The 9th Northwest Contemporary Art Quilt Invitational

November 9, 2006

The 9th Northwest Contemporary Art Quilt Invitational
The American Art Company
1126 Broadway Plaza
Tacoma, WA 98402
253-272-4327
www.americanartco.com
October 19 – November 18, 2006
Tuesday –Friday 10 – 5; Saturdays 10 –5

Reviewed by June O. Underwood
www.juneunderwood.com

 

The American Art Company is a commercial gallery situated in the heart of downtown Tacoma, Washington, a city which has undergone an arts and culture revival in the last few years.

The gallery is spacious. A good-sized entrance room opens up through a wide corridor to two large exhibit spaces. The wall art is floated about 6 inches out from the walls, so it has extra depth. In the back (primary) exhibit areas, the pieces are subtly grouped, often in threes, a larger piece having two slightly smaller ones on either side. The groupings in this exhibit area are set off by colorful, highly polished wood sculptures on pedestals between the groupings.


aac3.jpg

 

In the front room a few art quilt pieces are exhibited among watercolors, oil paintings, and mobile-like sculptures. The watercolors and sculptures were of a quality that the fiber art in that room lacked. The quilts hanging in the space, by Nancy Erickson, Patti Shaw, Dorothy Ives, and Barbara Nepom, seem like after-thoughts. They neither fit with the art quilts of the main exhibit nor are of the quality of the watercolors and sculpture.

Ericksons’s “The Interview” should probably have been a painting, since the minimal quilting doesn’t enhance the image or the texture, but rather makes the piece hang awkwardly. Even as a painting, the Erickson piece was less effective than other of her animal pieces.

Nancy Erickson, “The Interview”

Nancy Erickson, The Interview

 

Patti Shaw’s “Dame Edith,” beautifully worked, has pop connotations but caused confusion about its subject matter.

Shaw Dame Edith

Patti Shaw, Dame Edith

 

The Dorothy Ives’ piece, “Solitaire,” which looks interesting on the web site, is too busy for its poignant message to be read easily. The background obscures the figures.

Ives Solitaire

Dorothy Ives, Solitaire

 

These three pieces, all of which feature stylized representational figures, are also the only ones in the exhibit which make direct comments on the contemporary world. The other piece in the room, Barbara Nepom’s “Leaves,” is bright and highly stylized, and its placement outside the main exhibit makes sense because of its coloration.

nepomLeaves

Barbara Nepom, Leaves

 

The larger body of the exhibit in the main galleries is also generally quite bright. Red tending toward rust dominates much of the art; the second most predominant color is chartreuse and lime green. However, the work is tasteful in its uses of the bright colors, and the presentation artful enough to make the pieces individualized, not blending into one another.

Janet Steadman’s “Again” and Janet Kurjan’s “Madrona” stood out as making excellent use of color modulations. A close second was Jeannette DeNicolas Meyer’s “Autumn.” Both Steadman and Meyer designed their colors to form a glowing spot within darker surrounds, which made the abstract imagery more flowing.

3 pieces

Janet Steadman Again

 

Kurjan Madrona

Janet Kurjan, Madrona

 

Meyer Autumn

JeannetteDeNicolas Meyer, Autumn

 

One piece which gathered accolades is Borg Hendrickson’s “Fences Two #9” It is intricate, yet cleanly designed; the placement of the strips into wedge shapes is important to the overall image; the black and white strips add a strong focal interest.

Hendrickson Fences Two #9

Borg Hendrickson, Fences Two #9

 

Cher Cartwright, who has three pieces in the exhibit, and whose “In the Course of the Motion” is the website signature piece, uses linear strips and swirls of energy radiating from circular forms. They are more modestly hued than the website images indicate but this does not diminish the success of the piece itself. Cory Volkert, whose “Kelp II” uses Sassaman-like forms, has a sophisticated surface of overlapping and echoing shapes.

aaccartwrightmotion.jpg

Cher Cartwright, In the Course of The Motion

 

aacvolkertkelp.jpg

Cory Volkert Kelp II

 

