Sunday, May 20, 2018

Text'art: a very special group

me, Dianne, Helena, Michele, Lauma, and Colleen,
outside the Chihuly exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts

Once again, I have been struck by how fortunate I am to belong to Text'art, our group of six textile artists, formed some ten years ago at Dianne's initiative.

a virtual reality experience at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec

Last week we met for a quick coffee at a lakeside café, to talk about applying for a group residency. I threw out an invitation. "Who's interested in driving to Ottawa to see the new show of Impressionists at the National Gallery?" Everyone whipped out their cell phones, checked their calendars and within a minute we had agreed on a date. How special is that?

A walk through the woods, trilliums as far as the eye can see

Our current members are Lauma Cenne, Michele Meredith, Colleen PaulDianne RobinsonHelena Scheffer, and me. (Two past members, Pam Chasen and Linda Forey, left us when they moved away.) All of us are also members of other, larger groups (art, quilting, photography, weaving...), and each of us comes to the group with a unique skill set.

We meet once a month. Usually a lunch is involved. Sometimes we just meet in one of our homes, to catch up on each other's news and projects. Often we will experiment with a new technique or material. Gelatin plate printing? Collagraph printing? Ice dyeing? We've tried them all.

At other times we will visit a resource, like Papeterie St-Armand, or Au Papier Japonais, or C & M Textile and the other shops on St.-Hubert St. that sell threads, buttons and lace.

With an invited guest, we toured the Musée du costume et du textile du Québec.

Often our destination is a museum. Local favourites are the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the McCord Museum, and the Musée d'art contemporain.

on a tour of Habitat 67

At other times we will take in a show at a gallery, often chosen because one or more of us is showing our work there.

At least once a year we will take a road trip to Ottawa, Toronto or Quebec City. And then there is the retreat at Dianne's cottage, something we all look forward to every summer.

at the opening of our current group show

Most recently, we collaborated on a group show, De Musei Fabrica: Cloth and Stitch Inspired by the Maude Abbott Medical Museum, now on display at McGill University. This special challenge has brought us closer together. And who knows what the future holds?

Why am I writing this? Firstly, to express my gratitude and appreciation to the members of Text'art. I really cherish the support we are able to give to each other.

And perhaps to encourage you to pull together a small group of your own. Meeting with six or seven people with a common interest offers an intimacy, a flexibility and a mobility that's not available in a larger organization. It works for us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mother's Day Reflections

Mother's Day was just a few days ago, and I was reminded of a small art quilt I once made as my contribution to a group challenge. 12 by the Dozen, a group I belonged to at the time, had chosen "Connections" as the theme for that quarter.

Knitted. Together. 2010, 12" x 12"

I thought about how knitted stitches are "connections", and how knitting has connected at least four generations of women in my family. My grandmother taught me to knit, and she and my mother made me many knitted items: sweaters, slippers, and a spectacular (now long-gone) poncho. I've taught my daughter to knit too, and she makes the most remarkable things, like baby blankets made of tiny stuffed hexagons, stitched together.

I began the piece by knitting a 14" square with big needles and string. I stretched it out onto a stiff cardboard, dabbed it with paint, and made a monoprint of the texture onto hand-dyed cotton.  This became the background for the composition. Also included was a Beehive pattern for a child's sweater, and the accompanying illustration. The little sweaters were originally printed in black and white, so I tinted them with paint. Buttons and a corded yarn edging finished the piece.

Four generations, knitted together. And lots of tiny baby sweaters, lovingly tucked away in tissue paper.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Habitat Interiors

Last summer, our Text'art group visited Habitat 67, the iconic harbourfront building designed by Moshe Safdie. Tours were made available as part of Montreal's 375th anniversary, and we took advantage of this rare opportunity to explore the residential complex. You can read about our experience here.

Colleen Paul, one of our Text'art members, has kindly sent me a link to an item about a current show of photographs by Montreal-based James Brittain that expose the "interior life" of Habitat. His large-scale colour photos are currently on view as part of Toronto's CONTACT Photography Festival,  continuing until July 31, 2018.

Brittain has photographed nine units to date. His images show how residents have created livable spaces in this experimental housing complex.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

"The Paper Garden", by Molly Peacock

A Globe and Mail Best Book, The Paper Garden is subtitled Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life's Work at 72. I am finding this book compelling and, at the same time, a tough slog. The unusual typeface doesn't help. 

The author, a poet, has managed to braid together a book of biography, memoir, and art criticism. Her language is rich, and her insights intriguing.

