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VOL. 125 | NO. 6 | Monday, January 11, 2010

Dixon to Feature National Ornamental Metal Museum Work

By JONATHAN DEVIN | Special to The Memphis News

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HEADING EAST: The Dixon Gallery & Gardens has borrowed the talents of six artists in residence at the National Ornamental Metal Museum for “Metal in Memphis,” a 30-piece exhibition of local metal artwork. -- PHOTOS COURTESY OF DIXON GALLERY & GARDENS

he National Ornamental Metal Museum isn’t moving from its haven above the Mississippi River, but East Memphis arts patrons soon will have a chance to view metal art from local artists without trekking Downtown.

“Metal in Memphis,” a new exhibit at the Dixon Gallery & Gardens, will display the soul of the Bluff City with a tough exterior.

The opening reception for the exhibition will take place Jan. 21at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the Dixon’s “Art After Dark” concert by local band Jump Jack Jake. The exhibition’s eight-week run begins officially Jan. 24.

Julie Pierotti, assistant curator at the Dixon, said she was inspired to set up the exhibit after her first visit to the National Ornamental Metal Museum, where all six artists contributing to the exhibition are artists in residence.

“I was so impressed with the range of these artists’ skills,” Pierotti said. “One artist is doing really small-scale art like utensils out of sterling silver, like amazing forks and cake servers. Then you’ve got Jim Masterson, who’s doing more conceptual art.”

Other contributors include Mary Catherine Floyd, Jacob Brown, Andy Dohner, Kevin Burge and Jeannie Tomlinson Saltmarsh.

The Dixon is known for focusing on French Impressionism, but Pierotti said executive director Kevin Sharp has encouraged the staff to start broadening its borders. The 30-piece metal exhibit will be housed in the Mallory and Wurzburger galleries, two “small but meaningful spaces,” Pierotti said, where viewers will feel encouraged to interact with the pieces, at least one of which moves.

“Mary Catherine Floyd is really interested in textiles and weaving and she works it into her metalwork,” said Pierotti, pointing out one crescent-shaped piece with a basket weave finish in which the fibers seem to come loose at one end.

“We have such a great history of decorative arts here at the Dixon, so I think the metal art will be great for us and for the Metal Museum. Especially for living artists, it’s a unique opportunity to be able to show their work in a museum setting.”

Floyd and Tomlinson Saltmarsh also will discuss their techniques for creating metal art in a “Munch and Learn” lunchtime education lecture at the Dixon March 10. Masterson and Burge will give a talk March 17.

“Metal is such an approachable, unintimidating medium because everyone has metal in their lives,” Pierotti said. “I went to their forge and it was a million degrees in there and the artists were covered in dirt. You definitely have to have some strength to make this kind of art. Our audiences are going to love hearing about it.”

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