The piece that is top-notch is Toot Reid’s “Twenty.” Reid often has a seemingly simple schema in her work. She uses a background fabric in which the hue changes across its surface. On top of the background, she stitches raw edged 1 or 2 inch squares of another color. In this particular work, the background is red, and it is topped with small black squares stitched variously in black thread. The raw edges of the black fabric and the cut ends of the threads are left dangling as part of the design. The simplicity and starkness of the red and black combined with the variety among the black squares is most satisfying. The stitching is an important feature of this piece—adding a layer of design over the fabric layers that is like mysterious writing.

reid twenty

Toot Reid, Twenty

 

Abstract work dominates the exhibit although there are some natural images as well. The small representational floral pieces in the wide well-lit corridor between the front and the back of the gallery seem out of place in a high-end art venue. “Into the Woods, Autumn” by Bonnie Jean Thornton (which was sold) is particularly unsuccessful in its choice of fabrics and design. This particular mixture of organic and geometric shapes and hand-dyed and commercial representational fabric is jarring to the eye. The confusion of spatial distance is neither abstract nor realistic, so it adds to the problem of readability.

thornton woods

Bonney Jean Thornton, Into the Woods, Autumn

 

There isn’t much whimsy or humor in the exhibit, except for the “Pepperoni Pizza Mandala” by Linda Rudin Frizzell. “Pepperoni Pizza Mandala” is accessible, but it may be out of place because of its rigid symmetry and sugary color.

FRizzellPepperoni

Linda Rudin Frizzell, Pepperoni Pizza Mandala

 

The pieces are mostly moderate (around 3’x 5’) in size, including Reid’s and Erickson’s which in the past have been much bigger. A couple of the pieces have titles which seemed provocative, but they are attached to unexceptional imagery. “Not Just Another Anita Bryant Day” by Cher Cartwright and “It’s not My Fault Line” by Bonnie Brewer are both technically competent, but the titles give them more content than the work justifies.

Brewer Fault

Bonnie Brewer, It’s Not My Fault Line

 

The exhibit is a well-hung, well-lit, beautifully paced commercial venture, with well-crafted, well-designed, mostly “good” pieces. The strongest critique is that, in the end, it is very safe. No one will be offended, and no one’s heart is going to beat faster upon encountering this art. This is art that can definitely go over anyone’s couch.

This is Tammy and Craig Radford’s second art quilt exhibit. They plan to continue the biennial show as an invitational. Some edgier, not-so-nice pieces might have set off the other pieces and extended the visual range as well as adding interest to a larger number of buyers.

The exhibit is up until November 18 and can be seen in its entirety on the website, www.americanartco.com. All photos, with the exception of the site view, are courtesy of the American Art Company.


Fiber Revolution: A Survey of Styles

October 29, 2006

Fiber Revolution: A Survey of Styles
October 3 – 31, 2006

M. Christina Geis Gallery
Georgian Court University
Lakewood, NJ

Reviewed by Joanie San Chirico
www.joaniesanchirico.com

In this “Survey of Styles,” 25 of the 35 member Fiber Revolution group showcase their work in a non-juried, non-curated setting.Since the members send in whatever work is available, the lack of curatorial direction leads to a lack of cohesiveness. Fiber Revolution has saturated the North East with their exhibits. Since many of the same pieces are shown at different venues, perhaps a change of procedure is in order, to concentrate on producing higher quality exhibits rather than large quantities of exhibits.

One of the more interesting works is Kevan Lunney’s green/brown/purple “Pod”. It brings to mind Audrey from the Little Shop of Horrors, an apt subject this week before Halloween. The construction is ingenious and impeccable, using Velcro and zippers, making it possible to change the configuration at each venue. The work is quite large, standing over 4 feet tall and at least 3 feet wide. The presentation is well done, letting the viewer walk around the piece in order to see the surprise in the middle, which would have been more effective in a color other than bubblegum pink, possibly a deep blood red. The artificiality of the pink color detracts from the visceral and organic feel of the piece.

