Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May Monthly Challenge

"On a Shaker Theme", 1956
by Charles Sheeler
oil on canvas
23" x 29 1/8" (58.42 x 73.98 cm)

About the Art
Showing his deep respect for Shaker design, Sheeler wrote, “The Shaker communities, in the period of their greatest creative activity, have given us abundant evidence of their profound understanding of utilitarian design in their architecture and crafts. They understood and convincingly demonstrated that rightness of proportion in a house or a table, with regard for efficiency in use, made embellishment superfluous,” (Quoted in Constance Rourke, “Charles Sheeler: Artist in the American Tradition,” New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1938). Sheeler probably started collecting Shaker pieces in the 1920s, and began to include his Shaker furniture in paintings of domestic interiors such as “Interior” (1926, Whitney Museum of American Art). In 1934, he visited the Shaker villages in Hancock, Massachusetts and in New Lebanon, New York, where he photographed the Second Meeting House. In the same year he painted his first oil of Shaker architecture, “Shaker Buildings” (private collection), a rendering of the laundry and machine shop in Hancock, which he was to portray in three more paintings, including “On a Shaker Theme.”
The laundry and machine shop is a three and one half story building constructed in 1790. The structure served as a washhouse, machine house, herb and seed room, and woodshed and thus it exemplified the Shaker principle of maximum utility (Mary Jane Jacob, “The Impact of Shaker Design on the Work of Charles Sheeler,” unpublished M.A. thesis, 1976, quoted in Flo Morse, “The Shakers and the World’s People,” New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1980, p. 138). Over time and subsequent renovations it had acquired a unique shape. Two additions to the original building created interesting relationships of structural angles and forms that especially appealed to Sheeler. He depicted the building a second time in 1941 in “Shaker Detail” (The Newark Museum), showing a closer view but from the same angle as in his 1934 “Shaker Buildings.” His final two paintings of the laundry and machine shop are the Museum’s painting and “On a Shaker Theme #2” (Babcock Galleries), both composite images painted in 1956. While the first two pictures of the laundry and machine shop are straightforward representations, in the last two paintings, Sheeler interpreted the Shaker architecture in his late style, which employs more abstracted forms.
In 1946, Sheeler had begun to experiment with composite photography as a basis for his paintings. He superimposed photographic negatives, sometimes reversing them, to arrive at evocative compositions. In “On a Shaker Theme,” Sheeler overlaid two images, one slightly smaller and in reverse, of the portion of the laundry and machine shop depicted in “Shaker Detail.” He also radically simplified the details of the building so that windows and doors are reduced to rectangles. Sheeler’s method of overlapping images resulted in a complicated scaffolding of diagonals and verticals. “On a Shaker Theme” celebrates the refined geometric forms that underlie Shaker design, although its compositional intricacy eschews the Shaker virtues of purity and simplicity. This complexity, however, becomes integral to the piece if we consider the title of the painting to be musical - Sheeler had used musical titles starting in 1940 with “Fugue” [40.780] - as in Brahms’s “Variations on a Theme by Haydn.” Some of Brahms’s variations on a simple theme become quite complex with the addition of contrasting but parallel melodic lines played along with the theme. Thus Sheeler took the simple geometric shapes that he admired in Shaker architecture as his theme, and by using composite photography created an intricate tribute to a beloved building.
mfa.org, source
About the Artist
The American modernist Charles Sheeler (1883–1965) explored the relationships between photography, film, and more traditional media such as painting and drawing with more rigor and intellectual discipline than perhaps any other artist of his generation. As in a well-conceived scientific experiment, Sheeler used his own photographs and film stills as the basis for paintings and drawings, thus crystallizing the differences and similarities between them. Works in one medium manage to function as independent objects while also being inextricably linked to works in other media.
During Sheeler's lifetime the essential role that photography played in his creative process was often criticized or obscured because the medium's legitimacy as an art form remained controversial. In 1931 Sheeler himself — wary of being accused of simply copying his photographs, and at the behest of his dealer, Edith Halpert — began downplaying their connections. Yet the complex dialogue Sheeler forged among various techniques early in the century is one of his most innovative and important contributions to the history of American modernism.
Sheeler was trained at the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia from 1900 to 1902. He then enrolled at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1903 to 1906, where he learned an impressionistic style under the tutelage of the painter William Merritt Chase. In early 1909, on a trip to Paris, he encountered the revolutionary works of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and other European modernists. Recognizing the break with the past that these artists represented, he returned to the United States determined to cast aside his previous conceptions of art and pursue a new direction in his work. Around 1910 Sheeler took up photography as a way to support his painting — first documenting buildings for local Philadelphia architects, and later photographing works of art for New York dealers. In 1913 he participated in the first comprehensive display of European and American modernism in the United States, the Armory Show in New York, where he admired the works of the iconoclastic French artist Marcel Duchamp. By 1917 Sheeler was being recognized not only for his cubist-inspired paintings and drawings but also for his innovative photographs. Alfred Stieglitz, the influential champion of modern art in America, proclaimed Sheeler, along with Morton Schamberg and Paul Strand, the "Trinity of Photography."