Her subject, Mary Delany, was born into the English upper classes in 1700, and was an accomplished needlewoman. She also invented a new art form, botanical collage, using papers that she painted with watercolour and deftly cut into tiny shapes, gluing them onto a black background. Almost 1000 of these collages are in the holdings of the British Museum. Her life is undisputedly fascinating, and her triumphant achievement is a tribute to an irrepressible creativity. 

Being a modernist, I find the book's focus on the complicated social constraints of Delany's times difficult to penetrate. However, fans of Jane Austin should have no trouble with this. If you'd like a taste of this book, you can sample the first chapters on the Amazon page.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-face Picasso, Past and Present

A new exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts promises to explore the place of so-called "primitive" art in our understanding of art. Much of the exhibit will look at how African art influenced Picasso and other icons of Modernism.

"Over the last century, the relationship between the West and the arts referred to as 'primitive,' – artificially grouping together the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas – has undergone a profound upheaval. No longer viewed as ethnographic curiosities, these objects are now valued as fine art, encompassing a range of styles, histories and cultures. How have ethnographic objects come to be viewed as art? How do we reconcile these two approaches today? From Africa to the Americas: Face-to-Face Picasso, Past and Present explores these questions by unfurling the chronological threads of the life of Picasso (1881-1973) in parallel with art history, increasing the points of view on the history of Modernism. 

The show runs May 12 - September 16, 2018, with May 10 and 11 available to VIP visitors only.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Impressionist Treasures in Ottawa, Summer 2018

Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, The Bridge at Mantes (detail), c. 1850-1854, oil on canvas

Exciting news! This summer's blockbuster exhibition at Ottawa's National Gallery is Impressionist Treasures, paintings from Copenhagen's Ordrupgaard Museum.

The show runs from May 18 to September 9, 2018. The item on the Gallery's website reads, in part,
"Enjoy a spectacular selection of artworks from a collection regarded as one of the most beautiful in Europe....
"Visitors to the National Gallery of Canada will be treated to a survey of art by the great masters of Impressionism, Post-impressionism and the major trends of French painting that preceded them, such as the Barbizon School and Realism. 
"In one compelling presentation, the luminous landscapes of Corot, Monet, Sisley and Pissarro rub shoulders with the naturalism of Courbet, the still-lifes of Manet and Matisse, the intimate portraits of Renoir and Morisot, and the imagination of Gauguin. This exhibition of 76 paintings is also a unique opportunity to discover unparalleled works from the Danish Golden Age, including those by C. W. Eckersberg and Vilhelm Hammershøi."

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Cineplex In the Gallery series

This annual series of art films returns to the Cineplex chain this month.

Caravaggio: The Art and the Blood is scheduled for May 2 and May 13 at participating theatres.

Van Gogh: Of Wheat Fields and Clouded Skies is playing June 13 and June 17.

For more information, go to their web page here.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Another baby quilt

the fabric scrap that inspired the colour choices

The new mother has asked for another baby quilt. This one is "for fun",  to be used in the stroller, in the carseat, and while out and about. She chose a scrap of fabric to inspire the colour palette, a lively mix of hot colours: magenta, red, orange, pink and yellow.

Because I have so many fabric scraps on hand, it made sense to turn to a book I bought some years ago, Successful Scrap Quilts, by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe. The authors were inspired by Japanese tatami mats, creating designs that use uniform rectangles measuring half as wide as they are long. The design on the cover seemed like the most interesting choice.

The book's opening pages discuss the use of value, colour blending, and finding that magical balance of repetition and variation. This particular design alternates between a darker square within a lighter square, and a lighter square within a darker square. The same fabric may serve as a light in one square, and a dark in another, relative to what it's paired with.

Some of the fabric scraps cut into rectangles, 2" x 3.5".
It will take almost 400 of these to make a 42"-square quilt.

Here's the tentative layout up on the design wall.

The quilting had to wait until the background fabric, ordered on-line, arrived by mail. Meanwhile, I sketched out a few designs for the quilting.

Curving lines in the quilting design complement the
straight geometry of the pieced rectangles.

The quilting lines required marking, which is a disadvantage, but otherwise it was reasonably easy.

the finished quilt, 42" x 42"

While waiting for the arrival of the backing fabric, I made this "dolly quilt", using scraps from the scraps. It was also a chance to try out the quilting design and the variegated thread.

