Worn and hung

Jeweler and painter collaborate for weekend show

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2001

Exhibit hours

Opening: 6-10 p.m. Friday.

Place: Gallery Art and Framing at 3340 Fritz Cove Rd.

On exhibit: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

A wondermonger and a magical realist are sharing a gallery this weekend for a show of new artwork.

Goldsmith, jeweler and teacher Michael Hunter is the wondermonger, a term used to describe one who deals in wonders. Painter Rick Clair is the magical realist, a painter whose realistic style is blended with vivid imagination.

"We're playing off each other," Hunter said. "He's going to paint some of the pieces I'm making, illustrate them in his paintings. He's done a tiny painting, a half-inch by half-inch little icon and I'm mounting it in gold, like a pendant."

Clair will have about a dozen new paintings in the show, called "Worn and Hung: New works by Michael Reid Hunter and Rick Clair." Hunter expects to exhibit about 25 pieces of jewelry, including a dozen pairs of earrings, bracelets, pendants and rings. Only a few of the efforts are collaborative, but Clair said the jewelry enhances the paintings.

"The color pallet we use is similar," he said. "The opal and chrysoprase - a lot of the color hues are complimentary."

For many of the pieces in this show, Hunter has created an alloy with copper, silver and 23-karat gold, giving the gold a lemony yellow coloring. He usually works with 23- and 24-karat gold, essentially pure gold, and his metalwork is rarely polished, giving it a distinctive roughhewn look.

Gold is prominent in Hunter's work, as are his wonders - 2,000-year-old Roman coins, gemstones, fossils and ancient, small tools chipped from stone or carved from ivory.


"I think he really transcends jewelry," Clair said. "He makes these timeless artifacts. Some of it, if you dug it up tomorrow, you think it could be 5,000 years old or made last week."

The two artists share a fascination with the natural world, history and natural history.

"I tend to collect the same kind of things (as Hunter) but my collection is a lot simpler," Clair said. "Skulls, bones, feathers, stones and use those in some kind of artistic endeavor. He's taken that to a very high degree. He has a reverence for old things."

Clair said his painting style has been described as magical realism.

"The images are there. You can see them, but they're not in realistic situations," he said.

Clair paints largely from his imagination, and his colorful landscapes are populated with historical figures, angels and animals, decorated with symbols, and often imply an untold story. He works in oil and another type of paint called alkyds.

He said this show will be a mixed bag of large and small canvases, some with fanciful storybook characters, others making social commentary.

Hunter and Clair are both fans of each other's work. Clair has his eye on a piece by Hunter and is hoping his partner in the show will consider a trade. Hunter owns seven paintings by Clair.

"I may get my ear pierced," he said. "He wears that black pearl and that's become my favorite gem."

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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