Our Sponsors
Our Sponsors this month are Moogin and Marsha Neal Studio.

Please visit us Monday to see the prizes!

How to enter the Monthly Challenge:
1. You need to have a Pinterest account. Go get one ASAP if you don't have one already. It's easy, fun and inspiring.

2. Email us at absmonthlychallenge@gmail.com to get added to the monthly challenge board.

Subject: Monthly Challenge Board Request

You will be emailed an invite to the board within 48 hours. Accept the invite and you are ready to pin your entries.

3. Two ways to pin your entry to the board.

Pin your photo from the internet (on your blog, Etsy shop, etc.)

Add your photo directly from your computer

Create something using an art bead that fits within our monthly theme. We post the art to be used as your inspiration to create. This challenge is open to jewelry-makers, fiber artists, collage artist, etc. The art bead can be created by you or someone else. The challenge is to inspire those who use art beads and to see all the different ways art beads can be incorporated into your handiwork.

An Art Bead must be used in your piece to qualify for the monthly challenge.

***Beads strung on a chain, by themselves and beads simply added to wire or cord will not be accepted.***

Please add the tag or title MAY ABS to your photos. Include a short description, who created the art beads and a link to your blog, if you have one.

Deadline is May 31st 
You may upload 2 entries per month.


• Beads Makers Pinterest Board-Art beads must be created by you and fit the Art Bead Scene's monthly challenge theme. They can be made for the challenge or ones you have made before. 2 entries per month are allowed. 

One entry will be picked by the editors each month for a free month of advertising on the Art Bead Scene. Bead entries have to be pinned by the 30th of the month.

Beads only - do not post jewelry on this board. If a post doesn't fit the challenge it will be deleted.

Monthly Challenge Recap
• Please post at least one single shot of your creation on the Pinterest Board. This will be used to make a collage for the Monthly Challenge Gallery. Every creation will be added to the collage, regardless of a blog post. So everyone gets included!

Your entry must be on Pinterest 2 days BEFORE the recap to be included.

• Be sure to share with us the name of the art bead artist in the description of your photo so that if you are selected for the weekly Perfect Pairings on Wednesdays, both you as the designer and the art bead artist can get the credit you both deserve!

• An InLinkz button will be added to the bottom of the Monthly Challenge Recap post. Here you will be able to link up your blog post if you have one. It is no longer necessary to add your blog post URL to the description unless you want to. Be sure to hop around and see all the great inspiration and leave some comment love!

• The Monthly Challenge Recap with Blog Tour will be posted on May 31st.

Monthly Challenge Winners
• One prize winner will be selected at random from all pictures posted on the Pinterest board.

• One prize winner will be selected at random from all blog posts added to the hop for the Monthly Challenge Recap post. So if you want to be in the pool for the second prize, be sure to use the InLinkz code at the bottom of the post to share your process and inspirations!

• Winners will be randomly chosen from all the qualifying entries on April 1st.

Perfect Pairings :: Designer + Art Bead Artist
• Formerly the Featured Designer of the Week, our new Perfect Pairings will focus on both the jewelry designer and the art bead artist. 

• Be sure to point out all the art bead artists in your work in the description of the photo on the Pinterest Board. Links to their website or shop are appreciated. That way we can all find new art beads to love!

• From all the entries during the month, an editor will pick their favorite design to be featured every Wednesday here on ABS, so get those entries in soon.

What is an Art Bead?
An art bead is a bead, charm, button or finding made by an independent artist. Art beads are the vision and handiwork of an individual artist. You can read more about art beads here.

***A bead that is handmade is not necessarily an art bead. Hill Tribe Silver, Kazuri ceramic beads or lampwork beads made in factories are examples of handmade beads that are not considered art beads.

Beaded beads, stamped metal pendants or wire-wrapped components are not considered art beads for our challenge.***

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