'Jeweled Objects Of Desire' In Springfield

For Sidney Mobell, less isn't more. More is more. More gold. More diamonds. More rubies. More emeralds. More sapphires.

Mobell, an artist based in San Francisco, takes ordinary objects and bedazzles them. In 2000, a common Nokia cellphone was transformed into a glowing status symbol when Mobell covered it in 18-karat gold, 39 diamonds, 21 rubies and 212 sapphires.

The cellphone, and dozens of other items, are on exhibit now at the Michele and Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield. The exhibit, "Jeweled Objects of Desire," made up of items from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, will be on view until Dec. 31.

The lighting is low in the Springfield galleries, because the items on exhibit glow with very little illumination.

Mobell's things form the center of the exhibit. Some of the items created by Mobell seem to comment on material wealth. A gold-plated shovel dotted with rare coins was used for the groundbreaking of San Francisco's Old Mint Museum, which honors the making of money. A Monopoly game board worth $2 million even has gold-plated money.

Others are quirky choices to plate with gold. An 18-karat gold pacifier studded with diamonds is intended to help adults (not babies) break bad habits such as smoking or nail-biting. A14-karat gold sardine can is filled with chocolate sardines covered with foil and is dotted with 55 diamonds. A 14-karat gold mousetrap is decorated with a cheese wedge made from diamonds. Even a garbage can and a pooper-scooper get the luxury gold-plate treatment.

Most of the items Mobell gilds still retain their functions. A gumball machine would still release a gumball if a penny is inserted. A fly-fishing reel, a mailbox and a yo-yo can still be used.

The most spectacular item is a 24-karat art-deco slot machine. But the most delicately pretty item is a rainbow-colored kite, decorated with gemstones.

It's no surprise to hear that one of the first prominent customers to Mobell's jewelry shop was Liberace, and that Mobell has been featured on "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and made items for the Playboy Club.

Other artists whose items are seen in the show are Aldo Cipullo, Martha Gilchrist, John Hatleberg and John Sinkankas. One peculiar item is the "Agnew dagger," a hooked golden, gem-encrusted knife in a scabbard that was given to former Vice President Spiro Agnew by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in 1971.

JEWELED OBJECTS OF DESIRE is on view until Dec. 31 at Michele and Donald D'Amour Museum of Fine Arts in Springfield. springfieldmuseums.org

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