Philadelphia Craft Show weekend

It was a whirlwind trip, but every second of it was fabulous.

We started out at the Snyderman-Works Gallery for the Nancy Crow exhibit called, "Crossroads: Constructions, Markings and Structures". I'm not sure what to say. It was energizing. I really need to go back and visit it several more times, but I'm going to have to rely on the catalog for that. Many of the pieces are similar to the linear designs that appear in her recent book and to the striking piece featured on the gallery postcard (below).

Other pieces, which I was told are newer, were black and white (or muted tone) geometric line work. They're wonderful compositions (some whole cloth) that clearly evoke traditional pieced patterns but have the spontaneity of something from a sketchbook page. The show also includes a number of other screen printed and monoprinted pieces. I don't feel a strong desire to copy or reinterpret any of Nancy's work, but the graphic quality, the strong linear design, the color choices, and the amazing command of value were inspirational. I've got some new ideas.

So, with a head full of all of this (and after a 2+ hour car trip) we needed a little lunch before venturing into the craft show. Dan and I have been going to the Baltimore ACC show for a few years and have also become regulars at the Smithsonian craft show. This was our first Philadelphia Museum of Art show. We both came away impressed with the quality and the variety of the work. It was a great show. Not too big or too small, and most important of all PLENTY OF FIBER. We got to see a few old friends and meet some interesting new folks.

As usual the Darwall booth was a feast for the eyes--all color and texture. Through our friendship I've been able to pay close attention to his work for a number of years. It's fascinating to watch it change and evolve.

Karen Henderson was showing some of her amazing weaving. If you've ever been to Peters Valley and made the dusty drive on Thunder Mountain Road out to the fiber studio, then you would instantly recognize the colors of the woods and the wetlands in Karen's work. They're simultaneously peaceful and fascinating.

I was also impressed by Marcia Derse's booth. She was showing lovely small quilted pieces made from her own hand dyed cloth. On the pieces that I spent the most time with I noted that she leaves her edges raw, rather than bound or faced. She also presents the finished piece attached with Velcro to a natural wood frame. With a little overhang the piece appears to float on the wall. I love the look. I've never seen this approach to finishing before. Perhaps others are doing it, but it was my first exposure.

There was also excellent pottery. For me the highlight was Akira Satake's slab-built vessels. He said he forms the slab, allows it to partially dry, applies white porcelain slip to one side, let's that dry, then manipulates the slab. The way he described it he lifts it over his head and smacks it on the table to fracture the slip. After that comes the formation of the vessel, more glaze, etc. The result is striking. It's organic. It reminds me of birch trees or, in some cases, the pattern left in the sand by receding waves. Here's a picture. Yes, it sitting on our dining room table. I should have my credit card propped next to it! It was not a purchase that either of us intended to make, but it was one that I knew I would regret not making. It's just phenomenal. In the photo you can see Hilary inspecting the new addition to the decor.

I've got snap shots of bit and pieces of the city that I'll save for another posting. I came home thinking about lines--the lines in Nancy Crow quilts, the lines in Akira Satake's pots, the lines in the street grades, the lines in the iron work of the fire escape outside our hotel room window. There's something bubbling there--drawing lines with dye, screening lines, stitching lines, tearing cloth, strip quilting, lines that don't line up......