The New Baltimore Jewelry Center and Opening Exhibit
by Cara Ober
“The Baltimore Jewelry Center is an educational non-profit building and a vibrant, creative community for the study and practice of metalworking for new and established artists,” proclaims the group’s website. The collective non-profit organization envisions a space in which “Baltimore’s rich history in the fields of metalwork, fabrication, and jewelry may flourish in a new generation of makers, assisting in the revitalization of the city through the passing on of hand skills and the support of creative endeavors.”
In addition to offering a premier maker facility for Baltimore’s aspiring metalsmiths and jewelers, the new Baltimore Jewelry Center boasts a small gallery space to feature local and national works of art. For their first exhibition, Passing from One Hand, the exhibit features three longtime Baltimore fine art jewelers: Betty Cooke, Joyce J. Scott, and Shana Kroiz in conjunction with a historical timeline and legacy of metalsmithing and fine art jewelry in Baltimore.
The exhibit celebrates the legacy of these three makers and also introduces works from a few Jewelry Center instructors and students, making a case for Baltimore as a long-term metalsmithing and jewelry destination. With informational texts placed next to beautifully designed glass vitrines, the historical contributions of G. Krug Ironworks, the oldest continually operating blacksmith shop in America, established in 1810, and Kirk-Stiff Silver Company, founded in 1892, are recognized as essential parents to this rich past.
Shana Kroiz, Betty Cooke, Joyce J. Scott
Exhibiting students and instructors include April Wood, Jenn Parnell, Kirsten Rook, Wayne Werner, Beth Pohlman, and Rachel Timmins. Although works range from traditional rings and necklaces to more experimental metal forms, their consistent display atop photos of significant Baltimore landmarks and symbols ties the show together in a visually elegant way and also emphasizes the influence of place upon aesthetic output. In addition, pairing fine art jewelry giants Betty Cooke, Joyce J. Scott, and Shana Kroiz with the next potential generation of metalsmiths and designers, along with they historical timeline, presents a succinct crash course of the history of this practice in Baltimore, and an immediate awareness of this significant tradition.
The Baltimore Jewelry Center is a relatively new entity in the cultural scene, but the non-profit collective existed for decades as a MICA Continuing Studies program located in the Meadow Mill Complex. After MICA severed ties with the program, a core group of fine art jewelers and professors came together and created a plan to continue on – without any institutional support. The result of this collaboration embodied in the new center are stunning, and so are the funding goals this group has managed to achieve. Located in the new Centre Theatre building on North Avenue, Baltimore’s cultural community will surely benefit from the newly energized presence of this group.
If you missed the opening reception on Friday, September 25, I highly recommend visiting the new Baltimore Jewelry Center to check out their new facility and to peruse this first, ambitious exhibition. Check their website for hours and availability, as well as options for classes.
Joyce J. Scott
Other photos of the Baltimore Jewelry Center Maker Space and Workshop