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Métiers d’Art Specialists Worry About the Future – The New York Times

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When Anita Porchet started out as an independent enameler in 1992, her specialty had all but disappeared from watchmaking, a near casualty of what the industry still calls the quartz crisis of the 1970s. As the popularity of inexpensive quartz watches pushed many Swiss watch brands near bankruptcy, it also undermined some of the traditional crafts tied to the industry.

Three decades later, because of her talent and perseverance, Ms. Porchet has become one of the world’s premier enamelers, with more orders, she said, than she can fill. But facing the pandemic, she sees the profession once again at a tipping point — and unsure of its survival.

“Orders are being canceled or pushed back to next year or later,” Ms. Porchet said in a phone interview from her home in Corcelles-le-Jorat, Switzerland, in the canton of Vaud.

“My clients are all in a wait-and-see mode,” she said. “The impact of one or two order cancellations can be enormous on small workshops because they cannot hang on for very long without work.”

Ms. Porchet works from home aided by two assistants, a common arrangement for artisans who practice the traditional crafts commonly known as métiers d’art: enameling, marquetry, feather work, metal engraving and the like.

“I cannot afford an apprentice,” said Rose Saneuil, a French marquetry specialist based in Montrouge, a suburb of Paris. “It is hard enough making a living on my own from this type of work.”

Since Switzerland first went into lockdown in mid-March, global demand for high-end watches has collapsed. Nearly all the 2020 watch fairs, where so much of the industry’s business is done, were canceled, with some shifting to a virtual format because of global travel restrictions. And many distribution outlets around the world remain closed.

Swiss watch exports have plunged, down some 30 percent this year compared with last year, as reported in September by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Some watch brands are already laying off workers. In September, Ulysse Nardin and Girard Perregaux announced they were cutting about a quarter of their combined work force — around 100 jobs at the Kering Watches Manufacture. And more layoffs expected industrywide by year’s end.

“Many artisans are without work because brands cannot sell their watches,” Ms. Porchet said.

Decorative techniques in watchmaking date back centuries, but demand for métiers d’art watches has only seen a resurgence since 2000 — fueled, according to Ms. Porchet, mostly by Asian buyers who have a cultural appreciation for the work. Brands such as Vacheron Constantin, Piaget, Ulysse Nardin, Hermès and Chanel, among others, have greatly contributed to the revival by developing exceptional craftsmanship in-house or by hiring independent artisans.

This year, as in the past, those brands presented a panoply of métiers d’art watches. Ulysse Nardin showed the Sparkling Blast watch set with diamonds cut geometrically to look like shards of glass. Vacheron Constantin unveiled in January a collection with enameled dials for the Lunar New Year.

Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé Bouton line featured a Camée model, a secret watch with a profile of Coco Chanel hand-carved in agate on the dial cover. Piaget presented an array of métiers d’art timepieces, among them the Ecstatic Dance with a dial in a delicate marquetry of straw, mother-of-pearl, leather, parchment and wood, crafted by Ms. Saneuil.

“The orders I worked on during the lockdown were placed over a year ago,” Ms. Saneuil said. “I finished three dials for Piaget earlier this year. I am trying not to worry yet, but orders have slowed down.”

Several of the most sought-after craftspeople said that, in addition to fewer orders, they were seeing brands shifting from multipiece collections to very small collections or even just one-of-a-kind pieces — but requiring even more exceptional work.

“Our clients are now focusing exclusively on bespoke pieces and truly extraordinary product,” said Dick Steenman, a Geneva-based craftsman who works regularly for brands like Chanel, Chaumet and Van Cleef & Arpels.

“I think we are going to see an end to semi-industrial series in métiers d’art, and that is going to hurt many workshops with lesser qualifications,” Mr. Steenman said.

Credit…via Dick Steenman

In recent years Mr. Steenman, who also creates one-off timepieces under his own label, Van’T Hoff, reduced his staff by half — from 12 to six, retaining only highly skilled workers to create a niche specialty in engraving and miniature sculpture.

Also, he said, “a few clients are also asking for help in research and development, to come up with fresh ideas and innovative techniques.”

“Today, there is still demand for exceptional pieces,” Mr. Steenman said, “but buyers also want to know which artisan worked on their watch. They want to meet the craftsman, and learn how the watch was made. It is part of the ‘special services’ that high-end clients expect.”

Like Mr. Steenman, Ms. Porchet is focusing on more sophisticated and often more complex projects. She recently completed an enameled case back for a pocket watch that a brand (which she declined to identify) had ordered for a private client, and a small series of enameled dials for the Arceau Aaaaargh! wristwatch, commissioned by Hermès.

“Wealthy collectors will always buy unique or custom-made pieces, even in periods of crisis,” Ms. Porchet said.

The independent brand MB&F also has ventured into métiers d’art in a rare collaboration with a master engraver, Eddy Jaquet, on a series of eight one-of-a kind Legacy Machine watches. Each of the LM Split Escapement x Eddy Jaquet, introduced in September, was inspired by a different Jules Verne novel.

“During uncertain times, people still buy intrinsically valuable products,” said Charris Yadigaroglou, head of communication for MB&F from Geneva.

“Eddy has been engraving inscriptions for us for 10 years,” Mr. Yadigaroglou said. “Three years ago, we noticed that he had very little work despite his immense talent. So we asked him to design and engrave the dials for this series.”

MB&F said all eight watches — each priced at 148,000 Swiss francs ($161,900) — were presold on Zoom calls with retailers, even before Mr. Jaquet had completed the last three dials.

“I am grateful for this project because, without it, I would not have much work the rest of this year,” Mr. Jaquet said from his atelier in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. “I go from being overly busy to being under-worked very quickly.”

And at least one entrepreneur has seized on the moment as an opportunity.

