Baran Mickle

Bill Baran Mickle Metalsmith 98110

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LIFE   Island Treasures: Cantwell, Baran-Mickle are latest inductees to storied artistic pantheon By Luciano Marano • January 13, 2020 8:15 am Two new Bainbridge art world icons, Bill Baran-Mickle and Dominique Cantwell, are now counted among the illustrious ranks of Island Treasure Award recipients. Award officials confirmed the duo’s nomination earlier this month, capping a secretive selection process which mandates anonymity on the part of nominators and approval by a final five-juror panel, its members drawn from island-based cultural organizations and individuals long associated with local arts and humanities entities (schools, theaters, libraries, etc.). Both winners expressed surprise, gratitude, and humility upon being informed of their selection. “I got very verklempt,” said metalsmith Baran-Mickle. “I’m very shy, and so what I’ve done for my entire life, basically, is worked in small groups. That way, I get to know people. Otherwise, I’m not that great socially; I’m … introverted.” Cantwell, though more familiar with the pressures of the spotlight through her work at Bainbridge Performing Arts, was equally taken aback. “I’m still surprised, I’m stunned,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve earned it yet. I mean, if you look at the other winners and the other nominees and their bodies of work, it’s really humbling to be on any list that those names are on.” Conceived in 1999, the Island Treasure Award honors excellence in the arts and/or humanities and is presented annually to at least two individuals who have made outstanding contributions in those areas and the community at large. Candidates for the awards must have lived on Bainbridge Island for at least three years and have displayed “an ongoing commitment to their chosen field.” Past winners have included such Bainbridge luminaries as Bob McAllister, Frank Kitamoto, Gayle Bard, David Guterson, Kristin Tollefson, Kathleen Thorne, Sally Robison, Johnpaul Jones, Janie Ekberg, John Willson, Diane Bonciolini and Gregg Mesmer, and Cameron Snow, among others. Previously officiated by Arts & Humanities Bainbridge, the Island Treasure Award is now an independent organization, its committee chaired by Cynthia Sears. Baran-Mickle and Cantwell will officially be presented their awards, and a cash prize of $5,000 each, at the annual reception, to be held this year on Saturday, Feb. 29 at IslandWood (4450 Blakely Ave. NE). Tickets will go on sale shortly. For more information, contact info@island treasureawards.org or visit www.islandtreasureawards.org/the-event. Bill Baran-Mickle: Sculpting culture in founding times Bill Baran-Mickle is a modest, soft-spoken man as well known for his metalwork and sculpture as for his contributions to various panels and boards, including during the founding of two of Bainbridge’s premiere cultural entities. Also, he’s the guy behind the iconic Battle Point Park sundial. Said one nominator: “He is the first person that comes to mind when asked who is a vibrant, contributing part of our creative community.” He has worked with metal in various forms and exhibited his work in many venues around the world for nearly 40 years, having initially discovered a love of jewelry making while in high school, including several solo shows and more than 100 group exhibitions of varying sizes across America and in several European countries, too. He is also an accomplished writer. Baran-Mickle’s articles about art and artists have appeared in journals such as Metalsmith, and American Craft and Sculpture. To date, he himself has been featured in nine books, including the noted 2005 encyclopedia “The Sculpture Reference Illustrated,” wherein his work was selected to represent and illustrate the “Fabrication” entry. He moved to Bainbridge in 1998, and was a member of the founding board of both the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (he has served on both the Education and Acquisitions Committee) and Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network. “I love these small working groups where you have this enthusiasm and everyone’s just giving and they’re listening,” Baran-Mickle said. “There’s not a lot of judgment, they’re listening and evaluating … and you just keep moving. And so to me it’s a very creative process, which fits in to the things that I do; from the writing, from the blank page, to making something that hadn’t been there before.” As central as both institutions are now to the island art scene, Baran-Mickle recalled there was a time when things were less certain. “No one thought anyone would go down to the corner for a museum,” he said. “The Art Walk [organizers] that they had … they didn’t think [people] would go even up to [Town & Country Market].” But the times, they have a’changed, obviously. And the previously long-held suburban stigma that Baran-Mickle said once ghettoized art on the island has successfully been dispelled. “Part of the problem with whether it’s a restaurant here or clothing here or art here is a lot of people had the attitude that you just have to go to Seattle,” he said. “There was an attitude that, to have quality you have to go to Seattle because that’s the place — this is just a suburb.” But that casual cache is exactly what he dearly loves about the place, and now others are seeing it, too. “It’s amazing to be in T&C in almost your pajamas … you just have to run into the store, and you run into people that do amazing things,” he said. Of course, although it likely would never occur to him, there are may who consider Baran-Mickle one of those people, as reflected in his selection as an Island Treasure. In the words of one nominator: “Bill has contributed an enormous amount of time and energy to the Bainbridge cultural community. His work as an artist [and] visionary has helped our island have the vibrant art community it has. He doesn’t ask for recognition (or payment) for his efforts, he works quietly connecting with people and making a difference.” And he’s still at it, long after BIMA’s doors have opened and BARN classes have begun. Most recently, as a member of the Public Art Committee, Baran-Mickle was instrumental in the Something New program, which brings an annual revolving assortment of …

