Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Levi Fisher Ames at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center

Another interesting Ames, this one part of the collection at the Kohler Foundation:

Website description from the Kohler Foundation:

Ames created a vast wooden menagerie of animals from around the world as well as bizarre or heroic characters. After Ames had accumulated several hundred individual carvings, he decided to house them in wooden shadow boxes, hand labeling the carved figures and branding his initials into the top of each box. The glass-fronted boxes were customized to accommodate the various sized carvings. Hinged in the center, they open like a book to reveal the creatures within. Each side may contain one or several carvings with a similar set on the opposing side.

In addition to his fantastic collection of animals real and imagined, Ames carved other objects. His intricate and beautifully realized walking sticks attest to his skill, while small wooden tools and odd items carved from shell, stone, and coconut shell evidence his love of experimentation and exploration. Over the years, he also whittled items such as wooden chains from a single tree branch and types of carvings generally thought of as "tramp art" or "hobo art," along with many Masonic and fraternal symbols and logos. Ames' walking sticks evidence his many interests decorated with chains, animals, and the diamonds, moon, crosses, trefoils and other shapes that represented specific corps in the Civil War.

Levi Fisher Ames firmly believed that his body of work needed to be seen as a comprehensive group in order to be understood and fully appreciated. For this reason, he kept the carvings together, never selling any of them.

Asa Ames at the American Folk Art Museum

Ending soon at the American Folk Art Museum.

Website description:

Stacy C. Hollander, curator

Asa Ames is a mysterious and tragic figure. The young sculptor died from consumption when he was 27 years, 7 months, and 7 days old. Though his own life was short, he immortalized family members and neighbors in the vicinity of Evans, Erie County, New York, in a legacy of twelve three-dimensional portraits of children and young adults carved between 1847 and his death in 1851.

During the period that Ames was working in Evans, there was little precedent for portraits in wood. Rare examples were carved in a classical style by some talented shipcarvers, but Ames's veristic life-size bust-, waist-, and full-length portraits have few antecedents in American folk sculpture. One of the most intriguing artworks is a startling waist-length carving of a little girl in a pleated red dress with phrenological markings on her head, but the images that come most readily to mind are sensitive carvings of actual children that seem to embody a state of childhood innocence.

The individuation and ethereal solemnity of the carvings derive from sculptural traditions with a long lineage, from Roman portrait busts to marble statuary associated with the rural cemetery movement that was burgeoning in the 1840s. Ames's sense of himself as an artist may be implied in the Federal Census of 1850, in which his occupation is listed as "sculpturing." Details of Ames's own history remain shrouded in shadow, but the work of his hands illuminates the meaningful and personal nature of the lives he captured so beautifully in wood.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Vintage Folk Art Atomium

Pre-dates the 1958 Brussels sculpture. This one looks like it's early 20th century.