Coming of Age: Contemporary QuiltArt Association, Washington State

March 11, 2007

January 18 – March 26, 2007

Washington State Convention and Trade Center,
Galleria Level 2, 800 Convention Place,
Seattle, Wash.

http://www.wsctc.com

Jurors: Rachel Brumer, Layne Goldsmith and Karen Soma

reviewed by
Tina Koyama
http://www.tinakoyama.com
tina.k@juno.com

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Contemporary Quilt Art Association, “Coming of Age” is an impressive showcase of 43 pieces by 31 artists. Covering two long walkways of the huge Washington State Convention and Trade Center’s second level, these stunning examples of contemporary art quilts represent a wide range of quilting styles, from playful interpretations of traditional quilting patterns to works that are closer to paintings. As a beadwork artist who works on a palm-size scale, I envied these artists their medium’s ability to proclaim color, shape and concept and be gloriously visible from a long and wide distance. Despite the vast size of the Trade Center, these pieces command visual space and well-deserved attention.

comingosteen_trees.jpg Barbara O’Steen, Trees-1

One of my favorite pieces in the show is Barbara O’Steen’s Trees-1, more sculpture than quilt. Pleated fabric evokes the bark of trees partially opened to reveal hidden text that, while mostly unreadable, seems to come from an old and sacred scripture about the role of trees. Generally partial to 3-dimensional works, I was fascinated by this innovative use of fabric to convey both the texture and the solidness of trees as well as the history they contain. More than any other piece in the show, this one tempted me to touch the folds of fabric and even peel some of them away to read more of the text. (Of course I couldn’t; all the quilts are safely encased in Plexiglas and armed by a security system.)

cominglovinger_untitled-with-rose.jpg Margot Lovinger, Untitled with Rose

One of the most successful examples of the use of fabric to convey depth as no other medium can is Margot Lovinger’s Untitled with Rose. Unfamiliar with the technique she uses, I am guessing that layers of transparent fabric (perhaps hose?) were used in varying depths to “paint” a near-photo-like image of a woman holding a rose in her mouth. From a distance, the piece does appear to be painted, but closer observation (and the artist’s note that “no paints, inks or dyes were used”) easily shows that the startlingly realistic effect is created using only layers of fabric. I was struck first by the stark image – why is the woman holding her hands over her eyes and wearing nothing but a rose? Is this an image of “see no evil”? Denial? – then stunned by the technique she used to convey this mystery.

comingstehr_moonglow.jpg Carla Stehr, Moonglow Anemone

Another piece with near-photographic realism is Moonglow Anemone by Carla Stehr. The artist used layered fabric to very successfully portray the translucency of this sea creature as well as its phosphorescence in an otherwise darkly colorful reef. The wavy borders of the quilt enhanced the motion and rhythm of the underwater scene.

comingbryan_supplications.jpg Gayle Bryan, Supplications/Expectations

cominggaunce_african.jpg Peter Gaunce, African Beauty

cominglewis_ft-warden.jpg Mary Lewis, Fort Worden Reflection

comingrowley_shimmy.jpg Sharon Rowley Shimmy

Although many impressive pieces in the exhibit were figurative (Gayle Bryan’s breathtaking crow in Supplications/Expectations, Peter Gaunce’s African Beauty and Mary Lewis’ Fort Worden Reflection are among the most memorable), I found myself most often attracted to pieces that expressed exuberance, movement or even decay with simple abstract shapes, contrasting color and innovative use of free-motion stitching. One that caught my eye immediately (and the first piece I viewed in the show) is Sharon Rowley’s Shimmy, a playful demonstration of motion conveyed by the effective use of lines and contrasting colors. I kept wanting to ask the artist, “Just how did you cut that fabric into those wavy lines?”

comingkurjan_plum-tango.jpg Janet Kurjan Plum Tango II

comingbrewer_counterpoint.jpgBonny Brewer, Counterpoint

Two more extremely effective uses of color are Plum Tango II by Janet Kurjan and Bonny Brewer’s Counterpoint. These are pieces I would gladly hang in my home because they make me happy. Although each is made primarily of basic shapes and contrasting colors, they simply vibrate with positive energy.

cominglaing_whirlpool.jpg Melisse Laing, Whirlpool

Movement is also successfully conveyed by color and stitching in Melisse Laing’s Whirlpool. I am pulled toward its center with a dizzying centripetal force driven by the carefully controlled concentric circles of stitch and varying values of blue.

