Way back at the beginning of 2018 I set myself a few quilting goals. One was to have my work accepted in an art show, not just a quilt show. To that end I mounted “Sunset on Main” on a prestretched canvas in hopes that would appeal more to an art show juror. Such a presentation precluded any usual quilt show entries with their “must show your work” rules about quilt backs.
I’ll know more about the other entries after I attend the opening reception this Friday night from 5-8 p.m. From the few I saw when I took in my piece it will be an interesting mixture of media.
So, if you’re planning to be in downtown Akron on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday afternoons, stop by. Summit Artspace at 140 East Market Street is a block from the Akron Art Museum. Specific hours are 12-7 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 12-5 p.m. Saturdays. Special Artwalk hours are from 12-9 p.m. on Thursday, November 3.
Recently I came across a new-to-me twist on paper sculpture – replicating historic costumes in paint and paper. I won’t touch on the issue of whether fashion design is more than a decorative art, but I consider it an artistic endeavor.
The Frick Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, has a new special exhibit “Isabelle de Borchgrave: Fashioning Art from Paper,” which includes life-size trompe l’œil paper costumes, in addition to paper accessories such as shoes, jewelries and handbags, created by Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave. French for “deceive the eye,” trompe l’œil is an art technique that uses photographically realistic details to create optical illusions; in de Borchgrave’s case, she uses paper and paint to simulate various fabrics.
The artist’s interest in creating paper costumes was sparked by a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1994, where she found herself inspired by the historic costumes on display. Back in her studio, she began to experiment with creating renditions of the pieces in paper.
According to de Borchgrave, “After I make some drawings, after I put the paper on the table, I have to choose the color to give the effect. Sometimes it’s more satin, sometimes it’s like a felt … or silk. I look and I try to find the effect through the color. When I find that, I paint all the paper … and after, there are people who cut the paper and put it together. For sure, I am next to them because I have to decide if it’s large enough or maybe too big or maybe too little. That’s like haute couture for all the dresses you can see in that exhibition.”
You can see closeups of garments created for the 2009 exhibit called Les Medicis: Le Reve Revient here. The costumes take center stage after about 45 seconds of location footage, and the video shows their sumptuousness through slow pan shots.
De Borchgrave’s website gives a taste of her current projects such as the life and work of Picasso. She is also involved in fabric and paper products design, and rents out her studio for special tours and gatherings. You and 14 others can enjoy a guided tour of her Brussels studio for a minimum of 225 Euros.
These and many more quilts and coverlets are displayed throughout the Simon Perkins Mansion and the John Brown House during October. Self-guided tours are available Wednesday-Saturday from 1-4 p.m. for an admission fee to non-Society members.
James Stanford’s Shimmering Zen is now on exhibit at The Studio-Sahara West Library in Las Vegas, Nevada, through December 8, 2018. It has been described as the intersection of Las Vegas and Buddhism. The digital images are intricate, detail-dense, neatly symmetrical, abstract, mandala-like. Most often they’re layers of details cropped from historic photos of Vegas signage and architecture.
Stanford uses the iconic vintage signage of Las Vegas, where he spent his childhood at a time when the town was small and provincial, without access to global culture. His layered images reflect a mirrored geometry that unravels and then recomposes. Printed on metallic paper, the works evoke a sense of infinite reflection.
Some of the pieces in the exhibit are “lenticular” images — several layers of the same image, each treated and colored differently, backlit and viewed through a lenticular, or striated, magnifying lens. They are the product of intensive Photoshopping — up to 30 or 40 layers each. The picture shifts as you move in front of it. So when you move, the image shift, while brief, is pronounced, a disruptive flutter before the picture snaps back to clarity, albeit now in a different alignment. Think kaleidoscopes.
Stanford’s latest photo montage exhibit is part of his Indra’s Jewels, and is available as a book. You can sample more of Stanford’s work on his Vimeo channel, https://vimeo.com/jamesstanford. These short, often silent, videos can be mesmerizing.
For some months I’ve been preoccupied with my canal map project. I’m relieved to report that it’s done, hanging sleeve and all.
It was made for a map quilt challenge, and was supposed to be no larger than 20 by 20 inches. That didn’t happen as canals are long and skinny. My piece is more like 19 by 29 inches.
