Category Archives: Commentary

Artistic Endeavors – Aboriginal Art

Because Australia’s Aboriginal people have no written language, they told about their culture through stories and symbols and icons. Traditionally paintings by Aboriginals were drawn on rock walls, ceremonial articles, as body paint and most significantly drawn in dirt or sand together with songs or stories.  Artwork we see today on canvas and board commenced merely 50 years ago, according to this article on Artlandish. Roughly the same story is told on this art gallery’s website.

In the 1930s Arboriginal artists such as Albert Namatjira painted watercolors of desert landscapes near Alice Springs.

Until the 1970s watercolor was the medium used in commercial Aboriginal art. Then, Geoffrey Bardon,  a school teacher, noted that storytellers would draw pictures in the sand while telling stories. He encouraged them to paint their pictures on canvas.

Since then Australian Aboriginal Art has been identified as the most exciting contemporary art form of the 20th Century. Aboriginal Artists need permission to paint particular stories.

They inherit the rights to these stories which are passed down through generations within certain skin groups. An Aboriginal artist cannot paint a story that does not belong to them through family.

Aboriginal art differs in character and style depending from which region the artist is from and what language is spoken.  Most contemporary art can be recognised from the community where it was created.

Dreamtime or Jukurrpa and Tingari (the term varies according to their particular local language) is the translation of the Creation of time for the Aboriginal People.  Most Aboriginal Artists paint facets of their Dreaming which forms a share of their inheritance and identity.

This is the ancient story of the Milky Way and the Seven Sisters (Pleiades). This Dreaming was inherited by Gabriella from her mother, handed down to her from her paternal grandmother, Long Rose, given to Gabriella by her father.
aerial view used by some artists
indigenous painters at work

In May 2007 the first piece of indigenous art sold for more than $1 million –  Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s work ‘Earth’s Creation’ to a private buyer for $1.056 million.

The market for such art has helped strengthen Aboriginal culture and provided much needed boosts to local economies. Aboriginal designs can be found in cotton fabrics sold online and in quilt shops.


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Artistic Endeavors – Illustrated Books

Many books are illustrated, from medieval manuscripts to children’s picture books. However, not that many illustrations feature books themselves.

Jungho Lee won the 2016 World Illustration Awards for his dreamy, surrealistic work.

Jungho Lee: Promenade

The professional class winner, Jungho Lee, who also hails from South Korea was commissioned by Sang Publishing to produce a series of book illustrations for Promenade, making use of graphite and charcoal overlaid with textured papers scanned and composited to create beautifully muted, minimal landscapes.

“Jungho Lee’s picture book is distinguished not just because of his outstanding technique, but great imagination. I think this is why the jury chose his book as the overall winner,” says Daehyun Kim, Book category judge.

He bills himself as an artist who has worked as an illustrator since 2007. I know that illustration is viewed as the bastard child of art by those who deem it unworthy of fine art, but yet I see far more than literal interpretations of written work in the finest illustrations. As a book lover I’m drawn to Jungho Lee’s inventive use of books in his works.


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May Sound More Impressive Than It Actually Is

Occasionally I like to send my creations out into the world of quilt shows. Recently I submitted Torii Traces to a national show, and it was accepted. A few days ago I received emails from the show organizer that encourage me to blow my own horn and, not incidentally, do a bit of marketing for the show.

First, the quilt.

Next, the press release I can share with my local media.

Local Quilter Accepted into Pennsylvania National Quilt Competition

NEW HOPE, Pennsylvania – Quilt artist Joanna Mack from Akron, OH has been selected as a finalist in this year’s Quilt Competition at the 2018 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE). The renowned event, produced by Mancuso Show Management, Inc., will be held at the Great Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, September 13-16.

Following acceptance by the competition’s jury, Mack’s quilt, Torii Traces, will be displayed at the show along with other entries from across the U.S. Winners will be selected at the show, and publicized on the show’s website starting Thursday, September 13, 2018. Quilt and textile art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to view Mack’s quilt among the other magnificent quilts exhibited at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, September 13-16, 2018.”

There’s more, but it’s about Mancuso Show Management, not me. I do love the sound of “quilt artist.”

Finally, I received a button to share on my social media. Please don’t ask what it means to be a finalist, as I don’t know. I think it means simply my quilt was juried into the show.

Now, Mancuso Show Management seems to do a good job with its shows. I’ve had no issues whatsoever with them. I just get depressed at all the efforts put into branding everything and everyone on social media. Maybe my brand should be

I’ve link up to Off The Wall Fridays.



Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

Artistic Endeavors – Yves Saint Laurent Exhibit

I’ll not weigh in on whether fashion can be considered a fine rather than “just” a decorative art, but I will share a gallery of the Yves Saint Laurent creations exhibited at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

The 2017 exhibit, called Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style, was drawn from the archives of the Fondation Pierre Bergé—Yves Saint Laurent and other private collections. In addition to haute couture and ready to wear clothing, it included accessories, photographs, drawings, films, and video from the Fondation’s archive. Saint Laurent’s hit parade included the trapeze dress; the Mondrian dress; and garments, such as the safari jacket, the pantsuit, and the tuxedo, that liberated women from strict gender dress codes. That liberation made its way down the female clothing design chain, and in my mind is Saint Laurent’s enduring legacy.

