RJM III - San Francisco CA

Aimee Golant Necklace
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RJM III - San Francisco CA

In 2008, the third edition of Radical Jewelry Makeover was organized in San Francisco, CA, a city that understands the long-term effects of precious-metal mining. Today, San Francisco Bay still contains dangerous levels of mercury generated during gold rush era hydraulic mining. With the polluted Bay as our backdrop, we reached out to area jewelry students and professional to address mining issues, reconsider our jewelry collections and invited this group to make new pieces from the unwanted jewelry donated by Bay Area residents.

By the end of the project over 110 people in the San Francisco community donated over 150 pounds of unwanted jewelry.  More than 200 jewelers participated in what continues to be the biggest Makeover to date. Together they transformed the donations and created 400 pieces of jewelry (and sculpture) and donated thousands of volunteer hours in support of Ethical Metalsmiths mission. RJM_SF_sorting at Richmond Art Center

The nine schools, studios, and organizations who participated included the Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts, City College of San Francisco, The Crucible, Revere Academy, Richmond Art Center, Scintillant Studios, members of Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco, Velvet da Vinci Gallery, artists they represented, and numerous volunteers.

We believe RJM is radical for many reasons and in her essay about the project Claire Pentecost (artist, writer, professor) described RJM’s radicality like this, “What extends their project into radicality is that they are staging the entire process as a widely inclusive public event: —the research, the call for unwanted jewelry, the redesign and remake, the exhibit of wildly inventive alternative ornaments. By doing so they constitute a counter public sphere, one that activates a politics fusing the expressive realm of aesthetics with the affective realm of ethics.”

Another radical part of the project is the risk that hosting galleries face by showcasing an exhibition of jewelry it has never seen and made by artists it isn’t familiar with.  Velvet da Vinci, San Francisco's premier art jewelry gallery embraced our project, took a chance and invited Ethical Metalsmiths to exhibit the completed jewelry from October 22 through November 9, 2008. The opening reception was attended by hundreds,  RJM_SF openingand included countless participating artists and donors. Many people from the public attended due to the feature article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

As with every Makeover, a lot of support is needed to organize the event, document and write about the project and cover expenses.  A generous donation from the Rotasa Foundation enabled Ethical Metalsmiths to design an online gallery for the San Francisco Makeover complete with professional photos by Richard Matzinger as well as three essays by Claire Pentecost, Elizabeth Shypertt and Mike Holmes, and Scott Cardiff. This support also enabled us to repeat the gallery design across our new website. Additional thanks go to all the participating schools and institutions and the special roles they played (hosting the sorting of donated jewelry and the Kick-Off event), the Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco and to Velvet da Vinci gallery. We’d also like to acknowledge the support of Millersville University and Virginia Commonwealth University for supporting our travel from coast to coast.

Enjoy this online gallery and essays and use the links below to access the various media coverage of the project.

Enjoy more images on the Velvet da Vinci gallery website.
Read a review of the project written by Lindsey Westbrook for California College of the Arts newsletter.
Academy of Art University announcing that several students are participating in RJM!
Article in the San Francisco Chronicle brought cutomers to Velvet da Vinci gallery that had never been to the gallery before!