Yes, busy is the name of the game these days, but it beats the hell out of bored. Let's see...where to begin. Well for starters Dan's Mom, Cynthia, rang up last week and said she figured that our calendars appeared to be in one of their rare states of alignment, and shouldn't she come of a visit over the weekend. Of course Dan and I were both delighted and set about the task of clearing piles of my junk out of the guest room. We picked her up at BWI on Saturday morning and spent the lovely 100-degree day museum-hopping in Baltimore. Cynthia's a quilter, and as luck would have it, we were able to assemble a very nice fiber-focused itinerary.
We started off at the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) to see the NUNO exhibit. I read about NUMO (a Japanese textile manufacturer) in the last issue of Surface Design and was delighted to find an exhibit practically in my back yard. It's cool stuff, and the thought and design process behind it is fascinating: things like wrapping up rayon with wet rusted iron plates for a couple of weeks, sandwiching feathers between layers of dyed silk, and reproducing the look of rubber bands scattered on a windowsill. The presentation was beautiful. It was a small room in a quiet part of the museum and each piece was presented as a hanging 2-3 yard length of plain cloth. No fuss with binding or the like. It was very much an "art cloth" style of presentation. I came away with a few ideas: rusty nails for one.
For me no visit to BMA is complete without stopping to see the fantastic collection of Matisse in the Cone collection. I'm utterly convinced that if Henri were with us today he would be a fiber artist. We talk about artists who do surface design having a "painterly" style. Well, I look at some (not all, but enough) of his work and I see painted/printed cloth. Yes, of course he painted on canvas, but I mean some of it I want to cut out of the frame and curl up with it. He even include textiles in his paintings--detailed rugs and wallpaper. I'm right about this. He's one of us.
After a little nosh at a greasy-spoonish sort of diner along Howard Avenue we were off to the Walters Art Museum. Oh. Oh. Oh. I'm ashamed to say that I never knew this place existed and it's right in the heart of the city (even in a good neighborhood!). We only left because they threw us out when the place closed at 5. It's a beautiful small-to medium sized museum with a lovely and well-curated collection of paintings and an impressive collection of a Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan, etc. objects. Cynthia managed to find a mummified cat! (Hillary's sitting on the table as I write this and I just can imagine wrapping her up like a buritto and keeping her around for all eternity). So, the fiber connection: it was the second-to-last day of the show "Gee's Bend" the Architecture of the Quilt." This is the second Gee's Bend show and I enjoyed it as much as the first. Just as with the first show, which I saw at the Corcoran a couple of years ago, I was struck by the fact that these women, by their own admission, were trying to keep their families from freezing. They needed to cover their beds. But, even in the midst of that intensely practical concern, even after a day of hard work, their God-given spirit and creative vision found expression in these quilts.
It's late. I'll write more tomorrow if I can manage. I've got pictures of evolving work to share. In the meantime here's a teaser. This one's of you Rayna. I screened that deconstructed blue and chino piece (see July 31) with thyox. There was a stem an a few leaves of wisteria stuck to the screen. I'm really pleased with the result. Not sure what comes next, but I feel that this piece needs to stay together as a whole cloth. Time will tell.