gregory_ancient-forms.jpg Deborah Gregory, Ancient Forms: Lost and Found

Even decay can be conveyed with the effective use of free-motion stitching, as shown by Deborah Gregory’s Ancient Forms: Lost and Found. Here, the artist has used stitch to delineate abstract or glyphic-like shapes dyed in the fabric. She has created an organic effect that can only be described as aging in the way of ancient architecture or rock formations.

comingshaw_thirty-five.jpg Patti Shaw, Thirty-Five

For its sheer human expressiveness, I have to comment on Patti Shaw’s Thirty-Five. Displayed in a simple grid format, 35 small portraits by the artist are reproduced in shades of black on light fabric with selected details highlighted with hand-stitching. I found myself moved by each face and its expression, each subtle mood captured by a tiny quirk of an eyebrow or pinch of a lip. While each of these faces could stand alone as a pencil or charcoal portrait, I was intrigued and further moved by the artist’s desire to accent certain features with hand-embroidery. It is as if time spent with the drawing implement wasn’t sufficient, and the artist was compelled to further and more deeply study each face with needle and thread. Viewed toward the end of my visit, this piece exemplified how the medium of quilting can evoke feelings and ideas both by what is apparent and what is only implied by the time the artist has spent with fabric and thread.

My only complaint with the exhibit was the uneven lighting in the Trade Center venue. Some quilts hanging in dark corners of the floor definitely got short shrift compared to those hanging in well-lighted areas. Still, given that the show is expected to be seen by 100,000 visitors, it’s hard to find fault with a location offering a level of exposure unmatched by most gallery spaces. On a quiet Friday morning, I was probably the only visitor there with the sole purpose of viewing the show, yet I observed several Trade Center visitors walking briskly past the exhibit to their destination suddenly stop to study a piece that had caught their eye. Lunch-time strollers would interrupt their conversation to comment on a piece. And even a few busy Trade Center employees distracted by the task at hand seemed to slow their pace long enough to glance at the vibrant displays of color. I imagine that “Coming of Age” will be seen by many more casual passers-by (perhaps viewing art quilts for the first time) than quilt makers or collectors, and this can only be a good thing in terms of giving exposure to fiber arts. Congratulations to CQA for organizing a well-placed and well-deserved exhibit.

The Contemporary Quilt Association’s Website is www.contemporaryquiltart.com


Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters, 6 Voices

December 30, 2006

December 8 – February 19, 2007

Coos Art Museum
Coos Bay, OR 97420
(541) 267-3901
http://www.coosart.org/

Reviewed by Terry Grant
terry.grant@comcast.net

This exhibit by 6 Northwest Quilters was organized by Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer and Ann Johnston and was planned as a conversation between six artists, representing six quite different points of view. The work in the exhibit, about 48 pieces total, as well as in the accompanying book/catalog, is presented with statements from the artists about the topics of language, theme, voice, process, challenge and message. These themes were clearly serious points around which work was made and organized and they lend coherence to the exhibit. Quotes from the book for each of the topics are printed poster size and lead the viewer through the galleries and work. The artists and work were chosen for their diversity, yet the show remains focused and cohesive largely because of the use of these talking points.

Coos Bay seems an unlikely location as a cultural center, but the Coos Art Museum is the 3rd oldest in the state and presents consistently good and popular shows. Opening along with “Speaking in Cloth” were “Fine Focus” and an exhibit of pioneer quilts, in separate galleries in the Museum. The facilities are spacious and well-lighted and the exhibits beautifully hung. The museum has given pieces ample space, excellent signage and sensitivity to flow and compatibility of adjacent works. The view from the front lobby of the museum is through a large doorway into the main gallery. Several of the pieces contain elements in a sunny yellow that exudes a warm glow, pulling you irresistibly into the exhibit.

Nancy Erickson’s work is the most familiar to me. There are several pieces from her bear series, some of which is more than ten years old and quite familiar, if not overexposed, at this point. The most interesting is her newer pieces—two human figures, slightly larger than life-sized. These are painted velvet with appliqués and graffiti-like painted figures and symbols reminiscent of petroglyphs and cave paintings. Sophia’s Fire, a piece finished in the figure’s shape, with its separate fire, is particularly compelling, as Sophia engages the viewer with her mismatched eyes. (Note: this image was taken from Erickson’s web site. In Coos Bay, the figure and fire are displayed against a white wall.)

