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With great public attendance at the Strathmore Mansion, Alfredo was part of an open house celebrated during the month of February 2008. For this occasion, he presented for the first time in public, a project to be completed in his studio titled �Zodiac Art: The Kaleidoscope�. Invited by Millie Shott, visual arts director at Strathmore, Alfredo created a piece that involved iron, clay, and kaleidoscopes.
During the open house, Alfredo displayed the complete project completed on paper and explained to several hundred invitees the nature of the project. As part of the presentation, he sculpted part of the centerpiece, demonstrating his method of work.
The four-foot-tall enameled steel kaleidoscope bowl was placed on the site on October 31st 2008, and the piece was permanently installed.
The large steel bowl that forms the base of the kaleidoscope became the object of Alfredo�s new creation. In the bottom of the bowl, Alfredo created a large sun which formed the center of the piece from which twelve segments emanate as rays from the sun, each one signifying the twelve signs of the zodiac.
The mosaic was executed using a stoneware clay suitable for the outdoors with jewel-like patinas that gleam in the sunlight. This new interactive sculpture mixes several media including steel, optic lenses, and mosaic. Alfredo said during the installation that �multimedia is another form of interactive creation to reenact the imagination of the 21st century�.
The art sculpture now is on permanent display at the front garden at Strathmore. Visitors to Strathmore can make the bowl spin with all the different zodiac signs creating infinite combinations of colors and signs depending the time of day. If you want to know more about the Mansion at Strathmore and the Strathmore Music Center please click here.
The "Columns of the Sun and the Moon"
at the Butterfly Garden at Lee Arts Center
in Arlington, VA
The Butterfly Garden was a dream project for many years that, I am very happy to say, finally came true! Arlington County broke ground and began a complete renovation of the backyard area of Lee Arts Center to include a new garden that will be completed by 2009. Novie Trump, Director of the Lee Arts Center, asked Alfredo Ratinoff to develop a concept for this garden that could involve the Arlington County community.
Alfredo worked with more than a hundred participants, children and adults, creating a wide variety of butterflies and flower shapes which became part of a mosaic that was the centerpiece of the garden. Once the shapes were molded, glazed, and fired, this gargantuan project came to a wonderful conclusion as each of the shapes were assembled in a giant mosaic on three cement columns poured on the site this summer (2008).
Mike Seo from Seo Tile and Marble from Beltsville, MD was in charge of the installation, and with a crew of seven professional installers under Alfredo�s supervision, the whole project was completed in a week.
The finished mosaic piece is titled �The Columns of the Sun and Moon�, and is complete with landscaping that will be in full blossom by 2009. Alfredo once again wants to express his gratitude to Novie Trump who was an invaluable help in every single aspect of the project. Her boundless energy as well as the efforts of the Division of Cultural Affairs of Arlington County made this mega project possible.
New Collection of
Alfredo Ratinoff will be presenting his new collection of Limoges enamels on copper at the Watergate Gallery in Washington D.C. Each piece is first designed on paper and transferred onto metal using the same technique as the original pieces were made in the renowned city of Limoges hundreds of years ago. Once the design is ready to be enameled, very fine transparent layers of wet enamels are applied to the metal that will reveal a rich translucency. Next, paillons (small cut outs) in silver and 24kt gold are placed on top of the enamel and fired again. Finally, more layers of enamels are applied to achieve depth and unique translucency effects. Alfredo's enamels are imported from the Crystallerie de St. Paul in France in a unique variety of colors from deep reds to burnt umbers and pale opalescent colors that reflect the idea of his new series �The Elixir of Love�. Once the pieces are finished and polished, they are then mounted and framed in original sterling silver frames from the Cavurotto company in Florence, Italy. Cavurotto was founded in Florence in 1919 and continues the tradition of the "Antiche Botteghe Artigiane" (Antique Artisan Shops). Through the years Cavurotto has created jewelry, art and silverwork for the royal families and aristocracy of Europe and has produced some of the most exquisite silver pieces in the world, from decorative to functional objects.
Orleans Fine Tapestries
Elizabeth Lay, president of Orleans Fine Tapestries in Orlean, Virginia, invited Alfredo Ratinoff to create exclusive designs for her unique needlepoint kits. With this new partnership between Orleans Fine Tapestries and Alfredo Ratinoff, art collectors from all over will be able to stitch Alfredo�s designs, creating an art piece that can be framed and displayed on the wall or turned into a unique object for the home, such as a pillow or table runner.