The trapeze dress from 1958.

Dress from 1966

Coat from 1970. Back says “or never.”

Trio of dresses. Could the middle figure be a Blue (Wo)Man Group member?

smoking jacket from 1966

There are several other photo galleries on the ArtDaily website that you might enjoy perusing as well.


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Artistic Endeavors – Conceptual Art

To me, conceptual art has always evoked a wha?? response. Sol LeWitt’s wall drawing instructions will give you a flavor of this slippery beast. Mind you, the art is the instructions.

The first drafter has a black marker and makes an irregular horizontal line near the top of the wall. Then the second drafter tries to copy it (without touching it) using a red marker. The third drafter does the same, using a yellow marker. The fourth drafter does the same using a blue marker. Then the second drafter followed by the third and fourth copies the last line drawn until the bottom of the wall is reached.

Yep, Mr LeWitt wrote instructions for others to follow, like his Wall Drawing #51, “All architectural points connected by straight lines.” This means that each time his instructions are followed at a different location, the results will be different. Clever, but is it art?

According to LeWitt,

“What the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has a physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea. It is the process of conception and realization with which the artist is concerned.”


PBS’s ‘The Case for Conceptual Art” tries to explain it all.

I can see some of the points made, but what puzzles me is how one gets from concept to fancy museum exhibits and deep pocket sponsors. Maybe it all boils down to the contextualization of art, but that’s a topic for another day.

Update on 8/29/18

Just came across this article on a Sotheby’s auction for an art concept. Here’s a quote from the article:

A humorous yet subversive work, Xuzhen Supermarket replicates a Chinese convenience store, housing a functioning cash register and an assortment of familiar merchandise available for visitors to purchase at normal retail prices. From tubes of Colgate toothpaste to bottles of local Kweichow Moutai liquor, each item lacks content, consisting only of its packaging. For visitors, each act of purchasing – or not purchasing – and corresponding thought-process, contributes to a playful yet penetrating critique on consumerism, advertising and global capitalism. The fact that the work is – for the first time – offered for sale at auction adds to the irony.



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Artistic Endeavors – Choi So Young

Used denim from pants, skirts, shirts, etc., isn’t the most likely medium for art, but Korean artist Choi So Young can see whole urban landscapes in it. He (or she, websites differ) is especially clever in using the bits most textile artists don’t use – the belt loops, pockets, seams, pocket liners, labels, and buttons. The pieces are best described as collages. I believe acrylic paint is also used.

Hong Kong Soho Street, 2013

London Street At Night, 2010

After The Snow 2, 2011

Gaya, 2005

After The Snow, 2010

Other work by her/him is at artnet. So far my searches haven’t found any biographical data, except for year of birth (1980,) education, and residence (Korea.) I’d love to see a video of the artist at work, but while my YouTube search found some bizarre stuff, it turned up no artists.

Ian Berry is another artist who works with denim, often in portraits. I wrote about his work here.



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Artistic Endeavors – Richard Landis

I think weaving could tie with quilting as the most under recognized art medium. Both are usually considered crafts. I suspect the only “name” weavers most art lovers know are Sheila Hicks and Anni Albers.

So, I was humbled when I came across the work of Richard Landis and realized I’m just as uninformed as other art lovers. From what I saw on the Cooper Hewitt website about Landis’ recent Color Decoded exhibit, Landis works combine color, rectangles and squares, and double weaving. The double weave is crucial to the new colors Landis creates. What’s double weave? It’s “a four-element weaving technique using two sets of warp and two sets of weft to produce two interwoven cloths, one over the other.” Essentially you weave two pieces at the same time, interconnecting them at intervals.

Textile Cathedral (detail)

[Landis’] drawings demonstrate how Landis would calculate and visualize every permutation possible within a defined set of colors. While the actual weaving could be completed in days, it sometimes took Landis a month or more to work out the full range of tones and hues on paper, design the geometric pattern, and prepare the loom to weave the cloth. Using his preferred weave structure—double-cloth—Landis would simultaneously weave two parallel planes of fabric, a technique that allowed for the creation of the multicolored complex patterning of his textiles. (taken from

Textile, Red and Green

Textile, Cluster, 1979

Textile, Fourth Dimension (detail)

The short video on the Cooper Hewitt website shows 87 year old Landis dressed in khaki pants and a long sleeve button down shirt, not your standard arty wardrobe. He and my husband must shop from the same catalog.

I’d love to share more information about Landis and examples of his work, but he doesn’t have much of a internet presence. You can see all the work in the Color Decoded exhibition here.


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