EricksonSophiesFire

Nancy Erickson, Sophie’s Fire

Ann Johnston, who is well-known for her practical and user-friendly books on dyeing, shows exciting new work that exhibits her mastery of fabric design and an ease and fearlessness in combining disparate elements into elegant and expressive statements that are at once mysterious and familiar. There is a lot of fabric painting and dyeing being done in the art quilt world. None of it is like Ann Johnston’s. Johnston’s fabrics are richly patterned with complex color and a sense of spontaneity and ease. Nothing seems forced or worked. Her work is abstract in the purest sense, without trickery or coy allusion.

AnnJohnstonBaselineAnn Johnston, Baseline

Baseline, a particularly satisfying piece, combines branching organic shapes, along with industrial-feeling grid pattern, echoed in the stitching, punctuated with bold calligraphic lines that suggest a kind of noise or a disturbance in the atmosphere that interrupts the baseline.

Jeannette DeNicolas Meyer’s most successful works, such as Contrapuntal, are characterized by beautiful color and graceful curving strands that intertwine and seem to dance across the surface. Taken by themselves these pieces are pleasing and harmonious.

MeyerContropuntal
Jeannette deNicolas Meyer, Contrapuntal

In the context of the exhibit they suffer a bit of blandness in contrast to the more dramatic work of the other artists. One piece, in particular, Flight Plan, which is interesting in the catalog, seemed to fade into the wall in the exhibit.

Quinn Zander Corum’s work is strikingly original and feels quite personal and vulnerable. Plotting the Past appears, from across the room, to be an intriguing grid pattern of round shapes. As you approach the piece the small differences in the shapes and the play of color across the piece continue to draw you closer. Close inspection reveals elegant stitching and tiny bits of beads and embroidery that make each individual section a small, beautiful composition.

CorumPlotting

Quinn Zander Corum, Plotting the Past

Trisha Hassler is another artist whose work I have watched for a number of years. She combines torch-cut, rusted metal with quilted fabric, which is rather hard to imagine, but very effective when seen. Her earlier work seemed more to be quilterly pieces, framed in metal. The new work integrates the metal and the fabric in subtle and beautiful interplay between the two. The rusted metal appears to mimic fabric patterning, while the manipulated fabrics show rust patterns and metallic sheen that speaks directly to the metal. An added pleasure of Hassler’s pieces is her intricate and beautifully executed means of connecting the parts and layers with stitching and wire and metal connectors

HasslerFinally

Trish Hassler, Finally

Cynthia Corbin’s work is the largest, and in some ways, the most effective of all the work exhibited. The piece below is 77” x 54” and most of her pieces are in that range. Its size is definitely a factor in its impact, but the use of beautiful fabrics, painting and the distinctive stitching give it an other-worldly quality. Corbin has two distinctive groups of work represented. One group is simple pieced patches of dyed and printed fabrics, including many shibori patterns, that suggest windows and human figures very abstractly. The others are large pieces that were painted after the quilting was done to emphasize the texture of the stitching. Adds Up combines elements of both. In all of her quilts the simple close quilting adds an element that both unifies and adds another visual layer to the richly layered surface.

CorbinAddsUp

Cynthia Corbin, Adds Up

The show, as a whole, is textured and diverse and ultimately tells a story of the 6 voices in an engaging way. I saw the show the night of the opening, then returned the following day and spent nearly as much time at the second viewing, seeing things that I had not seen the night before. The Coos Art Museum’s spacious galleries give you room to view work from a distance, as well as close up. Each artist has about 8 pieces in the show, so it requires time to absorb. The smallest pieces are Tricia Hassler’s that measure in the ranges from 16” to 40”. The largest are Cynthia Corbin’s. All the other work falls somewhere between, making it a show of nicely substantial work

After seeing the show I found the book mildly disappointing from a technical point of view because the color reproduction falls short. However the text is very illuminating and adds to one’s enjoyment and understanding of the work. I was also perversely disappointed to find that my favorite pieces, in most cases, are not included in the book.

An abbreviated version of the show (the pieces that are in the book) will travel to New Zealand when it leaves Coos Bay and will be seen at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, Golden, Colorado in December, 2008. It is currently being proposed for additional venues as well. The catalog may be purchased from the web sites of any of the 6 artists:

www.cynthiacorbin.com
www.quinnzandercorum.com
www.nancyerickson.com
www.trishahassler.com
www.annjohnston.net
www.jdmeyer.com
Ann Johnston is handling volume sales.


