Archive for October, 2011

“Fiber Art Now” features Sightlines exhibit

The premier issue of Fiber Art Now is out and features a two-page spread about Sightlines. Featured artists includes Pat Owoc, Sue Dennis, and Leni Levenson Wiener.  The Sightlines exhibit is sponsored by Studio Art Quilt Associates.

I’m always happy to see Sightlines in the news as I chose the artists for this exhibit. Fourteen artists were invited to create an installation of artworks featuring a sightline linking all the artwork in the exhibit.  Each artist chose her own themes and created five to eight artworks, including four 8×8″ linking pieces, covering a ten foot wide space. Perhaps the required continuous line provided provocation, both conscious and unconscious, to the artists to focus on time, personal history, and memory.

Sightlines is available for booking and is currently scheduled as follows:
Alexandria Museum of Art, Alexandria, Louisiana, Dec. 2, 2011 – Feb. 25, 2012
Morris Museum, Morristown, New Jersey, April 26 – August 12, 2012
Everhart Museum, Scranton, Pennsylvania, September 27 – December 31, 2012
Grants Pass Museum of Art, Grants Pass, Oregon, May 28 – July 26, 2013

More information and the catalog (beautiful and unique) are here.


10 2011

“Wild” now available as ebook for iPad or iPhone

My book,  Wild at the Edges:  Inspiration from a Creative Life, is now available from Blurb books as a download for your iPad or iPhone.  And it’s only $3.99!  Preview and order here.

l downloaded Wild to Joe’s iPad and I have to say WOW. The intimacy is amazing – you can really zoom in on the photos and the essays are easy to read.  I love “real” books and couldn’t give them up, but can really see the creative applications now available to me.

I’m thinking portfolio; I’m thinking the most beautiful photos from the Boundary Waters, etc., etc.  If only I had a clone so I had time to be an artist, writer, publisher, landscape gardener, traveler, Boundary Waters explorer, and fundraiser for the ACS – all at the same time!



10 2011

Mr. X Stitch Curates A Cool Book

I love it when a book crosses my desk and

1. I actually think, “Here’s something new”

followed by

2.  I need to go online and look at more of this good stuff.

The book is PUSH Stitchery:  30 Artists Explore the Boundaries of Stitched Art.  OK, call me easy, but I love books that some lovely book designer actually thought about and decided to do something a little different for the cover reflecting the contents. The front cover of this easy-to-hold book (6×9.25″) features an arrow cutout revealing some the artwork below.  So you just know the contents are going to be something different.

Go and check out the website of the curator, Jamie Chalmers, a.k.a. Mr. X Stitch.  Once you are there, scroll down, scroll down and you are sure to hit some stitching that will make you look twice.  This book does the same and you can lay on the couch and really study it. I think most fiber artists benefit from at least a small dose of OC-ness.  How I admire and marvel at the artists who make works with meaning while spending LOTS and LOTS of time building the work one stitch at a time.  From the loneliness of urban crowds to the effect of popular culture on young women, these artists aren’t afraid to look around them and express an opinion through their work.

Stitch demands closeups and this book provides. But the part I really enjoyed (face it, as I do with any book) is Mr. Stitch’s Q&A with the artists.  Revealed is how the artists themselves describe their work, their inspiration and subject matter, why they chose stitching as a medium, and many more topics that inform, rather than detract from viewing the work.

Sassy and provocative (perhaps a bit like Mr. X Stitch himself), this book’s content is matched by its lovely design.

Hardcover, with 175 pages, PUSH Stitchery retails for $19.95.  You can find it for about $13 online.  While you’re searching about, please note (as I did) that there is also PUSH Paper.



10 2011

Lone Stars III – Not Just For Texans

I’m categorizing this blog post under book reviews, but it’s not really.  I was asked by the University of Texas Press to do a blind review of the book proposal and was delighted upon its publication to find my Fiberart For A Cause mentioned in the book.  So in lieu of a review, please consider this a little overview of why this book is not just for Texans.

First of all, cousins Karoline (Karey) Patterson Bresenhan and Nancy O’Bryant Puentes bring sterling credentials to this volume with their long exposure to quilts through their Quilts, Inc. which produces the International Quilt Festivals.  They are further demonstrating their commitment to showcasing Texas quilts through the establishment of the new Texas Quilt Museum.  This is just the tip of the iceberg of their long and serious involvement with and promotion of quilts.

Lone Stars III:  A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1986 – 2011 is valuable for several reasons.  First, it continues their series surveying Texas quilts which began with Lone Stars:  A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1836 – 1936 and continued with Lone Stars II:  A Legacy of Texas Quilts, 1936 – 1986.  That’s right, Karey and Nancy have documented Texas quilts spanning 175 years.

This volume is particularly interesting because of three special features opening the volume.

First is a timeline entitled “A Quarter Century of Change.”  From the opening item (the anti-smoking campaign gaining traction) to the last (the BP oil leak), this timeline describes the social milieu from which the featured artworks sprang.

Second is an essay, “Searching for Texas Quilts in the Digital Age.” This essay notes the wide-ranging changes wrought in the methods of locating quilts and their makers, photography, and printing since the previous two volumes.

