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Shelter Magazine 2010

by Anne Reeser
Shelter Magazine, a Watch Newspaper publication
Winter 2010-11


Lisa Issenberg’s steel and wool felt wine racks are works of art that double as functional furnishings. Currently gracing the front windows of the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, the brightly colored pieces made from satin polished steel and 100-percent-wool felt easily capture the attention of passersby. Choose from a rainbow of felt colors and custom sizes. Call the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art for more information.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 and is filed under Press

The Telluride Watch 2005

“Two Artists Capture Spirit & Vision of Palm Theatre”
by Josie Jay
The Telluride Watch
March 25-28, 2005

The Palm Theatre may be a performing arts venue, but two artists of another sort have used their talents to enhance the theatre with still beauty.

The donor wall in the Michael D. Palm Theatre is more than a tribute to valued donors who helped make the theatre a reality; it is a work of art. Designed by local metal artist Lisa Issenberg, the installation is a series of “petals,” each bearing the name of a theatre donor. The sculpture consists of stainless steel, cast aluminum and silver with the various sized “petals” corresponding to the size of a donation.

This is a truly exciting commission…an art piece for an art venue,” said Issenberg. “[The theatre entry] has a perfect curved wall for the piece. It’s a blank canvas, a dream for any artist.”

Issenberg said she “envisioned something floating and expansive… something in relief and dynamic” for the piece. “The wall was asking for something explosive and playful, something pouring over it or jumping off of it,” she said. “Steel translations of moving spotlights and snowstorms kept coming to mind, and eventually a bursting of abstract ‘petals.’” Issenberg drew her inspiration from “the perfect natural curves and tips of wildflower petals. I worked on the shape until it felt right.” The piece was installed this week, just in time for the theatre dedication this weekend.

Telluride Schools Superintendent Mary Rubadeau said Issenberg truly captured the school’s vision for a donor wall for something other than brass plaques mounted on wood. Issenberg delivered in style with a unique and beautiful recognition of donors to the theatre.

“Mary, Bill de Alva and the school board are a pleasure to work with,” said Issenberg. “They have been very accommodating and positive from the start.” The piece spans about 15 feet across and descends from the ceiling eight feet, protruding from the wall a few inches.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 3rd, 2012 and is filed under Press

8750 2002

“Jewelry by Lisa Issenberg”

Featured in 8750, a monthly magazine about culture@altitude

April 2002

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Press

Telluride Magazine 1999

“INSIDE ART: Steel Artist Lisa Issenberg”
by Rebel Muse
Telluride Magazine
Fall 1999

The beauty of everyday objects is something that has always fascinated local artist Lisa Issenberg. She recalls her days as an art student when she created linoleum cuts of toasters and blenders. “The objects we use every day are somehow invisible to many people. Andy Warhol helped change our perception—seeing the artistic merit in everyday objects by questioning their function and seeing the humor in their purpose.”

Issenberg’s own work is highly innovative, fusing steel with black and white photography to create a variety of art forms including jewelry, sculpture and furniture. Functional art is the underlying theme to most of her work. Take, for instance, her cafe chair. Is it art or is it a chair? The chair has simple lines, legs dressed in velvet stockings and a tiny photo of mountains on the backrest. You think twice about sitting on it, reluctant to turn your back to the local landscape. Still, the chair looks so inviting. This tension is how Issenberg gets her audience to reconsider what is functional.

Issenberg’s education includes a BA in social psychology from Tufts University. She’s also studied metal arts at the Rhode Island School of Design and silversmithing at the Boston Museum School of Art. She continued her fine arts education at San Francisco State University where she studied black and white photography. “I took photos in the city [San Francisco],” she says, “but my inspiration comes form nature.” Incorporating the photographs of places she loves into the work that she loves has become an Issenberg trademark. “It’s interesting to see how the impact of my black and white photographs changes in the different applications. When I put one in a necklace or bracelet, it becomes a very intimate, personal piece for the wearer. It’s something they can hold in their hand and hold sacred. When I put a photo on a larger sculpture, it draws the viewer into the piece; the sculpture now holds the viewer.”

The inspiration she finds in local scenery has evolved into an intriguing series of “bodyscapes,” where a photo of a nude is turned sideways, creating a silhouette reminiscent of a mountain landscape. The grainy images are difficult to decipher as either landscapes created from a female form or the female form of nature as she sees it. “I’m interested in that sensual point where a landscape and a human figure meet. That point is a bodyscape.”

Much of Issenberg’s current work involves sewing or stitching together different image elements. “Even though I was the one to cut up the image in the first place, when I put it back together with wire I become entwined in it. It speaks to that part of human desire to keep ourselves whole.”

This year, Issenberg experimented with sewing in a community setting. Using funds from the Telluride Council for Arts and Humanities, the School-To-Career Program and Timberline Ace Hardware, she engaged high school students in a project titled, “Our Landscape: A Collaborative Installation.” Students selected a black and white photograph of the Weminuche Wilderness by Issenberg that was then enlarged and divided into 36 sections. Every student received a section to recreate in charcoal. Each piece was dipped in wax and then the big picture was recreated from the sewn-together pieces. The 6-by-8-foot permanent installation now hangs in the foyer of the Telluride Middle/High School.

Issenberg has shared her knowledge with the community many times as one of the most sought-after teachers at the Ah Haa School for the Arts. “Teaching others helps me learn about myself,” she says. “I enjoy the challenge of putting what I do into words. Seeing other people overcome their fears or getting turned on to art is its own reward. And after working predominantly in isolation, it’s nice to work with others.”