The Perils of PaMdora

December 21, 2006

The Perils of PaMdora – art quilts by Pam RuBert
Pool Art Center Gallery
Drury University
940 North Clay Avenue, Springfield, MO

December 1, 2006 – January 30, 2007
Rebecca Miller, Gallery Director
Department of Art and Art History

Reviewed by Emmie Seaman
eseaman@alltel.net
www.emmieseaman.com

Gallery

Gallery

In spite of having the opening postponed for a week due to an untimely snowstorm, Pam RuBert’s Perils of PaMdora was a pleasant relief to the unseasonable cold. This exhibit is presented in a small but quite adequate gallery in the Pool Art Center of Drury University which is well lit and has room for the 14 large and two small quilts to breathe. Preceding the opening, RuBert gave a one hour lecture/slide presentation describing how, after a lifetime of drawing, she only recently discovered quilt art as a way to showcase her cartoons. This information shared the fact that most of these quilts are autobiographical.

The first quilt seen, as one enters the gallery, is an earlier work by RuBert entitled Alien Invasion. Upon turning to the left, one sees large art quilts of bright colors with what appear to be simple designs but upon close inspection reveal complicated details and metaphors.

Alien Invasion

Alien Invasion

RuBert states that The Singing Telegram was inspired during a 4th of July celebration when she reflected upon being asked to jump out of a cake while employed by a singing telegram company. Up close, her monochromatic backgrounds reveal great details such as a clock with a beer theme, pictures on the wall, scenes outside the window, and various characters interacting.

Singing Telegram

Singing Telegram

Blue Christmas and Fresh depict the frustration we all feel when in similar situations; her cartoon approach proves that she laughs at herself and makes us laugh at ourselves.

Blue Christmas

Blue Christmas

Fresh

Fresh

Her technique of fusing cut fabric pieces to black fabric, cutting it out again, and fusing it to the background is reminiscent of the thick black lines in a coloring book. Due to the simplistic, but sophisticated, quality of the designs it is very effective. A grass- like, free motion quilting design on the grass and a quilted nose on PaMdora’s face are just a few examples of RuBert’s skill with free motion, machine quilting. Unfortunately, this is probably not visible to the viewers of these photographs.

There is also a four quilt series called Yoga 101 showing exaggerated yoga poses related to different foods. One might believe that RuBert enjoys her yoga exercises but doesn’t take them too seriously.

Pretzel Pose

Pretzel Pose

Crab Dip Pose

Crab Dip Pose

Cork Screw Pose

Corkscrew Pose

quilt-3_2.jpg

Banana Split Pose

In a corner of the gallery hangs another monochromatic piece, Metropolis, the only non-PamDora quilt in the exhibit . This heavily quilted work proves that RuBert has the ability to show us more than PaMdora. Even though the buildings have a cartoon quality, the works shows depth and technical skill; particularly the reflective quality of the water and the Van Gogh sky.


Metropolis

Metropolis

Towers of Babble, which depicts many landmark buildings in her city of residence, also speaks of her frustration with people and their cell phones, a frustration with which many of us can identify. This quilt typifies the growth of RuBert’s use of an almost monochromatic color scheme, and her design choice of the full background, depicting so much activity that the viewer cannot just glance at it, but is drawn closer to study details, become amused, and go away laughing but appreciative of her humor and talent.

Tower of Babble

Tower of Babble

To the right of the gallery entrance is an area almost separated from the rest of the space. Here, RuBert chose to create a studio installation. She states that when the gallery director visited her studio and saw her doodles, cartoons, fabric stash, and all the paraphernalia that she either uses or by which she is inspired, she was asked to try to include some of it in her exhibit to show the students of the University what goes into making her art quilts. Displayed is her next quilt, progressing from the pencil doodles, to the computer doodles, to the tiled computer drawing, patterns, and the partially finished quilt on the wall. Surrounding all of this are collectibles from her studio that actually make little art installations in and of themselves. Fortunately this area is somewhat isolated from the rest of the exhibit or it would detract from the whole show. One can spend much time roaming though the area studying what inspires RuBert and what makes RuBert tick.

