MAD About Jewelry 2021 Opening Benefit Preview

Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

On Monday evening, jewelry enthusiasts assembled at the Museum of Arts and Design to celebrate the MAD About Jewelry 2021 Opening Benefit Preview. MAD About Jewelry is the ultimate 5-day pop-up shop for contemporary artist-made jewelry, featuring designs from more than 40 emerging and acclaimed artists.

After a two-year hiatus, it returns in person for a special holiday celebration. The event is usually held in April, but having it at this time of the year makes it a great place to search for a unique gift for someone special, and/or yourself! Prices run from approximately $100 – $8,000 with the majoring under $1,000. The sale runs through Saturday, December 11th.

Kay Unger a Co-Chair of the event
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Co-Chairs of the evening were Kay Unger, LaVon Kellner, Deirdre Quinn, and Bryna Pomp, Director, MAD About Jewelry. Bryna has curated MAD About Jewelry for 11 years. She has spent her whole career in jewelry and travels the globe searching for the most outstanding artists who create the best in design and craftsmanship.

Maya Rose Weiss Textiles
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Because of Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is the first year the artists were all U.S. based; the roster of designers usually reads more like a League of Nations. MAD is the only American museum to possess a gallery dedicated to displaying special jewelry exhibitions and its own contemporary and modern studio and art jewelry collection.

The evening’s events included first access for patrons to meet the 2021 MAD About Jewelry 2021 artists and acquire their designs, a cocktail hour and reception, as well as a dinner honoring the 2021 MAD About Jewelry Award recipient, presented to a luminary (artist, collector, designer) in the field.

Michele Cohen, Chair, MAD Board of Trustees, and honoree Helen Drutt English
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

This year, they honored gallerist, author, curatorial consultant, and collector Helen Drutt English, who is world-renowned for her significant and continued commitment to the advancement and awareness of the Modern and Contemporary Craft Movement. Helen’s contributions have been vast, with scholarship and education being at the heart of all her endeavors. But really, the true stars of the evening, and the event, are the creative artists whose work is on display.

Of Rare Origin’s Leslie Tcheyan, (in the middle), and her two daughters, Octavia and Thea
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Of Rare Origin, is a statement fine jewelry label founded by sisters Thea and Octavia Giovannini-Torelli and their mother Leslie Tcheyan in 2016. They joined MAD About Jewelry 2021 for a Truck Show (part boutique, part boudoir, part bar) in the Museum’s Lobby during Monday night’s opening benefit preview and will be there for the first two days of the sale.

Amanda Gorman wears Of Rare Origin Ring gifted by Oprah Winfrey
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

The trio works with small family workshops in Italy and sells their rings, earrings, and necklaces to fine specialty stores like Bergdorf Goodman and Kirna Zabete. Their collections include fanciful birds, delicate flowers, and other winks of whimsy. They were put on the map when Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in history, wore their Aviary Classic Ring, $1290, at the 46th Presidential Inauguration. It was a gift from Oprah Winfrey and in honor of Maya Angelou who wrote, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” and spoke at Clinton’s 1993 inauguration.”

Amy Lemaire and Bryna Pomp wearing Amy’s necklace
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

I was instantly drawn to Amy Lemaire’s sculptural and oversized beaded necklaces made from glass. Amy is a multidisciplinary artist and educator based in New York.
She was inspired to create the “Pollen Count” collection while studying microscopic images of pollen, using the technology of glass (lenses, microscopes, cameras, etc.) as a lens to extend her ability to consider the connections between nature and the human body. Curator Bryna Pomp was wearing one of Amy’s statement necklaces, and she says that several similar pieces sold quickly last evening.

Patricia Madeja and her kinetic Ferris Wheel Diamond Earring in 18k gold
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Patricia Madeja’s kinetic jewelry with spinning stones takes geometric forms and architectural structures. Based in West Islip, New York, Patricia, is a studio jeweler, goldsmith, and educator who serves as Professor and Fine Arts Jewelry Coordinator at Pratt Institute. The 18K Ferris Wheel Diamond earrings, with its moving parts, are one of the standouts and priced at $6200.

Keiko Kutoba-Miura and her Electroform copper Jewelry
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Born in Tokyo and now based in New York, Keiko Kubota-Miura is a metal sculptor and art jeweler who works in electroformed copper. Many of her over-scaled pieces remind me of Calder’s mobiles. Keiko says she has come to understand that the world has more than three dimensions. She hopes that through her work, people will feel the significant energy and message of the unknown universe, www.

MoAnA Luu and her debut collection
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

New York-based artist MoAnA Luu’s debut “Manluu” collection is stackable and gender-neutral. It uses 18-karat gold vermeil and sterling silver to emulate woven cane. Luu says she has a passion for Creole jewelry shaped by generations of heritage and expertise; some of her earliest memories are at her grandparents’ jewelry store in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

Susanne Henry’s steele jewelry
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Susanne Henry, a jewelry artist and metalsmith based in Chicago, creates “paperchain” jewelry in steel and gold, inspired by the construction-paper chains of childhood. She works in steel to express the juxtaposition of strength and femininity in jewelry. As an inherently lightweight yet strong material, steel allows for more experimentation and larger pieces.

Danielle Gori-Montanelli is a show veteran at and her whimsical work in felt always makes me smile. Gori-Montanelli likes to find the beauty and humor in everyday objects and experiments with abstract and geometric shapes, wild colors, and subtle gradations while retaining a delightful, playful quality.

Danielle Gori-Montanelli’s colorful felt brooches
Photo: Marilyn Kirschner

Meanwhile, Danielle’s decidedly well-priced felt brooches make great stocking stuffers! For example, the popular Licorice brooch and the OY brooch, $75, are perennial favorites.

Danielle says that her Mid-Century Modern Couch brooch, $65, is popular with customers who get them for their therapists. She even sold one to a therapist who was getting it for THEIR therapist.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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