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Artist Spotlight: William Baran-Mickle

Artist Spotlight: William Baran-Mickle This month we are featuring Poulsbo artist Bill Baran-Mickle. His sculpture Inciting Hope is one of the pieces featured in the Sculpture Forest’s new Augmented Reality exhibit. William Baran-Mickle is a metalsmith who has been creating metal artwork for over 40 years. Like another Forest sculptor, Jeff Kahn, he started his artistic journey by making jewelry in high school. Bill found jewelry out of necessity when he and his family moved from Southern California to the San Francisco Bay area. He was not into the sports scene, so he found his place in art classes. Things got started when he won an art scholarship for a pendant he created. Bill went on to study at the California College of Arts and Crafts. He spent a year making jewelry and smithing projects after graduating. He liked metalsmithing so much that he returned to graduate school at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Crafts in New York. Besides being an expert metalsmith, Bill found he also liked to write about art. After working as a metalsmith for several years, Bill decided to return to school again to study art history at Syracuse University. Since he came from an artmaking background, he was put on probation for a semester to see if he could handle it. He could handle it and he graduated with his Master’s in Contemporary Art History in 1997. He has written dozens of articles for journals such as Metalsmith and Sculpture. His work has been included in nine books, and his artwork was featured in The Sculpture Reference Illustrated. Bill’s sculptures are generally not well suited for outdoors, as he learned when someone tried to dismantle his first outdoor project in New York. So, he was very excited by the opportunity to show it virtually outside at the Sculpture Forest. He was impressed with how detailed each of the AR works are when he visited the exhibit onsite.Inciting Hope shows two hands releasing paper cranes into the air. Bill was inspired by his son’s origami and he liked the idea of making metal sheets look like paper. It is part of a three-part series based on Hibakusha, which means “survivor of the bomb.” This is a term designated for the victims of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Cranes symbolize happiness and good fortune in Japan and legend is that folding 1000 paper cranes leads to a wish coming true. Bill got the idea for this series when he lived on Bainbridge Island. There has a strong relationship with the Japanese farmers who lived in the community. Bainbridge Island’s Japanese community was the first in the United States taken to concentration camps. Yet Bainbridge was the only community who gave back the seized property to those who returned. The Bainbridge Island Review was the only English language newspaper to criticize the internment at the time. Bill’s Hibakusha series was prominently featured in the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, of which Bill was instrumental in founding. Bill grew up in Santa Barbara back before Reagan made it well known and then lived in the beautiful Presidio in San Francisco. Coming from a very large family, Bill wanted to go off on his own and lived in Bellingham for a year. Then he went to upstate New York for 20 years, teaching on and off. He came to the Pacific Northwest as a became a board member of the Laird Norton Family Foundation in Seattle, later becoming its president. While Bill wanted to move out here, his wife accompanied him and she also came up with the idea.  They had relatives who already lived in Bainbridge, so they landed there in 1999 and lived there for over 20 years. The themes in Bill’s work often involve humor as well as social, cultural and political commentary. “I tried environmental commentary, but apparently I’m too subtle,” Bill says shruggingly. “I think because I come from making jewelry, I like a certain elegance, and that doesn’t work when you’re trying to comment on environmental problems.” He often works with symbols such as flowers in his sculptural wall reliefs. “I go into what society or time has put onto those particular flowers or herbs. Sometimes they’re healing and medicinal, sometimes they’re religious, then I pair them with a scene to make a commentary.” He also made a sculpture featuring binkies stacked between coffee cups as kind of a statement about being a busy parent who loves coffee – he has three sons, including twins. He’s had to take breaks sometimes but he’s never worried about creative blocks as he knows he’ll be in a different space when he returns to his work. He used to make drawings before starting on a piece, but over time he has learned to let the material speak to him. “It’s definitely a dialog. It’s good I work alone so people don’t hear me talking to myself.” His early inspirations were Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, and David Smith. Then after learning more about art history, he became a fan of Bryan Hunt. There are many artists he admires, but not many people make the type of work that he does. He laments that there aren’t many metalsmiths around anymore since it takes so much time to master; many schools focus more on jewelry making. Because he is rather shy, Bill got into writing as a way to meet other artists and learn about their processes. He learned that you can’t always look at a piece of artwork and know what it means. So, through his writing, Bill is able to bring out what artists mean. He makes an effort to deconstruct “artspeak” into something more simple to understand. It’s also a way to break up his artmaking. Lately, Bill has been making more wall reliefs. He has found that his more complicated three-dimensional pieces, which he calls “Bill’s Follies,” take way too much time. He finds that the wall reliefs are almost …

