Local gallery owner publishes book

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — Wearing something that looks like a copper byproduct from a metal lathe around her neck and a handmade monkey’s face of brass on her jacket, Marbeth Schon proudly displays her love for American modernist jewelry.

Not only does she have a strong love for it she wrote the book on it — actually she wrote two.

For the past year and a half Schon, owner of downtown’s M. Schon Gallery, has been working on her second book, “Form & Function: American Modernist Jewelry, 1940 – 1970.”

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For many, a first glimpse of modernist jewelry likely borders something extraterrestrial.

Some of the work looks vaguely like recognizable objects and some looks like a creation from another world.

But for Schon it’s all recognizable; it’s all art.

And for Schon writing the book was a labor of love.

When she talks about what attracts her to the genre she looks like a girl with a crush trying to talk about a boy.

“It’s art you wear,” she said. “It’s small sculpture.”

Small sculpture may be the best way to think of modernist jewelry.

While Schon said she’s attracted to many aspects of the jewelry, she has a unique way to gauge it also.

“I try to imagine it blown up in front of a building,” she said. “Like a giant sculpture.”

Not only did Schon get to work with much of the jewelry displayed in the book she also got to work with the artists.

“They were so grateful,” she said. “And it was amazing to speak with them.”

Schon said many of her subjects in the book were born from the American Crafts Movement, started after World War II, and are now in their late 80s or 90s.

“A lot of them never got rich or famous,” she said. “They just did it because that’s what they loved to do.”

Local photographer and artist, Shirley Byrne contributed a great deal of time helping bring life to Schon’s book.

Byrne photographed much of the art displayed in the book.

“There’s so many three dimensional aspects to it,” she said. “It’s very unique.”

From 4 to 6 p.m. today Schon will be signing copies of her new book at Cover to Cover Books.