Installation

Studio installation

For this reviewer, this exhibit was a joyous experience of seeing large, colorful, and well executed art quilts. More of Pam RuBert’s work and all of the quilts in her exhibit, including detail shots, can be seen on her website. I encourage you to follow her journey in the quilt world for, in myopinion, she has just begun to speak.


Quilted Collages/Collaged Quilts

November 26, 2006

Quilted Collages/Collaged Quilts

Sandra Donabed
Acton Memorial Library
Acton MA
November 2 – December 27, 2006
Artist Talk, November 29, 7pm
www.donabed.net

Reviewed by Maxine Farkas
maxine.farkas@gmail.com

Self curated solo exhibitions are always an interesting challenge for the viewer. Often the artist/curator’s intent is clear, “this is my new work” or “this is everything that I have done in the past 10 years, or in my career, or in my lifetime”.

With this solo exhibition, Sandra Donabed has chosen to challenge the viewer just as she has throughout her career, with wit and passion. In this group of 17 autobiographical pieces, both quilts and collage, she has offered up a sampling of work that spans the last decade. The exhibit demonstrates a deep love of the work of women’s hands, of the ephemeral guides that women used to create that work and of the vintage textiles that defined women’s “territory”. Because the work is autobiographical, it is rich in content, yet not easily interpreted.

The quilt work, much of it referring in one way or another to the vocabulary of the traditional quilt, consistently creates a dialog between that vocabulary and the one used in the fine arts. In other words, the fundamental concepts which are indispensable to the fine artist, and which many quilt artists have difficulty incorporating, are integrated seamlessly into Donabed’s work.
Sylvia’s Circles I

Sylvia’s Circles

“Sylvia’s Circles” is one example where Donabed takes what at first glance appears to be a traditional form, quarter circle in a square, and uses it as the starting point for a seemingly improvisational monologue on the circle. The sophisticated use and interplay of color transcends form. This piece is the first one sees as one approaches the door to the exhibit and it draws the viewer into the space. It is an exquisite nod to the artist’s mastery of the contemporary quilt form.

Evolution

Evolution

Orphaned vintage patchwork blocks are used in a number of the pieces. The black and white bearclaw variation blocks that create the horizontal borders of ‘Evolution’ are a case in point. In this piece, with the lighting provided by the venue, the stark solidity of the patchwork blocks tend to overpower the toile central portion with its commentary on pastoral imagery. As one approaches and focus falls on the central portion, the question of meaning surfaces as it does with much of Donabed’s work. Is this piece supposed to be mildly amusing or is there a deeper meaning that is being missed?

The Day They Raised the Angels

Earth Mommies: The Day They Released the Angels

“Earth Mommies: The Day They Released The Angels” is puzzling, humorous and beautifully executed. The use of seemingly randomly placed black and white patchwork blocks creates a dynamic tension that is then forced into the background by irregularly placed small circles of color. These blocks serve as a backdrop to the ‘Mommies’, which are large black and white toile figures of bare-breasted goddesses. The Mommies seem to be tossing putti into the air, are these angels being nurtured or rejected?


Attack Rabbits

Attack Rabbits

In “Attack Rabbits”, a collage on stretched canvas, Donabed uses toile and redwork embroidery to create an improbable world where giant redwork rabbits leap fences with abandon. If this is autobiographical, what story is it telling? The more time one spends with the work, the more one finds to engage the imagination, and the more questions one asks.

Fandango de Tortuga

Fandango de Tortuga

The viewer first notices the turtles in “Fandango de Tortuga”. In this simple composition, a pair of turtles could be contemplating mating, given the title. The plants and foliage are beautifully expressed, the attention to line is exquisite. On closer inspection some of the foliage appears to be darts from a dress pattern. A pattern paper zipper bisects the image, making the viewer ask, “Why?”. Is this a compositional device? The use of small orange crosses (x’s?) scattered throughout also pulls the imagery together, yet disappear as one retreats from the work.

Placemats

Placemats

“Placemats”, a set of four table settings, appears to refer to the series of quilts Donabed created in response to downsizing, moving from a house to condo. Then again, she could be exploring her collection of vintage linens.


august 1

August

“August” appears to be one of the simpler stories presented in the exhibit, squirrels running rampant in the garden. The vegetation is riotous but controlled. It is broiderie perse gone over the top. Imagery garnered from vintage tablecloths is artfully contained by the striped border.

