19 Sep

Arty Fun Weekend

Now that we live on the US Mainland, everyone seems so much more accessible.

Long time blog buddy, turned Twelve by Twelve compatriot, turned real life friend, Deborah, is only a state and a district away. We’ve been plotting to get together and decided that last weekend was the time. She had a SAQA Parlor meeting and a Metro Threads meeting so I jumped at the chance to tag along and meet other area quilt artists. I thoroughly enjoyed the programs and the sharing of artwork and discussions that emerged. We enjoyed sharing our 20×12 pieces that we’ve completed so far.

While we were off doing our thing, Deborah’s husband gallantly herded the kids. They were amazing together. Reading, playing games, goofing off. They entertained each other for two and a half days.

My man had spent the last three days working in the area so he met the gang at Claire’s soccer game. Deborah and I eventually caught up with them too. I love it when two families can play together so easily.

On Sunday, Deborah treated us to a delicious crepe breakfast and then we headed off to DC to visit the Spy Museum. Totally fun. I think everyone enjoyed that!

The guys then left and the moms walked the kids over to the Corcoran to see the Richard Diebenkorn exhibit our peer group has been raving about. I can see in the fields of color and simple geometric shapes why the paintings have so much appeal to quilters. I have to admit that the first room or two of paintings did nothing for me. I found them to be “neither nor,” as one instructor of mine used to say. They seemed neither intentionally messy nor finished looking. However, as the exhibit progressed, I gained an appreciation for the insight into process which Diebenkorn appeared to be giving us. The layers informed each other and one could almost imagine the internal conversation the artist must have been having with himself about color and proportion. I still didn’t love most of the paintings, but I could respect what Diebenkorn was telling me, and there were a few that I do like, such as #122, an untitled one that could be interpreted as a landscape with a building, and the mostly dark #138. Part of the series included very small paintings on cigar box tops, which did appeal to me. There were small details of the box texture or printed labels that showed through the paint in enticing ways. I think it was the contrast in scale and rhythm that was working for me and which wasn’t so immediately evident in the larger pieces. I particularly enjoyed viewing the exhibit with a friend because we were able to discuss our reactions and interpretations of the art right there with it in front of us. We couldn’t linger too long though because the kids were not Diebenkorn fans. Deborah mentioned that it could be instructive to reproduce some of the paintings in cloth and stitch to see what happened, particularly since she saw Diebenkorn’s work to be almost opposite from her own in it’s spareness. That got me thinking about a what-if. What if we chose an artist whose works were very different from our own, or who we felt we didn’t like or understand, and tried to replicate their colors, composition, textures, etc in our medium (fabric)? I think it has the potential to be an interesting exercise — a learning experience, a path towards growth.

On the way out of the Corcoran, we made a detour through the small exhibit Anima, by Charlotte Dumas. Out of the corner of my eye, on the way to the Dienbenkorn exhibit, these photos of horses looked like they could be sexy portraits, but when we went in, they were far more moody and serious. My daughter Katja exclaimed that the horses looked like they were dying. Upon reading that these are the horses which pull the caissons with caskets at Arlington National Cemetery and that they were photographed at the end of their work day, I saw that my daughter was right on in her interpretation. Unfortunately, I don’t think that she really grasped that she “got” the art. I was still proud of her.

We treated the kids to ice cream and headed home, with full tummies, full hearts, and full minds. I can’t wait for more weekends with friends like this.

Claire and Zavi counting squirrels on the White House lawn. Deborah has more photos and her impression here.

4 thoughts on “Arty Fun Weekend

  1. I love, love Diebenkorn. Saw an exhibit – maybe this one – in San Francisco. Totally my aesthetic. Love seeing how your kids all get along so well says something about how both families have parented the kids. Lovely.

  2. Love hearing about your fun. I haven’t seen the Diebenkorn exhibition, but I did see a retrospective of abstract art (created primarily by European artists) last week and it was fascinating. Now that I’m understanding a bit more about the intellectual process behind some of the abstract movements, I can better appreciate some of the artistic intent. And yes, some would look fabulous in fiber — may I be so bold as to say better? — because of the extra intrigue the stitched line would add.

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