Pod Pod detail

Kevan Lunney – Pod – Pod detail

“Undercurrents” by Eileen Lauterborn uses tiny 1/8″ to 1/4″ strips of commercial fabric to depict an impression of static. Closer inspection shows unreadable hidden text under the static, perhaps an unexpected secret code masquerading under the colorful strips? The piece, despite its pretty colors, expresses the possibility of an unsettling message hiding just beneath the surface.

StaticStatic detail

Eileen Lauterborn – Undercurrents – Undercurrents detail

Lisa Chipentine’s piece, “A Sliver of Hope”, constructed in a crazy quilt-like format of rich, sensual silks and velvets offers a “tranquil softness” as one of the visitors to the exhibit aptly expresses in the group’s book in which patrons write their opinions about the exhibit and the work.

A Sliver of Hope

Lisa Chipetine – A Sliver of Hope

Judy Cuddihee abandons her usual theme of sexual imagery for this exhibit, and her “Meditation” piece is not as successful as some of the work that she has done in the past, in particular her “Release” series, which titillates the viewer into asking “Why?”

Meditation

Judy Cuddihee – Meditation

In “Victory”, Antoinette Hall uses a mud cloth large “V” shape as a central figure on a black background, hand quilted much like an Amish-type traditional quilt. The meaning of the piece is elusive, and the mud cloth is incongruous with the background.

Victory

Antoinette Hall – Victory

Fiber Revolution claims to be producing cutting edge work. However, much of the work in this show is dated and on the verge of trite; Barbara McKie’s work “Autumn in New England” comes to mind. The picture-postcard autumnal scenes are reminiscent of 1950’s wallpaper, which may not have been her intent. The members seem to be focusing on prettiness and a riot of colors and losing sight of content in the process. The result is the marginalization of the quilt as art.

Autumn in New England

Barbara Barrick McKie – Autumn in New England

On the whole, the exhibit is too crowded and the pegboard hanging system extremely distracting. In fact, since Gloria Hansen’s piece “Colorfields II” is mounted on smoke colored Plexiglas, the pegboard is visible through her framing system.

Colorfields II

Gloria Hansen – Colorfields II

The show would have been more successful with smaller work, perhaps hung on a “horizon line” around the room. Such disparate subjects as jumbled computer parts, jelly fish, frogs, and Madonnas make for a very chaotic exhibit, which seems to serve chiefly for the purpose of adding a line to the resumes of the exhibitors.

A proliferation of mediocre work does nothing to promote the Fiber Revolution group’s mission statement of “educating the public about fiber art as an exciting art form.”

An installation shot of the exhibit can be seen on the Fiber Revolution website here.


Transformations: Artists Working With Fiber — 17-20 August, Birmingham, UK

September 12, 2006

Reviewed by Marion Barnett
http://artmixter.blogspot.com

Transformations : Artists Working With Fiber, an exhibit from Studio Art Quilt Associates, juried by Jane Sauer and curated by Peggy Keeney, had its premiere at the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham , UK , from 17 to 20 August 2006. http://www.twistedthread.com/festivalofquilts/index.asp

SAQA is a US based art quilt association with an international membership of professional quilt artists.

In her statement, Jane Sauer says that the exhibit represents ‘the exciting array of diverse and extraordinary quilts being made today…the many voices of today’s quiltmakers’. Diversity is a very difficult thing to manage, particularly in an exhibit setting, where visual coherence contributes to the success of individual pieces, as well as to that of the whole. This, for me, was reflected in the two entrances to the exhibit. At one, the viewer is met by a single piece, Genevieve Attinger’s mysterious ‘ Lazy River ’, with its interesting structure and bluesy feel. At the other, the viewer is met by three images, of which the most immediate was Alison Muir’s ‘Clean Up The Act’, a visually muddled if earnest exhortation to improve the environment in her native Australia .