Deconstruction

Deconstruction

“Deconstruction”, an artist proof, could be an off register print. Is it an invitation to contemplate life when it goes slightly off center? The large central image is obviously a blow up of one of the flowers in the broiderie perse border. Seemingly, this is one of the simplest pieces in the collection, yet the desire is to somehow reach into the work and pull the central motif together because the imagery appears vaguely disturbing.

Flower Collage

Flower Collage

In “Flower Collage”, Donabed returns to the central imagery of “Deconstruction”, in this instance using flower petals scanned, then printed on pattern paper. Of the mounted collages in the exhibit, this is the most accessible to the viewer, and seemingly one of the least enigmatic.

Multiple Choices

Multiple Choices

Of the quilts offered, “Self Portrait with Sticks” and “Multiple Choices” are the least satisfying. While the imagery in “Multiple Choices” is evocative, the quilt itself is visually flat, the colors seemingly lacking in value contrast, almost washed out. The venue lighting was less than kind to this piece, as the image on Donabed’s website is much stronger. “Self Portrait with Sticks” was confusing and seemingly pointless, although the twig applique offered some depth, this piece also read as visually flat. It is possible, given the visual complexity of much of the other work in the exhibit, that this work was less satisfying because of the nature of photo imagery on fabric, which tends to rely solely on the strength of the image to create depth. It could also be that this direction is such a departure in technique from the other work shown that the viewer is thrown for a loop.

Despite this reviewer’s quibble with several of the pieces, this is one of the strongest presentations of a body of work that has been offered by a fiber artist in Eastern Massachusetts in the past few years.

A note on the venue:

The venue is less than ideal, a multipurpose space designed to display framed art with structural elements that interfere with several of the larger pieces. As in many communities across the country, local libraries in Massachusetts have been working with artists to create alternative exhibition opportunities. The Acton Memorial Library juries its exhibits from slide submissions, the exhibition space doubles as a multi-use meeting space. While far from a mainstream or ideal gallery setting, the space is used for numerous community events and activities and the exhibitions are extremely accessible to the public.

Photographs of Attack Rabbits, Placemats, Deconstruction and Flower Collage by the reviewer, all others supplied by the artist. All work copyright the artist.


Visual Journeys: Art Quilts by the Salon Seven

November 25, 2006

Visual Journeys: Art Quilts by the Salon Seven

November 4 through 30, 2006

New Rochelle Public Library
1 Library Plaza
New Rochelle, NY
914-632-7878
The New Rochelle Public Library
www.nrpl.org
www.thesalonseven.com

Reviewed by Carolyn Lee Vehslage
www.clvquilts.com
Photographs by Jeri Riggs.

The Salon Seven, a group of New York and Connecticut quilt artists, have put together an exhibition whose purpose is to introduce artistic rather than functional quilts for its audience at the New Rochelle Public Library. Most of the quilts on display are attractive and do not involve questions about the artist’s intention. The quilts are hung on a series of display walls in the outer lobby of the library.

Although the individual artist’s work varies from Beth Carney’s tranquil pieced squares and rectangles to Susan Schrott’s joyful women to Georgia Heller’s still lifes and landscapes, the exhibition works visually in part because of the structure of the venue. Each artist has one full wall plus space for additional pieces. This allows each artist to establish her individual frame of reference.

The Salon Seven provide some coherence in their artwork by taking on the challenge of each creating a piece from the same piece of cloth, a bold rainbow of colors dyed by member Jeri Riggs. The seven artists then made a piece of similar size in their own style

challenge_left.jpg

challenge_right.jpg
The Salon Seven Challenge pieces, as well as the banner and the challenge fabric

The opposite wall also holds one quilt from each of the members that is not part of the challenge. The art on this wall is hung salon style (as the group’s name implies), within two inches of each other. These pieces are too close to enjoy, and their diversity is jarring. These pieces could have been edited out for a stronger overall exhibition. There is a third wall of three large pieces by three different artists that also does not gel together.

