Saturday, February 23, 2013
Chanticleer garden and the Jersey Shore, of ballroom dancing and Philadelphia light, of the Schuylkill River and the cemetery where I often go before I teach my class at Penn. This weekend my story features the internationally acclaimed artist Michele Oka Doner and a spectacular Port Richmond foundry owned by the artist Jeb Stuart Wood. It's a story about collaboration, trust, and a converted warehouse in former collier country.
I met Michele during National YoungArts week in Miami. I mentioned how much I liked the pin she was wearing. She said she'd made it, slipped me her card, mentioned the loft where she lives in New York City. When I told her that I hailed from Philadelphia she replied that she has much of her work cast there in a foundry she trusts—the sort of work that ends up in the Louvre and MOMA, the Hayden Planetarium and the Miami Airport, a Tiffany's in New York City or a store clear across the world, a private home. "Come visit us at work," she said, and a few weeks later I showed up at the door of Independent Casting.
From Jeb I learned about the resurgence of a part of Philadelphia I'd never traveled through. I learned about the art of casting, about what it takes to run a foundry and to work with some of the world's leading sculptors. From Michele I learned about art as conversation, about the bronzing of organic stuff, about rivers, history, mythology. I was out of my element, and I loved it.
Here is the link to the whole story, which features a photograph of Michele at work in the foundry.