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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Renwick sparkles with 40 at 40



Joseph Foster Ellis (b.1984) China Tree 2012, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie

You will not be bored.
And your companions will thank you.
It's a fantastic show for all ages in celebration of the Renwick Gallery's 40th birthday.
What?  The Renwick is only 40 years old?
Yes, it does seem like it's been around much longer, doesn't it? But never mind and see the show.  The mental refreshment is more than worth it.
Okay, enough with the plaudits already, what's it about?
40 under 40: Craft Futures are works by 40 artists, all under the age of 40, whose pieces were chosen from 2,000 nominees for inclusion in the Renwick's anniversary special, and it features only art created since September 11, 2001. 
Fashion, silver, textiles, sculpture, jewelry, glass, whimsy, you name it, and you can probably find it in the exhibition. The galleries rebound with energy, excitement and imagination stimulation. 

The artist, Olek (b. 1978) is interviewed at her work, Knitting is for Pus**** 2005-2011 with living model in the background/Patricia Leslie
Mia Perlman (b.1974) One 2012, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie
Mia Perlman (b.1974) One 2012, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie
Unlike much contemporary art or what you might expect of productions created by young artists, harsh and bleak are not what guests will find at the Renwick, although war is a subject chosen by some who have grown up in "a nation perpetually on edge."  Many of the artists portray exuberance and contradict the dark vision one finds so often in venues with modern content.  The future is not as dim as some want us to believe.
Jeff Garner (b. 1978) Black Ostrich Dress 2011, courtesy of the artist/Patricia Leslie
Jeff Garner (b. 1978), Men's Quilted Coat 2011, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Elmerina and Paul Parkman in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the 30th anniversary of the James Renwick Alliance/Patricia Leslie
 According to a statement from the Renwick, the exhibition “reflects the changed world that exists today, which poses new challenges and considerations for artists."
The display embraces renderings which illustrate society's present romance with “sustainability” and  “handmade.”

Jenny Hart (b. 1972), La Llorona 2005, Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of the artist in honor of Lyle C. and LeJean D. Hart/Patricia Leslie
 This is an excellent show to introduce children to art exhibitions for neither is it too large nor too overwhelming to grasp different materials and designs.  They will be intrigued (just like adults) by what all artists can do.  
And for as low as $10, donors can help the Renwick buy a piece by every artist featured in the show.  Click here for more information.

Joshua DeMonte (b. 1984), Aqueduct Collar 2008, courtesy of the artist, and Curtains and Balcony Bracelet 2008, Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Irene and Bob Sinclair/Patricia Leslie
This is the first time any of the artists have exhibited at the Smithsonian.  Joshua DeMonte told me he was absolutely floored when he was initially contacted by the Smithsonian about possible inclusion in the show.

The Renwick Gallery is the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s branch for contemporary craft and decorative arts.
40 under 40: Craft Futures is part of a biennial series which celebrates artists deserving broader recognition. Funding from the Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation Endowment, the James Renwick Alliance,  Fleur Bresler and the Windgate Charitable Foundation has made the exhibition possible.  Renwick curator Nicholas R. Bell organized the exhibition. 

Here's a Renwick calendar of upcoming related events:

September 19, 2012, noon, American Craft Masterpieces: Sergey Jivetin’s Poultry Accumulus
September 22, 2012, 8 p.m., A Dress to Change the World with Jeff Garner/Prophetik October 12, 2012, noon, Design Craft: DreamHome
October 17, 2012, noon, American Craft Masterpieces: Vivian Beer’s
November 8 and 9, Symposium, Nation Building
November 14, 2012, noon, American Craft Masterpieces: Andy Paiko’s Spinning Wheel
November 27, 2012, noon, 40 under 40: Craft Futures Gallery Talk
November 29, 2012, 5:30 – 8 p.m., Craft Futures Handi-hour
What: 40 Under 40:  Craft Futures
When: 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. every day (except Christmas Day)  through February 3, 2013
Where: 1661 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006 (at 17th St.)
Admission:  No charge
Metro stations: Farragut North or Farragut West
For more information:  (202) 633-1000

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