Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist Product Preview

While curators have been preparing, assembling and installing the exhibition, we've been hard at work developing, sourcing, styling and photographing a stunning product assortment in support of our exhibition Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist.  Finally, the artwork is in place and prepared for this weekend's opening and our colorful collection has arrived, insuring that you can take a piece of the experience home when you visit! 

We'll be back next week with a look at the show itself along with some exclusive highlights.  Meanwhile, here is a glimpse behind the scenes of our photo shoot and a sneak peek at the product!

We've curated a resplendent range of silk ombre scarves reflecting Gauguin's own vibrant and expressive use of color.
Carefully selected accessories are color corrected to preserve and insure impeccable chromatic integrity.

 Collaborated with reknowned designers to present Gauguin-inspired sartorial pattern play...

....and now the artwork, exhibition and product assortment are ready and waiting for you!

Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist opens this weekend at the Art Institute of Chicago and runs 
June 25, 2017 - September 10, 2017.  Learn more here: Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist

Shop our related product here: or visit our Exhibition and Main Museum Shops where you can find a wide range of souvenirs, home furnishings and personal accessories inspired by Paul Gauguin's work. 

All purchases support the museum's various programs. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

For the Love of Literature: Printer's Row Lit Fest 2017

Here at ARTifacts we love our literature as much as our visual art, making a visit to Chicago's own Printer's Row Lit Fest a natural fit for a sunny Saturday morning sojourn.  Over the years the festival has grown to comprise over 100 booksellers, 200 author-speakers (this year featured Al Franken, Janet Mock and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and 5 city blocks of roaming bibliophiles. Armed with iced coffee and our Book Mule (Buyer) Brent, we set off to peruse the Midwest's penultimate publication-palooza in Chicago's Loop.

First we visited the Poetry Foundation where we snagged an annual membership in support of the local literary treasure. We were off to a lyrical start!

Next, as we ambled the aisles we discovered artistic Chicago propaganda past and present. While the written word is paramount at this event the design and illustration game is also strong.

Then came some historic artifacts that were truly museum-worthy: vintage wooden type blocks and boxes, intriguing ethnographic prints and multitudes of books.  

Followed by books that was poignant yet culturally relevant, some provocative tomes and some, um, anachronistic advice?

We also discovered traditional classics, contemporary children's books emphasizing diversity, and some for purely whimsical fun.

Lovers of literature and the arts, look no further. Spanning the diverse literary spectrum, the Printer's Row Lit Fest has something for everyone and creates a community in one location for one weekend each year. 

To view our book assortment, click here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How it's Made: Volubile Jewelry from Paris

Welcome to the Montmartre district in Paris, city of love and light and the origin of our handmade Volubile Jewelry. Delicate, intricate webs spun of durable plated brass and nylon, these pieces are artistic innovation realized in wearable form. Step inside our jeweler's atelier for a glimpse into the creative process at the intersection of design, fashion and visual art that is behind these exquisite pieces. We're in inspirational Paris for this edition of "How it's Made."

Artist and designer Dorine Decauyeux and her small team of skilled artisans first sketch two-dimensional renderings to be translated into sculptural volumes. Inspiration is typically derived from the naturally occurring balance and harmony of organic forms. The metal braided elements are fabricated at a specialized factory in the north of France. These components are then paired with nylon in carefully selected chromatic variations and assembled by hand in the workshop.

During construction, consideration is always given to the interaction of light with each design. Iridescent or contrasting braids are woven inside of the element to add subtle sparkle and to reinforce the volumetric appearance of the pieces. 

Dorine brings her personal fascination with formal and material experimentation to the creative process, yielding atypical results. Delicate and graceful, this jewelry alights gently upon a wearer's skin. Light amplifies the illusion of fragility and emphasizes the interplay of brilliance and transparency that is characteristic of our Volubile Jewelry.

We hope you've enjoyed our Paris sojourn and if you'd like to have a piece of it for your memories or just so you can look fabulous any time, shop here: Volubile Jewelry

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Artist's Spotlight: Happy Birthday Frank Lloyd Wright®

 Avery Coonley Playhouse: Triptych Window, 1912

Today is June 8th and we're celebrating iconic American architect Frank Lloyd Wright's® 150th birthday. However infamous for his personal exploits and scandals, Wright was a singular designer and innovator, collaborating with his mentor Louis Sullivan on a stylistic revolution that would come to be known as the Prairie Style of architecture.

