2006-12-01 / Columnists

From The Artists Studio

A Foundry In At Least Two Parts Rockaway Artists Alliance
Commentary by Susan Hartenstein

A Foundry In At Least Two Parts
Rockaway Artists Alliance

Commentary by
Susan Hartenstein

Title: "Reflections In my Window." Artist: Ann Murray, Medium: Graphite.Title: "Reflections In my Window." Artist: Ann Murray, Medium: Graphite. The Modern Art Foundry in Astoria, Queens has been serving artists and the community since 1932, when it opened under the name Bedford Bronze in Long Island City. Its international clientele has included the famous (names such as Jacques Lipchitz, Wheeler Williams, and Louise Kaish), and the not so famous. In 1947 it moved to Astoria under its present name, where it has remained. From father to son to grandson and granddaughter, three generations of the Spring family have owned, operated and devoted themselves to what has come to be known as "The Artist's Foundry." Primarily a fine art lost wax casting foundry, it serves the needs of the sculptor "from soup to nuts" under one roof, offering a full range of solutions to the artist's requirements. Located in a converted apartment building, the unassuming exterior of this depression era brown brick building belies the world inside - a world of raw power, intimate delicacy, Hades-hot furnace fires, cool, hard metals; a world of the monumental, the small and everything in between.

The job of a foundry is to cast works of art in metal. The sculptor will bring the original work into this factory. The original may be made of wood, clay, stone or other material. A series of negative and positive molds are made of it. A rubber mold allows the artist to have copies of his or her sculpture made. In the ancient process of "lost wax" casting, the positive wax mold is melted away, replaced by molten hot metal, which then hardens. Modern Art Foundry specializes in casting statuary bronze, but also casts silicon bronze and other bronze alloys, aluminum and other non-ferrous metals. This is not the final stage in the birth of a cast sculpture. Cleaning, grinding, polishing, welding, assembling, followed by the patina or coloring stage. Any or all of these processes may be necessary to fulfill the desires of the artist. All these steps are accomplished under the roof of the Modern Art Foundry. It also offers mounting, delivery and installation services. Bronze castings have survived for thousands of years. The basic process has remained essentially the same. The series of steps in the production of a metal casting is fascinating, interesting enough to be explored further in upcoming columns. The countless possibilities available for patination, for example, run from the traditional to the experimental and can determine the character of the final sculpture or relief.

Jeffrey and his sister Mary Jo are the third generation, bringing The Modern Art Foundry into the 21st Century. As Jeffrey leads the visitor on an enlightening tour through the series of myriad spaces in the foundry; through its contrasting and exciting sights, sounds and sensations, one realizes that he "lives" his work. This is reflected in his intimate understanding of and personal connection to each stage in the process; the respect he has for the artist and for the artisans whose skill, strength, knowledge and precision are part of the international reputation the foundry enjoys. The artisans, some of whom have been there for almost forty years, use traditional and innovative state-of-the-art techniques.

The foundry's guiding principle has remained to serve the artist and the community. Its three primary services are: casting and finishing sculpture, commemorative design, and maintenance and conservation. The Modern Art Foundry also prides itself in the intimate, interactive relationships it creates with the artists who come to it with their work. It strives to be sensitive to their needs and their desires, educating and guiding the artist whenever necessary. The foundry publishes an informative newsletter; helped establish the Art Founder's Guild of America to assist in protecting the rights of the artist; provides artists studio space; provides space for enlargements and reductions; offers apprentice intern programs; maintains two gallery spaces to assist sculptors in presenting their work. The Modern Art Foundry is located at 18-70 41st Street, Astoria. Visit www.mo dernartfound ry.com, which includes an online gallery, and arrange a tour. More next week.

FREE EVENT - Note for Note: Music and Poetry with Mary Kelly and Dan Guarino. Saturday, December 2 in sTudio 6 Gallery at 2 p.m., RoCA@Fort Tilden.

GIFTED, RAA's holiday member exhibit, on view through December 10 at sTudio 6 Gallery . Admission free. Gallery hours: Saturdays: 12-4 p.m., Sundays 1-4 p.m. and by appointment. For information: 718 474-0861; rockart116@aol.com, www.rockawayartistsalliance.org.

CALL TO ARTISTS: "Where Flowers Bloom in Winter." Deadline for receipt of entries: December 8.

Live Model Drawing Workshop - Fridays, 7 - 10 p.m. through December 8. sTudio 6 Gallery.

Bring your own drawing materials. Short & long poses. Final session: one pose all evening. Cost: $15 per session.

RAA Holiday Party and Elections: Monday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Building T-149, Fort Tilden. Featured band: Hudson's Hope.

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