25 Mar

My Takeaway

Art Quilt Elements 2014

Click on the link above for an overview video by Lisa Ellis. I didn’t take any photos of the artworks, but they can be seen in the video and of course in the catalog and hopefully on individual artist’s blogs.

In conjunction with Art Quilt Elements 2014, Wayne Art Center hosted a SAQA regional symposium and a talk with AQE artists and jurors. The symposium and talk are over, but the AQE exhibit will be up until May 3rd.

I skipped the symposium because it cost money and I already felt like I had spent enough entering the show, paying for shipping of my artwork, driving to PA, and two hotel nights. Besides, My mom and I wanted to see a little of Philly while we were there. But, I am really glad we went to the gallery talk.

One of the jurors was from the art quilt world, which is good for technical insight, trends, and context. The two other jurors were from the greater textile art world, which brings in a fresh view, broader context, and an eye towards artists concerns rather than technical ones. Unfortunately the art quilt juror wasn’t present, but i thoroughly enjoyed hearing what the other two had to say.

These jurors liked large scale. There were no really small artworks in the show, and there were several comments about wanting to see some of the selected art being even bigger. They appreciated good technique but were not nearly as charmed by it as so much of the art quilt world seems to be. The jurors wanted proof of content and intent.

I was struck by a difference between what the jurors saw and what the artists spoke about. In the pieces the jurors wanted to speak about, they saw stories and points of view. They were drawn in by intriguing details (Eleven 3 Thirteen by Marianne Burr and Random Thoughts by Elizabeth Brandt), by mysteries that needed unraveling (Greek Revelation by Kristin Hoelscher-Schacker, by plays and modulations of color and pattern (Hostas by Jill Ault, Call for Entry by Sandy Gregg). They wanted to be taken on a journey and to have that journey mean something (Anxiety No. 8, David by Judy Kirpich). They liked when there was a provenance (Home at Valley Forge by Lois Charles). They looked for the concept that drove the work.

When the artists spoke about their work, many seemed to focus on their process or technique. It was about arranging fabric until it seemed right, or focusing on details. It was attention to surface design or patterning. Any concept or intent imbued in the work seemed to have been serendipitous. Of course, we didn’t hear from all the artists and there were few that did start with specific intent, and us artists are not always good at explaining our inspirations or motivations on the spot. But I did find the differing points of view to be noteworthy.

Another area to think about, brought up by the jurors, was dimension and breaking the plane. Things could wrap, or move in and out, or just suspend away from the wall.

Context came into play. Thinking more in terms of installation and including other non-fiber elements to further the story. Asking why cloth? What is the best medium for the message? Of course, these are questions I ask myself all the time so I just ate up all that they were saying. I’ve been frustrated of late with the constrictions of many quilt exhibit venues, so this validated my desire to break away from the 4″ sleeve and move out onto plinths or forms, to work extra large, or to just hang away from the wall.

What the jurors liked about my quilt was what it said about our world right now. It’s provenance is here and now in our world of memes and social media. It’s current. They also appreciated it’s visual impact, bold use of color and patterned fabric, and the way the zig zag border became an integrated frame as well as referencing the quilt medium. Things to think about would be what hangs with it outside of a survey show like AQE. What else could I make? Where else would it work? Get it out of the quilt world and into the milieu of pop and other current art. (Although I do think that QuiltCon needs it.)

Some of the pieces that interested me personally:

From further away, Complements by Naomi Adams looks textural and complex. Up close, it’s beyond textural — it’s dimensional. And its also simple. I liked it’s contrasts.

From Stone drew me in with it’s organic shapes and fissures created with denim and dense stitching that modulates the colors. The big surprise was that it was by Hollis Chatelaine who is known for her portraiture.

Diane Firth’s work is pristine as always. Low Tide‘s contrast between sheer tulle and subtly dyed felt is softly serene. Her play of substance and shadow by use of sheers is very elegant.

I enjoyed meeting Benedicte Caneille. She is so friendly and charming. Her work is beautiful too. Benedicte’s Units 27: Sunburst and Julia Pfaff’s Contrast XIII hung next to each other and played off each other’s acid greens, deep blacks, clean construction, and contrast of busy and relatively quiet to a marvelous effect. Kudos to Susan Hirsch for hanging those two together. Fun for me to get to meet Benedicte and to see Julia again to represent Virginia art quilts!

My favorites were Random Thoughts by Elizabeth Brandt and Otaru Winter by Cynthia Vogt. The shapes in Random Thoughts reminded me of Robert Motherwell, but remain in a quilty context, and the quilting itself is fantastically scribbled and patterned. It has to be seen, not described. Otaru Winter is very simple and the most like a traditional quilt in that it is made up of many small white log cabin blocks. But all those blocks are made of silk and the way they are quilted really accentuates the subtle shimmer of the whole piece.

I also liked the way Greek Revelation by Kristin Hoelscher-Shacker plays with foreground and background. First it looks like interesting pebble-like shapes on a green ground, but then you notice that the shapes are really little windows into a scene in the background and all of a sudden you are looking through them trying to puzzle out the story. This is also one of those rare instances where I like the use of the digital imagery.

Stroke by Lori Lupe Pelish: commercial fabric as paint!