Genevieve Attinger - Lazy River Alison Muir - Clean Up The Act

Genevieve Attinger – Lazy River
Alison Muir – Clean Up The Act

This was to continue throughout the exhibit: individual pieces showed outstandingly well, others disappointed, often on the same wall. I particularly enjoyed the juxtaposition of Eleanor McCain’s masterly ‘Black and Brown Study’ with Deirdre Adams’ dreamlike ‘Passages II’ and the elegant stillness of Leslie C Carabas’ ‘Reverence’.

Eleanor McCain - Black and Brown Study Deidre Adams - Passages II Leslie C Carabas - Reverence

Eleanor McCain – Black and Brown Study
Deidre Adams – Passages II
Leslie C Carabas – Reverence

Adding Jill Rumoshosky Werner’s compact yet energetic ‘Connected’ to that particular mix was perhaps a less obvious choice.

Jill Rumoshosky Werner - Connected

Jill Rumoshosky Werner – Connected

Occasionally, I was left wondering about the selection criteria, particularly with Gwyned Trefethen’s ‘Hanging by a Thread’, which, whilst impeccably crafted, was a strange mixture of images, styles and hues, as if three separate pieces were at war within it.

Gwyned Trefethen - Hanging by a Thread

Gwyned Trefethen – Hanging by a Thread

Overall, however, the exhibit was indeed diverse, which was, according to both juror and curator, the point of the exercise, though a more rigorous approach to the selection of pieces might have benefited everyone. And it was a pleasure to see works by august names such as Phil Jones, Ann Johnston and Emily Richardson shown in the UK . In summary, like the curate’s egg, this exhibition is good in parts. Where it is good, it is very, very good…but some parts of this particular egg should have been left on the edge of the plate.

Phil Jones Johnston Emily Richardson

Phil Jones – One Blue Square
Ann Johnston – Wave 4
Emily Richardson – Gumbotil

The exhibition can be seen in Colorado in November-December 2006, in Chicago in April 2007 and in Oregon in June-July 2007; further details are available here, on the SAQA website. It will be interesting to see if the hanging order is reorganized in these other venues, and the effect that might have on the overall affect of the show.


“Insecurity: An Installation by Julie John Upshaw” at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles – Pointer to Review on Metroactive, The Arts in San Jose

August 24, 2006

A review of Julie John Upshaw’s installation titled “Insecurity” at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles can be found on Metroactive – The Arts in San Jose.

  

An excerpt reads: “BY NOW, the ritual of security clearance at the airport has become second nature. The traveler passes through an electronic portal to the limbo of the departure lounge. In an edgy installation called Insecurity at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Julie John Upshaw ups the anxiety level of that common experience.”

Through October 1, 2006

San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles

520 S. First Street • San Jose CA 95113
408.971.0323
info@sjquiltmuseum.org


“Quilts for Change” – August 10-12, Cincinnati, OH

August 16, 2006

review by Kathleen Loomis
(Note: The author had two quilts juried into the main Quilts for Change show.)

Judged by Carolyn Mazloomi (art) and Donna McDade (traditional)

Quilts for Change is a biennial, first held in 2004 and again this year. The sponsor is the Zonta Club of Cincinnati, a women’s service organization whose mission focuses on the elimination of violence against women. Although not a requirement for entry, the theme was featured prominently in publicizing the show. It attracted a significant number of quilts about women and abuse or self-esteem, along with other subjects of social protest such as guns and war — dark emotions rarely found at quilt shows but exciting to see here.

Although art quilts were the great majority of the 138 juried entries, three times as many prizes were given to traditional quilts. Despite its prevalence, none of the social-protest work received a prize. Prizes were awarded in three categories of traditional quilts (applique, pieced and other), but art quilts constituted a single category. It’s hard to know why the organizers decided upon this disproportionate allocation of prize money. The 2004 show was notable for the number and quality of art quilts, the show poster (by Susan Shie) was clearly an art quilt, and the lack of a minimum size for entries was art-quilt-friendly.

It was frustrating to try to understand the judges’ choices. Quilts were neither labeled nor grouped by categories, and in fact entrants did not even specify which category their quilts fell into. If you wanted to see, for instance, which quilts were judged against yours in the “traditional/ other” category, the only way was to walk around the exhibit, inspect each quilt and try to decide whether it fell into that category.