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Price Sculpture Forest augments reality

Photo Courtesy of Price Sculpture Forest Scott Price, found of the Price Sculpture Forest in Coupeville, stands next to “Inciting Hope,” by William Baran-Mickle. Actually, the statue isn’t physically there, but a new Augmented Reality exhibit at the sculpture park makes it look like it is. This is the only such art exhibit in the world. Whidbey Weekly March 2, 2023 (pg 8)Price Sculpture Forest augments reality By Kathy Reed Whidbey Weekly Whidbey News Times Augmented reality exhibit to open at Price Sculpture ForestCutting-edge technology is on its way to the natural, idyllic setting of the Price Sculpture Forest.By Kira Erickson • February 21, 2023 1:30 amhttps://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/augmented-reality-exhibit-to-open-at-price- sculpture-forest/ The Price Sculpture Forest in Coupeville is boldly going where no museum, gallery or art exhibition has ever gone before. It has just launched a new AR exhibit of four sculptures. That is correct – AR, as in Augmented Reality. Visitors to the sculpture forest now have the opportunity to see four sculptures that aren’t physically there. This exhibit is the first of its kind in the world, and it’s right here on Whid- bey Island. —-Using digital technology on our mobile phones and tablets, this augmented reality experience merges the real world with the digital world, making the sculptures appear in front of us. “Here, augmented reality refers to merging an interactive, 360-degree digital creation with a real-world setting around it,” explained sculp- ture forest founder, Scott Price. “A real-world sculpture has been digitally transformed into augmented reality and will be placed onto a real-world sculpture pedestal within the real- world forest around it. Through the app, you will experience both the digital world and the real world, seamlessly blended together from all viewing perspectives.”