To further her own functional arts education, Issenberg returns to school this year to pursue a master’s degree in industrial design at Pratt Institute in New York. Industrial design is nothing new to Issenberg. Last year the town commissioned her to create trashcans and recycling receptacles that can be seen on almost every corner of Telluride’s main street. Other examples of her work have sold at the Whitney Museum Store in New York City and can be found locally at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Press

Shelter Magazine 2004

“STEELWORKS Three Artisans Turn Metal Into Artwork”
by Elizabeth Covington
Shelter Magazine, A Watch Newspaper publication
April 2004

“Functional art.” “Custom functional designs.”
These are the words steel artist Lisa Issenberg uses to describe her work.

“Form follows function,” says Issenberg, quoting architect Louis Sullivan. Issenberg, in her loft studio in East Ophir, is surrounded by the tools of her trade. A computer and printer, along with sketch paper and pens, sit on one end of a desk. On the other end are jewelry tools, a mini drill press, special German manufactured pliers and others, and behind her are shelves filled with various containers holding felt, sewing thread and measuring tape. Her steel working tools are in a cabin in her backyard.

In addition to being a functional steel artist, Issenberg has made a name for herself as a jeweler, photographer and textile artist. Her jewelry—playful combinations of silver and black and white photography—is exhibited at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art. One of her public art pieces is a black and white banner that hangs in the Telluride Conference Center.

The steel garbage cans that mark the corners of Telluride’s streets, however, are perhaps what most embody Issenberg’s form-follows-function philosophy. The top openings are closed off against raiding animals and the sides are decorated with cutouts of mountains that are inset with black and white photographs.

“I work with each client to find out what they need functionally,” says Issenberg. And after considering the function she designs an aesthetic form to compliment the purpose of the piece.

One client, for instance, wanted a fountain for her town-sized garden that is landscaped with natural forms, rocks, bushes and native plants.

“It seemed like the metal needed to take on an organic form so it would fit in,” explains Issenberg. And, as in many cases when clients ask her to propose a design, she developed several different options.

“I usually propose different ideas and themes, which are often playful, colorful and whimsical.”

The result: thirteen lily pads arranged in varying heights so that the water runs from one lily pad to the next, touching each on its return to the pool. The lily pads are forged out of metal that will rust and blend with the earth tones in the existing landscape. The water circulates through tubing in the stems of three lily pads.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Press

Telluride Style 2003


“EXPRESSIONS From the Soul of Telluride
by Kathleen M. Bush
Telluride Style, winter/spring 2003-2004


Some people are made for their careers. The two appear entirely born for each other, leaving the rest of us to wonder.Was there ever any doubt? Local artist Lisa Issenberg is one of those people, a true natural. Issenberg is a metal worker, constructing impressive pieces, big and small. She creates jewelry in silver and gold and larger works in steel and mixed-media; her style gracefully clean and richly minimal. Issenberg’s creativity is astounding. From her Rocky Mountain charms to Telluride’s trash and recycling receptacles, every detail of her work is unique and meticulously crafted. Currently, Issenberg is expanding her functional repertoire—tables, chairs, ladders, railings, office accents (like metal-framed, dry-erase/cork boards) and sconces. “I love it all and each project is a welcome challenge,” says Issenberg. “I love combining my style with the vision of others. To me, that’s what design is and what differentiates it from art. You’re looking outside, not just inside.” Issenberg’s work is on display throughout town and at the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art.

With technological advantages, today’s jewelry scene is certainly more far-reaching and charismatic than in centuries past. Take for example, Lisa Issenberg’s jewelry designs. Issenberg has created the Rocky Mountain charms that employ photographs—of the San Juan ‘s majestic peaks and delicate wildflowers—framed in intricate motifs. Issenberg’s unique charms can be found at Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, on main street.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Press

Truly Telluride 2008

“Lisa Issenberg
by Michelle Groper
Truly Telluride, a Telluride Properties publication
April 2008

Lisa Issenberg is on the move. Between Telluride and Ridgway – where her studio is located – the East Coast, the West Coast, a bit of France and back again, it’s hard to imagine that she designs objects that tend to be stationary.

But it’s a fact that her art is quite rooted to the area – literally and figuratively since 1991. As an undergrad at Tufts University in Boston, Lisa had no idea she’d be an artist. During her senior year, she took some jewelry classes at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts and embarked on an enviable and constantly changing career in art that would take her across the country and back again. Inspired and curious about working with steel, Lisa decided to study metal work and sculpture at San Francisco State. After many years of living and working (establishing Issenberg Design) back in the Telluride/Ophir area, it was time to return to the fundamentals at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn where she earned a Masters of Industrial Design. There Lisa focused on the design process, combining creativity with problem-solving, learning the processes of mass production, drawing heaps of prototypes for the forms and products of our daily lives and using this knowledge to enhance her sculpture, functional design and jewelry work.

And, she thought, as long as she lived in New York, why not approach the Whitney Museum to see if they’d carry some of her jewelry in the gift shop, then known as “The Store Next Door”? Of course they were thrilled to represent her, as was the International Center of Photography.

Upon graduating from Pratt in 2001, Lisa headed west again, back to Telluride, where she plays in the mountains, and where her very unique art is in high demand. No project is too big or small: railings, signs, benches, jewelry. Her art is all around for everyone to see: the donor walls at the Palm Theatre, the Conference Center in Mountain Village, the Telluride Historical Museum, a River Trail park bench, the Telluride trash receptacles and kiosk, art in private homes and most recently, Telluride Properties’ yard signs.

This entry was posted on Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 and is filed under Press