ELEVATED | Mystery in Motifs
by Leslie Vreeland
Feb 20, 2014 | 925 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print

How will you know if you found me at last

‘Cause I’ll be the one, be the one, be the one

              With my heart in my lap


Neko Case, “I Wish I Was the Moon”

The singer-songwriter Neko Case is somewhat of a specialist when it comes to singing about lost love, and her powerful voice and searing lyrics perfectly match her subject matter.

Yet talented as she is, it’s not Case’s work alone that carries her best songs over the top  and makes you stop and feel a pang as if your heart is breaking – right there, on a sunny day, in the middle of your kitchen. I realized this the other day, as I listened to Case tear into “I Wish I Was the Moon.” She sings it solo, but the most powerful moments in the song are marked by chiming harmony: BE the one, BE the one, BE the one – if you listen closely, behind each “be” there’s a bell-like voice (backup singer Kelly Hogan, whose brother used to punch her in the arm for constantly harmonizing with the radio) descending in a minor key. The result is something other – much more than two singers taking different parts. You shiver a little, hearing it. T

Telluride artist Amy Levek’s new works are “composed” of two disparate parts as well, and, just like Case’s song, the combination results in something not just “more,” but special. At first, the combining was random: Levek’s a photographer, who had been printing her photographs on fabrics. One day, she said, “I noticed how fabric photos stacked on my work table were accidentally creating a whole new world of images. I was no longer limited by a particular ‘story’ in the photos.”

Levek had a new direction for her work. She began using photos-on-fabric as background for other photos-on-fabric, juxtaposing images she’d printed on heavier fabrics, such as cotton, with images on more transparent material, such as organza. When she put the two images together – arranging one an inch or so in front of the other on an aluminum frame – the result was more than a couple of two-dimensional works: it became a single, ethereal work in 3D.

The new technique has resulted in some haunting images. She overlaid a photo of a trio of Drepung monks from last summer’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival with a photo of hoarfrost crystals on a tree branch from this winter; the monks loom eerily in the background. A quartet of pelicans is overlaid with a photo of a trail in the forest, and the water birds appear to glide gracefully out of their element, beneath a forest canopy. In “Seen,” a pair of songbirds rests on a branch as a ghostly image of a feline stares out at them. “The energy of each pair of photos, when they’re added together, creates something totally different,” Levek said. “The images are related, but the result is a whole different experience.” Levek’s new works are on exhibit in Chimera: 2D/3D at the Stronghouse Gallery through the end of the month. When asked if she had ever come across this technique before, Levek, creator of numerous unsettling images, let out a chuckle. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” she admitted. “I think I’ve inadvertently invented a new genre.” See the video Levek has made of her show at Stronghouse by visiting her website (amylevek.com) and clicking on Fabric and Sculptural Photos.

Wine Class at Ah Haa

Finally, from the Old World of original Art Nouveau jewelry to the new world of wines, sommelier Brent Englund teaches a class entitled California: The New Reds at Ah Haa tomorrow evening. The two-hour course costs a very reasonable $45, money you could easily spend on an average bottle of wine with dinner and drink with pleasure but no context: on why it was or wasn’t special, and what you might have ordered, perhaps for less money, that could have better-complemented your meal.

The gist of the class is that American wines are changing, Englund said. “And the ironic part is that the Old World styles of wine, such as those made in France and Italy, are what’s new.” The American palate is only about 30 years old, Englund explained. The wines we’ve been drinking for the past few decades have been jammy “fruit bombs,” over-oaked, overly high in alcohol, full of everything but subtlety. This style of wine gained its fame for three reasons: it was lauded by influential wine critic Robert Parker, “it was easy to make in the California heat,” and it was easy to toss back – uncomplicated to drink. These forces, Englund said, combined to form “sort of the perfect storm” for this sort of wine. Today, however, the American interest in good food and where it comes from has evolved. More and more, wine is seen as a compliment to a meal and “not quite the elitist thing it was” a few years ago. Indeed, the motto of Mark West winery is “Pinot for the People,” a reference to Pinot Noir, one of the grapes, along with Syrah and native Italian varietals such as Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto being used in wines of increasing restraint instead of explosive flavors – “wines that taste like the land they came from” instead of fermented Welch’s. The evolution “makes sense,” Englund said. “In America’s infancy with wines, we drank infantile wine. Now we want something that works with the food we’re learning to love.” Class meets from 6-8 p.m. To register, visit ahhaa.org or call 970/728-3886.

Masriera Jewelry at Lustre Gallery

The Barcelona artist Lluis Masriera left his family and their prosperous jewelry business in 1879 to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Geneva. His art began to change while he was there; although it still incorporated Baroque and Neo-Gothic elements, Masriera, heavily influenced at this point by the work of Rene Lalique, began to incorporate Art Nouveau motifs into his pieces. The influence of the French Art Nouveau never really left him. Around 1900, according to an account of Masriera’s career from Hancocks jewellers of London (itself in business since 1849), when the Art Nouveau movement was at its zenith and long after he’d returned home to Barcelona, legend has it Masriera “decided to melt down the entire stock of his shop and start again.” His new pieces made his name: a diadem he was commissioned to make for Queen Victoria is considered one of the highlights of Spanish Art Nouveau. 

Masriera jewelry is still being made using the original carved molds and enameling process made famous by Lluis, and continues to bear the hallmarks of Art Nouveau, incorporating flora and fanciful fauna (dragons, griffons, nymphs and faeries) in its brilliant, bejeweled designs. Lustre Gallery has a trunk show of Masriera’s jewelry on display through this coming Tuesday. “I never know what they’ll bring,” said Lustre’s Christine Reich. All that’s known for certain is that it is here for a short time, and is beautiful.

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