Sunday, April 1

Synchronicity and other things

I've been to 8 different galleries in the last 3 days to catch up on Fiber Philadelphia! After an afternoon out to the Wayne Art Center (more on that later), I happened to drive by Highwire gallery and saw an opening in progress. The aptly named "Synchronicity"  boasts work by Melissa Madonni Haims (with whom I'm showing at Nichols Berg Gallery last month and the Painted Bride this month) and Natalya Aikens (whom I invited to exhibit in "Softer Edges" at Fleisher this month). There is some great art quilt-based work in the show, making it feel like an extension of the wonderful work in Art Quilt Elements out in Wayne.
 Natalya Aikens "St Petersburg Lace" has the bold graphic quality of the wrought iron fencework that inspired her, but also a rich and mysterious surface of layered color and texture in the surface.
Jill Rumoshosky Werner has several works in the show which take art quilts into sculptural forms- often with a humorous take in a series that illustrates specific verbs. Her piece above, "Grieve" reminded me of the piece I'm trying to do for the Cathedral- long, thin, mostly black and white. She makes subtle transitions between all the various patterns, a study in black and white pattern. The small line of red and blue along the binding relieves the austerity.
 Jette Clover has twin pieces exploring text and texture in monochromes, with a pop of red here and there. Seeing text makes one want to decipher it, but these remain coded. What I was excited about was to see works incorporating screenprinting in art quilts. Many fiber artists are jumping over to digital printing for more technological experiments, or shifting back to slower hand-dyeing, rusting, and compost dyeing. I hope to show these to my screenprinting students next semester. If you missed the artist reception, then come out to the First Friday event next week!
 From Fishtown, I hopped up Frankford Ave to Port Richmond to see the "Paper Fortress" show at Pterodactyl. It's too bad this show is hidden away in Port Richmond, as it is one of the best exhibits I've seen in the last month but not many people are likely to venture out. There were intriguing parallels between the fiber and the paper/book world. Both genres have a tentative place within "Fine Arts", but it allows paper and fiber artists room to explore without caring too much about what's "right".
 Karen Hardy's piece is like applique, with couched sheets of dyed paper on  a larger sheet of plain handmade paper. Raw edges in paper seem so fresh- raw edges in fabric usually feel unfinished.
 Alexis Granwell had several pieces. I liked her map-like etching on the mottled paper. The little dot could have been french knots. (check out the first page of her website for a view of the plate for this piece!)
 She also had a sculptural piece using found materials which echoes the map structure of her etching. It also reminded me of all the half-built constructions one sees around the city. There are complex bones under our structures that we take for granted and trust, all relying on the engineering and skill of the builder.
 I think my favorite work in the show was Lisa Murch's sculptural formations. From afar, this piece looks like a wasp's nest, an organic encrustation over the wall.
 Up close, one sees that it is made of sewn-together  cardboard egg cartons. I love transformations of everyday objects, and I also appreciate the massive time that went into making something like this.
Finally, I was pleased to see Book Bombs (with Mary Tasillo and Michelle Wilson) had another take-away zine, "Horizontalidad", one of which was attached to a paper-cut out bench made of invasive plant fibers. It was a satisfying combination of street intervention art brought into the gallery environment, but encouraged viewers to take it a step further by adding their own story. Sorry no picture, but visit the book bombs site for more info.

So, Fiber Philadelphia continues into April. I'll have more on Art Quilt Elements in another post, and news about "Softer Edges" soon as well. I hope people take time to get out to all these great shows this month!

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