Some time ago I posted a portrait of Diego Rivera that I found inspiring. Here’s another which I was fortunate to see last October at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.
This Presidential Portrait of Bill Clinton was painted in oils by Chuck Close in 2006. Chuck Close begins all of his paintings with a photograph of his subject, in this case an image made during a photo session in August 2005 for a New York magazine cover. He then draws a grid on both the canvas and the photograph and uses the information contained in the photograph to create a series of abstract modules on the canvas. For me, this has quite a quilt-like quality. The photo really doesn’t do it justice so I recommend seeing it in person if you in Washington DC. The 3-D effect from a distance is fantastic. Below is a detailed shot showing more clearly the way it pixelated into the on-point grid.
In early June, I was a member of the faculty at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium hosted by the Asheville Quilters’ Guild. During the Symposium, several of us went on a tour of Chihuly Nights at Biltmore, the first art exhibition in Biltmore’s historic gardens and the first garden exhibition of Chihuly’s works in North Carolina. The Biltmore House and gardens is a spectacular estate officially opened by George Vanderbilt on Christmas Eve, 1985.
We arrived in time to see the house and gardens with Chuhuly’s colorful organic glass creations in daylight and were then treated to a gorgeous sunset.
As darkness fell, the glass sculptures were illuminated and took on a a new dimension and vibrancy. Here’s a daylight and night time shot of the same installation.
The next two use the existing stone wall and statues and the exterior of the house as backdrops to display these amazing pieces. Then follows the Electric Yellow and Deep Coral Tower and the Alabaster and Amber Spire Towers.
As quilters, we don’t always know what exactly inspires us in our work. In addition be being enjoyable, taking the opportunity to look at other art forms is always beneficial and adds to our store of experiences from which to draw our ideas.
While I was in the Portland area to teach in Beaverton, I visited my good friend Nancy Watts, who has worked with me assisting the Mongolian Quilting Center for several years. Nancy had just returned from a Silk Road tour to Uzbekistan and shared her stories. She purchased this amazing suzani at an antique shop in Bukhara. It is at least 100 years old, woven in strips and hand embroidered with silk thread in intricate designs.
Traditionally, brides make these for their husbands. They are used in their yurts as wall hangings, bed coverings, or covers for belongings. The beautiful embroidered motifs all have symbolic significance and meaning: the pomegranate for festivity, peppers to protect from evil spirits, wavy stems for wealth and vitality, tear drops and almonds for abundance, and flowers which are the paradise garden in the desert to bring luck, good health and longevity.
“Home” is a group exhibition featuring twenty-five artists from the Puget Sound Region. “Home” celebrates the opening of Olympic College’s Instructional Center and is a partnership between Olympic College, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) and Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN). The exhibit is in their brand new building, in the gallery, and will be there until 2nd March, 2018. I feel honoured to be a participant. As a previous exhibitor at BIMA, I was invited to submit any works pertaining to the theme of “Home”. Interpretation of the theme could be very loose. Two quilts were selected for Olympic College, and there will be more when the exhibit moves to the larger space in BIMA in March. See my blog last week for my bed quilt and additional pictures of some of the other works of art.
This wall hanging would be fun and appropriate to hang on the wall of a child’s bedroom in a home. Toto’s Garden, was made by me to be featured in a special exhibit, Quilts for the Young at Heart, at the Houston International Quilt Festival several years ago. The exhibit was sponsored by David Textiles Inc., who produced a Wizard of Oz line of fabrics and invited various quilters to use these to make Wizard of Oz themed quilts. I was invited by merit of my work teaching children to quilt and several kids made patchwork pillows and one made a lap quilt under my supervision. These all appeared, along with my offering, in the exhibit. Look closely to see the Cowardly Lion’s tail, the Scarecrow’s hat, Dorothy’s shoe, the Tin-man’s axe and the quilted tornado. This whimsical quilt was fun to make and rather atypical of my quilts which are not usually pictorial or applique. Here are some more pieces from the “Home” exhibit which captivated my interest.
On the left, Cedar Mesa Ruin, by Kay Walsh: scanned 4×5 black and white carbon pigment digital print. On the right, Home, Sweet Home, by Bill Walcott: acrylic on canvas.
On the left, On the Street Where You Live, by Max Grover: acrylic and collage on board. On the right, American Pie, by Karen Hackenberg: wood matchsticks, aluminum pan and scale-model figures.
“Home” is a group exhibition featuring twenty-five artists from the Puget Sound Region. “Home” celebrates the opening of Olympic College’s Instructional Center and is a partnership between Olympic College, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) and Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network (BARN). The exhibit is in their brand new building, in the gallery, and will be there until 2nd March, 2018.