Guided by Liz�s expertise in the field of needlepoint, Alfredo created many different sketches, and after hours of work and discussion, three final designs were transferred onto Fabriano paper and colored with a planned palette based on the selected colored wools. Each of the three designs was created from a different important epoch of art: one, a medieval-styled landscape titled �Moonlight�; second, a traditional renaissance image titled �The Angel of the Arts�; and third, a design based on a colorful, impressionist palette titled �The Garden Sun�. Each design was carefully studied and analyzed to obtain the most accurate image to be transferred onto the final canvases. Each canvas is printed individually and by hand in Devon, England by Phoenix Design, and they are bound in a cotton binding for a more delicate finish.
Alfredo traveled to London to meet with the directors from Phoenix Designs and was presented with the first printed canvas to approve the final designs before the entire series is printed and presented in the U.S. Each kit will include a Zweigart high quality premium printed canvas, a complete selection of the finest and high quality wools from silk mohair blends imported from Switzerland and 100% pure wool from New Zealand, needles, a color chart, designer notes and instructions, and an artist statement about the design from Alfredo Ratinoff in an elegantly designed box. Elizabeth Lay provides an excellent educational website with Flash animation to demonstrate the stitching process. In addition to Alfredo's designs, Elizabeth Lay is also presenting a selection of her own new designs exclusively created for this one-of-a-kind line. Her designs include her renowned still lifes and exquisite geometrical patterns as well as her new Greek mythology series, including her latest creation �Apollo� in which Liz explores the needlepoint medium to the maximum extent through textures and colors of unique beauty as a tribute to ancient Greek art. The kits will be available for sale online, galleries, and in museum gift shops. Click here for more information.
Arlington >=< Cwmbran
Exhibit in Wales
Nine ceramic artists from Lee Arts Center in Arlington VA participated in an art exchange, bringing their work to Cwmbran, Wales during the month of May 2008. Alfredo joined this select group of potters and ceramic sculptors in the exhibition at Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre, curated by artist-in-residence Novie Trump. The other artists include Ramon Camarillo, Malcolm Davis, Elizabeth Kendall, Jacqueline Kierans, Gisele Nimic, Alfredo Ratinoff, Elke Seefeldt, Novie Trump and Judith Varga.
The show was presented in conjunction with an art opening for Novie Trump, showing her recent works in clay after her artist in residence in Wales also at the Arts Centre.
With an opening reception on May 2nd 2008, the artists visiting Wales presented a completely different perspective on clay from their own works: Ramon�s incredible and beautiful raku pieces; Malcolm Davis unique shapes covered in his famous shino glaze; Elizabeth Kendall's newest and marvelous clay installations; Jacqueline Kieran's organic and beautiful tile pieces; Gisele Nimic's refined and ethereal surface treatments; Elke Seefeldt's famous blackware; and Novie�s phenomenal sculptures combining iconography and ancient myths. For this exhibit Alfredo presented a new series �The Apothecary of the Elixirs� a new series of mosaic plates of which one was featured for the poster of the show.
The exhibition was open to the public in Cwmbran Wales at the LLantarnam Grange Arts Centre until June 28th, 2008.
Alfredo in the UK
During May 2008 I had the opportunity to take a trip to London and Wales to be part of an exhibit in Cwmbran, Wales with nine other artists from Lee Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia. After the wonderful opening reception at the LLantarnam Grange Arts Centre in Cwmbran, I had the opportunity to visit and discover Wales, a beautiful country full of breathtaking landscapes and centuries-old castles. We stayed in Tenby, a quaint town surrounded by ancient Roman walls with a cliffside overlook of the ocean and beautiful beaches.
My partner Shane, who is a calligrapher, was doing a UK study tour of calligraphy with several masters in the area and I had the pleasure to meet one of them, Ieuan Rees, who is a wonderful calligrapher and a very unique artist. We drove for almost an hour across narrow bucolic country roads until we found the house of Ieuann Rees and his wife Margaret whom I had the pleasure to meet in person and to share a true cup of English tea in their 1800� house, an original mill transformed into a beautiful living home. It was a true pleasure to see Ieuann�s wonderful calligraphy as well as Margaret�s watercolors and to visit his studio where he does his stone carvings, one of which is placed in Westminster Abbey in London.
