Featured Artist of the Month
Guest Artist George Ventura
Arts Alive! reception for the artists is August 2, 6pm- 9pm
Music by the ATF Jazz Trio
Beverage sales will benefit Friends of the Dunes
40 Years Later, Elizabeth Berrien is Still Twisting
Elizabeth Berrien offers A Life of Wire at Sewell Gallery Fine Art July 30 – August 30, with a special reception for the artist Saturday, August 2 from 6 to 9 p.m. during Arts Alive! Berrien, considered by many as the godmother of the contemporary wire sculpture movement, creates a steady but limited flow of works, and every year she pushes the envelope further to create unique wire sculptures.
For her first twenty years in wire, most viewers had never seen this kind of work besides that of Alexander Calder or Ruth Asawa. Many people innocently assumed Elizabeth was using pre-meshed ‘chicken wire’ but the truth is that she weaves single strands, using only her bare hands and a pair of wire cutters. After 40 years as a wire sculptor, Elizabeth demonstrates her art often, in order to dispel those ‘chicken wire’ myths. She will have wire in hand at the reception.
Elizabeth's life has been full of adventure. She has had an intuitive affinity for animals all her life. As a small child she would stretch out on the lawn for hours, studying the ants and gently catch honeybees in her bare hands, hold them awhile, and let them go again. In high school, Elizabeth had difficulty expressing herself creatively. She could see the energy lines that made animals beautiful, but couldn't translate them on paper. Using wire as a mobile inkline was comforting; if a line wouldn't do what she wanted, she could tweak it until she liked it better.
Elizabeth divided her focus between learning about her animal subjects and learning to control the wildly temperamental wire. Slowly and gradually, drawing upon past experiments with weaving, basketry and lace making, Berrien's initial random loops evolved into an orderly system of hand-twisted, textile wire sculpture.
In her thirties, Berrien supplemented her office income by staying up late twisting wire dragons and unicorns for San Francisco boutiques and Harvest Festivals. When a department store commissioned 3 life-sized Pegasus sculptures for Christmas window displays, they literally stopped traffic as viewers flooded the Union Square sidewalk. The breakthrough allowed Elizabeth to walk away from the day job—and her wire animals have supported her ever since.
Later, working in larger scale, Elizabeth enriched her link with wildlife as Artist in Residence at Marine World/Africa USA, where she created life-sized giraffes, elephants and other animals while working directly from life. Her encounters with cheetahs were especially useful toward making an accurate cheetah wire sculpture for the Los Angeles Zoo, who then commissioned a total of six wire sculptures.
In 2004 Elizabeth Berrien founded Wire Sculpture International, a guild whose mission is to gain greater recognition, respect and validity for this highly diverse medium and inspiring a whole new generation of wire sculptors. Her wire sculptures are especially prized by architects, interior designers and feng shui consultants for their ability to harmonize and balance difficult spaces, enhancing rather than dominating the locale. Her distinctive, immediately recognizable works are collected worldwide. She is the recipient of many International awards, including a Clio, an Obie and the Cannes Festival Double Gold Award, among others.
Experience the energy of the wild menagerie by Elizabeth Berrien at Sewell Gallery Fine Art, 423 F Street, Eureka; open Tues.-Sat. 10-6, Sunday 12-5. For more information please call 707-269-0617 or visit SewellGallery.com.