Evelyn Ackerman was born in 1924 in Detroit, and died at the end of 2012 at the age of 88. She worked in a multiplicity of mediums, from enamels on copper, to mosaics, tapestries, and woodcarvings. Evelyn and her husband Jerome were a Dynamic Duo. In 1949 they went to an exhibit at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, For Modern Living, which introduced them to post-war design, including Ray and Charles Eames. As Jerome Ackerman relates:
“Evvy and I looked at each other,” recalls Jerome, “and very prophetically said, ‘If the Eameses can do it, maybe we can do it. Or at least, we can try.’”
They set up a studio together in 1950’s California, and became lifelong friends with another Dynamic Duo, Gertrud and Otto Natzler(who also favored orange). I am inspired by the generative spark in the Ackerman duo, and glad that they had a chance to witness a retrospective of their work, “Masters of Mid-Century California Modernism,” in 2010 at the Mingei International Museum in San Diego.
Many of Evelyn’s creations include splashes of orange, and the Cats mosaic table is enlivened with golden orange squares.
Evelyn worked with a mosaic workshop in Mexico, sending her colored drawings keyed to tile samples for artisans to set. I see orange. And it makes me happy, and I am grateful to Evelyn for such unabashed orange, and delight in creating.
When I started working the Nutmeg Designs website, I knew we needed photos of Stratoz and me in our studios, to show where we work, our natural habitat. Fortuitously, I met Allison Puketza of 4A Photography, and she was intrigued by the idea of capturing people in context. She came over with lights, and spent time getting our studios composed, with an artist’s eye as to what makes a good focal point and color. She advised I wear one of my orange pendants, and I love that! Allison also noticed that Stratoz had the drawing he’d made for a Hope mosaic on his table and I had the mosaic in progress on my table, and she loved how that symbolized our collaborative work.
Allison got her first SLR camera when she was in the 6th grade, and was surrounded by a creative family, with biweekly slide shows, and “paint-offs” for entertainment. She started making scrapbooks as a journal for each year, and was an art major in college before the expense became too much. Eventually she went back, and finished a degree in sociology, but the idea of going to school for photography was a dream that stayed with her, and Allison began an online master’s program through the Academy of Art University Photography School of San Francisco. After 6 years of part time study, Allison graduated in 2011. Her business, 4A Photography, located in the Souderton, PA area, is named for herself and her family Alec, Abigail and Anja. Allison designed her own logo, and I love it, especially being my last name starts with A!
Both her daughters are now in school and she is branching out with her photography, doing family portraits, workplace portraits, and still maintaining her love of abstraction which she discovered while in photography school. Allison asked if Stratoz would create a stained glass piece inspired by some of her abstract photos. This is the kind of inspiration that we love, and Stratoz made a very cool suncatcher with interpretations of 4 photos from her Impressions of Space series.
Otto (1908-2007) and Gertrud Amon Natzler ( 1908-1971) worked together, with Gertrud making the pottery and Otto the glazes. He feigned an interest in clay because he was smitten with Gertrud. They set up a studio together in Austria, and Otto set about learning to glaze the lyrical forms created by Gertrud, and discovering he liked the imperfections, blisters and pockmarks even more than traditional glaze. In 1938, the Nazi’s invaded Austria, and they married and fled to LA. The fact of Otto’s over 1,000 glazes and Gertrud’s 25,000 hand thrown pots surely qualifies them as a Dynamic Duo! The evocation of Pompeii, and volcanic red-orange in the glazes, fitting seamlessly to the pottery, is a brilliant tribute to the fire of creativity.
In my quest to find other “dynamic duo” creative couples, I found the British Lucienne and Robin Day. Lucienne Day(1917-2010) designed fabrics the middle of the 20th Century inspired by plant forms, brilliant color, and modern art from artists such as Paul Klee and Joan Miro. Her husband Robin was a furniture designer, and though they shared a studio, they worked independently. There is a plethora of articles about how Day’s textile is more than “mere fabric” and reads like a painting rather than a textile, and that if it had been painting, she would’ve been more recognized, but Blake Gopnik does concede that Klee may have been influenced by textiles, with his designs covering the whole visual field, edge to edge. My eye loves textiles, and I don’t see them as lacking in art. I love that Day’s work is embraces abstraction. Textile and quilt design is one of my greatest inspirations for my mosaics. Textiles are art. Women are artists. What encouraging thoughts.
Note: These sneakers are more fabulous than I can even say!
It was Stratoz’s birthday, and he asked me to take a photo of him in our front yard, by the brand new Sunflower, holding a sheet of glass destined for a lizard stepping stone for Snowcatcher. Gardens and glass are two of Stratoz’s favorite things, so this is an apt portrait, and also the final one in his Flickr Project 365, which he started the previous year on his birthday. The year has been one of growing creativity and more collaboration in our art, with our mosaic house numbers(observe the glimpse of “45” through the porch), and the Fruit of the Spirit commission.
When we met in 1986, Stratoz was already drawing intricate doodles with colored pencils, but starting Nutmeg Designs, and making art that expresses our spirit and brings joy was not what we predicted. We have both evolved into our “two-studio-one-bedroom-rowhouse” and my heart is happy that we were blessed to celebrate another birthday weekend(my birthday was July 29th, and July 30th is celebrated by annexation.)
Are you part of a creative couple? Tell me about someone who supports you, inspires you, and is creative with you. Creativity is not limited to art. It informs all joyful things.