Review of the London Biennale 2013

Review of the London Biennale 2013 Art News Report (Analyzing and developing the best art)The 2013 inaugural show of the London Art Biennale was a truly breathtaking exhibition. Excerpt: The Biennale showcases the artworks of 140 artists that come from 40 different nations that ranged from the USA represented by William Baran- Mickle, Frances Mercer, Victoria Milo and Bette Ridgeway, to Saudi Arabia represented by Badoor Alsudiry and Meervata Alameer, to Japan represented by Misa Aihara and Keizan Deguchi to name a few. ** Baran-Mickle was awarded 1st Place for Applied Arts in this exhibition. Dreaming of WHo Dreaming of an Exit

Paths to Greatness | State University of New York at Geneseo, New York. The Milne Library

1998Smithed brass, copper, nickel silver with patinas, cast concrete.7.5 ft x 7 ft diameterOriginally in front of the Milne Library, State University of New York at Geneseo.Now relocated inside the library’s main lobby. [Architectural consultant: McLear Associates Architects, Rochester, NY; Base cast by: W. N. Russell and Company, New Jersey; Landscape Design: SUNY’s University Landscape Department.] “Many have gone before you, but no one can choose your path” [My saying for the student’s journey. One word per the 12 wedge base forms] This shows the 80% of the symbolic meanings in the sculpture. •The path students take through college years. •The fireplace that evokes the comradery of new friendships. • The smoke elements, drift up, as arrows to the seven directions. •The forces of the four primary elements: Earth, Air, Water and Fire. • The 12 wedge base sections are a zodiacal reference.

Along the Way | The ChemMed Center, Cincinnati, Ohio

“Along the Way” ©1995Wall Relief76 x 72 x 6 inchesSmithed brass, copper, nickel silver, found objects patina and paint. Mounted on plywood. A complex iconography depicting everyday life, work life, vacation and retirement, as well as personal sanctuary (center) and afterlife (clouds expanding).CemMed Center Building, Cincinnati, OHAmerican Craft Council and Hines Limited Partners (National Competition Award Winner)   Bill working on frame section. Proposal sample for the Frame Section. (1 foot square) All the basic background sections oxidized and in place. Interior sections ready. Frame section in process.

1991 National Metal Competition (the Brass, Copper and Bronze Competition) Metalsmith Spring 1992

1991 National Metal Competition (the Brass, Copper and Bronze Competition) Metalsmith Spring 1992 By Robert L. Cardinale Excerpt of Article-Review:My purpose in this article is to describe what the exhibition did show, especially in some of the pieces selected for awards, compare the three exhibitions in general, and make some analytic observations about the field of metalsmithing and jewelry as indicated by what was and was not in the exhibition.Selection for awards was based on “evidence of a consistent maturity of expression; a unified body of work showing a strong synthesis of concept, design, and technique. We sought work which was conceptually sophisticated, technically masterful, and visually fresh. In particular, we sought the distinctive and shunned the derivative” (Cu3 catalog, Jurors’ Statement, p. 12). I was particularly intrigued by the two pieces of William Baran-Mickle (Pittsford, NY), Johan Rhodes Update and A Successful Season. Both pieces are approximately 20 inches high, both contain real vessels but used as symbolic forms, and both are presented as simultaneously framed and sculptural objects. Baran-Mickle is making art statements by reaching back to the recent and essential roots of metalsmithing and calling or recalling our attention to them. The Johan Rhodes Update takes the classic, quintessential functional pitcher form of “modern” hollowware, but roughly rather than smoothly finished, puts it on a pedestal, adorns it with frivolous squiggles and pseudo-fashionable post-modern motifs and colors, and then frames the entire composition in a deconstructivist, disjointed picture frame. A Successful Season is a tribute or memorial to the master artist/metalsmith Hans Christensen, a teacher of Baran-Mickle’s at Rochester Institute of Technology. It makes reference to Christensen’s important work with Georg Jensen and the strong influence that Christensen’s style and teaching had in the U.S. The death of Christensen in an auto accident is evidenced by the heavy tire tread marks chased into the base of the copper pitcher and etched into the Plexiglas of the picture plane. A Successful Season refers not only to the life of Christensen as a teacher and metalsmith but to the end of that life and stylistic influence in U.S. metalsmithing. These pieces are made for the artist/metalsmith and do for us what Warhol did for the art world when he took the Campbell’s soup can and forced us to focus upon the common object in our environment as art. Baran- Mickle’s pieces are wonderful and yet myopic examples of the self- reflexive nature of the contemporary metalsmithing and jewelry world.

