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Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold

January 24 - April 27, 2003

A seductive symbol of wealth and power, gold has captured the public imagination throughout history. In the past few decades, many prominent exhibitions have displayed the glittering splendor of gold, especially ancient gold, spotlighting its ongoing social and cultural fascination. However, for all the exposure that ancient and historic gold has received, contemporary American goldsmithing has been largely overlooked in recent years. Organized by the Society of North American Goldsmiths, the upcoming exhibition Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold showcases some of the finest objects and jewelry being created by studio goldsmiths in America today.

As the first venue for this landmark exhibition, the Crocker Art Museum joins museums across the country, including the University of Richmond Museum in Richmond, Virginia, the Arkansas Art Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art in Anchorage, Alaska, in taking a closer look at contemporary American goldsmithing. The first major exhibition of its kind in twenty-five years, Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold explores the history and influences of contemporary American goldsmithing as well as current techniques and trends in the field.

Studio goldsmithing in North America—that is, the design and fabrication of objects by hand in a small studio setting— is a recent phenomenon. At the end of World War II, there were few educational programs where a student could learn the craft of jewelry-making outside of the traditional trade. These programs have gradually increased over the years and now number more than 500, and most are affiliated with art schools and university art departments. As a result, contemporary metalsmithing has forged a strong connection with the fine arts, and goldsmithing has developed into a richly diverse artistic field, with influences ranging from Pop Art and Neo- Expressionism to Minimalism and Conceptual Art. At the same time, contemporary goldsmithing maintains a strong sense of traditional craftsmanship and its unique historical lineage.

Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold includes 120 objects. While the majority of the work in the exhibition is jewelry, ten to fifteen of the objects in the exhibition are hollowware, vessels, small sculpture, and other nonjewelry items. Some jewelry pieces include stones and precious gems in their designs, however, they are not objects in which gold is merely a backdrop or frame for other elements. In all of the pieces throughout the exhibition, gold is the essential focus, in all its classic brilliance and distinctive contemporary forms.

The exhibition includes a cross-section of nationally acclaimed artists and goldsmiths. The artists on display include Barbara Ritter, who brings a contemporary interpretation to traditional jewelry forms; Judith Kaufman, who uses a wide variety of precious stones to accent the luxury of gold; Lisa Gralnick, who creates poetic objects often based on literary text, Gary Nofke, who specializes in surface embellishment using chasing and repoussé, and Mary Lee Hu, who has pioneered the use of textile techniques in woven gold wire and other metals.

To complement the national scope of the exhibition, the Crocker Art Museum has organized a California component of the exhibition, showcasing the work of local and regional goldsmiths, with artists representing the wide array of geographic diversity throughout the state. In the California component of the exhibition, there are forty gold artists, including Petra Class, Marilyn and Jack daSilva, Jennifer Fecker, and Shahasp Valentine, all from the San Francisco Bay Area; Kent Raible, whose studio is located in Nevada City; and Alexandra Hart and Marianne Hunter, who live and work in southern California.

Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold celebrates the inventiveness of contemporary goldsmiths and the beauty of traditional materials and processes. For audiences, Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold is an unprecedented opportunity to discover the unique and exciting field of contemporary American goldsmithing.

This exhibition is sponsored by
Creative Arts League of Sacramento.
The Creative Arts League of Sacramento(CAL) was formed in 1952 when ten women joined together for the purpose of exhibiting the work of local contemporary artists. At that time, there were no private galleries in the Sacramento area, and regional artists had difficulty finding a location to show their work.

Through 50 years of dedication and support of the visual arts, CAL has provided countless artists with opportunities to display their works and has encouraged other artists to share their talents. CAL has raised thousands of dollars to bring exhibitions of importance to the Crocker Art Museum, including California Crafts XIV and XV, Ruth Rippon Retrospective, Living Treasures of California and Material Witness—Masters from California Crafts.

The Crocker Art Museum is grateful to the Creative Arts League for continuing its mission by making possible Beyond the Mines: The Art of Gold, on view at the Crocker from January 24—April 27, 2003.

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216 O Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

General Information: 916.808.7000
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