 

opposite_left.jpg
opposite_right.jpg
Opposite Wall

Benedicte Caneill offers a visual discussion on the loss of memory. The word memory appears to be written and erased on a school blackboard and is a moving statement about the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

caneill_memoryi.jpg
Benedicte Caneill – Memory I

The pieces Georgia Heller chose to hang are all from Northern Star Quilt Guild challenges. Two of her pieces, ‘Falling Leaves’ and ‘Long Island Tree of Life’ are so thoughtfully laid out that she could develop them into kits for the contemporary quilt market. Because she shows such mastery of techniques and color choices, perhaps she should challenge herself to come up with her own direction.

heller_fallingleaves.jpg
Georgia Heller - Falling Leaves

Elizabeth Rosenberg has two successful graphic quilts with ‘Elec Trickle Banana’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Her choice of commercial fabric for the heavily pieced, overly large bananas and strawberries make them mouth watering.

rosenberg_electricklebanana.jpg
Elizabeth Rosenberg – Elec Trickle Banana

Although Linda Schoenfeld’s pieces show excellent workmanship, they bear strong resemblance to quilt artists’ artwork she may admire or taken workshops from. Her most successful pieces are in the style of Noriko Endo; tiny colored bits of fabric are trapped under tulle to create leaves (‘Springtime’ and ‘Autumn Leaves’).

schoenfeld_springtime_autumnleaves.jpg
Linda Schoenfeld – Springtime (above); Autumn Leaves

Jeri Riggs works in her usual eclectic styles. Some of her pieces seem to be early attempts at using various techniques.Her ‘New York Circles’ is the most interesting of the grouping.

riggs_newyorkcircles.jpg
Jeri Riggs – New York Circles

Susan Schrott has the most stylized artwork. She depicts women in various aspects of their everyday life. Her ‘Woman with Blue Vase’ is the most successful composition of her series. While the others have the figures floating on a sea of whole cloth, hand dyed fabric, this one has a foreground and middle ground for depth of field. Susan’s artwork has a naivete that works for her sense of self-expression. However, she could improve the facial features, specifically the eyes.
schrott_womanwithbluevase.jpg
Susan Schrott – Woman with Blue Vase

Beth Carney has the most consistent look from piece to piece. Her compositions, such as ‘Structured Chaos #12: Hot Flash’ are well proportioned and balanced. Her work is perhaps the most generally successful in the exhibit.

carney_structuredchaos12.jpg
Beth Carney - Structured Chaos #12: Hot Flash

The intent of the exhibit and its venue allowed these artists to show off a disparate group of artworks to library patrons who perhaps wouldn’t have been familiar with the medium. The variety of styles and techniques are appropriate for an introduction to art quilts.

 


Link to Syracuse Post on ‘Quilts=Art=Quilts’ at the Schweinfurth Center, Auburn, NY

November 21, 2006

November 19’s Syracuse Post “STARS” section contains a review of the Schweinfurth Center’s current ‘Quilts=Art=Quilts’ show:

http://www.syracuse.com/poststandard/stories/index.ssf?/base/living-2/116367148893270.xml&coll=1

(If that URL doesn’t work for you, go to Syracuse.com and search on “schweinfurth quilts” and the article will come up in the list of results.)


Surface Tension: Contemporary Quilt Art

November 17, 2006

Surface Tension: Contemporary Quilt Art
James Howe Gallery, Vaughn-Eames Building
Kean University
1000 Morris Ave, Union, NJ

Nov. 1-22, 2006
Sandra Sider: Juror & Guest Curator
Exhibit Website

Reviewed by Rayna Gillman
www.studio78.net/

Surface Tension, which opened November 1 at New Jersey’s Kean University Howe Gallery is, on the whole, a strong, thoughtfully presented exhibit of contemporary quilt art with a focus on surface design. In selecting work for this show, Sandra Sider’s goal is twofold: to select quilts that “would represent the diverse range of surface design” and would also stand on their own as works of art. For the most part, she has succeeded.

Because a survey is, by nature, a comprehensive view, a few pieces included in the show seem to be there because they include techniques that rounded out the survey, rather than because they are strong works of art. However, while not all viewers would agree with every choice, the juror’s talk about how she juried the show provided invaluable background that enabled those who attended to see the work with additional depth and perspective.

The roster of top-notch artists use airbrushing, collage, batik, beading, burning, cording, crochet, cyanotype, discharge processes, digital imagery, dyeing, embroidery, felting, rubbings, gel transfer, monoprint, painting, photo transfer, resist processes, screen printing, shibori, solvent transfer, stamp printing, and stenciling.

Despite the variety of styles and processes, the show is remarkably cohesive. To begin with, there is sufficient space between the work so that no piece encroaches on another and the viewer can see each work without distraction.

