Style Shopping: Mirror, Mirror
Posted by: Marilyn Bethany
Posted on: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
We share the same interest! My hands were never quiet during auctions sale and here’s what I got that until now I am enjoying the opportunity of making money out of it.
On Saturday, April 23, 441 Gallery, the upstairs exhibition space at TK Home and Garden in Hudson, will host the opening of an exhibition of twenty-eight mostly convex mirrors designed by Cristobal Morales, who lives in Spencertown. Beautifully crafted and elegant, it takes more than a moment to recognize the humble origins of their frames. Part of the fun is trying to figure out what each frame is comprised of— the brush from a street-cleaning truck, a rusted circular saw blade—not easy, since most frames combine at least three separate elements. “With just two,” says Morales, “it looks too much like what it is. The third transforms it.”
Cris Morales grew up in circumstances he describes as “beyond modest. There was little in the way of games and toys at our house.” Nonetheless, he recalls, “My hands were never quiet. I made things from stuff I found—sticks, bits of metal and cloth. My brother kept bees, so there was always beeswax around, and at noon, it was very soft so I could sculpt with it. I loved acting, writing, poetry, the arts.” Neither his mother, who had her hands full, nor any of his seven siblings shared his interests. “I always wished that I could find someone to encourage me.”
As a teenager, whenever someone would ask him if he knew how to do something, Morales’ made a policy of saying, “yes,” regardless. That was how he landed a job with a landscaper. “I found I was good at landscape design,” he says. “Then I decorated a friend’s house.” All of their other friends were impressed. “I was impressed with myself,” he says.
Morales photographed the project, which he now describes as “very Crate & Barrel,” and took the pictures with him on job interviews, hoping they would win him a position as a design assistant, the sort of entry-level job normally filled by recent Parson’s graduates. He interviewed with Michael Krieger, who, at the time, had a busy New York City design office. As luck would have it, Krieger turned out to be the mentor Morales had dreamed of as a little boy, the one who would encourage him. “I worked in Michael’s interior design business for five years,” he says.
It quickly came to light that the boy who played with beeswax had a natural affinity for rarefied taste. Several years ago, Morales came upon a coffee-table book filled with photographs of convex mirrors in elaborate, faceted-metal frames, the work of Line Vautrin (1913 - 1997), a French decorative artist who has been hailed as “a poetess in metal.” He was enthralled.
“One day I found a wheel from an old tiller, and I brought it home,” says Morales, who moved with Krieger to Spencertown full-time several years ago. “I thought it could be something. Then Michael gave me a convex mirror, so I put the two together, and I loved it.” With Krieger cheering him on, Morales began collecting cast-off bits of hardware, shapely commonplaces and industrial oddities, as well as all manner of discs, things in which he alone perceived decorative potential. His goal: to someday fashion from these bits and pieces assembled mirror frames, reminiscent of Line Vautrin’s. For three years, as his collection grew, Morales waited for an epiphany that would make the components destiny clear.
Then just five weeks ago, in what Krieger describes as “a breathtaking burst of invention,” Morales began making frames for mirrors. Instead of “seeing” the finished assemblage in his mind’s eye from the start, Morales learned that “it was a process of discovery.”
CRISTOBAL MORALES: New Reflections With Industrial Artifacts
441 Gallery at TK Home and Garden
441 Warren Street
April 23 - May 30
Opening reception, April 23, 5 - 8 p.m.
Refreshments include a tasting of cheeses from Couturier of France, one of the oldest goat-cheese producers in Europe, which is in the process of creating a production facility in Livingston, NY