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A friendly war persists between traditionalists and art jewelers who fabricate their creations with materials such as steel, aluminum, copper, plastics, glass, wood, and paper as departures from precious and semiprecious metals and gems.

One avant-garde jeweler is Jill Henry of Santa Cruz. An important art world figure in Santa Cruz, Henry hosted a live radio interview show for many years on KUSP-FM radio known as "State of the Arts." A graduate in fine arts from New York's Pratt Institute, Henry has made a career of good humored fun joyfully evidenced in her pins, pendants, earrings and hair pieces. Each finished work is essentially an assemblage --- her own brand of contemporary folk art that juxtaposes found and created small objects in a format of personal jewelry.

Simply browsing over a recent gallery list of works shown last November at the Cantor Wheat gallery is imaginative entertainment. Henry titles her one-of-a-kind art jewelry after songs. "I'll See You in My Dreams" is a lively concoction of copper, gold fill, brass, vinyl, glass and plastic. `'Memphis Soul Stew," "Ruler of My Heart," and "Party Lights" add or subtract materials like cultured pearls, silver and celluloid. A plastic stick is at home in Henry's work as a real pearl and sterling silver.

Retrieving her tiny treasures occupies a good amount of this artist's time. Once she drove hundreds of miles to Los Angeles just for some "very special" lime green plastic beads.

Collectors respond. In fact, her provocative little statements are becoming so popular, Henry is now devoting full-time to her art form and encourages visitors to drop by her studio in the Sash Mill and watch her work in progress. Who knows what wonderful series she will be in the midst of creating.


by Rick Hildreth, GOOD TIMES Entertainment Weekly, Santa Cruz, CA

Jill Henry's latest artistic project is "Small Victories," a collection of jewelry made from precious metals and found objects. She started the project three years ago, but her artistic experience goes back to college, when she sold beaded necklaces to Henri Bendel in New York City.

"I've had every art class known to man, or woman, in my case. I concentrated on fiber art for many years," she said. Following a course at Cabrillo College, Henry decided to try her hand at jewelry again. Combining metals with crystals, cultured pearls, trinkets from gumball machines and other objects, Henry creates what she intends to be used as rewards.

"They can be medals of honor for valor, or mere celebrations for a job well done."

Host of KUSP's "State of the Arts," a weekly radio talk show about arts in the community (10-11 am on Wednesdays) she uses pieces of colored vinyl records in some of the pieces.

"Small Victories" appears at Cantor-Wheat Gallery through Nov. 30.


by Christina Waters, TASTE MAGAZINE

On a scale of one-to-ten, Jill Henry is a solid nine on most savvy people's Best Women in Santa Cruz list. She's tough, she's vibrant, she's talented, she's the producer/host of KUSP's State of the Arts talk show. But for our purposes here, she's an artist. And for the month of November, Jill Henry's cunning contemporary jewelry, collected in a show entitled "Small Victories," will be on display at Cantor/Wheat Gallery in downtown Santa Cruz.

Wearable, excitable and endlessly collectible, Henry's distinctive art jewelry combines hand-polished precious metals, cultured pearls and fine crystal with contemporary found objects like plastic, arcade charms and even fragments of old 45 rpm records. Talismans against bad vibes, filled with wit and innovation, Henry's objets d'arts are designed to be worn by powerful women and admired by inquiring men. Any way she slices the substances of the old and new worlds, she designs for sheer, gorgeous provocativeness.