As a child, Annmarie Siegel took everything apart, curious to see how things were constructed, how they worked. As she grew into a teenager, that curiosity became fixated on jewelry, deconstructing old, broken bits of bead and stone and reassembling them into new creations.
Now, Siegel applies that intrepid artistic imagination to her fine-art jewelry with a focus not on traditional gems and precious metals, but instead on the mechanical dials, gears and faces of wristwatches.
“The day I came across the watch parts, there was an immediate love and fascination,” she said. “The parts were so much more interesting than working with beads and stones. I designed a few pieces, and it took off. My own philosophy of staying in the now, the two concepts just meshed together, and they have been a hit consistently.”
IN THE MOMENT
The philosophy behind Siegel’s watch-part pieces is straightforward, a prompt to live in the moment, stay in the now and stop living by your wristwatch, she said.
“People love hearing that; it’s a constant reminder, and it’s so unique and put together and all the colors and finish on each piece,” she said, adding that her work never fails to make people smile.
“They really like the styles. They just can’t believe all the vintage watch parts and all the timepieces that are included in each piece — Invicta, Elgin, Hamilton watches — and they are fascinated that it’s done so professionally, all original watch dials, so that’s where the fascination comes in.”
The jewelry was a stepping-stone to a new branch of collaborative art Siegel has been pursuing with her husband, Michael Vistia.
“We had brought out a fourth-generation watchmaker and we had so many pieces,” Vistia said. “She happened to do a real simple mirror one time, where she glued some pieces on a frame with a mirror in it, and right away, it became attractive to some people and it sold. I was blown away that that was the case.”
From there, Vistia began creating custom frames for the mirrors, inlaying the watch parts.
“We are both cutting dials, placing dials, and then we pour a two-part resin on it and secure the entire thing after faux finishing the frame in whatever color pattern we consider,” he said. “It’s just another fun part of the puzzle; to get to enjoy creating something together is an amazing benefit.”
Siegel said the work is fun because the couple is inseparable — “like twins” — and each piece is a creation of two soul mates. Similar to Siegel’s jewelry, the picture frames are a visual cue to live in the present, not buried in the past or worried about the future.
“When they have that mirror, it’s a constant reminder of staying in the now, stopping time,” she said. “They love that philosophy. We had a woman last week that ordered a custom piece, we’re sending it to Panama, she was all about that this was a constant reminder each day to stay in the moment.”
Vistia has been working as a professional artist since the age of 12, and aside from the collaborative work with his wife, his main artistic focus has lately been a series of canine portraits. His background in ultra-realism, creating traditional portraits with oil on canvas, provides a foundation for this new, colorful look, melting together the realistic structure of the dog with playful, electric hues separated by fluid black lines.
“I wanted to paint the character of dogs on the outside, so to speak,” he said. “That’s how I came up with the color, the full color. I thought about it, and I think dogs are so colorful as an expression of speech, so why not apply color to the outside? Using the rainbow colors, the chakra colors, is basically it. I’m trying to think of a way to paint the character on the outside, the animals themselves, their energy.”
The paintings are enhanced with automotive metal flake, an idea taken from a few commissioned projects doing custom motorcycle patinas, Vistia said, and the reaction from those who see his work is overwhelmingly positive.
“It’s always a response of, ‘How unique!’” he said. “As for the dogs, you see that style here and there, but not in this particular way. I’ve never ever seen automotive metal flake on canvas pieces, just that particular look.
“The other thing about the dogs, due to the color, people walk up and say, ‘That makes me happy to look at it.’ I hear that all the time. There’s a lot of love involved in those paintings with those techniques and the extra bling, glitter feel, and it just adds to it, and it’s just all about fun.”
ABOUT THE FESTIVAL
Siegel and Vistia are two of dozens of artists who will be displaying and selling their work at the ninth-annual Main Street to the Rockies Art Festival in Frisco, Saturday, Aug. 8, and Sunday, Aug. 9. All of the original artists will be on hand showcasing their work in glass, sculpture, mixed media, paintings, photography, jewelry, ceramics and more.
“The artists are juried by an independent panel of expert judges and hand-selected from hundreds of applicants based on quality and diversity,” said festival promoter Howard Alan. “All of their artwork is original and handmade in America.”
Portions of Main Street will be closed to vehicles during the festival, and the public is encouraged to interact with the artists to gain a better understanding of their work and creative processes. Those who attend are invited to visit the booth of participating artist Vicki Barrett, where they can register to win one of her pieces, a limited-edition, 16-inch-by-20-inch metal piece mounted on a black panel box titled “The Forest.”
No purchase is necessary to participate in the drawing, and a winner will be announced during the final hour of the art show on Sunday, Aug. 9. Fore more information about the show, visitwww.artfestival.com.