Two years ago show goers were frustrated by the hanging of the show – even the tiniest quilts were hung with their tops eight feet above the ground — and with the difficulty of finding their way around the show. If you saw a quilt described in the catalog and wanted to see it, there was no way to figure out where it was hung. And if you saw a quilt on the wall and wanted to read the statement, there was no way to find it in the catalog. This year saw great improvement on the first count, with small quilts (many entries were quite small) hung at eye level, but the catalog and exhibit map were still difficult to figure out.

Other than the many social-protest themed quilts, it was hard to spot any noteworthy trends – a refreshing change from some shows that inadvertently showcase quilt-fad-of-the-week. There seemed to be less embellishment on view than typically seen among art quilts, somewhat less use of phototransfer, hardly any Angelina fibers. The critical viewer could not but notice how many quilts on display lacked value contrast and seemed to have little thought for composition.

Quilts that caught my eye included Sandra Woock’s three whole-cloth works using the motif of the pointed crown on the Statue of Liberty.

Lady Sings the Blues Taking Liberties II Taking Liberties II

Sandra L.H. Woock: Lady Sings the Blues, Taking Liberties II, Taking Liberties

Shelley Baird’s twin quilts, “Bruises” and “Burns,” were striking for their sound composition and the contrast of pretty colors with disturbing photos and text about abused women.

Burns Bruises

Shelly Baird: Burns, Bruises

Ellen Zak Danforth had a new and pleasant twist on the old-necktie quilt, with pairs of unmatched tie ends emerging from the pieced surface to be looped or tied together.

Two special traveling exhibits were on display. Artquilts Images, a juried show from PAQA South, showed photo images in quilts. The 26 works had a wide range of approaches to photos, from actual paper photographs to many different ways of transferring images to fabric. Artistically, the exhibit was a success, with several striking quilts. Especially pleasing were Cheryl Lynch’s small 3-D quilt of Christo’s gates, with orange fabric billowing out from a pale gray-tone photo of Central Park, and Janine LeBlanc’s antiwar quilt with a long yellow ribbon, “bloodstained” with red hand stitching, trailing onto the floor.

anti-war quilt

Janine LeBlanc: Yellow Ribbon

Visual Voice, a show curated by Keisha Roberts, was less successful. From the impenetrable explanatory text (“artists interrogate silence”) it was difficult to figure out the unifying theme behind the exhibit. Some of the text seemed to imply the use of text or communication; some pointed toward cultural and national identity. The 37 quilts were all over the lot and the exhibit would have been far more satisfying at half the size.

In particular, one artist, Karina Abdusamad, had nine works in the show! Two were striking, panels of many different white fabrics in decreasing size, each fabric with a hole in it. The works showed up particularly well against the black drapes of the show (by contrast, many black quilts in the show almost disappeared into the drapery). But Abdusamad’s other quilts appeared to be early work, heavy-handed in its ethnic imagery and technically disappointing. They should have been left at home.

The exhibit also included five of Angela Moll’s “Secret Diary” quilts. Each one is a masterpiece, with its almost-readable handwritten text hinting at the writer’s fraught life, but one or two would have been even more exciting than all five. Other quilts in the exhibit showed a puzzling juxtaposition of Afro-ethnic themes and fabrics, beaded works, and handsome abstractions, both pieced and dyed.

Although the show had all the amenities a visitor could want – convenient parking, comfortable classrooms, wide aisles, good lighting, cheerful attendants, scads of door prizes — there were unhappily very few people in attendance. Vendors were disappointed if not overly rebellious over the low turnout, and several workshops had to be cancelled for insufficient registration. Apparently the workshops were not advertised at all in print media, and the newspaper ad on the last day of the show gave incorrect hours. Exhibitors were given two free tickets to give to friends, but not told that the tickets were going to be available until they showed up (friendless) at the door. A lot of wrinkles still need to be ironed out if the third show is to be a success.