While Shane studied with Mr. Rees, I visited the Carreg Cennen Castle, a castle built in the 13th century in Carmarthenshire, south Wales. We also traveled to London, which, though very different in its hustle and bustle urban chic, was equally fantastic as I enjoyed many attractions including great exhibits at the British Museum, The National Gallery of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. We are planning to come back to London in 2009, and I will keep you posted of more events there.
Arlington >=< Cwmbran
Exhibit in the U.S.
The second part of Art Exchange Arlington >=< Cwmbran culminated in a wonderful reception at the Lee Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia. The situation was reversed in this second part of the arts exchange in that there was an exhibit of ceramic art by Welsh artists curated by Novie Trump and co-curated by by Melanie Brown and Pete Goodridge. The exchange in both continents created a rare opportunity for cermic artists from both countries to interact and share their work. The opening reception for the show was on Saturday June 7th and I was very happy to be able to attend with many other members from Lee Arts Center in Arlington, VA and see the wonderful variety of pieces exhibited.
The participating artists from Wales are: Duncan Ayscough, Sam Bakewell, Melanie Brown, Lowri Davies, Morgen Hall, Catrin Howell, Walter Keeler, Wendy Lawrence and Claudia Lis. All of their ceramic art was exquisite and well-executed, from the more utilitarian ware to decorative non-functional pieces and sculptural pieces.
It was a true gift to have this show at Lee Center and to see the works of so many talented artists from Europe in the U.S. The curator of this show, Novie Trump, worked for a month in Wales as the artist in residence at the Fireworks Studios in Cardiff Wales and exhibited her work with a solo show at the Llantarnam Grange Arts Centre in Cwmbran, Wales in conjunction with Art Exchange Arlington >=< Cwmbran where the first part of the show took place. Artist Melanie Brown was the current resident artist at Lee Arts Center for the month of June and presented a two-day master workshop on teapot construction.
For more information about all this event please visit the Lee Arts Center website at www.arlingtonarts.org.
Alfredo Ratinoff at the
Watergate Gallery: �Expressive Imaginations�
Alfredo Ratinoff joined artists Beverlee Ahlin, Joe Dickey, Gunnel Gyllenhoff, Antonia Ramis Miguel and Helen Zughaib in a group show at the Watergate Gallery in Washington, DC invited by gallery owner Dale Johnson.
"Expressive Imaginations" was a summer show full of creativity and imagination, from watercolor, woodturning, poured acrylic on canvas, oils, gouache, and acrylic. Alfredo presented two wall pieces that sold the night of the opening to two of his collectors: �Angel�, created using the encaustic technique, an ancient method in which pigments dissolved in wax are painted on wood, and mosaiqued in Tiffany glass with 24kt gold. The second piece Alfredo presented was a mosaic entitled �Sun� where regular and small marble tiles composed a mosaic piece with inclusions of original pieces of china from Turkish plates.
Along with the two large pieces were Limoges enamels from his new series "A Midsummer Night's Dream" executed in copper with gold and silver paillons over French enamels imported from Crystallerie St. Paul. With a marvelous attendance the opening night was a total success and many of Alfredo�s collectors and friends congregated at the gallery to celebrate the opening of this wonderful show with so many talented artists.
Juror for the Society of
American Mosaic Artists
Robin Brett Mosaic
The Robin Brett Mosaic Scholarship was created to help and support emerging and established mosaic artists, providing an opportunity to help artist members from SAMA to take the next pivotal step in their artistic careers. Alfredo Ratinoff was chosen as a juror for the scholarship program in 2007 and was also a juror in 2005. This scholarship is a very important part of SAMA�s programs providing future development of artists in the mosaic medium and keeping alive the memory of Ms. Brett who was one of the main driving forces behind this organization. We had two recipients for the 2007 Scholarship: Ana Foncerrada of Mexico City, Mexico and Ms. Carol-Stirton-Broad of Elkins Park, PA. The other jurors were Josh Blanc, president of the Hand-Built Tile Association, Jean Ann Dabb, Professor of Art at Mary Washington University and past board member. Alfredo expressed that to choose the grants finalist was a very difficult task since all of the applicants had a great presentation. It�s not easy to pick a finalist with so many wonderful artists, each with the dream to keep learning the art of mosaic. If you are a mosaic artist interested in applying for the SAMA scholarship or are interested in making a donation to the scholarship program, please visit www.americanmosaics.org.
