April 15, 2017
LOOT exhibition at the Mad Museum NYC
My original plan was to interview Bryna Pomp, the head curator of the LOOT exhibition at the New York Museum of Arts and Design. It is complicated to fill the dual role of a designer and a blogger but at every exhibition, there is usually an hour of quiet each morning that gives me time to wander around to chat and take pictures.
Not this time. This exhibition was as fast-paced and exhilarating as a passing storm. In fact, until the fourth day, I did not even have a free minute to meet the designers on the other side of the room. To tell you the truth, during the first three days I barely had time to string three coherent sentences together! The opening benefit was thrilling: from the wonderful, art-filled house belonging to Michele Cohen, Chair of the Board of Trustees, to the striking fashions modeled by the party guests; to the customized M&M candies stamped with the exhibition logo and the bowls filled with brilliantly colored jewelry candies on the tables; to the magnificent refreshments; and, particularly, because I didn’t know who to talk to first because, for me, everything was new, sparkling and exciting.
The exhibition itself was well organized and efficient. The dedicated team of museum employees calculated, drilled, and hammered the wall wherever we asked them to help us set up our displays.
The exhibition’s opening night was crowded with famous people wearing luxurious clothes that probably cost a month’s salary, and there was paparazzi everywhere. Bryna opened the evening with an emotional speech affirming that this space is our own, because throughout the year we sequester ourselves in our studios, behind our worktables, to create our art, our clothing stained and our hands grimy. I will admit that, for a moment, all I wanted was to hide again in my studio to quietly craft my jewelry and wear pajamas completely lacking in complicated fashion codes. It seemed that the following three days were a continuous medley of endless conversations. The museum wisely scheduled the opening of the jewelry exhibition to coincide with two parallel exhibitions on the other floors, and the downtime I was warned about happened later than was expected. I was very lucky that the wonderful women on the Board of Trustees chose to buy and wear my jewelry on the opening night so I got great pictures and fantastic exposure. The picture that received the most likes and responses on Facebook was one of Iris Apfel, the revered fashion icon, which is an indescribable honor in the world of social media where I spend much of my time.
However, it was museum Trustee and Loot chair Marsy Mittlemann, wearing my green leaf necklace, who sent everyone who passed her at the entrance directly to me to find jewelry similar to her beautiful necklace.
How does an artist get invited to LOOT? You must use original materials, goldsmithing techniques and always ensure that every piece has a careful and precise finish. The pieces must also pique the interest of the museum visitors since this exhibition is a fundraiser for the museum and finances the artists themselves so they can create their next collection. The best part was that there were varied groups of visitors to the exhibition throughout its run, so that each of my talented colleagues had a day when she was successful and had the highest sales. The museum provides us lunch, and we helped each other with sales when one of us took a break. I have never experienced so much help and support from my colleagues. In fact, even during the preparation of the exhibition, my fellow designers were busy with group emails to find roommates to share the expensive New York hotel rooms. After the exhibition, they were busy finding ways to meet, to cross the Brooklyn Bridge together and have a couple of drinks to celebrate the conclusion of our hard and rewarding work. I met wonderful and exceptionally beautiful and talented women this week. I am so fortunate that I had the privilege to be part of this exceptionally talented group of artists who were part of this exhibition. At the end of the exhibition, Bryna asked each of us to recommend another artist from our home country who, in our opinion, should show at the exhibition. She changes the list of artists every year, so she essentially immediately starts working on next year’s exhibition when the current one ends. She ensures that each artist is carefully selected and, through countless emails and Skype calls, selects the collection the artist will present at the museum. It was a great feeling to “pay it forward” by suggesting to Bryna the names of others. Having just experienced a passionate, exciting week, I feel privileged to pass this baton on. Photography credit: LOOT: MAD About Jewelry Opening on April 3, 2017. Photo by Jenna Bascom © Museum of Arts and Design. Inbar Shahak