From the Print
Villager Louise Simons models the handcrafted jewelry of Cassandra Graham of Dayton, one of seven Ohio jewelers featured in a new jewelry show and fundraiser at the Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery at 111 Corry St. The exhibit opens on Friday, Aug. 16 and runs until Sept. 15. Yellow Springs photographer Scott Stolsenberg’s photos of 11 Yellow Springs women modeling the jewelry and pottery by Dianne Collinson will also be exhibited, with the sale of all items going to benefit individual artists and the Yellow Springs Arts Council. (Submitted photo by Scott Stolsenberg)

Villager Louise Simons models the handcrafted jewelry of Cassandra Graham of Dayton, one of seven Ohio jewelers featured in a new jewelry show and fundraiser at the Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery at 111 Corry St. The exhibit opens on Friday, Aug. 16 and runs until Sept. 15. Yellow Springs photographer Scott Stolsenberg’s photos of 11 Yellow Springs women modeling the jewelry and pottery by Dianne Collinson will also be exhibited, with the sale of all items going to benefit individual artists and the Yellow Springs Arts Council. (Submitted photo by Scott Stolsenberg)

Art to wear in “Bling” show

Jewelry has adorned the human body for 100,000 years as a way to ward off evil spirits, signify religious affiliation and more. It’s also wearable art, and since walking around with an armful of paintings can be cumbersome, donning jewelry is a better way to show off one’s artwork in public.

That’s one reason Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery has chosen for its latest exhibition the eclectic, handcrafted art jewelry of seven Ohio jewelry artists, all available for purchase.

“Bling! The Jewelry Show” runs from August 16 to September 15 at the Yellow Springs Arts Council Gallery, 111 Corry St., with an opening from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 16 featuring wine, cheese and jewelry-making demonstrations.

“It’s adornment for your body,” said YSAC gallery coordinator Nancy Mellon of the power of jewelry. “It speaks to some delight and in a way it’s mythological and it’s spiritual — you’re connecting with the earth.”

Accompanying the more than 40 pieces from each jeweler are 12 photographs of Yellow Springs women modeling the jewelry by Scott Stolsenberg and, to decorate the gallery space, the black and white pottery of Dianne Collinson. Photographs, pottery and jewelry will all be for sale, with proceeds benefitting the individual artists and YSAC.

The jewelry is all handmade from an incredible variety of materials: precious metals, gemstones, wood, fossils, shells, feathers, antique clock faces, old photos, clay, African cloth, Japanese paper, buttons, bone, horse hair, mobiles, beads, fabric, cords, rhinestones and more. Prices range from $25 to $800–900 per piece, according to Mellon, and each is one of a kind.

“It’s always hand created so it’s never the same as the next one and it’s not produced out of a machine,” Mellon said. “It’s very human to wear a piece of jewelry handmade by an artist.”

Talitha Greene is the sole Yellow Springs jeweler in the show. She creates sleek geometric and nature-inspired pendants, earrings and rings from sterling silver and gold. Greene will also showcase some new work made with a technique called strawcasting in which tightly-bound broom straw is covered in molten metals.

“It almost resembles icicles but it’s really elegant,” Greene said. Greene, now 47, started taking metal snipping and jewelry-making classes when she was 12 at the John Bryan Community Center from Mark Crockett and Gail Zimmerman. She worked at their Rita Caz store for 20 years before recently setting out on her own to make and sell her jewelry, in addition to driving a semitruck part time.

The other jewelers in the show are from around the region and many teach art at area colleges. Matthew Burgy of Waynesville makes “kinetic” earrings that are miniature mobiles. Cassandra Graham (Dayton) weaves beads, bones, crystals, feathers and seeds into her necklaces, bracelets and rings, many of which evoke a tribal feel. Graham spent most of her career as an oil painter specializing in big-game wildlife. Cherry Fullam (Dayton) makes pendants and pins in wood. Debbie Jackson (Columbus) creates colorful polymer clay jewelry using African symbols, cowrie shells, beads and more, giving it an “ethnic energy.” Teresa Morbitzer, (Columbus) uses antiques to make steampunk jewelry under the name Vintage Vamp. And Angela Valley (Dayton) uses natural elements and gemstones to make sophisticated modern designs.

Stolensberg, the photographer, had something different in mind for the show. The Yellow Springs women in his photos are more “au naturel” than most jewelry models since he used minimal photoshopping and airbrushing. Instead of a hollow glamour, he went for timeless elegance and instead of perfection, natural beauty, all of which reflects the organic food-loving, chemical-avoiding local populace, he said. Mellon worked with Stolsenberg towards that artistic direction.

“I wanted the models to be women of all ages, but mostly I wanted to concentrate on older models because jewelry is usually shown on young, pretty girls,” Mellon said. “But older women are gorgeous and older women look striking in jewelry and wear jewelry with great panache.”

The Yellow Springs models are Emma Lee Woodruff, Louise Simons, Deb Henderson, Bettina Solas, Constantina Clark, Corrine Bayraktaroglu, Claire Reynolds, Kristl Mapes, Marie Hertzler, NebSa Maati Ab and Sierra Oc.

Stolsenberg is a fine art, nature and event photographer who moved to Yellow Springs two years ago from Washington Court House with his wife Bettina Solas, a Celtic musician whom he met while she was performing at Corner Cone. For many years Stolsenberg has photographed local musicians, artists and performers at Street Fair and “got drawn into the Yellow Springs culture,” he said.

Recently Stolsenberg quit his manufacturing job to become a full-time photographer. When Mellon asked him to photograph the jewelry models, he jumped at the chance to work in town and meet more local artists. Now he hopes to organize a gathering of local photographers to share tips. Mellon said that “creating opportunities for artists” is what the Arts Council is all about.

Stolsenberg is appreciative of the local non-profit. “The Arts Council really does their job well,” Stolsenberg said. “They find new blood coming in, reach out to them and start to try to get them involved. In my other town it took ages for anyone to realize I was an artist.”

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