Historical Sources: New Visions in Contemporary Metalsmithing

Excerpt of Review: “Historical Sources: New Visions in Contemporary Metalsmithing” by Ron Netsky in Metalsmith 11(4) 1991 “Johan Rhodes Update to 1989,” by William Baran-Mickle from Rochester, goes beyond influence or historic precedent to the territory of satirical comment. The piece looked as if it began its esthetic life as a virtual copy of Johan Rhodes’ “Silver Pitcher” of 1925, which is emblematic of pure- form Danish hollowware. But Baran-Mickle has slashed the piece, inscribed it, added decorative squiggles to its surface and constructed a decidedly postmodern base and frame for his version. In adding this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to a symbol of purity, Baran- Mickle comments wryly on moving-target aspects of esthetic standards of the 20th century.[The exhibition was held at the Memorial Art Gallery, the art museum of the University of Rochester, NY.]   “Johan Rhodes Update to 1989”** Artwork was also featured in Robert L. Cardinale’s article “1991 National Metal Competition,” 

Metalsmith Spring 1991 (Solo show review)

Metalsmith Spring 1991 (Solo show review)William Baran-MickleArnot Art Museum, Elmira, NYSeptember – October, 1990by Ron Netsky AII of William Baran-Mickle’s pieces comment in some way on the forces of nature. In these works, he displays not only a concern for the environment but also a consideration of human beings’ place in the greater scheme of things. The pieces on display range from literal interpretations of natural forms to more conceptual works. Even the most representational pieces go far beyond mere mimesis and, refreshingly, Baran- Mickle’s conceptual works are not at all inaccessible. Continental Drift, brass, wood, paint, carved and painted, forged formed, engraved, patinated, 12 x 25.75 x 13.5″ River: Cadence employs a striking combination of brass, bronze, nickel silver and sterling silver in an evocative sculpture of a waterfall. It is not complexity of form that makes this piece so arresting, since the work is surprisingly austere. The form itself manages to effectively convey the undulations of earth, rock and water. Not the least of its interesting aspects is the manner in which the piece turns from flowing horizontal to more turbulent vertical in a manner that suggests a bent human torso. When we see the reflective surface of these waterfalls and the textures of the rock cores, we must, at least subconsciously, consider the earth’s pockets of metals and the minerals suspended in water. We know the works are scaled representations, but the fact that they are composed of metals rather than wood or even clay makes for a more immediate relationship of material to content. Continental Drift is perhaps the most complex manifestation of Baran-Mickle’s theme, combining associations of navigational instruments: an exploded world globe, the hull, masts, and sails of a vessel, and petroglyphs from all corners of the globe. While the sail shapes seem to be indicative of the drifting continents, the petroglyphs signify a unity of human culture that metaphorically brings together the land masses that separated eons ago. All of the above elements are balanced over a purposefully crude, painted ocean of waves. The result conjures up visions of a world out of balance and adrift despite, or because of, the progress of humans. River Cadence, brass, bronze, nickel silver, sterling silver, marble base, formed, fabricated, 15 x 12 x 18″ In his artist’s statement, Baran-Mickle says his recent focus has been a dual image unified by an overriding form. Canyon Song contains a tension that takes Baran-Mickle’s concept a step farther. Here, there is a clear implication of two halves of a structure that was once whole. The V-shaped outer form seemingly remains standing only because of a series of rods that span its length, preventing it from toppling. The smooth, fluid exterior is effectively contrasted by the combination of the three oxidized metals that form a rough, disturbed surface in the center. In Overlook, the chasm is between two nude bodies, a male and female, both headless. What can be seen as the overriding form here is a bricklike – therefore manmade – structure partially surrounding the figures, which contours to the bodies as perfectly as the organic materials that seem to be oozing between them. The piece can be interpreted as an exploration of constructions of civilization encroaching upon and limiting the more natural aspects of human relationships.Ron Netsky chairs the Art Department at Nazareth College and is art critic for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

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