Gallery Highlights Works Of 3 Women The Artforms Exhibit Features Sculpture, Paintings And Photographs By The 3 Montco Artists.

Posted: April 22, 1996

The distinctive lines, colors and textures in Judith Golden's sculptural work mimic the beauty, grace and spontaneity of nature. As striking as the collection is, however, all the raku-fired ceramic earthenware pieces have utilitarian functions.

The decorative birds, branches and flowers in her planters and other vessels reflect an ethereal reverence carved into the clay. It is not surprising that nature is a constant source of inspiration for Golden, whose Huntingdon Valley studio looks out onto woods.

In Elkins Park, two of Golden's colleagues, painter Joan Myerson Shrager and photographer Caryn J. Koffman, are just as inspired by their surroundings, but in their own intensely personal ways.

Collecting objects to use in her sculptural paintings, Shrager is just as likely to pick up a pinecone in the park as she is to comb through discarded materials at a construction site. Through her multimedia works, she breathes personality and wit into her unusual finds, while at the same time elevating recycling to a high art.

By capturing her subjects unawares, photographer Koffman records life during its most revealing, visceral moments.

These three women, all artists working in Montgomery County, are featured in an ArtForms Gallery exhibition, ``Three Art Forms,'' which runs through May 5.

Everything in Golden's studio is neatly stacked and organized. A shelf contains racks of recent works, other than the 15 pieces she has on display at ArtForms. The studio's walls are covered with art posters Golden has collected over three decades of producing concerts, films and lectures at the Gershman Y on South Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Although she does firings in the electric kiln in her studio, Golden goes elsewhere to do her raku firings, because it is a smoky, messy procedure that requires extreme caution.

Once the pieces are bisque-fired and glazed, they are put into a scorching hot raku oven, where temperatures can reach up to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. When the hot and molten pieces are quickly removed and cooled drastically in newsprint, a fire ignites and lots of smoke is emitted into the atmosphere. To protect themselves, handlers must wear fire-resistant gloves, eye gear and respirators.

Surprises both fascinating and curious are born out of this process, Golden said. She is especially fond of the iridescent colors and crackling textures that the raku method produces.

``I love raku,'' Golden said. ``It's the unexpected element. You can never predict what you're going to get.''

Multimedia artist Shrager's works are just as unpredictable in the developmental stages. Recently, she was mulling over what do to with her husband's old shoe trees, which she happened to find in the trash after he had thrown them out.

An idea will come soon enough for Shrager. In the meantime, she is absorbed with her involvement in the current exhibition.

``I feel not only that I'm having this wonderful opportunity to exhibit more than 20 pieces of my work, but I also feel that ArtForms is one of my dreams,'' said Shrager, who has devoted many years to being an arts advocate, serving on the boards of such organizations as the Abington Art Center and the Cheltenham Center for the Arts.

``At ArtForms, we're very much like a family,'' Shrager said. ``We really care about one another.''

Her handcut wood and painted constructions provide a stark contrast to Golden's earthenware.

``When I began my art career, I was a sculptor,'' said Shrager. ``I evolved into a painter. I was in love with the surfaces and the decoration of the sculpture. . . . With my work, I enjoy it when the viewer makes his or her own discovery of things. I don't always make it obvious.''

Koffman's show of exclusively color prints represents a departure for the photographer, who usually works in black and white.

``When I shoot people, most often, they don't know that their photograph is being taken. That holds true for all of the pieces in the show,'' Koffman said. ``I'm usually attracted by the detail of things rather than a wide view. I never change anything.''

IF YOU GO Where: 4450 Main St., Manayunk.

When: Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, noon to 5 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 9 p.m. Through May 5.

Cost: Free.

Phone: 215-483-3030.

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