HCCC Rocks the Metal Arts with Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched and eXtreme Tea

Posted December 17, 2009 in Press Releases

In 2010, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft rocks the metal arts with two new exhibitions: Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched, on view January 16 – May 16, and eXtreme Tea, on view January 16 – March 21.HCCC Curator of Fine Craft, Gwynne Rukenbrod, commented, “Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched celebrates the rich history of American blacksmithing by bridging historical and contemporary works and illustrating the wide variety of blacksmithing techniques and processes currently practiced in the U.S. The exhibition is one of the most significant exhibitions of blacksmithed objects in decades.”

Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched (in the large gallery)

Finely crafted ironwork is often overlooked in our daily lives. It graces the façade of everyday buildings in the form of door latches and window grills. It decorates the gate that encloses the neighbor’s yard, so the dog cannot get loose. Houston Center for Contemporary Craft celebrates this overlooked art form with Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched, an exhibition of historical and contemporary pieces of ironwork created in the tradition of blacksmithing.

In early colonial American settlements, blacksmiths were responsible for making everything from weapons to farm equipment to cookware. As the Industrial Age took hold, the skills of a blacksmith were in less demand. Very few blacksmiths continued to learn the trade until a renewed interest in the art of blacksmithing and metalwork emerged during the late 1970s. With this resurgence came an interest in breaking away from the historical mold and using the medium as a creative outlet to shape new work, including sculpture.

The exhibition educates audiences about the processes used to create historical and contemporary ironwork. Contemporary pieces are exhibited alongside important historic works, such as farm implements and tools, to allow visitors to visually identify how blacksmithing artists combine contemporary design sensibilities with historical traditions and techniques to create their pieces.

The exhibition features more than 40 pieces by 38 artists from across the U.S., including Elizabeth Brim, Frederic Crist, Carl Jennings, John Medwedeff, Lee Ann Mitchell, Noellyn Pepos, Jon Shearin, Lee Tribe and James Wallace. Local and regional artists in the show include Dave Koenig, founder of the Houston Area Blacksmiths’ Association (HABA), members of the Austin Metal Authority, and Texas artists, such as Todd Campbell, Tim Bailey, and Lars Stanley. Contemporary works on view include sculptural and conceptual works and interior furniture, including select pieces from the permanent collection of The National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

Iron: Forged, Tempered, Quenched is made possible by generous support from Triple S Steel, Nancy and Rich Kinder, and Michelle and Frank Hevrdejs.

eXtreme Tea (in the small gallery)

eXtreme Tea is a surprising exhibition of tea infusers and strainers—seemingly mundane household items that hold loose tea leaves for brewing in a pot or cup. However, because of the small scale and potential for minute decorative detail, these items present an exciting challenge for contemporary artists. The exhibition includes tea infusers made predominantly from metal, but also includes pieces made from glass, ceramic, fiber, plastic and combinations of mixed media. eXtreme Tea contrasts traditional tea infusers with inventive contemporary pieces that take these simple objects to extremes.

The exhibition was curated by Tom Muir, Distinguished Research Professor and Head of Jewelry and Metalsmithing in the School of Art at Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio. Muir earned his MFA from Indiana University and his BFA from Georgia State University. His work is in numerous collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, The White House Collection of American Crafts, and the National Museum of American Art.

Opening Weekend Events (Free and Open to the Public)
Opening Reception: Friday, January 15, 5:30 – 8:00 PM

Gallery Talks: Saturday, January 16 11:00 AM Dave Koenig, Blacksmith and Founder of Houston Area Blacksmiths’ Association (HABA) 12:00 PM Kenneth Schwarz, Blacksmith and Master of Shop at Colonial Williamsburg Foundation 1:00 PM Gabriel Craig, Metalsmith, Writer, and Craft Activist; Current HCCC Artist-in-Residence

Related Event
SNAG, the Society of North American Goldsmiths, will hold its annual conference, “Going to eXtremes,” in Houston, Texas, March 10-13, 2010.

Mary Headrick (mheadrick@crafthouston.org)
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
713.529.4848 x 107