Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anchor Point

New York Happiness
While thinking about moving again (nomadic to the core), I heard myself saying about one possibility, "but it's too far away." So then I had to ask, "too far from what?" and realized that New York City is still my anchor point. I was born in the city, and though raised on Long Island, I always knew it was where I would go when I finished college. It is the only place where I have my bearings. I know north, south, east and west when I am on those streets. A trip to New York is always anticipated with excitement, and savored afterwards. This past week we went there, though most of the trip involved activities near the city rather than in the city. It's too much to share in one post, so I will begin here, and try to return in a timely manner to tell the rest.

Gail Hovey and Pat Hickman in front of a work by Lillian Elliot
We spent the first night overlooking the Hudson River in Rockland County with Pat Hickman and Gail Hovey. Their home is full of textiles, ethnographic and contemporary. It confirms a kinship I feel with them and with their curiosity and creativity. Their move from Hawaii to here has brought them back into the thick of a cultural pulse that I long for. Before finding their house, they found Pat's studio, which we visited the next morning. Gail has dedicated writing space in their home. Clearly they have their priorities right.

GAGA Arts Center
Pat Hickman (top left); Step Gorin (top right);
Eric David Laxman and Pat Hickman (bottom right)
Pat's studio is in an old calico mill, now called the Garner Arts Center (GAGA). In the short time we were there we met several other artists who have space in the buildings. Steph Gorin, owner of Loop, is just down the hall from Pat. She was just back from the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival where she was selling her fiber and yarn. (Someday I am going to make it to that event.) She has a wonderful smile and enthusiasm for what she does, and allowed me to photograph her equipment. As an owner of a high tech loom (my beloved TC-1), I could really appreciate her equipment and the unique yarns she creates for others to use. (By the way, did you know the TC-2 is launched and that Vibeke Vestby will be bringing them to Convergence this July?) We also met Eric David Laxman, a sculptor whose studio was badly damaged from Hurricane Irene. He was actually clearing it out for a move to a new home studio, but he still has a gallery at GAGA. We were also introduced to several other artists, and left appreciating the support community gives to each other, and at the same time what dedicated studio space opens up for creative work.

National Basketry Organization Quarterly Review
Spring 2012
Pat Hickman article by Catharine K. Hunter
When I was a student in the late 1970s, the collaborative baskets of Pat Hickman and Lillian Elliot were very prominent in the fiber world. I think it is one of the great things about this field that people have always been approachable and friendly. I'm not embarrassed to say that I feel awe when I realize that I have become friends with Pat; that she and Gail welcomed us to their home and the conversations reminded me of why I am a weaver and how much I love textiles (some of them). We all have changed over the years, just as the field has changed, and I certainly see textiles being used by artists everywhere--but the identity with this material is not the same today as it used to be. We have changed too, but there is some fundamental devotion to the lineage of textiles that is essential for me--and I am glad to find this devotion alive and well in Pat, even though fiber is too narrow a definition to describe her work. She gave me a copy of the National Basketry Organization (NBO) Quarterly Journal with an excellent article on her work written by Catharine K. Hunter. The image above shows the magazine article, with one of my favorite sculptures by her, Garlic.

In the fall when I went to NYC, I also intended to do several posts about the trip, and instead I only did one, and then stopped posting for months and months. This time I promise to continue in a day or two.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Circles and Grids

The other day I was mesmerized by the raindrops in street puddles but I didn't have my camera with me. Its been drizzling for days but today the weather finally cooperated and created some puddles.

It turns out it isn't easy to capture raindrops on "film."

They might become the basis of some weavings. Which will contrast with what I am currently working on--grid lines that come and go. Very simple but it fascinates me.

Weaving in Progress by Bhakti Ziek, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012


My favorite tree is in bloom.

Just when I think winter will never end, the buds start showing up and there is hope. This year the buds appeared, then there was a freeze and I panicked--maybe they wouldn't bloom. But here they are.

Their beauty so strong that they get me out of the house to look closer, and to share with you.

This bloom reminds me of the incredible painting by Van Gogh that is on display at the Philadelphia Art Museum in the exhibition Van Gogh Up Close. It closes tomorrow but moves on to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottowa, May 25 to September 3, 2012. The painting comes right at the end of the exhibition, and clearly the curators also feel the power of this painting since they put it as the first illustration in the catalog and as a two-page detail at the end. Almond Blossom, from 1890, shows a branch of the flowering tree silhouetted against a fantastic blue-green sky. When I saw it I almost burst into tears. It has nothing contrived about it. It's not cleaver, or witty, or conceptually smart--it simply conveys an absolutely present communication between the artist and the tree--so honest that anyone looking at the painting must feel the exhilaration of being alive. It is what I wish of my work, and why I appreciate the tree outside my window.

Thank you for the encouragement to continue writing this blog that came in emails and online. It makes me happy to share my thoughts with you; keeps me connected from my corner of the world. I do post in facebook fairly often, so if you aren't my friend there, please send a request. You can like my professional page (bhakti ziek weaver) or ask to be friends on my personal page (bhakti ziek). Or do both--why not?