminiscent of a Hockney joiner or cubist painting.  This way of seeing makes so much sense, because we never really see anything without processing it, introducing our own knowledge and memories of what surrounds us.  These brooches function as glasses for seeing how we see –  allowing us to see the room unpeiced, before our brain assembles these parts.  The delicate feelers reaching out had the effect of an antanea, making sure the wearer didn’t bump into anything too close, but it’s easily altered forms become a memory of the space that the object has encountered, recording each of its run ins with its new, altered shapes.  The pieces become a collection of memories, those recorded, and those of the moment, deconstructed and put on view.  This to me seemed a more than valid justification for making a slew of objects that for all intensive purposes where quite similar.  Because they were about this alteration of space, and this shattered view they worked more strongly in this extensive line up.

Although within contemporary jewelry there is no surprise when an object falls outside the mainstream convention of sparkly/shiny/precious, and since the other Birthday Boy was working with such high, reflective sheen, Thomas Gentilles felt extra fresh.  Because of this, his work seemed even more reminiscent of the Memphis response to the largely chromed, sleek furniture of the early 80’s.  His use of color, mixing pattern and play between angular construction and more imaginative shape and proportion added to this connection.  However, on this scale the play between shape and pattern became far more engaging.  As much as I hate to ever call things architectural, being as unimaginative as saying “it’s nice”- these brooches had some qualities of miniatures that forced this connection.  Trying to imagine them blown up I was displeased, but at their current size, with the detailed prints of shattered eggshell they felt like pocket size maps to imaginary worlds.  It was as though he discovered some secret area where a miniature only works at that size – a rarity in the object world where scale is frequently arbitrary or as large as the market will allow.  In this brooches he created the effect of a window – functioning in such an abstract way – that one might be looking at Gentille’s world from a 10,000 foot altitude or standing so close its about to go out of focus.

Gentille’s play of scale and distance in conjunction with Skubics alteration of vision and memory made a show that left you in a blissful imaginative daze.  Wandering back into the streets of suburban New Jersey feeling adjacent to standard space and time — all conjured by something to wear that on a Lapel – that is really something.

Misha Kahn,  RISD BFA Furniture ’11 and Fulbright Fellow, Israel 2011-12, lives and works in Brooklyn (surprise!), New York. 

THE BIRTHDAY BOYS – Thomas Gentille and Peter SkubicGallery Loupe in Montcair, New Jersey, Oct 09 – Oct 30, 2012

the following photos are from the opening on oct. 20th

more info to come about the pieces on display ! 

both artists will be speaking at Brooklyn Metal Works on Oct. 21st. click —–> here for more info!