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SNAG's Metalsmith EIP, another disaster


#1

I just received my copy of the annual Metalsmith EIP. This is a
shining example of why SNAG is becoming less relevant with every
passing year. If the organization was about sculpture or art in
general then possibly the latest EIP would have had some relevance
but SNAG is supposed to be about jewelry for heavens sake, the name
is Society of North American Goldsmiths. If I had paid to have an ad
in that issue I would want my money back and it has me seriously
considering my ongoing membership in the organization. I have been a
member for over 20 years and it has saddened me to see how it has
deteriorated to become a more pointless organization with every
passing year. SNAG currently has two benefits to offer its members
the convention which only a small number of members can attend and
Metalsmith which seems determined to focus on an ever diminishing
academic art scene. What happened to the supporting the world of
metalsmithing and jewelry ? This is a very expensive magazine to
publish and a large portion of my dues go to it. When I get letters
asking me to send money to help SNAG out of a financial jam I really
have to ask myself what the hell do I get from the organization? Why
is the only metalsmithing content SNAG publishes relegated to a news
letter that is not even printed anymore but comes only as a digital
file? I have nothing against ART jewelry but SNAG should focus on
metal jewelry not plastic, glass, rubber, digital renderings or the
output from a plethora of 3d printing machines Those other media can
be adjuncts to but, the focus should be on metal jewelry (functional
or not)

I am curious how many of the SNAG members here feel presenting this
type of work in the EIP is where SNAG should be spending its members
limited money and time?

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#2

I was, for a short time, a SNAG member; but decided after a few
issues of ‘Metalsmith’ and one Snag conference that SNAG served only
the academic community.

I could not see any relevance to what I do in metal and stone.

KPK


#3

Amen,

I look forward to receiving my copy. But this latest is just blah.
The only thing I would have recognized withour a caption was the
can-can. But In my day they were worn under skirts. I’d like to see
some metal jewelry.

JoT


#4
I am curious how many of the SNAG members here feel presenting
this type of work in the EIP is where SNAG should be spending its
members limited money and time? 

I haven’t seen the issue yet, but I totally agree with your
complaints about SNAG.

Noel


#5

James- One of our students brought the latest issue to class
yesterday. “Would you like to look through this for a couple of
days?” I picked it up, looked through it for about 45 seconds and
said,“I’m done.”

The only thing I saw that I liked was an add that my buddies from
Zaffiro had. I shudder to think what they paid.

Yes conceptual art jewelry has it’s place. It’s important for art
students to push envelopes. I was an art student myself once.
However, sooner or later they are gonna graduate and find out that
great concepts can’t be executed without basic metals skills and
techniques. I’ve lost track of how many calls we’ve had from former
metals students from our local arts and crafts college who can’t
solder or set. They’ve got great ideas though. I just feel so sorry
that they had to spend untold thousands of dollars to get a degree
and then have to pay us extra to teach them how to do basic stuff. I
just wish that Art schools would teach practical commercial skills as
well as art. Just think of the possibilities.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#6

Hello, I havenn’t been involved in SNAG or anything like that for a
long time. but one point that you brought up really struck home with
me. Accademia and the resty of the world at a cross roads. Recently I
met with a jewerly instructor because I had been told that she was
interested in possibly changing/adding to the program at their
university. I have an MFA and have been working in the trade for a
long time, I thought it might be nice to maybe work with students.
When I met we got along well until I brought up the fact that the
undergrad degree in metal smithing at this university under the watch
of the previous instuctor hadn’t prepared the student for a real
career. I knew this because of personal experience there.

Immediately the old demon art versus trade/ profession came up. The
instructor said that university’s weren’t responsible to give the
student a career, only an art background. SO’, we have a bunch of
university trained artist’s who guard their their jobs to the hilt,
who make a bunch of interesting things that often have nothing to do
with jewerly. But they call themselves metal smiths so what’s the
problem?? There isn’t really, but it is a shame that honest jewelry
is looked down on in accademia, hence the ongoing down hill slide of
craft and art. No wonder there is such a mismatch between what the
industry calls jewerly and what the art student calls it. I think it
is time for accademia to account for the issue but it will never
happen. It is a shame. D


#7

Hi James,

I thoroughly agree with you on this topic. I just received my
Metalsmith Mag. also and the only other time I remember it looking
like this was in the late 1970’s, but then the pieces had "some"
metal in them. I flipped through the pages and put it down. I don’t
see any relevant metal in this issue let alone “goldsmith related
pieces”.

jennifer friedman
http://www.jenniferfriedmanstudio.com


#8
I am curious how many of the SNAG members here feel presenting
this type of work in the EIP is where SNAG should be spending its
members limited money and time? 