Finally, for Deborah, some statistics:

  • 43 quilts in total, chosen from over 600 entries
  • Six Figurative (four humans, one robot, one cat)
  • Seven that looked like recognizable things
  • 30 purely or predominantly abstract
  • Nine utilizing digital prints
  • Five using repeated quilt blocks
  • One constructed of plastic bags, two using Tyvek, one predominantly denim.
  • Two artists named Kristin — and we both spell our names the same!
24 Mar

Excellent Arty Weekend

The weekend actually started on Wednesday afternoon when my mom and I packed up a large portion of my Army Wife Series, and all it’s accompanying and borrowed display gear, and drove to Yorktown, VA so we wouldn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn on Thursday. Besides, my friend JoAnne, who, in typical Army wife fashion, I had met in Hawai’i and will now keep in touch with whenever our paths cross, is a wonderful hostess.

The Army Wife all packed up

Our occasion was a Joint Services Luncheon at Ft Eustis, VA. The speaker was Tanya Biank, so JoAnne, who was on the organizing committee, suggested my artwork as a compatible display. I enjoyed the opportunity to share my work with an audience who might not normally take the time to see it in a gallery, yet would very much identify with it.

The Army Wife

I enjoyed talking to many of the ladies and sold a few catalogs and card sets. It was a lot better than letting the artwork sit in my dark closet. On a whim I brought my Square credit card reader which I had never used. It was so convenient to have on hand!

Selling The Army Wife cards and catalogs

The main event though, was for my mom and I to spend two days in the Philadelphia area to attend the Art Quilt Elements opening night reception and related Saturday events. My Grumpy Cat inspired quilt, Zeitgeist, was in the show and I thought it would be a fun outing for us to go see it, to visit another gallery or two, maybe a few Philly sights, and hear the juror/artists talks.

Art Quilt Elements 2014

I knew my cat was huge, especially since someone noted when it was hanging at my local McGuffey Art Center that it was seven feet tall, but I kind of assumed it would look normal sized in Wayne Art Center’s large gallery and surrounded by other large art quilts. Wow! It stood out as huge from the moment you walk in the entrance.

But the REALLY BIG surprise was that Zeitgeist won Best in Show! I was flabbergasted. I absolutely love the quilt, but I was even surprised that it was accepted into AQE. It doesn’t really look like what comes to mind when one thinks Art Quilt show, and it definitely wasn’t what I assumed would be considered prize-winning.

Me and Zeitgeist

I floated for the rest of the evening. I texted and FaceBooked with my friends and family, and let Sara Wood, who long arm quilted the beast know the good news.

We had Saturday morning free, so I decided we needed to see the fiber art mecca, Snyderman-Works Gallery. Their Fiber Biennial had just started and so the gallery was filled with a wide variety of top-notch fiber work. I took a few photos, but really, one needs to check out the much better photos at Snyderman-Works’ website or the individual artists’ websites. Aside from the wonderful artwork, I really, really enjoyed that everyone at the gallery was friendly, informative, and readily available. Frank was our docent without hovering too much, and I even had a chance to chat for a bit with the founder, Ruth. Everyone was warm and charming. I wish I had a million dollars so I could support the gallery and the artists they feature.

Snyderman-Works Gallery Philadelphia

My favorite may have been Richard Saja’s work. I’d seen it online before and it really does stand up in person. So quirky, so well executed, and so unique. I loved the red hair on this lady:

Scenes from a Marriage by Richard Saja (detail)

Scenes from a Marriage (detail) by Richard Saja

Compound by Norma Minkowitz

I also liked the work of Norma Minkowitz. One piece upstairs was frieze- or headstone-like with bird-ish forms and downstairs was this piece entitled Compound, which tells the story of the capture (and killing) of Osama Bin-Laden. The work is knit and then stiffened with resin, which intrigued me since I’ve been knitting a lot lately. It was at once cozy and hard.

Petal Edge by Piper Shephard (detail)

Petal Edge (detail) by Piper Shepard. I’m always attracted to cut paper art.

At The Sea by Pamela Becker

There were several vessels by Pamela Becker, like this one entitled At The Sea. They were exquisitely made, and the contrast in sheen between the linen and the rayon threads she uses is subtle and elegant. The patterning and surprise flowers in the bottoms of the bowls was beautiful too.

After Snyderman-Works, we walked over to Independence Hall, but didn’t have time for a tour or the Liberty Bell. It was nice to see the historic neighborhood though and Independence park.

Our next stop was the Art Alliance of Philadelphia to see some funky work by Caroline Lathan-Steifel.

Caroline Lathan-Steifel "Greenhouse Mix"

After Snyderman-Works, this was kind of a let-down. It was so crafty in comparison. But I did like the way the viewer could interact with the pieces by walking around them or looking through them, often at another piece. With fabric being a wrapping, enveloping media, I think we should be thinking more in terms of installation work.

The rest of the afternoon was back at Wayne Art Center to hear the jurors’ comments about some of the works, and to give the artists present a chance to give a little insight too. I’ll save that for another post though since this is pretty long.

Sunday’s drive home was punctuated by a stop at Historic Savage Mill, MD for the annual Homespun Yarn Party where I helped my friend Elisabeth sell her wonderful color changing yarn. Long day, but she appreciated the help, and I had fun being surrounded by yarn goodness. My mom and I came home with beautiful scarf pins and a skein of Elisabeth’s yarn to make next year’s Christmas present for my mom.

27 Mar

War Still Sucks

I am pleased and honored that “War Sucks” will be part of the 2012 Art Quilt Elements show. So, if you missed it at Art=Quilts=Art in Albany, NY last January, now’s the chance to see it, plus a gallery full of other fantastic art quilts, in Wayne, PA. The show opens on March 30th, 2012 and runs until May 13th. They will also have a catalog if, like me, you will not be able to attend. Art quilts always look better in person though.