Beautiful Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. was showing all its beauty last week, and I was thrilled to have a strong fix of urban energy. One stop was to see the work of Ford/Forlano who were exhibiting their incredible jewelry in a small show downtown. I might not wear jewelry myself, but I am always inspired by the creativity of Steve and David. We also stopped by Hemphill Fine Arts to see the current exhibition and catch up with one of the directors, Mary Early, whom I met in Vermont recently. Mary's sculptures were featured in the January/February 2011 issue of Sculpture Magazine. Next time I am in D.C. I will definitely make time to visit her studio.
I was very concerned about the potential government shut-down (not just because it proved that politicians think life is a reality TV show and the public so stupid that they can't see through their cliff-hanging-wait-to-the-last-minute shenanigans) but because I really wanted to get to the Hirshhorn Museum to see the Blinky Palermo exhibition, and of course all the Smithsonian Museums would all be closed if the government was shut down. Mark has mentioned Palermo to me for many years, and he particularly wanted me to see the work shown in the image below (which I found on the web since I wasn't allowed to photograph in the exhibition itself). When I walked into the room I thought they were paintings, but in fact they are dyed cloth impeccably sewn together so you hardly notice the seam lines. Beautiful nuanced use of color, and a very innovative way to paint back in the late '60s. Even today it would be considered innovative (in any other world except the textile world). Another contemporary artist who works with fabric but is not defining himself in terms of textiles is Sergej Jensen.
Fabric paintings by Blinky Palermo
One of the things that really delighted me about the Palermo exhibition was that they gave the work the space it needed. In one room, there were four small cubes of color attached to a corner, two on either side of the wall joint. That was it. It just thrills me to see work displayed like this. On my way home, I stopped for lunch in Philadelphia with my friends Michelle Liao, Meg Richter, and John Struble. We had a delicious beet salad in Michelle and John's loft, which is above Michelle's store, the Liao Collection. It also happens to be blocks from Chinatown. So I was impressed that I enjoyed the salad so much (so much that I made it for Mark's birthday a few days later) that I didn't kick and scream about not having dim sum with them. Maybe it was because hanging out in that loft is like going to the museum--there is nothing redundant or frivolous in the space. Every object is perfect, and they are placed so the whole is about air and light and beautiful energy. I love these three people so much that I could weep every time I think about leaving Philadelphia and our weekly dinners together. What is incredible though is that life has brought important changes to all of us, but the heart connection is still so strong and vibrant. A trip back to Philadelphia is definitely in the works.
Philadelphia Friends: Meg Richter on left, Michelle Liao in center, John Struble on right
I drove from Philadelphia to Greenwich, NY without problems--but arrived at my friends Cyndy Barbone and John Golde's home in the dark. I must have driven up and down the same stretch of road six times before I finally parked my car in someone's driveway and got out to try and find a house number. I found one four houses down from my car--and when I counted back, it turns out I had pulled into their driveway. Cyndy is an amazing weaver. She usually makes narrative panels that add up to a story about light and spirit. A visit to her studio the next morning showed some of those, as well as fabric being woven on her loom that will become a winter coat. Since Cyndy has visited us in Vermont a couple of times, I was so glad to reciprocate and see her place. It is really rather close, so I imagine we will see more of them this summer.
Cyndy Barbone with her weaving and Peanut on the left;
work in progress and sample woven and shrunk on the right
So that pretty much covers my amazing, energy-filled trip to Maryland/D.C. area. While I think about it, I want to mention a book I just finished: Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. It is not the art world that I know. In fact, I doubt if anyone I know on a day to day basis is part of this art world--but it is a world that influences all of us, and perhaps what we aspire to (sort of). It describes a type of collected work that is beyond my sense of ambition. I keep thinking, how could I possibly return to the loom and make new work if one of my pieces sold in auction for 2.5 million dollars yesterday? I would be paralyzed with doubt. It would be out of all proportion to the sense of exploration that I need when I go in the studio. In order to work, I have to allow myself to fail, but if I had those kinds of expectations surrounding my work, I would certainly fail because I couldn't start. That said, I am excited that one of my most ambitious weavings is going to be on exhibit in Barre, Vermont at Studio Arts Place. I am not sure where it was seen, but someone who saw the piece on line (I think) suggested to the director that this work would fit the theme Refuge. I liked the idea, not just because the weaving forms an enclosure, but because it also has references to the Buddhist Wheel of Life and has an image of the sleeping buddha on one of the panels. Buddhists often "take refuge in the Budhha, the Dharma, and the Sangha." My weaving, Wheel of Life: The Passing on of Knowledge will be on view from April 26th to June 4th.
Exterior Views of Wheel of Life: The Passing on of Knowledge by Bhakti Ziek