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Monday, June 8, 2009

Villa Terrace Shows Its Love of Metal

Plus: Lakefront Festival of Arts along the Lake Michigan shoreline

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In a postmodern exploration of the art of the metalsmith, the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum opens "Jon Michael Route: For the Love of Metal" on June 17 (through Aug. 23). Route's career, which spans more than 30 years, offers a contemporary interpretation of the ancient techniques of blacksmiths, tinsmiths and silversmiths. While the majority of the 25 works for the exhibition exist for functional use, every piece has sculptural connotations as well.

Route's love of metal, mainly pewter, copper and brass, extends to vessels-in particular, teapots-that often have tiny feet or curvaceous handles. Employing an array of designs from sensuous forms to geometric patterns that use appliqué and hand texturing, the teapots appear both architectural and animated. Their small scale suggests that each piece inhabits a personality that might secretly whisper to the viewer. Treasure boxes, goblets and menorahs also enhance the exhibit.

New work by Route includes wall hangings that fuse painting and sculpture. Works like his 19-by-14.5-inch Lilac Landscape reveal sparse images converging rich colors with natural forms such as branches, birds and flowers.

This master of metal, who exhibits work in prestigious shows and collections across the country, has received a multitude of awards and recognition, including a 1998 Wisconsin Individual Artist Fellowship. In 2005, Route's metal work was installed in "Objects for Use: Handmade by Design," an exhibition with an accompanying catalog and commentary at the American Craft Museum in New York.

Working from his home in Frederic, Wis., Route's designs continue the conversation that fine craft deserves to be discussed as fine art, displayed as sculptural objects whether repeatedly used or merely admired. At the opening reception on Wednesday, June 17, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Route will host a question-and-answer session.

Art lovers from far and wide will enjoy the annual Lakefront Festival of Arts on the grounds of the Milwaukee Art Museum. These three days, Friday, June 19, through Sunday, June 21, provide the city with access to more than 150 national artists, as well as a select group of artists from Wisconsin working in every medium of art, including jewelry, furniture and wearable fashions.

A $13 combo ticket allows people to also wander the museum and catch the new "American Originals" exhibition for the day ($7 advance admission fee for the festival alone; $10 at the entry), or patrons can purchase a membership to MAM at the entry and receive two free tickets to the Festival of Arts and year-round enjoyment of the museum. This yearly tradition offers hands-on activities, music and refreshments for all ages, with artwork silhouetted by Lake Michigan's shore.

2009-06-08

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