Seconded. I agree with Mr. Binnion. As well, the current issue of
Metalsmith is: "devoid or redeeming value! PLESE, PLEASE get
better… Bubba


#9
I am curious how many of the SNAG members here feel presenting
this type of work in the EIP is where SNAG should be spending its
members limited money and time? 

Sorry James, I had actually forgot about SNAG until you reminded me
again. I’ve given up on them about 5 years ago.

Dan
Daniel Culver


#10

I absolutely agree with Jim Binnion. Unless and until SNAG re-joins
the real world of METAL smithing - I do not intend to be a Snag
member again. The publications today serve as vanity press for the
academics involved.

We are in an era of fabulous metalsmithing - new materials and
techniques are everywhere. Why would an organization such as SNAG
spend money on such crap when there is an enormous world of METAL to
cover?

IMHO, the Lark press has superseded SNAG with coverage of today’s
metal art. We do not need SNAG in its current form.

Orchid covers the technical stuff that SNAG occasionally published
in their newsletter.

At the New Orleans SNAG and again at the Denver SNAG several of us
pleaded with the board to return to the original values of the
organization and specifically to publish technical for
the members. The board was afraid of telling folks how to do things
because someone might be injured with fire or sharp things. I guess
that working with feathers is safe.

I don’t need to spend nearly $100 per year to bolster the ego of the
academics that permeate the organization.

You are right on Jim.
Judy Hoch


#11

After reading this discussion of SNAG, I had to see for myself. I
think I have an understanding. It seems to be all pieces that nobody
in the real world would actually wear. Something that stood out for
me, was this necklace:

http://tinyurl.com/6c7crm

It occurs to me that aside from being absurd, if it has precious
metals as a significant percentage of it’s makeup, then it must be
incredibly heavy. I would be inclined to argue that classifying this
as jewelry is incorrect, it is perhaps more aptly termed sculpture.

Paul Anderson


#12

well James

I sat and wrote a long email replying to yours but coudn’t send it,
the snag metalsmith issiue is an extremly sensitve and emotional one
for myself and at least a dozen people i know as classmates and
colleugues.we discuss these matters at shows/fairs. i have been a
member since 1982 none stop. I am on the very edge of just stopping
my membership complete and never looking at this organization again.i
advertized for a ful year for 2007, never again.

i am afraid the issiue is too sensitive for a lot of people on the
forum and i would not want to get involved in an ongoing emotional
arguement to who is right or wrong. i went through that once before
with one or 2 of orchid members just about the same/similar subject
on EIP.

Hratch Babikian


#13

Hi Jim,

I am curious how many of the SNAG members here feel presenting
this type of work in the EIP is where SNAG should be spending its
members limited money and time? 

I haven’t seen the issue yet but I entirely agree with you in
principle! SNAG’s relevance to the working goldsmith seems to
diminish every year. It’s not that the kind of work you described
doesn’t deserve exposure or has no merit. Of course it does. But not
in a magazine called Metalsmith, published by a dues-supported
organization that purports to be of and for goldsmiths.

Beth


#14

I’m not a SNAG member, but I received a subscription to Metalsmith
as a Christmas gift. (I had hinted that Art Jewelry and Jewelry
Artist would be welcome gifts, he took it from there.) Especially
after this issue, I’m going to make a tactful suggestion that my
sweetie’s money would be much better spent on about a hundred other
things. The ads were the best thing in this issue, which is pretty
sad.

I also don’t see much reason to join SNAG, after that. I’m much more
likely to join the Seattle Metals Guild, I can see much more value
in membership there.


#15

Every now and then I ask myself why I have not joined SNAG. Then I
take a look at a copy of Metalsmith and then I put it back on the
shelf. Then I remember why I am not a SNAG member. I use to work for
a supplier (boxes, bags and displays) for the jewelry industry. SNAG
sent a package there looking to get some advertising business. I was
in the VP’s office when the company president came in. The VP handed
the package to the president who started looking through the sample
issue of Metalsmith. Then all of a sudden the president was like
"what is this garbage?" He turned and dumped the whole package in the
trash can. I think this may have been discussed here before about
this one artist. The president saw one of Keith Lewis’s rings and
that was it for him. Hey you can make anything you want. I just
don’t have to look at it. It also may keep you from filling you
advertising space.

