Michele Oka Doner Tree Bark server (unique) 1998
MICHELE OKA DONER (b. 1945) USA
Tree Bark server (unique) 1998
Solid cast silver in a naturalistic form of a piece of tree bark with an inherent hole.
***The weight is in excess of 250 troy ounces of silver
Exhibited: Inside Design Now: National Design Triennial, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, New York, 2003.
Illustrated: Michele Oka Doner, Natural Seduction, S. Ramljak, M. Lapidus, A. C. Danto (New York: Hudson hills Press, 2003) pp. 170-171; Inside Design Now: National Design Triennial, Donald Albrecht, Ellen Lupton, et al. (New York: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, 2003), p. 146.
H: 3 1/2″ x L: 16″ x D: 7″
Michele Oka Doner is an internationally acclaimed New York-based artist and designer whose work translates natural forms–plant fronds, berries, shells, and life observed beneath the lens of the microscope–into objects of extraordinary power and seduction rendered in bronze, precious metals and stones, concrete handmade papers, ceramic, and now, glass. Since first appearing on the national scene in 1970 as the youngest artist showcased in the defining landmark museum exhibition Objects USA. Oka Doner has built a career encompassing monumental sculptures, public art, jewelry, and functional objects that range from fireplace tools to evening bags. Oka Doner was born in Miami Beach in 1945. Though she received her formal education and advanced degrees at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the artist has always cited as her primary laboratory the turbulent natural treasures of Southern Florida’s oceans, tidal pools, beaches, gardens and tropical forests–boundless living resource libraries she visits on a monthly basis to gaze upon and gather samples that later inspire pieces of every size and type. Oka Doner has said that she strives with her work to “play the role of the translator and editor of life forces creating objects that go far beyond static formal beauty to encourage contemplation and wonder.” Informed by her ongoing research into scientific literature and poetry, as well as her expeditions in the natural world, Oka Doner uses the tools of physical expression to invite us along on her wanderings through the realm of the infinite. Oka Doner is also admired for her numerous site-specific, permanent public art commissions including such projects as the golden tiled Radiant Site at New York’s Herald Square Subway Station (1990) and A Walk on the Beach, a half-mile long expanse of terrazzo and bronze floor continually unfolding at Concourse A of Miami International Airport (1995 to present). Oka Doner’s sculptures and functional objects are included in many prestigous private and public collections, including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York City, the Art of Institute of Chicago and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, among others. She has participated in scores of distinguished exhibitions internationally and has been recipient of numerous grants and awards, including honors from the Kress Foundation and the New York State Council for the Arts. In 2004 she received the coveted Award of Excellence from the United Nations Society of Writers and Artists.
1950’s ITALIAN DESIGN
Futurist pitcher c. 1950
Handwrought and hand hammered pewter in an overall footed ovoid form with a traingle form spout body and an elongated arching contoured handle
Marked: PELTRO with lion, MADE ITALIA
H: 15″ x W: 9″ x D: 4″
The 1958 classic film, Auntie Mame, starring Rosalind Russell, features this sculptural pitcher on the coffee table in the surrealist interior of Mame Dennis’ penthouse on Beekman Place #3, New York City.
WILLIAM FREDERICK (1921-2012) Chicago (USA)
Unique Modernist Cocktail/Cordial drinks set
Handwrought sterling silver complete serving set comprising a pitcher with handle, six glasses/cordials with handles and an arching handled tray.
***Approximately 90 troy ounces total weight
Marks: FREDERICK, STERLING (on each piece)
Provenance: William Frederick Chicago, Private Collection Chicago, Private Collection New York
For more information on William Frederick see: Chicago Metalsmiths, Sharon S. Darling (Chicago: Chicago Historical Society, 1977)
Tray H: 5 1/2” x D: 11” x W: 14 ½”
Pitcher/Server H: 6 ¾” x W: 5 ¾” x D: 4 ½”
Glass/Cordial H: 3” x W: 2 ¾” x D: 1 3/8”
William Frederick had the unique distinction of being one of the longest practicing and successful American silversmiths of the 20th Century! Bill (as he liked to be called) studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at Cambridge as well as the Rochester Institute of Technology and was drawn to the craft of silversmithing very early on in his life. He was both familiar with and inspired by the local Chicago silver shops such as Lebolt, The Randahl Shop, The TC Shop etc. and as a young man tried to get a job with Daniel Pederson at the renowned Kalo Shop, but was turned down by Pederson saying, “he would be paid only one dollar per day. Bill, however admits that he would have taken it! Befitting to the legacy of important architecture of the Midwest, Bill’s first workshop was a Frank Lloyd Wright garage! His early visits to both the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933-34 and the New York World’s Fair in 1939 further influenced his early design sensibility and cemented the role of engineering in his rational approach to working with his hands and totally handcrafting objects from flat sheets of silver. He also preferred to be known as a designer and maker of utilitarian silver; objects that can actually be used and not just displayed in glass cases. Bill was the epitome of a professional silversmith too and was generous with both his knowledge and expertise with aspiring students and other professionals throughout his 70+ years as a craftsman of beautiful silver objects. In fact, through the years as one silver shop after the next closed in the Chicago area, Bill became the repository of each one of the various workshops’ tools mentioned above eventually numbering more than 500 tools and he carefully looked after them and put them all to good use himself. Every piece of silver that Bill made was completely hand raised and handcrafted so he either featured the planishing marks or hammer tone on the surface or sometimes removed them to give a more modern machine age appeal.
According to Bill’s own recollection, his inspiration for this set was the structural and arcing shadows and forms of the Trylon and Perisphere at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. He also wanted to design glasses where one’s fingers did not touch the vessel itself so he devised a separate button like detail for holding both the glasses and the handled pitcher. The Saxophone was a very popular musical instrument in many of the famous Jazz Clubs that were all the rage in gangster-land Chicago and he cleverly adapted the “button” idea from the push button keys of the instrument for the handle design of the goblets and pitcher of this set. In fact, he liked to mention to anyone that he served a shot to with the set that after a few drinks one could most certainly play a tune or two or at least begin to hear the musical notes dancing about! Bill taught silversmithing and industrial design on and off throughout his career at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well Columbia College and Loyola University and worked each and every day of his life and totally dedicated himself to the art of silversmithing. Even though Bill’s resume includes numerous awards and exhibitions he had a very unassuming demeanor and thought in the end his silver designs should speak for themselves and would ensure his legacy to future generations. William Frederick’s “One Man Show” at the Chicago historical Society was over 35 years ago and as he used to say, he is the last “dinosaur” of the great era of Chicago silversmithing. It is indeed the end of an era for Chicago Silver and one of the great 20th Century American Silversmiths, Bill Frederick died in May 2012 at the age of 90.