The 't' in artwork is teamwork

January 15, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Anne Larsen says being an artist has been romanticized into someone who is a lonely, isolated worker.

But Larsen says during the time of the masters, art was created in collaboration. Oftentimes, she says, one apprentice might paint the trees, while another apprentice who specialized in tapestries would do his part, but the main subjects would be completed by the master artist himself. The result would be a masterpiece.

It wasn't until recently that the idea has changed. "In the last 100 to 150 years, (artists) have focused on working as individuals," she says.

As a way to celebrate collaboration, the Morgan Arts Council is producing "Duets." The exhibit opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, at the Ice House. A reception precedes the opening night event at 5 p.m. at Mountain Laurel Gallery. The exhibit will continue at the Ice House until March 1.


Larsen, a metalsmith, is curator of the event. More than 24 artists - local, regional and national - will have work on display in the exhibit.

"This shows how working with other people's skills that complement with yours can make more and more interesting things," she says.

Larsen herself has collaborated with G. Phil Poirier, a master goldsmith in Taos, N.M., known for his die-making. Their piece will be on display at the Ice House. Larsen says working alone "limits what you can do."

"I didn't want to limit my dream or design that I myself am capable of," she says.

The artists whose work is part of "Duets" are from all type of relationships: mother and son, couples, business partners, even relative strangers. Each piece will be accompanied with a card to let visitors understand how the pieces of art took shape, Larsen said.

Ilena-Olympia Andruchovici and son Alex Stauciu collaborated on pieces for the show. While mom makes garments, her son digitally manipulates images. He transfers the images onto fabric to make seamless images, Larsen explains.

Michael Benner is a silversmith, while his wife, Maureen, is an artist known for her jewelry and enamel work. Together, Larsen says, they work on two floors in their Massachusetts studio.

"He makes abstract forms on the first floor and he sends them to the second floor so she can use it into a piece of jewelry," Larsen says.

A trio of artists have also worked on a piece that will be on display. A door was commissioned by a Middleburg, Va., resident. Chris Mann did the woodwork, Beverly Kipphan made the stained glass and Glen Horr did the hardware to make the one-of-a-kind door.

Some artists, Larsen says, worked independently of each other, using other artists' unfinished pieces to create another piece of work. Two artists - one whose work is realistic, another whose work is abstract - completed each other's paintings. Larsen says the artists enjoyed the process so much that they are planning on collaborating on a new series.

"Artists are very social creatures," Larsen says. "This is a wonderful opportunity for them to share their skills."

Larsen says the type of work included in "Duets" is work that usually is seen at larger high-end arts and crafts shows such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art Crafts Show or the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C.

"But here it's without the mob scene," she says.

If you go ...

WHAT: "Duets" exhibit

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16, opening; the show continues through March 1

WHERE: Ice House, corner of Independent and Mercer streets in downtown Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

COST: Free

CONTACT: Call 304-258-2300 or go to or

MORE: The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A reception is at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16, at Mountain Laurel Gallery, corner of North Washington Street (U.S. 522) and Fairfax Street.

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