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This article was prepared for the April 10, 2002 edition of
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Art Gives Iron a Workout
Iron horse, hand, fist, or (shudder!) iron maiden.
Iron curtain. A will of iron, an iron constitution, and plenty of
irons in the fire. A seven iron, or a hot implement for branding,
curling, or pressing. An iron pill for someone in irons, or wearing
an iron mask, held captive in an ironclad off the ironbound coast.
Isn’t that ironic?
Denoting strength, solidity, firmness, even finality, iron has been
called "the most important metal known to mankind" and
mother metal." Next to aluminum, iron is the most common metal
in the earth’s crust — it even occurs in ground water and in the
red hemoglobin of blood — and more than 90 percent of the world’s
metal production is iron. In varied combinations with carbon and other
metal elements, it becomes pig iron, cast iron, wrought iron, steel,
or alloy steel.
"Think iron" might be the overall watchword at the Johnson
Atelier, in Mercerville, from April 10 to 13, and for some time around
those dates too. This four-day period is reserved for the "Fourth
International Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron Art," whose
objective is to facilitate the growing interest in cast iron as a
sculptural material by providing a forum for artists and industry
to exchange ideas on recent trends, aesthetics, and techniques.
Distinguished from wrought iron (a different alloy that can be formed
with hammers and presses) cast iron must be melted before it can be
poured into a mold. It is often produced in the high heat of a cupola
— a cylindrical shaft-type of blast furnace with a domed roof
or ceiling. Once liquefied, the iron can be poured off into a
and then into one or more molds.
Practically speaking, there will be no real need to even articulate
"Think iron" to those in the Atelier vicinity, for iron, that
most ancient, ubiquitous, and useful metal — in raw and finished
form; in process of becoming; in reality and in symbol — will
be all over the place.
The conference program comprises an array of panels, workshops,
and performances, all focused on iron. Technical workshops on
to advanced topics will be offered before and during the conference,
each one dealing with a specific technique for creating a mold that
will ultimately be poured in iron. Even in this highly specialized
field, there’s a welcome light touch to some of the program subtitles:
"Melt-out Madness," "No Fuss, No Muss." And "The
Mold Show" will be an exhibition of innovative and experimental
molds in a variety of materials.
Daily "iron pours" will be featured, with participants invited
to bring their own molds (and their own safety gear, too) if they
want to take part in a pour. Iron melts at a very high temperature
(about 2,300 degrees Fahrenheit), but it’s usually heated well beyond
that point (to 2,800 degrees), so it becomes liquid enough to pour
from furnace to crucible to mold. It can take a well-coordinated team
of four to eight people to execute a pour of the intensely yellow
molten iron that is hotter than molten lava. Cooling occurs quickly
— which is why high heat and skilled pours are both so important.
Still other topics to be treated in panel discussions include
in Public Places," "Digital Tools and Applications,"
Treatments for Cast Iron," "Welding Cast Iron," and
Next Generation: Upcoming Sculptors in Iron." Demonstrations
the conference will include one on different patinations, or surface
colors, and the forging of cast iron, showing the limited number of
ways this can be done.
Solo and collaborative performances are scheduled for conference
"The Fire Bearer," performance artist Billy Curmano, will
travel through the park, symbolically illustrating the historical
and industrial significance of cast iron, much as the Olympic torch
heralds the games. Using light, heat, sound, and magic, a group of
participating artists will each interpret one of the seven chakras,
or body power centers, via their own artwork, once more featuring
James Barton, both president of the Johnson Atelier and its
on the conference’s planning body, refers to "pockets of people
around the United States interested in iron, both aesthetically and
technically." Iron’s resurgence has been credited to Julius
a sculptor and teacher in the Midwest, whose enthusiasm fanned the
flame of interest in academia.
Meetings led to conferences, including this international event, held
at four-year intervals, and run by and attracting academics, industry
representatives, and artists alike. The first two sessions were at
Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama, then the Atelier and Grounds
for Sculpture picked up in 1998. By late March, nearly 400
and students had registered for the event, with artists-in-iron and
iron-workers coming from this country and around the world.
While bronze is the most commonly used material at the
Atelier, facilities there include a cupola for processing
or cast iron, and an induction furnace for "ductile iron,"
which is less brittle than the gray. Twelve more cupolas will be
to the conference by participating universities.
Cupolas come in widely divergent designs and sizes; they have
outputs and can represent various levels of technology, starting with
primitive. In the "World’s Smallest Cupola Contest,"
compete to be the first to pour molten iron from what are truly tiny
Iron is a much cheaper material to use than bronze, offering a simple,
earthy quality. In contrast to the more elegant bronze, it’s a kind
of "back to nature" medium. Some sculptors use iron and bronze
together, as E. Gyuri Hollosy, the Atelier’s gallery director and
academic program coordinator, points out. He should know: his current
exhibition at Ellarslie, the Trenton City Museum, includes bronzes
and all-iron pieces as well as a few combining the two metals.
the age-old issue of what material is right for what purpose, Hollosy
made cast iron bases and shafts for two works that needed strong
then went on to complete them in iron.