Lastly, and I believe most importantly, is the essay, “Texas Quilts:  Bridging the Millennium.”  This essay discusses succinctly, but completely, the many ways Texas quilters and those involved in the International Quilt Festival – Houston have responded to the changes in society and the environment.  Included are the role of quilts for causes, the rise of quilt organizations, the state quilt documentation projects, the growth of the art quilt and art to wear, the ranking of the Twentieth Century’s best quilts, Texas as quilt nexus, the survey Quilting in America indicating that in 2010 almost $2.6 billion was spent by quilting enthusiasts, the establishment of quilt museums throughout the U.S., the acceptance of quilts by art museums, and the virtual quilt world.  The essay clearly delineates how far quilting has come and how it has morphed since Lone Star II was published.

The heart of the book is the curated 200 quilts made by Texans or former Texans.  This was the part of the book I found most beguiling.  Karey and Nancy write in such a personal tone that each quilt and its maker really are given an opportunity to tell their story.  How often do you look at 200 quilts without your eyes glazing over?

Each quilt is given one or two pages with clear, large photos. If a detail shot is given, it is clear and up close.  Listed for each work is the year completed, size, location of maker, style of quilt, source of design, materials used, and primary techniques. A short paragraph contains information from the maker as well as pertinent comments by the authors.

I can honestly say that if you are interested in the development of quilts and the quilt world or just enjoy looking at beautiful works of art, this book is a sensible investment for your library. It is an important volume that captures much about the quilt world while providing the definitive survey of Texas quilts.

Lone Stars III is available from the usual outlets, but save 33% off the list price for either hardcover or paperback by ordering directly from the University of Texas Press here.


10 2011

Fashion, wheat weaving, yarnbombing and more in England

I’m back!  I was in England for two weeks with four days in London, a week in Cornwall, and two days in Salisbury.  I wasn’t looking for fiber art in any serious way, but some very interesting things came my way.  To wit:

1.  Fashion and Trade at the National Maritime Museum

London was, most unusually, stifling hot.  So we took a boat down the Thames to Greenwich.  We just happened to be in the National Maritime Museum when these elaborately gowned women swept by.  I asked one of the women who seemed to be part of the entourage what was happening.  As part of a celebration of a new permanent gallery, Traders:  The East India Company and Asia, fashion students had created ensembles with Gavin Fernandes, London stylist and photographer. Each ensemble represented a facet of the trade conducted by the East India Company   There was a short lecture followed by a fashion shoot.  I’m the most unfashionable person in the world, but I love that kind of thing!

The woman on the left represented the spice trade with actual spices sewn to the bodice as decoration and the one on the right represented the tea trade with quite obvious tea bags forming part of the trim of her overskirt. The construction and detail of these garments was amazing.

2.  Chairs in St. James Park

Cutting across St. James Park in London, we came across these chairs which were printed as part of an art project.  There are many plain chairs available, but you could make an afternoon of just walking about the parks of central London searching for different chair art.

3. Traditional Wheat Weaving

It was a harvest festival at the Eden Project near St. Austell.  I gave traditional wheat weaving (really plaiting, I believe) a try and managed to bring my little piece home in one piece.  I’m reading a book about the making of the Eden Project which is, I would have to say, more interesting than the place itself.  Tim Smit is a man with a vision, as he also drove the restoration of  The Lost Gardens of Heligan which was my main reason for going to Cornwall.

4.  Knitted Graffiti

These were bike racks at the Eden Project covered in colorful knitted sleeves.  The far one was stitched with “Ode to the bicycle.”

This was on a pole at the bus stop at the Eden Project: “Ode to the bus.”  I like how the colors match the trees behind it.  A woman at the bus stop said knitted graffiti had been the topic of a BBC radio item just that morning.  This is the first “yarnbombing” I have seen, but the tradition is alive and well in the UK and around the world.

5.  Salisbury Cathedral Hangings

No surprise that there were a lot of embroidered artworks in this Cathedral whose foundation stones were laid in 1220.  But in Trinity Chapel there is an emphasis on prisoners of conscience throughout the world with an Amnesty International candle always left burning.  This embroidery was worked in mainly silver thread and is a small part of a large installation.   I didn’t see any sign about the artist(s) although other artwork did have attribution.

(UPDATE on October 20:  Leonie Hartley- Hoover sent the very useful message about attribution for this artwork:

When I saw the Salisbury hangings in your newsletter, as an embroiderer first and foremost, I recognized the work of Jane Lemon, MBE.   She is a very well respected embroiderer who is held in very high esteem and she is an absolute master of metal thread work.  She worked in costume for BBC television for some years and prior to that she worked in costume at the Sadlers Wells ballet before turning her hand to ecclesiastical work which is her first love.  Jane has had a long association with Salisbury cathedral and created The Sarum Group of embroiderers whose work is featured in the Cathedral.  You mentioned you could not see any artist’s accreditation on the pieces which is not surprising in that Jane often defers to the group rather than take a bow herself.  It was timely indeed that you mentioned her work as Maggie Grey had a post on her blog regarding Jane’s Prisoners of Conscience exhibit the day prior to your newsletter coming out.  Both Mag and Jane are former Presidents of the British Embroiderers Guild, which I am affiliated with.

Maggie’s blog with a similar photo is here.
A photo of Jane Lemon and a brief bio are here.

Thank you Leonie, as I hate to feature artwork sans attribution.

5.  Fiber Alive

This was a vine trellised on a restroom wall at Stonehenge.  Nature’s weaving.


10 2011