Thursday, December 17, 2009

Halifax - Part 1

On the road to Halifax, Nova Scotia

We took a road trip to Halifax, and in the rush to leave before the big snow storm hit, I forgot to bring the cable for downloading images. At least I remembered the camera. The main reason for going was to see Sandra Brownlee's exhibition Departures and Returns: Sandra Brownlee at the Mary E. Black Gallery of the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.

Sandra Brownlee with her new weavings

Departures and Returns: Sandra Brownlee
Exhibition at Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design

The show is wonderful, well-worth the two day drive to get there from Randolph, and the review in today's Chronicle Herald shows that the public is really understanding the passion expressed in Sandra's work. I am going to write an article on Sandra's work later in the year for Surface Design Journal, so it was important for me to see the current work in a gallery setting. She has always been one of my art heroes, and this show lived up to my expectations. There is a broad range of expression here, both in materials and process. The center piece of the show is her book, Departures and Returns, as seen in the vitrine in the center of the gallery. Of course for me, standing in front of her weavings is a visit to a holy shrine.

We have known Sandra since 1980, when we first visited Cranbrook as undergraduates at University of Kansas, thinking about applying to graduate school (which actually happened 7 years later). Sandra was a graduate student in fibers then, and, as the open-hearted person she is, she invited us into her studio for tea and completely awed us with her friendliness and her charisma. When we moved to Philadelphia in 1990, where she was living, she became our closest friend. Our time in Halifax just picked up where we left off--talking and laughing and drinking red wine. Raised near Halifax, Sandra was the perfect guide of this charming city.

Mark Goodwin and Sandra Brownlee
Images of Halifax

Norman Flynn Design - an amazing place

One of the best stops on our tour was at Norman Flynn Design. This is one of the most upscale lighting showrooms I have seen anywhere outside of NYC. The owners, Bruce Norman and Blair Flynn were both there, both extremely gracious and helpful (we were looking for a special bulb). If we lived there, we would save our money and become their clients. They had some outrageous chandeliers that made me smile; and admire them for their pursuit of bringing such a wonderful aesthetic to Halifax. Many of them are textile-related--but isn't everything?

Another stop on the tour was at Eyelevel Gallery, where, speaking to Michael McCormack, the director, we once again saw how friendly everyone is in Halifax. This gallery has an area of artist's books and there is still time to submit to their upcoming exhibition Re-shelving Initiative: Four.

Michael McCormack, director of Eyelevel Gallery

Although we were only in Halifax for 3 full days and 4 nights, we did so many things that I will do another post later this week with more about the trip. We visited three weaving studios--Sandra's, Lesley Armstrong's and Wendy Landry's. Lesley has power equipment, Wendy is a velvet weaver, and Sandra does pickup--three amazing weavers all associated with Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (where I did a lecture on Friday), three friends that exemplify the diversity of the label "weaver." So I will share more with you later this week, but I guess I will end with an image of our last dinner with Sandra. We heard on the radio before leaving home that the lobster boats had just left the Halifax harbor--so we knew what we wanted to eat when we got there.

Sandra and Mark with one of the lobsters

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