The conference will be accompanied by exhibitions of cast iron in
its many modern incarnations at both host sites. At the Atelier’s
Extension Gallery, it’s "Cupol Aesthetics: Iron Furnace
a show of sculptures, drawings, and operational photographs from a
dozen or so artists. The "furnace sculptures" featured will
have, necessarily, adhered first to the principle of "form follows
function": they must work as industrial iron furnaces used to
produce cast iron. After that, aesthetically, anything goes. In
common tools will have become fine art.
At neighboring Grounds for Sculpture, an invitational
exhibition will feature the cast-iron work of 30 artists from around
the nation. Kathleen Whitney, sculptor, writer, and independent
will have selected the pieces in "2300 degrees F, 2002:
Sculpture in Cast Iron," all of which falls into one of three
related categories: natural (with imagery reflecting iron’s source
and visually tied to landscape and biomorphic forms); mechanical (with
"impossible" machines, replicas, and multiples — all
iron’s properties and historical uses); or metaphorical (with layers
of meaning and forms that have more to do with concept and intellect
than with beauty).
During the conference only, galleries in the Grounds for Sculpture
Domestic Arts building will house three more exhibits. The juried
"Fire to Form: Cast Iron 2002" show will feature submissions
from conference attendees. The "Founders’ Exhibition" will
celebrate the work of past and present conference board members
as founders of the cast iron movement, and the "International
Invitational" will display examples of cast iron sculptures by
registrants from foreign countries.
Sculptor Beverly Pepper, whose work was featured in Grounds for
fall/winter exhibition in 1999-2000, most recently exemplified there
the uses to which cast and forged iron could be put. Considered a
pioneer in her use of ductile iron, Pepper began making primordial
cast iron columns in the late 1970s. Her three totemic iron
were installed indoors at the Richard J. Hughes Justice Complex,
"A silvery white, lustrous, malleable, ductile, magnetic or
metallic element occurring abundantly in combined forms . . . and
used alloyed in a wide range of important structural materials":
in other words, iron. Its timelessness, as well as its continuing
use in ever-new applications, both technical and artistic, may best
be grasped by considering that the Iron Age — when iron metallurgy
was introduced in Europe — occurred around the eighth century
B.C. Now, centuries later at the start of a new millennium, this
focusing on the same primordial material, iron, is a sellout. And
they’re already vying for the 2006 site.
Grounds for Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton,
Show in conjuction with the fourth annual conference on cast iron.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., year round; Sunday
is Members Day. Adult admission is $4 Tuesday through Thursday; $7
Friday and Saturday; and $10 Sunday. To May 5.
Gallery , 60 Sculptors Way, Mercerville, 609-890-7777. Artists
Beasley, Wayne Potraz, Barry Bailey, Charles Hook, Cam Choy, Dan
Marjee Levine, Andrew Marsh, Vaughn Randall, Jonathan Hils, Clark
Ashton, Kyle Dilihay, and Matt Toole, show in conjunction with the
International Conference on Cast Iron Art. Gallery hours are Monday
to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To May 2.
A shared exhibition by painter Tomi Urayama and sculptor by Gyuri
Hollosy. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.;
Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To April 14.
Van Dyck: `Ecce Homo’ and `The Mocking of Christ.’" Also, "In
the Mirror of Christ’s Passion: Images from Princeton University
Both shows to June 9. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5
p.m.; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. Free tours of the collection every Saturday
at 2 p.m.
Also "Klinger to Kollwitz: German Art in the Age of
an exhibit of prints and drawings that comprises an overview of late
19th and early 20th century German art, to June 9. "Guardians
of the Tomb: Spirit Beasts in Tang Dynasty China;" to August 31.
609-258-3184. "Not for Myself Alone: A Celebration of
Writers," the debut show for the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Collection
of Jewish-American Writers that ranges from the early 19th century
to the present day and includes Yiddish-language writers as well as
writers in English. A two-volume catalog accompanies the exhibition.
Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday and
Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 21.
609-620-6026. "Art of India," an exhibition in conjunction
with ArtsIndia, New York. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
Wednesday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon. To April 19.
