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Frank E. Cummings III
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, California
Recommendation by Shirle Gottlieb

Frank E. Cummings III, “Carousel, Age of Awareness,” 1995, walnut, ebony, black onyx, 18-carat gold, pearl rubellite, 16½ high x 12” diameter

Continuing through February 23, 2014

You have to see them to believe them, and even then you won't believe what you've seen! I'm talking about the wood carvings of Frank E. Cummings III. Two decades ago after his retirement from teaching at CSU Long Beach and CSU Fullerton he continues to create delicately carved chalices, vases, and other wood objects which are embedded with precious metals and stones. "Jeweled Harmony in Wood" surveys Cummings' captivating work from 1974 to the present. Embedded gold, yes; embossed jewels, of course; but not wood rendered with such delicate detail. Not only are Cummings' vessels a balance of different textures, colors, and materials; some of his decoration is as intricate as lace filigree.

How does he do it? According to the artist, "All of my works are vessels for my life - stories about people, places, experiences and personal relationships." He's also inspired by his family's African-American history, which goes back to Ghana and the Ashanti wood carvers in West Africa. Add to that Cummings' love of classical music and harmony. Each vessel is constructed like a musical composition; and yes, he's proud to be an autodidact. Then there's Cummings' handmade clock that took four years to create, "Time Stands Still," constructed from a variety of woods, plus 18k gold, glass, precious jewels, mirrors, and porcupine quills. Originally named "Visual Symphony, Rhapsody in B Flat Minor," it dominates this exceptional exhibit.

Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2014

Long Beach Museum of Art

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