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Several major private collections and four or five museum visits — we were on overload Tuesday after our three-day trip to the Washington, D.C. area. You might experience something similar while reading this lengthy blog …..

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Sunday we drove directly to Jeff Bernstein/Judy Chernoff’s home where they started the afternoon with a short formal talk about their collection. We were free to wander around to look at — and hold — the artwork. Lunch would be served shortly (the food was delicious!). (Photo by Judy Chernoff.)


Jeff Bernstein/Judy Chernoff

I had been to Judy and Jeff’s twice previously, but this visit was qualitatively different for three reasons: 1) The living room/dining room areas were opened up and remodeled, giving each artwork ample space to invite individual appreciation. 2) The group was comprised of non-woodturning-artists, so the focus moved beyond their extensive collection of wood-turned art to encompass glass, ceramics, and bamboo-woven baskets. 3) And, I am personally in a more expansive place with my own artwork.

Below are images of some of our investigations, discoveries, and delights. Jeff emphasized that he and Judy thoughtfully group pieces together so that each one relates well with the other. They shared stories about their two children and how each (grown) son has acquired a fondness for particular pieces and also learned to appreciate art.

Amy drawing in her sketchbook, Rebecca reacting to trompe l’oeil  ceramic teapots, Katie drawing, Michaela taking a photo.

Jeff Bernstein enthusiastically points out the delicate nature and beauty of Pat Kramer’s turned-and-carved Norfolk Island pine vessel to Michaela and Ashley.

Judy Chernoff hands a modest-size Hunt Clark sculpture to Amy. Nuch was enamored of the bamboo baskets and was delighted to be able to hold and examine them up close!

A framed print was a treasure I’d not noticed on previous visits. This charming embossed etching by a Vietnamese artist became my favorite. Internet research indicates that Le Ba Dang is still alive, 90+ years old, and continues to do his artwork.


Phil Brown / Barbara Wolanin 

We sincerely appreciated Phil and Barbara’s hospitality hosting several of us at their home, as well as the detailed travel arrangements made by Phil. Their consideration for our comfort, as well as considerable time spent chopping vegetables for delicious summertime salads made our time with them even more enjoyable.

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Phil Brown and Barbara Wolanin explain a detail on a turned object to Rebecca.

Phil gave us a tour of his workshop. Yup, just like every other woodworker, wood abounds! Afterward, we enjoyed adult beverages while relaxing at the dining room tables, talking about our upcoming trip into D.C.  Katie’s sketchbook was never far from her side.


Smithsonian American Art Museum, Renwick Gallery

Our first stop Monday was the Renwick Gallery to see the remaining two installations from the “Wonders” exhibit. They were wonderful! The primary exhibit currently on display is “Connections,” art from the Renwick’s permanent collection, where we enjoyed seeing numerous wood sculptures.

An explanation of the concept for “Connections,” and a photo of the outside of the Renwick Museum, which is located across the street, just down the block from the White House. The street in front of the White House is only open to foot and bicycle traffic.

A unique approach to sculpture made from wood ….

Dan Webb’s sculpture definitely was emotionally narrative. I circled back to look at it several times.

Slashed Millstone, 1996, Robyn Horn.


Martin Puryear at Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)

A must-see for everyone was the Martin Puryear exhibit at the SAAM. We were not allowed to take images, so I had to be satisfied with photos of two wood sculptures (by artists unknown to me) in a hallway exhibit just outside of the Puryear rooms. I had seen an exhibit of Puryear’s work at SAAM a few years ago, so (mistakenly) thought this one would be similar. It was not, and in fact, I enjoyed this one even more. I did not know that in addition to wood sculpture, he did printmaking, which was the focus of this exhibit. With my growing interest in woodcut and embossed prints, I was delighted!

Acrobats and Owl at the SAAM.


Several Additional Museums 

After viewing the Martin Puryear exhibit, we split up and several Fellows visited the Museum of Natural History, the Hirshhorn Museum, and the Museum of African Art. I toured the Hirshhorn, quickly visited the Museum of African Art, and stopped by the Museum of Women in the Arts.

I wish there had been more time to tour the Museum of African Art, but I settled for a quick look at one room and taking a few images. I will definitely be returning, as will Ashley!

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At the National Museum of Women in the Arts, a Louise Nevelson sculpture drew me in. Previously I had only seen her wall and box sculptures. Nevelson primarily made her sculptures from found wooden objects (many of them turned), then painted them either a solid black or white.


Fleur Bresler Collection

As with Jeff and Judy’s collection, I’ve visited Fleur’s as well, and not only were there new objects to admire, Fleur’s remodel of her apartment’s expansion is finished. This expansive space also allows for the artwork to be viewed much more individually. Fleur generously give us a personal tour, relating stories about several pieces and/or the makers. The name of each artist easily came to her mind, probably because Fleur personally knows most of the artists.

Fleur Bresler wound up Peace Silo for our enjoyment. It’s a music box!

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Merryll Saylan will join the Windgate ITE Residency on July 30, as the scholar. We are looking forward seeing her! In this photo, Fleur stands next to one of Merryll’s large turned-and-carved wall sculptures.

A reunion with the otter bench! Fleur purchased this bench from Penland School of Craft’s yearly benefit art auction. Until she saw it in Fleur’s hallway, Michaela had no idea who had purchased the bench. A few years ago, Michaela had helped finish the metal bench by quickly — and at the last minute — making its wooden seat. I enjoyed witnessing the reunion!

A reunion for me, too. This turned-and-carved sculpture is from the mid-1990s, and it was displayed on a shelf next to Addie Draper’s lovely illustrated bowl. Addie made numerous innovative wood-turned sculptures in the 1980s, but has not been turning since the 1990s. Fleur’s collection includes many early works from the woodturning field.


Mark and Diane Granier’s Collection

The Graniers graciously, albeit quickly, gave us a tour of their collection, which includes many studio-furniture pieces, a must-see for the furnituremakers in this year’s Windgate ITE. They were on their way out of town to visit relatives, but Mark took the time to provide detailed explanations and tell a few stories. Like all the collectors, they have developed relationships with many of the artists whose work they collect.

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Their home is spacious and everywhere we looked, treasurers surrounded us. Albert and Tina LeCoff joined us on the tour — they had not visited the Graniers previously. Katie, Nuch, and Amy sit on a Judy McKee Monkey Settee. Mark Granier (in the green T-shirt) spent a few minutes explaining their collection before leading an informative tour.

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The Graniers also collect ceramics, primarily from England (a few can be seen on shelves behind Mark). The staircase, partially visible in this photo, won an architectural award. Its open spirals span three stories, providing an expansive view of the home and parts of the collection.

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A trompe l’oeil legal tablet (carved from wood), presented to Diane Granier for her service as President of the Renwick Alliance, 2005-2007. The list contains Diane’s accomplishments while serving as President.

A few images of wood and ceramic pieces that caught my eye.

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Ashley posed outside Granier’s home, which was surrounded by several large sculptures. Perhaps on a next visit there will be time to tour those as well.

Adventures ended, we piled into the van and headed back to Philadelphia. Like everyone else, I was exhausted. It will take time to mentally process all that we saw and experienced. Without a doubt, this whirlwind excursion was enjoyable, worthwhile, and a privilege to experience!

— Betty J. Scarpino, Photojournalist