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Surface Tension – Installation

In addition, a great deal of care is taken to hang pieces together that speak to each other, a key ingredient in a strong exhibit.

Schulze and Sellers

Joan Schulze – Three Bowls and Sally Seller – Half

While these two pieces are entirely different, the vessels as well as the colors and shapes connect them. Each surface is spare in its own way: Joan Schulze’s minimalist “Three Bowls” uses digital printing and drawing with toner and stitches; Sally Seller’s “Half” uses beads with restraint. Both are beautiful in their simplicity.

In another example of conversation between pieces, Linda Dunn’s “Shadows” is paired with Arlé Sklar-Weinstein’s “Through the Eyes of My Father I: Fish Vendors.” The dialogue here is in the sense of memory, transparency, and the use of images transferred to cloth. Weinstein uses sheers to accomplish the layering over her father’s vintage photographs; Dunn layers both text and old images through a variety of transfer techniques to create transparency. Both pieces imply a story and it is up to the viewer to fill in the blanks.

Dunn and Weinstein

Linda Dunn’s Shadows and Arlé Sklar-Weinstein’s – Through the Eyes of My Father I: Fish Vendors

Two of the show’s pieces are felted. Liz Axford uses silk organza and wool felt to create “Text and Subtext,” a knockout piece with the texture of ancient documents. She uses stitches effectively and mysteriously as calligraphic marks in this contemplative piece.

Axford

Liz Axford – Text and Subtext

Axford detail

Liz Axford – Text and Subtext – detail

Bonnie Wells uses felt differently in her asymmetrical and vibrant “Reclamation.” The piece is unified by her repetition of circles, varied in color and scale, dyed and discharged.

Wells

Bonnie Wells – Reclamation

Another standout is Marilyn Gillis’ “Reflections from a Blue Moon.” She combines shibori and clamp-resisted fabric dyed by Elin Noble and Judy Robertson to create a serene work elegant in its simplicity.

Gillis

Marilyn Gillis – Reflections from a Blue Moon

Less is more in Pat Owoc’s understated “Niche.” Disperse dyes on polyester create luminosity and two simple, graceful lines speak eloquently.

Owoc

Pat Owoc – Niche

Nancy Erickson’s “Interiors #8: Private Dancer” is the initial piece on the gallery wall. The oldest piece in the exhibit, it may have historical significance as the first in her painted animal series, but its size and color are jarring and looked out of place. Fortunately, hanging it nearest the entrance minimizes its potential to overwhelm the other work.

Erickson

Nancy Erickson – Interiors #8: Private Dancer

Linda Colsh’s poignant “Iron Lace” and Elizabeth Barton’s abstract “On the Latch,” both thought-provoking pieces in neutrals, hang between two bright bookends, a jarring juxtaposition.

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Center pieces: Linda Colsh – Iron Lace and Elizabeth Barton – On the Latch

Mildred Thornhill Reynolds’ “The House is on Fire” is festooned with crocheted yarn and a three-dimensional stuffed sofa. While the piece deals with her daughter’s home burning to the ground, a tragic event, the piece itself seems oddly comical and overly cute.

Reynolds

Mildred Thornhill Reynolds – The House is on Fire

On the other end of the wall, Toni Disiano’s “Three Blue Blocks” provides balance, but her three little screenprinted squares are lost in the off-balance composition. From a distance, they have little impact.

Disano

Toni Disiano – Three Blue Blocks

Lisa Chipetine juxtaposes an abstract collage of sheers, discharged fabric, and other items with a very traditional background. It is not clear what the title “Trapped” refers to, but the heavy, white-on-white trapunto’d traditional background does not work with the airy collage that sits on it.

Chipetine

Lisa Chipetine – Trapped

However, in the scheme of things, these are minor. Despite the difficulty of mounting a survey show, this exhibit is successful because:
1) The juror has a clear idea of what she wants to accomplish.
2) The show has an overriding focus.
3) The walls are not crowded.
4) The work is hung with regard to how it relates to its neighbors and there is a balance of size and shape.
5) The pieces are varied in style, color, technique, and voice, but they are presented cohesively.
6) Each work speaks in the individual voice of the artist who created it.

“‘Surface Tension’ is an important historical document for the art quilt movement. The tight focus on use of contemporary surface design techniques shows an accomplished use of the media.”


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