18" x 18", machine-quilted

Those of us who love scrap quilts may relate to this poem, included in the introduction to the Turner & Rolfe book:

Glory be to God for dappled things –
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

from "Pied Beauty" by Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-89)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Art Quilt Elements 2018

Want to have a look at some of the best art quilts being made today? Check out this slide show of the 48 works accepted into Art Quilt Elements 2018. The slide show begins with the prizewinners and then shifts to alphabetical order by artist. Really impressive work and a wonderful variety. I can't even choose a favourite.

Catherine W. Smith, Transfusion #3

AQE 2018 is the 13th biennial internationally juried exhibition of contemporary fine quilts at the Wayne Art Centre, Wayne PA. It continues until April 28.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Jannick Deslauriers @ Art Mûr, Montreal

Recently I visited Galerie Art Mûr with my Text'art group, where we saw the incredible work of Jannick Deslauriers, in a show titled Sentence, souffle et linceul. Deslauriers is a Montrealer who teaches at Collège Marie-Victorin. Her medium is screening, netting and organza, which she stitches together. I last saw her work in a group show at Pointe Claire's Stewart Hall.

Fractured, 2017

"Jannick Deslauriers’ works, her subjects broken and decaying through entropy or more violent and intentional acts of demolition, tackle salient issues of the Anthropocene: trans global commerce in weapons, energy and human beings, what the artist describes as 'a collective history played out daily in news media.'  
"Fractured, the “translucent and dislocated” form caught in a moment of demolition which is the eponymous work in Deslauriers’ Sentence, souffle et linceul, is a full scale automobile: its form distilled from meticulously researched images of both intact and damaged vehicles; its bespoke distressed surfaces conveying a visceral engagement with the reality of “certain geopolitical issues,” the artist seeks to address, the premeditated destruction which is “a symbol of our times.” The work, and the shroud in its title—‘linceul’—reference the human body, the inevitable bodies that are connected to such images in real life." 
                                                                                            -Martha Robinson

Un Fragment du Marché Bonsecours, 2017

Some of Deslauriers' subjects are architectural. In this case, a photo of a sculpture's detail was reproduced as a digital print.

Détail du Marché Bonsecours
digital print

A detail photo of
Détail du Marché Bonsecours, above
Ligne brisée, 2017

Convoy, 2017

Convoy, detail, 2017

Van Horne Warehouse, 2017

Below is another instance of a digital print included in the show, using a detail photo of a sculptural piece.

Detail, Van Horne Warehouse
digital print

While at the gallery, we saw work by many other artists. This screen, made of stitched paper, also caught my eye. I had seen it at a Belgo Building gallery a few years ago.

La fenêtre à carreaux, 2014
Sarah Bertrand-Hamel
kozo paper, cotton thread, pine frame
La fenêtre à carreaux, 2014
Sarah Bertrand-Hamel, alternate view
La fenêtre à carreaux, 2014
Sarah Bertrand-Hamel,detail

Jannick Deslaurier's show, Sentence, souffle et linceul, continues until April 28, 2018.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Papier 2018 next weekend

Dedicated exclusively to the medium of paper and to the possibilities it offers, Papier is one of the largest fairs of its kind in North America. The event is a key driver for Canadian contemporary art, as well as a unique meeting ground for the greater public, enthusiasts and visual arts professionals alike.

Forty galleries from Montreal and beyond are represented.

Friday, noon - 9; Saturday and Sunday, 11 - 6
Arsenal Contemporary Art Montreal
2020 William Street

Parking available, metro recommended (Georges-Vanier or Lionel-Groulx station)

The $10 general admission gives access to panel discussions and guided tours in English and French. The $150 VIP ticket also gives access to a select group of artist studios and private and corporate collections, as well as an exclusive cocktail party on the Thursday evening.

More information about Papier 18 is available here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Hudson Artists Spring Show 2018

I do hope you will be able to join me at the upcoming Spring Show of the Hudson Artists, opening Friday, April 20, at the Hudson Community Centre, 394 Main Road in Hudson QC. More than 30 local artists will be showing their most recent work in a variety of media. Refreshments are offered, and proceeds from the raffled painting will go to the local Le Nichoir bird sanctuary.

Hours are Friday, 7:30 - 9:30 pm and Saturday-Sunday 10 am - 5 pm.

I will have three pieces from my newest series in hand-dyed linen on display. These are the 24" x 24" works that were included in the Galerie Carlos solo show earlier this year. And I have committed to working on the sales desk the Friday evening of the vernissage. Hope to see you there!

Out of the Blue, hand-dyed linen, 24 x 24