Curtis Jere (and Jerry Fels) a.k.a. C. Jere, American
C. Jeré is a metalwork artist of wall sculptures and household accessories.
C. Jeré works are made and marketed by the corporation Artisan House. Curtis Jere is a compound nom-de-plume of artists Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels. The two founders combined pieces of their own names to create the C. Jeré signature. Modernism magazine interviewed Jerry Fels shortly before his death in October 2008. According to the resulting article in the Spring 2007 issue of Modernism magazine page 116, the company was founded in 1963 by Fels and his brother-in-law Curtis (Kurt) Freiler. Freiler was the production chief and Fels was head of design. Their goal was to produce "gallery-quality art for the masses". Prior to the establishment of Artisan House, the partners built a costume jewellery business, selling work under the names Renoir and Matisse, which employed around 300 people at one point. Kurt and Jerry sold Artisan House in 1972. Kurt Freiler died July 22, 2013 at the age of 103.
Sold and resold, the company still produces metal sculptures including reintroductions of popular mid-century designs. Artisan House sculptures are no longer made in California. Production went overseas to China in 2003.
Writer Mitchell Owens wrote a two-page article on the history of C. Jere for the November 2010 issue of Elle Decor. In it he states that "Today those pieces are attracting the admiration of leading dealers in vintage chic". He goes on to say that after launching in 1964 Jere sculptures were "distributed by Raymor, a cutting edge studio in New York City, and retailed at Gump's in San Francisco and other high quality emporiums". He also reported that "Under Freiler's meticulous direction, the workers - a number of whom were minorities or handicapped - sheared, crimped, torched, and welded brass, copper, and other metals before coating them with luminous patinas."
C. Jeré works range from representational to highly abstract. Some of the older techniques, such as enameling, using resin, and the bronzes, haven't been used in decades.