A Frank Lloyd Wright® building is instantly recognizable: simultaneously unmistakably individual, and evocative of an entire era. They are significant for an exceptional appreciation of organic surroundings, as well as their use of materials to revolutionize the interplay of indoor and outdoor Steel and glass was employed to dematerialize the built environment. These structures extend into, and are extensions of, the natural world.

Wright’s designs helped usher in the age of modernity, and had a profound impact on the decorative arts. In his Avery Coonley Playhouse Triptych Window, pictured above, we see the elements that would anticipate the reductive abstraction of artists such as Piet Mondrian and the subsequent stylistic tendencies of minimalism and conceptualism. With simple geometric shapes gradually yielding to a more complex ornamental scheme, this design is characteristic of Wright's aesthetic. 

Instinctively and naturally if you beautify your own life, you beautify the life of everybody
 around you. -Frank Lloyd Wright®
Begin to beautify: shop our assortment of Frank Lloyd Wright® inspired product below or here.

Friday, May 19, 2017

How it's Made: Modern and Minimal Mixed Metal Jewelry

Deriving inspiration from modernist designers and architects, our modern and minimal mixed metal jewelry by artist Sue Rosengard embodies an enviable balance of form and function.

After studying French and residing in Paris and Italy, Rosengard returned to her home town of Chicago to pursue her true passion of designing and crafting jewelry. Today we get a glimpse into her studio and a sneak peak at her process in this edition of "How it's Made."

Rosengard's studio is conveniently situated in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, an area with a high concentration of artist's lofts and live-work spaces. While there is plenty of daily inspiration in close proximity, the artist cites her upbringing among the modernist, minimal skyscrapers of Chicago as being highly influential to her work. 
 Using sterling silver, vermeil and gold-plate, she cuts, drills, casts and stamps the metals before hand-forming the wire to achieve her designs. Using simple hand tools and no forms or jigs, wire is skillfully arched, angled and adorned with etched accent beads.

The result is thoughtfully designed, exquisitely crafted and endlessly versatile geometric jewelry that complements the wearer's individual style and personality.

You can find this lovely jewelry in our Main and Modern Wing stores and online right here:

Proceeds form all sales support the museum's collection and many programs.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Salvador Dali's Birthday

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it." - Salvador Dali

Today is the birthday of Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí i Domènech, Marqués de Dalí de Púbol (11 May 1904 – 23 January 1989) or Salvador Dali, an artist as innovative as he was eccentric.  Dali was a painter, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker, graphic artist, set and fashion designer and writer, among many other things. Dali is most renowned as a founder of the Surrealist movement, and for his extensive use of symbolism in his painting, employing peculiar and unorthodox imagery as narrative features.

 Dali's grandiose behavior often distracted from his artistic virtuosity, much to the chagrin of his ardent supporters. In 1936, Dali nearly suffocated while delivering a lecture wearing a diving suit as a metaphor for delving deep into the human subconscious. Fortunately, the suit was pried off with a billiard cue and Dali went on to complete the lecture and live another 53 unconventional years. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

How it's Made: Fair Trade Kantha Jewelry

Would you like to help fashion a better world? 

Our fair trade Kantha jewelry collection is inspired by the vibrancy of India. Colorful cotton textile scraps are transformed into unique beads used for necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. These statement-making pieces add a brilliant pop of color for any occasion. They also provide an immense amount of good by forging a path out of poverty for women in need.

The Kantha jewelry is handcrafted by artisans in India who are part of a cooperative that follows the principles of fair trade. This means that each piece purchased creates opportunity for marginalized women and their families. Fair Trade principles ensure proper pay, safe working conditions, ongoing training and education, no child labor, and respect for the environment.  

The process begins with the bead bases. Each sustainable bead is made from scraps collected from the local furniture factory. Kantha sari quilts are a traditional textile in India made from layers of worn cotton saris, sewn together with a distinctive, allover running stitch. Each wooden bead is covered with the fabric and strung on wire, transforming them into necklaces, bracelets and earrings and repurposing the materials. Finally, the artisans carefully assort the beads to insure a vibrant combination of colors as unique as the individual who made it! 

When you're wearing our Kantha jewelry you'll feel great ethically and aesthetically.

Long Kantha Necklace/ Kantha Multi-Strand Bracelet/ Kantha Cuff Bracelet

 Purchase our Kantha jewelry: Kantha Jewelry

Proceeds from all purchases support the artisans as well as the museum's programming.