Rodney


#16
I was, for a short time, a SNAG member; but decided after a few
issues of 'Metalsmith' and one Snag conference that SNAG served
only the academic community. 

So was I. I discontinued my membership after I received the issue of
Metalsmith which displayed the necklace made out of gun triggers.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#17

I have to say as somebody that got back into metal smithing, I
thought that SNAG would be a good place to learn something! So I
took the multi-year deal they offered. Boy I have to say, that was a
mistake. As all ready been said it has nothing to do with metal
smithing or the metal content is in the clasp?

They don’t even send membership cards or have a sticker for sale for
the tool box. Yet they send out begging letters for more money,
every couple of months. When I emailed them about the question of no
membership card. I never have received a answer. I would ask for a
refund on the grounds they are false advertising the metalsmith
magazine content, but they wouldn’t answer!

When I saw the cover through the plastic bag, I didn’t even bother
to open it, Hopefully I can find somebody to buy them at the mineral
groups sale next year.

I do admit that I am at a loss and do not under stand the concept of
conceptual jewelry. Nobody even if they can afford it, would wear
it, even if they were not in their right mind. Most of it doesn’t
even make bad sculpture.

Two pound felt beads on a felt necklace, I can’t believe that it is
art, and secondly that a museum would even consider buying it. As
with most of the art scene, the concept of conceptual arts concept
is way beyond me, in the real world. (Please don’t email me It is my
OPINION, I have seen some wonderful fiber art works and that series
wasn’t one of them)

As James also said about the newsletter, it was the only bright
spot. Hey here’s and Idea SNAG board. How about dumping the magazine
and bring back the news letter. It would save you money along with
the cost of printing and mailing the begging letters.

Because I don’t do commercial or sell many items it isn’t a lively
hood issue as it is for others here. It seems I have seen this play
out before with other groups and magazines when they forget their
roots.

The Mother Earth News is a prime example, when it was sold and went
suburban with the auto adds etc. went down hill to a homey and
garden type. but thats another issue.

You probably can tell I will not be renewing my membership, now or
in the near future.

James Thanks for bringing this up. As I have been wanting to post
the above and ask the question you did. glen


#18
i am afraid the issue is too sensitive for a lot of people on the
forum and i would not want to get involved in an ongoing emotional
arguement to who is right or wrong. 

25 years ago SNAG was important to me. What it stood for was part of
my self-identity. I was flattered when my articles were printed in
Metalsmith and my work reviewed. But as time went on, SNAG seemed to
drift further in the direction of self-congratulation for the
avante-garde brigade (if you ask me this avante-garde stuff is
getting to be old hat) So I have not really expected anything
different from SNAG or Metalsmith for a long time. There was a time
when the direction of SNAG and Metalsmith was an important and
emotional issue for me, but I honestly have been indifferent for the
past fifteen years. I agree with Jim Binnion’s complaints, but do not
really share his anger. It does not really matter anymore.

For any of you earnest, true-believers in SNAG. I am sorry we have
drifted apart and that it has come to this.

Stephen Walker


#19

Hi All, Last year I renewed my membership with SNAG and have been
very disappointed. I liked the old SNAG. I will not be renewing.

Vince LaRochelle


#20
I also don't see much reason to join SNAG, after that. I'm much
more likely to join the Seattle Metals Guild, I can see much more
value in membership there. 

I think you would be well-served to join your local guild,
regardless. I’ve been a member of SNAG for just 8 or 10 years, and
have attended at least parts of 4 conferences. I enjoyed the
conferences very much, though not mostly for the presentations. Many
of those are too academic, though not all.

What I like best is being in an immense crowd of people who are all
way more like me than most of the rest of the world is. I like the
vendor room, too… Everyone selling at these events is top notch, no
dregs. I love the product demos, though I’m very sorry that 3M is no
longer participating.

I see people there that I like very much and don’t see anywhere
else. I like the exhibits in conjunction, the parties, the
schmoozing informally in corners, meeting other Orchid folks.

I guess I should try Clasp and see if it does the same or maybe
more, then I’d have no reason to be a SNAG member any more.

Noel