AARP Women's Vision
In 2007 the AARP Foundation Women's Leadership Circle celebrated its first Women's Vision Summit at the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson Arizona. The Women�s Leadership Circle is an outgrowth of the initial vision of Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, AARP�s founder. The five-day summit included a wide variety of lectures and workshops and invited renowned panelists such as Valerie Morris from CNN Financial News, Dr. Carolyn Farb, H.C. �The First Lady of Philantropy in Texas�, Cristina Saralegui, a 30-year veteran journalist recognized as the most influential role model for today�s Hispanic woman and Alfredo�s very special collector, country music star Naomi Judd, philanthropist Teresa Heinz Kerry, tennis champion Chris Evert, and actress Diahann Carroll. The driving theme behind the event was to empower and promote leadership and improve the lives of women. Alfredo created a series of pieces especially for the event to be presented to the AARP donors as tokens of gratitude. With an opening evening gala AARP opened the event with a champagne cocktail and a private concert by singer Tony Bennet.
The first pieces from Alfredo were presented after Mr. Bennet�s concert and continued every night during the event.
Alfredo created a one-of-a-kind series of terracotta bowls and plates entitled �Women of the New Millennium�, each plate describing its own version of real and mythological women who exemplify female power an leadership. Each piece was handmade with Alfredo's own glazes and were highlighted in 24kt gold.
Treasures from the Palace
In December 2007 Alfredo Ratinoff presented his biannual show at the Watergate Gallery entitled �Treasures from the Palace�, an exhibit involving several art media including ceramics, drawings, paintings, and stained glass. The title of the show is based on the artist-conceived legend of a girl in a palace lost in time in a medieval city where she has lived for hundred of years through the help of a ubiquitous black dove who provides her with the elixir of eternal life made by ancient Chinese alchemists. Alfredo took the idea and made it real with his works taken from that timeless palace. Alfredo expressed in his own words his concept of the show: �It�s not just about making good art this time, it is more than that; it�s creating the perfect combination of materials that I love the most, something that can resemble the most unusual and sensitive surface quality and texture of the found objects and papers with the visible depth of my art. I want this time to have a body of work even more intriguing to the eyes of the connoisseurs and my collectors�. Finding all these unique materials involved an in-depth search and was a work of love�. Alfredo traveled to Paris, Rome, and New York looking for the most unique materials and pigments for this exhibit.
The show was composed of 27 original art pieces created in a variety of different mediums, including drawings and inks on handmade paper from India made from shrubs from the Himalayas and calfskin vellum, coated with Gofun Shirayuki, a special white gesso which is a hand-ground powder made from the pearl shells found on the beaches of Kyoto in Japan and true sepia ink made from the bladder of the Adriatic cuttlefish.
Enameling was made in the Limoges techniques utilizing very finely ground enamels and china paints on copper fired many times and applying gold and silver paillons or thin metal layers.
The clay pieces were made in terracotta clay and glazed with colors made from medieval recipes that can be found in the book by Cipriano Piccolpasso, "Li tre libri dell'arte del vasajo" ("The three books of the potter's art") written around 1548. Fused glass pieces are also part of the show, and they were created with techniques of fusing and glass slumping to achieve depth and color variation throughout the many layers of clear and semi-translucent glass.
Oprah at Home
"Oprah at Home" Magazine featured an exclusive article about the home of Hispanic TV host Cristina Saralegui, a two-page spread displaying the one-of-a-kind set of china that Cristina commissioned Alfredo for her home in Miami, Florida.
Alfredo created a series of original designs entitled �A Million Angels from Heaven�. Each plate was designed and painted in both traditional and contemporary Italian majolica techniques utilizing ceramic pigments and underglazes. The pieces were complemented with ceramic crayons and chalks, achieving a surface resembling that of old-fashioned Italian pottery yet with a contemporary approach. Each piece then was glazed with a diamond clear glaze and finally highlighted with 24kt gold painted in a filigrana style. Finally, each piece was complemented with touches of solid platinum with an undulating and exquisite luster reminiscent of china created over four hundred years ago in the cities of Urbino and Gubbio where this technique was invented. It is an entire twelve place setting including a coffee service where no piece is alike.
The entire set was then installed at Cristina�s dining room where a special wall cabinet piece was created especially for the set. This series was completed in a year and a half, each piece sketched, painted, and fired by Alfredo.