I feel honoured to be a participant. As a previous exhibitor at BIMA, I was invited to submit any works pertaining to the theme of “Home”. Interpretation of the theme could be very loose. Two quilts were selected for Olympic College, and there will be more when the exhibit moves to the larger space in BIMA in March. I offered two bed quilts, one contemporary and one traditional: every home needs at least one bed with a quilt! They chose the contemporary one shown above, Retro-Radiation, made from my original Op-Art Kaleidoscope blocks and quilted by Wanda Rains. Here’s a selection of some of the other pieces from a variety of artists. My second quilt and more of these will be posted in my blog next week. Curator, Greg Robinson, has as outstanding eye for placing different media together into a coherent and beautiful exhibit.
These are the nests. On the left, Fledged, by Kris Ekstrand in charcoal and mixed media. On the right, Nests, by Carla Grahn in hand formed and hand sewn nickel coated wire.
Here’s Bird House, by Diane Bonciolini and Gregg Mesmer of Mesolini Glass: cast, slumped and fused glass work. On the right, Out on A Limb, by Karen Hackenberg looks like a home made by bees. Karen constructed this amazing piece from wooden matchsticks, a madrona branch and scale-model figures.
I was fortunate to attend an extraordinary art exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum in early September. This was hugely popular and my first attempt to get in failed after I queued for two and a half hours and it was sold out. On my second attempt, I went with a friend who had a membership for two at the museum and we were fast tracked to the ticket booth and given a time to attend later in the day. The exhibit, with works dating from 1965-2017, Infinity Mirrors, by Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist, was unlike anything I’d seen before. There were six small rooms to enter, just two people at a time, for 20-30 seconds. In these rooms were objects, for example yellow pumpkins with black spots, pink balls with black spots, colored lights, and a series of mirrors to make the objects or lights repeat themselves giving the illusion of infinitely. It was amazing and mind-boggling. The first picture shows my favorite, the Infinity Mirrored Room – Love Forever. There were two peep-holes to look into the room and the lights constantly changed colors. The center mirror shows my hands holding my cell phone to take the picture.
Dots Obsession – Love Transformed into Dots was multiple pink balls covered in black dots. The picture on the left shows the outside and the one on the right, is inside the largest ball with the mirrors and infinity effect.
Yayoi Kusama is indeed obsessed by dots. Infinity Mirror Room – Phalli’s Field, consists of white stuffed fabric tubers covered in red dots. The other picture shows me in The Obliteration Room, an interactive environment where everyone was given three colored dots to stick anywhere in this room that was originally totally white. Since I attended the exhibit close to its closing after it had been running for three months, it was hard to find a space that was still white and not covered in colored dots.
Here are a couple of shots of sculptures by this incredible artist. Notice the use of dots again!
The next pictures are snaps I took during a video of the artist talking about her work. I love what she says: “I take each day as a test for how much I can contribute to society and increase peace and love around the world” and “I’m always thinking about how I can make something that people will enjoy and be moved by.” I found this exhibit so inspiring and creative. The bold use of dots, bright colors and lights, and the illusion of space generated by the use of the mirrors were fantastic.
I recently visited the newly opened BARN facility at 8890 Three Tree Lane, Bainbridge Island, and was very impressed. BARN’s mission is to build and support an open, inter-generational community of artisans and makers who are dedicated to learning, teaching, sharing, and inspiring each other with creativity, craftsmanship and community service.
Their goal is to create a true community center, using craft as a magnet to bring together people who would not normally know one another or have opportunities to collaborate. They want to connect seniors eager to pass on skills they spent decades learning with young people just starting out, and longtime islanders with people who have just moved here. Working side-by-side, participants will share tips, ask questions, and lend a hand when needed, gradually building trust and new friendships. Community service projects done in BARN’s workshops will widen the circle of connections even more. The result will be a more resilient community—one where people have hands-on skills and are committed to helping one another.
Years of planning and fundraising went into BARN. The project was initiated by a group of woodworkers who wanted to share studio space, tools and expertise. The woodworkers have spent hundreds of hours making all the cabinets, tables and more. BARN has 25,000 square feet of space including 11 studios: Woodworking and Boat Building, Metalwork, Welding and Sheet Metal, Jewelry and Fine Metals, Glass Arts, Fiber Arts, Printmaking, Book Art, Writers, Kitchen Arts, and Electronic and Technical Arts. Members may use the studio space and the equipment. Classes are open to members and non-members and various organizations, such as the Bainbridge Island Modern Quilt Guild, can meet there. This is an awesome place! Here’s a picture of the Textile Arts studio, mostly focused on weaving with several looms available for use. There are one or two sewing machines, but so far, the space is not really set up for quilters and there is no work wall. It’s early days and quilting is not currently a priority, but who knows, one day they might get a long-arm sewing machine.