I tried to depict the story of the Ohio and Erie Canal over time through part of Summit County, Ohio, from the Cuyahoga-Summit County line to just north of downtown Akron. The canal was much longer, beginning at Lake Erie and continuing south to the Ohio River.
The blue embroidered line that runs the length of my quilt represents the Cuyahoga River, and the red line the canal. The short red lines mark the canal locks. The brown lines show the current roads in the area, one of the transportation systems that has superseded canals. They are also the quilting lines. The map at the top left outlines the area my map covers.
Continuing down the left side, a photo printed on silk organza shows a typical canal boat being hauled by horses. The period photo was taken near the Ira lock, for those of you familiar with the area.
The next photos on the left show a lock that remains today, and some of the devastation wrought by the 1913 flood that wiped out the canal for good. The picture was taken on North Howard Street in Akron, Ohio.
Continuing on the right side, the top photo shows a group posed outside the Mustill Store in Akron. It was a store and butcher shop that served the canal boats, and has been restored. The photo beneath the store shows boats lined up to enter a lock.
Many mills, such as the Moody and Thomas Mill in Pensinsula, Ohio, at lock 29, were developed to take advantage of the canal. The photograph I used was damaged, but shows a typical grist mill.
The final picture shows the front page of the Akron Beacon Journal for March 26, 1913. Akron was one of many Ohio cities flooded.
“When Akron’s east reservoir gave way, some thought it had been dynamited. Water roared over the gates of the canal locks to a depth of eight feet, making them impossible to open. Lock 1 in Akron held back 9 miles of water. Canal cities were warned by those on horseback to evacuate the area. John Henry Vance, a B.F. Goodrich engineer, used dynamite to blast open the lock gates. The water crushed gate after gate, ripping the clay lining off the banks of the canal, as it rushed north to Peninsula and Boston.” (http://akron.com/akron-ohio-entertainment-news.asp?aID=18840)
This quilt represents a lot of compromises as I tried to be historically accurate yet create an artistically pleasing work. The graphics gave me trouble as I searched for historic photos that were interesting, clear, and of high enough quality to survive being printed on fabric.
I tried to blend the photos with the background using embroidery, which also serves as part of the quilting. I would have preferred to arrange the photos close to the points where they were taken, but space constraints got in the way. I won’t bore you with my adventures printing on fabric.
Would I change things? Absolutely, but I have no plans to return to the canal except as a hiker. I suggest this site if you have a burning thirst for more information on individual canal locks.
Now 80 years old, mixed-media artist Marilyn Henrion is a native of Brooklyn who has spent time in the New York artistic and literary world. Her aesthetic vision has always been deeply rooted in the urban geometry of her surroundings. You can see this in her earlier works of geometric abstraction as well as in more recent architecturally-based mixed media works, which feature New Orleans and Europe.
Some of her works are quilts, for all practical purposes, with piecing and quilting. Many of Henrion’s quilted pieces are featured here.
Other works consist of hand quilted digitally edited and printed photographs.
Still others are edited photographs cut up, sewn together, and digitally printed with no quilting.
Then, some defy categorization, though I think the piece below is very modern.
And this piece has elegant curves and lovely hand dyed looking fabrics.
Henrion works in series so you can see how she plays with an idea. Her website has many examples of her work, nicely grouped by theme. I’m glad to see how her techniques have simplified over time as I’ve been looking for less complex ways to create work. Her latest work uses digitally edited and printed photographs. I don’t know if that’s the direction for me, but it’s one path to try.
Many art quilters seem to struggle with creation of abstract work, whether from scratch or from a recognizable photo or drawing. Even if you don’t want a totally nonrepresentational piece, abstracting can help simplify and strengthen your design.
To work on my abstracting skills I signed up for Lyric Kinard’s Abstract-a-licious online course. To quote Lyric, ” Lessons consist of concrete design exercises that are clear and easily understood as well as ample encouragement from an award winning teacher. You don’t need to have drawing or design skills as this course is designed to inspire and teach both the timid beginner and the confident creative.”
The course consists of five play exercises that use pencil, paper, and scissors. There’s no projects involved. So far we’ve done three lessons. The emphasis is on using design principles to develop abstract designs.
Once I complete the remaining units I’ll let you know how it all went.