609-490-7550. "Contemporary Directions in Performance Art,"
features performance artists Dawn Auvigne, Jim Jeffers, Cliff Owens,
and Craig Smith. Artists will present documentation of past
work as well as live performances of new work through the run of the
show. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. To April
"Michael Peglau," a show of paintings and drawings by the
Drew University professor of painting, drawing, and art history. To
Library Place, 609-497-7990. "Meeting Stone," an exhibition
of sculpture by Caroline Fenn. "Carving reveals what is hidden,
in stone, in the sculptor, and finally in the viewers who make of
it what they will," says the artist who has studied at Smith
Yale, and Union Theological Seminary. Open Monday to Saturday, 8:30
a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday 2 to 8 p.m. To April 12.
Lawrenceville, 609-896-5168. "Moments of Vision," an
of the still-lifes of New Jersey artist Adolf Konrad. Known as the
painter laureate of Newark, Konrad was born in Germany in 1915,
at age 10, and studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial
Arts. Artist’s talk Thursday, April 11, for the show that runs to
April 21. Gallery hours at Monday to Thursday, 2 to 8 p.m.; Friday
to Sunday, 2 to 5 p.m.
reception for "Paper and Stone," an exhibit of handmade paper
images by Marie Sturken and stone sculpture by Petro Hul. Gallery
is open by appointment during school hours. To May 2.
In the dining room, landscapes by Donna Senopoulos. A member of the
American Watercolor Society, Senopoulos shows her work at Cranbury
Station Gallery, Go For Baroque, and Kanon Gallery. Part of proceeds
benefit the Medical Center. On view daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. To
"The Eden Series II," an exhibition of paintings by Gilda
K. Aronovic. Artist’s reception is Sunday, April 14. Monday to
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Closed
To May 21.
"April in Paris, London," a group show of photographs from
around the world by gallery members. Gallery hours are Saturday, 11
a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 28.
Road, 609-921-3272. "Works on Paper: Five Points of View,"
an invitational show featuring New Jersey artists Hannah Fink, Diana
Gonzalez Gandolfi, John Goodyear, Barbara Osterman, and William
to April 29. In the Upstairs Gallery: "Dreams and Desires for
a New Day," a shared show featuring drawings by Susan Antin and
by Darlene Prestbo. Gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to
3 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. To April 28.
Valerie Von Betzen’s show of recent paintings and "Small
a group show featuring Betty Curtiss, Ken McIndoe, Micheal Madigan,
Ellie Wyeth Fox, and others. Gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. To April 28.
Branch Station, 908-725-2110. "Lumpy Landscapes and Other Bumps
in the Road," an open members show. Reception is April 20 for
the show that runs to May 18. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to
4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.
609-397-0275. "Songs of the Earth," an exhibition of pastels
and drawings by Joyce Sanderson. Gallery hours are Monday and
1 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 1 to
5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To April 26.
"Vanishing Points," a shared show featuring photographs by
Sandra C. Davis and paintings of the American industrial landscape
by Marc Reed. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m.
to 6 p.m. To May 5.
Suite 208, Morrisville, 215-295-8444. Shared show featuring
Ricardo Barros, Deborah Holljes, and Karen McDonall. Parachute is
an artist-run gallery featuring innovative art in all media. Gallery
hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.
To April 30.
"Play It Cool," an exhibition of new and rare prints by
artist Shag. Gallery hours are Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. to
6 p.m. To May 27.
"Between the Brush Strokes" features Bradley Hendershot and
Jerry Cable. To April 30.
908-735-8415. "Jim Toia: Groundwork" and "Peter Arakawa:
Recent Work." Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5
p.m. To April 28.
215-340-9800. "Roy C. Nuse: Figures and Landscapes," an
of works by the influential Bucks County artist and teacher (1885
to 1975) who trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where
he studied with Daniel Garber. Nuse and his wife, artist Ellen
moved to Bucks County; Nuse taught at the Pennsylvania Academy for
29 years; to May 12. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.;
Saturday & Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Wednesday evenings to 9
Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "India: Contemporary Art From
Private Collections," the largest exhibition of its kind to be
held in an American museum. Show features more than 100 works from
20 collections, with an emphasis on the post-independence era, 1947
to the present. Museum hours are Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to
4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission $3 adults;
under 18 free; museum is open free to the public on the first Sunday
of every month. To July 31.
Indian artists include members of the Progressive Artists Group, F.N.
Souza, M.F. Husain, Krishna Ara, and Syed Raza. Also first and
Indian modernists Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta, Ganesh Pyne, and artists
who have emerged in recent years such as Atul Dodiya and Jitish
Also "The Baltics: Nonconformist and Modernist Art During the
Soviet Era," the first major survey of modernist art produced
in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during the post-Soviet period.
Ladyzhensky," to July 31. "By All Means: Materials and Mood
in Picture Book Illustrations," to July 31.
Geore Street, New Brunswick, 732-524-6957. "The Fabric of Jazz:
A Tribute to the Genius of American Music" by Lauren Camp, fabric
artist. Her original art quilts include tributes to Louis Armstrong,
Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman. By appointment. To April 20.
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