Last month Xavier Rousset, a former dial maker, introduced XRby, a new brand that plans to produce métiers d’art mechanical watches in collaboration with a single artisan, but only after payment is made. Prospective buyers will be able to view high-definition computer-generated renditions of a proposed watch design on the XR website, and then place orders.

“The watch industry is at a turning point today,” Mr. Rousset said from Besançon, a small town near the Swiss border that is known as France’s watch capital. “The current crisis and competition from connected watches will kill off much of the quartz watch industry. But there will always be demand for mechanical watches with beautiful, decorative workmanship.”

His first model, the XRby Rose Saneuil, features a brightly colored quetzal in a marquetry of wood and leather on its dial. It is priced at 33,000 euros, or $38,670.

“These are know-hows that people care about and must be preserved,” Mr. Rousset said. “We are doing just that by putting the craftsman back at the heart of watchmaking.”

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Art world star gives back by buying work of the undiscovered – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Business Wire

Spero Health Opens New Hopkinsville, KY Clinic Offering Addiction Treatment With Telehealth Services

Spero Health has announced plans to open their newest addiction treatment clinic in Hopkinsville, KY as part of the organization’s quick response to the growing need for expanded services as communities continue to see an increase in drug overdose deaths. CARF -accredited and community based, Spero Health is a national leader in providing care for individuals struggling with substance use disorders and will bring affordable, high quality addiction treatment services through a combination of telehealth and in-person visit options at this new clinic. Located at 111Susan Avenue, it is set to open its doors on December 1st. The new Hopkinsville Clinic joins a network of more than 45 Spero Health locations throughout Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Indiana, providing care for more than 8,400 patients each month. To ensure access to care is not a barrier to treatment, Spero Health accepts Kentucky Medicaid and most commercial insurance plans. Individuals who need addiction treatment services are encouraged to call: 270-962-2255 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Fort Smith museum turns into art gallery this Christmas – Cabin Radio

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Fort Smith’s Northern Life Museum and Cultural Centre is stepping up to help local artists this holiday season. For the first time, the museum will not only display art but also sell it.

A community art show opens at the museum on December 11 with artists’ work from around the region, said museum manager Rohma Nawaz.

“It’s a little bit of both: facilitating exposure for these artists and letting people in the community know that we have these great artists from the area … but also helping sales during Covid times, because we will be able to put individuals in touch with the artists and facilitate sales,” she said.

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“The other thing we’re doing, and I’m really excited about this, is we’re offering a pop-up shop option at the museum because we are a facility that is able to remain open.

“We want to essentially offer up our space in the front part of the museum to artists for whom it may be difficult to facilitate sales during Covid.”

Artists will drop off their work at the museum, then staff will place it on display and sell it.

“This is a way for them to not have to worry about anything, they just drop their stuff off with us,” explained Nawaz. Artists are welcome to spend time at their booth and chat with customers.

Each artist will have about a week to showcase their work. Watch the museum’s Facebook page to find out which artists are featured each week.

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The pop-up shop, adjacent to the gift shop, will run from November 30 until December 24.

Space in the community art show is full but the museum still has spaces left for the pop-up shop. Artists can get in touch to reserve a week.

“We’re really trying to make the museum as happening as we can during this Covid Christmas,” said Nawaz.

“We want to encourage anyone that’s reading or listening to shop local this Christmas season. There are a lot of artists who rely on their seasonal sales and this year has been an odd one, for many reasons.”

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Members of Beach Guild of Fine Art face COVID-19 challenges by hosting Online Holiday Show – Beach Metro News

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The works of a number of members of the Beach Guild of Fine Art will be featured in this year’s Online Holiday Show. Above is Yvonne Jamieson’s The Beacher Cafe.

By SHELLEY CINNAMON

The members of the Beach Guild of Fine Art are taking on the challenges presented by COVID 19.

As artists we live a fairly solitary life working towards opportunities to show our paintings, when we get the chance, and enjoy interaction with the public at our shows.
This year, compared to last, has been extremely different with the onset of COVID-19.

Our monthly meetings and our three annual shows have been put on hold. Last year not only did we have our regular shows but we also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the start of the Guild.

In 2019 we had art shows at Beaches-East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s office; at Essentia on Queen Street East; and at the Beacher Café.
Some of our members were also showing at Sunnybrook Hospital and in the Botanical Gardens Library at Edwards Gardens.

We did have one lovely, socially distanced and masked outdoor meeting in September of this year near the boat house by the much loved and oft painted Leuty Lifeguard Station.

The Guild was started in 1994 by a group of seven local artists with the first call for artists going out in the Beach Metro News.

From among that group of artists there are two honorary members, Mary Cserepy, who still attended meetings when we could have them and Winona Gallop Lavier, who for several years sponsored the Winona Gallop Award in Art Excellence. Now Winona is generously donating those funds to help with COVID-19 relief.

Sadly, another of the initial group of members, Shirley Jones, passed this year after being an illustrious and much admired member of our group.

Over the years the Guild has been supported by many of our Beach friends and neighbours, as well as by numerous Torontonians who came to our shows. We truly miss the interaction with each other and with those who visited us.

To keep ourselves motivated and to help keep us painting we have moved to an online, virtual show with no fun-filled opening night and no awards but still with the proud presentation of our work.

Our hope is that buying a painting that brings a smile to your soul or reminds you of a cherished or happy moment that will help alleviate the stress we have all been experiencing during this pandemic. We look forward to being back to what used to be our “normal”.

For the moment, though, please visit us online at the www.BeachGuildofFineArt.com to find a link our holiday show. You can also log in to the show directly at https://bgfaholidayshow.format.com/art-gallery

Shelley Cinnamon is a member of the Beach Guild of Fine Art.


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