Lowell – Art Quilts at the Whistler III

August 14, 2006

Review by Sandy Donabed
One of 4 reviews by Ms. Donabed of the Lowell Quilt Festival.

“Art Quilts at the Whistler III”, juried by Robin Daniels and Beverly Fine displays 38 quilts from 18 states focused on “fine craftsmanship and visual design transcending traditional patterns and functionality” (taken from the exhibit brochure). It was interesting that Elizabeth Poole received Best in Show award for her pieced and stitched torso, this one close to life size, titled “Ozymandias”. Nancy Crasco had two pieces hung in this show- but of particular interest was a diaphanous kimono shape with golden maple seedlings caught between its layers. This on was called “Caribbean Caftan”. Both women also had two pieces in the Small Works show, reviewed here.
Whistler

Elizabeth Poole, Melani Kane Brewer

On the whole, the work displayed at the Whistler Museum was more mature in nature, the pieces and ideas more fully realized. Barbara Triton displayed her “Brooklyn Bench”, a smaller piece including digital images of her photograph, dyes, fabric and organza. Right next to Triton’s was a piece by Deborah Gregory titled “Verde” where a discharged and dyed piece of cotton is heavily machine embroidered with stitching forming a net design. Both works showed restraint and confident mastery.

Whistler

Deborah Gregory, Barbara Jade Triton

And finally, a very quiet presence in a corner, was Leesa Gawlik’s “Rice Field”. It contained a sophisticated color scheme of warm neutrals with a simple repeated linear design across the sheen of the silk surface. All the fabrics were hand dyed using natural materials, stencils, paste resists, and over painting. Even the deceptively simple pieces were complex in their structures and techniques. Her other exhibited piece received one of the judges awards.

Whistler 2

Leesa Gawlik, Nancy Crasco, Petra Voetgle

The Whistler House Museum of Art, 243 Worthen St., Lowell, MA 978-452-7641, http://www.whistlerhouse.org, “Art Quilts at the Whistler III”, through August 31, Wed- Sat, 11-4


Lowell – Small Works at the Ayers Loft

August 14, 2006

Review by Sandy Donabed
One of 4 reviews by Ms. Donabed of the Lowell Quilt Festival.
(Note: The author had a piece in this show and also helped hang it.)

The Ayer Lofts Gallery hosted the show, “Small Works’, a exhibition juried by painter Gay Tracy, sculptor Steve Syverson, and fiber artist Maxine Farkas. The show represents pieces smaller than 11″ x 17” by 24 artists from 275 submissions. Instead of slides, the jurors worked with scans and color copies so they could inspect and arrange the show in actual size, an approach only possible with such small pieces. Overall, the participants should learn about good presentation as some of the hanging devices were out of scale to the work- this is simply remedied by trying out the hanging mechanism before sending it to a show, so hopefully a lesson has been learned and next year’s entrants will supply proper mechanisms. Several notable pieces included two figure studies machine embroidered by Elizabeth Poole. Poole is interested in planes and forms of the body and has exaggerated the values to create a feeling of mystery and repose. Her pieces are titled, “Study in Agates” and “Study in Moonlight”.

Also represented by two pieces is Nancy Crasco who entered her own digital photographs of walls taken while visiting various concentration camps in eastern Europe. Though only postcard sized, Crasco’s hand embroidery traces images that echo the horrors of the camps.

Small Works 2

Nancy Crasco

“Notes” is a vertical piece by Linda Colsh of Belgium, and the image chosen for the “Small Works” postcard. As a painted collage, it includes musical scores, images of statuary, and a freehand diagonal scrawl, maybe tracing a conductor’s hand, that unites the disparate images together.

Another compelling image came from Els Verezcken, “Clement”. This piece was done in the tradition of a faced quilt, printed face images on cotton and traced all around with brightly colored machine stitches. We want to know more about Clement, even though this is a quiet piece.

Small Works

Els Verezcken

Ayer Lofts Art Gallery, 172 Middle St., Lowell, MA 978-458-4200, http://www.ayerlofts.com, “Small Works”, call for gallery hours