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New Life and Function

Artwork by John Whitney.

The TAP Lobby Gallery presents its latest installation: Reformations, relief sculptures by John Whitney of Baileys Harbor. This exhibit will be up through April 27, with an artist’s reception on March 30 at 4:30 pm.

Retired after 36 years as a Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin – Baraboo/Sauk County campus, Whitney is now concentrating on his first love of silversmithing and related projects. Whitney has a B.A. in Studio Art from Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, and an M.F.A. in Silversmithing from the School For American Craftsmen at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York.

His jewelry consists primarily of pendants in sterling silver and bronze, but the sculptural works on display approach traditional silver forms in a decidedly unconventional manner. By “re-forming” and framing silver-plated serving pieces, he is interested in the formal aspects of the resulting objects.

Whitney finds the silver-plated or pewter tea sets at garage sales, resale shops or antique malls. To him, the abandoned pieces reflect a change in the formality of middle-class households and family culture. “Given my training it may be sacrilegious for me to alter such traditional forms and deny their original intent,” Whitney says, “but that original intent has already been pretty much denied by the time I find them. So why not find another function for them?”

There may be some irony in Whitney’s “destruction” of the original purpose of vessels of the type that he himself once made in sterling silver, but perhaps he has re-purposed them and given them new life and function.

Third Avenue Playhouse is located at 239 N. Third Avenue in Sturgeon Bay. Box office hours are 12 – 5 pm Tuesday through Friday, and 12 pm to show time on all show days. For more information call 920.743.1760.

Whitney is represented by Deanna Clayton Studios, 9991 Highway 57, Sister Bay.