Twenty Years of the
Tea Room at Strathmore
Strathmore Art and Music Center and home of the of the Levine School of Music celebrated the Strathmore Mansion Tea Room's 20th year anniversary June 2007. The afternoon teas have been a celebratory tradition at Strathmore for friends getting together enjoying tea over a lecture, musical event, or art show. Millie Shott, visual arts director at the mansion, invited Alfredo to create a piece especially for this 20th anniversary celebration. Alfredo created a mega-size tea cup and saucer measuring 18 nches round and 14 inches high that in his own words could hold at least a cup of tea per year for each of the 20 years the afternoon teas at Strathmore have been in existence.
Placed at the entrance of the mansion at the main entrance of the tea room, the gigantic tea cup was exhibited for a period of six months complete. As part of the event, Alfredo commemorated the moment with a picture toasting the event with Ms. Shott. She even attached a tea bag into the giant cup to seal the moment forever. Alfredo declared, �Earl grey is my favorite kind of tea and I cannot see a tea cup without it.�
The piece was created in white clay and majolica underglazes, a technique reminiscent of old Italian ceramics and glazed in a myriad of different colors using images Alfredo created of women in splendid gowns and hats enjoying tea together. Alfredo called the piece �Tea at Strathmore�, and in the pictures we can see Alfredo and Millie Shott installing and presenting the piece publicly and toasting for many more teas at Strathmore.
Ellipse Art Center
During the months of November and December 2007, Novie Trump, director of the the Lee Arts Center in Arlington, Virginia, was invited to curate the show �The Narrative Figure� at the Ellipse Art Center in Arlington.
A total of six artist were invited to participate including Lisa Clague from North Carolina; Debra Fritts from Georgia; Carol Owen from North Carolina; Alfredo Ratinoff from Maryland; Nan Smith from Florida; and Elizabeth Wolf from Maryland. Novie's expertise in producing a show was evident from the cohesive display of art from so many disparate styles of the participating artists. The show was a tremendous success and every artist presented a different point of view about the human figure in their representation of the theme. Alfredo presented three different series for the show: a series of ceramic plates with original drawings in ceramic pencil from the famous tales from Oberon and Titania which included fairies and other mythological creatures.
Alfredo included in the presentation original drawings from the Oberon and Titania serieswith one piece executed in verre eglomise (or gilded glass), a technique widely used since the Byzantine and medieval times.Finally, Alfredo introduced a new series entitled �Abundance�, terracotta clay sculptures of very "Rubenesque" figures that are the representation of the concept of abundance.
The show was on exhibition from November 9th 2007 to January 19th 2008.
Artist in Residence
Holton Arms School
Nandini Giridharadas, chair of the arts department at Holton Arms School, invited Alfredo Ratinoff to be the artist in residence at Holton Arms School. Together, Alfredo and Mrs. Giridharadas were in charge of creating two different art pieces commissioned by the school board. Alfredo worked with all the students from the upper school and together created two magnificent pieces. The first piece was a large mosaic created for an indoor installation in the main hallway of the school.
This piece was created by the students who chose the theme of the learning experience and what it means to be a student of this prestigious institution, and the impact this experience will have on their lives. The piece was executed using the mosaic technique mounted on three panels. Each panel employed glass tiles cut with special tools by the students and placed over the designs that were already carefully sketched onto each panel. A total of 30 panels, each one measuring one square foot, were created by the students and mounted on the final three large panels. The second piece was an icon for the 21st century garden that was inaugurated on the front grounds of the school.
The icon was made in limestone, and tiles were embossed on each side of the monumental piece. Each mural was created by a team of students working on a specific design and glazing technique. The theme for the piece was �The Future and Our Dreams After Holton Arms�. After four months of dedicated work, the project was complete and was installed during the month of May 2008. A wonderful dedication ceremony was held at Holton Arms School with the presence of all the students.
New Line of Jewelry at
the Watergate Gallery
As a new series of artwork, Alfredo incorporated original jewelry pieces in gold and silver. Each piece was created using the very ancient Korean technique of Keum-Boo which involves adhering gold leaf to silver using high heat. The new series is entitled �The Constantine Series� based on inspirations of the medieval emperor.
The new jewelry also includes Alfredo�s zodiac art, each piece representing a zodiac sign made with fused glass, enamels, and 24kt gold. The collection is currently available at the Watergate Gallery in Washington, DC.