Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Upcoming visit to NYC

Planning my art itinerary right now for an upcoming holiday in New York. Might as well share it with you as I navigate through the various websites.

I'm really excited to see the one-woman show for Elizabeth Catlett at the gallery Burning in Water. I posted here about this artist when I saw her linoprints at the Whitney last summer. I was alerted to this show by the listing in The New Yorker. The reviewer wrote, in part,
"Think of this superb, small selection as an amuse-bouche for the major museum retrospective that, as the art world belatedly catches up to overlooked brilliant women, is all but inevitable."
I should also be able to take in the exhibition at the Met Breuer on Edvard Munch.

"This exhibition features 43 of the artist's landmark compositions created over a span of six decades, including 16 self-portraits and works that have never before been seen in the United States. More than half of the works on view were part of Munch's personal collection and remained with him throughout his life."

At the Met Fifth Avenue is a show of David Hockney. I am not really familiar with his work but this show will serve as a good introduction. This two-minute video gives us a taste.

And of course, while at the Met, I must see what the New York Times has called "the must-see show of the season... an art historical tour-de-force."

On display are 133 of Michaelangelo's drawings, three marble sculptures, his earliest painting, and a wood architectural model of a chapel vault. The exhibition draws on works from 50 public and private collections in Europe and the United States.

Visiting the Guggenheim New York is often a mixed pleasure. It seems almost every time we go, a good part of the museum is closed to the public. To compensate for this, the admission fee is reduced.  And it has happened that the museum itself doesn't open until 45 minutes after the posted opening time, with no explanation given to the unhappy crowd gathered outside. It might be worth the visit just to see the show "Josef Albers in Mexico".

At the Jewish Museum, I hope to see Modigliani Unmasked, a show comprised of 150 drawings, paintings and sculptures.

Jeanne Hébuterne with Yellow Sweater, Amadeo Modigliani, 1918-19

I remember seeing Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party when it toured Montreal almost 40 years ago. It found a permanent home at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2007 and is now the focus of a special show, Roots of the Dinner Party: History in the Making.

Exceptionally, there is nothing much of interest to me at the Whitney, the Neue Galerie, the Museum of Arts and Design, the Frick, the American Folk Art Museum, or MOMA. It seems to be a time when many temporary exhibits are closing, post-holiday-season, with the new shows yet to be installed. In fact, a few of the shows detailed above will have closed within days of my visit. But there is always serendipity to add a pleasant surprise or two to the mix!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

New project in development, Part 3

Walk in the Woods #5, 2007

Thinking about how to represent organic materials using fibre has brought back memories of my "Walk in the Woods" series, undertaken some ten years ago, and the later "Seeds, Pods and Husks" series.

Seeds, Pods and Husks #1, 2008

One of my favourite ways to represent cellular growth and decay is to stitch a synthetic sheer to a cotton, and then use a heat gun to burn away some of the sheer fabric.

sheer brown organza pebble-stitched to a red cotton base,
then distressed with a heat gun

sparkling sheer stitched onto brown cotton,
then distressed with heat gun

Cheesecloth can suggest a fibrous network:

cheesecloth, painted and stitched into place

Scrim (rather like a starched cheesecloth) can suggest patches.

scrim stitched onto a cotton base

Random stitching on a wash-away stabilizer can create a kind of netting. Fascia?

random machine stitching with heavy thread onto wash-away stabilizer.
then secured onto a cotton base

The effect below was made by painting and then burning into Lutradur.

suggesting the surface of distressed bone?

Applying ink to cloth using bubble wrap can suggest cellular degeneration.

I am having fun looking back at techniques I used a decade ago, and considering how I might use them in my new project on the subject of surgical instruments. As with the Walk in the Woods series, I might make a grid of interlocking and overlapping rectangles. Some of these could have an image of a surgical tool on an interesting background, and others could simply be small patches of organic texture.

A grid seems rather bloodless for the topic of surgery, when you consider how surgery is a form of violation of the body. And yet, my piece is to be inspired by the collection of a medical museum, and what is a museum display if not bloodless? Further thought required....

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

New project in development, Part 2

from Surgery of the Ambulatory Patient,
by L. Kraeer Ferguson

Seeing this illustration in an antique medical text reminded me of the connections between stitch and surgery.

Surgeons use suture material to make a "running stitch"

running stitch on printed cotton

or an "interrupted stitch", like these two. (Interrupted because each stitch is separately tied off.)

And surely French knots resemble the knots used to secure suturing.

French knots

And then, too, stitch can be used to resemble various textures of organic material.  A pebble stitch can indicate organic growth, perhaps a cross-section of bone?

pebble stitch, machine-sewn

A chain stitch might indicate a kind of bacteria. As might a seed stitch. And what about bugle beads?

chain stitch

seed stitch
bugle beads
Closely-spaced machine stitching might resemble the striations of muscle.

closely-spaced zigzag, machine-sewn
with glossy rayon thread

A small meandering stitch might look like the villi in the digestive tract, or polyps.

meandering stitch, machine-sewn with metallic thread

Gently curving stitch lines or lines of couching suggest muscle fibres...

machine stitching

or blood vessels.

couched embroidery threads

In my next post I will go beyond simple embroidery and beading to explore more ways to suggest organic materials using innovative fibre techniques.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

New project in development, Part 1

This past fall I discovered McGill University's Maude Abbott Medical Museum, a collection that came to be organized around the turn of the 20th century. It is named for Dr. Maude Abbott, who was appointed curator in 1899, though some of the specimens date back to 1822.

One of the projects of the museum is to explore the intersection of art and medical science, and so I approached the museum director, Dr. Richard Fraser, about the possibility of our six-member textile art group, Text'art, undertaking to make an exhibit inspired by the collection. The idea was embraced by all the participants and the show is scheduled to open in mid-May this year.

At our preliminary meeting, the museum was undergoing renovations, but we were still able to see some material from the collection. One of the items that caught my eye was this book illustration on display in a vitrine.

Something about the way the instruments all lined up appealed to me, with their various shapes a contrast of curved and straight. A few days later I saw this cover of a hardware catalog and considered the possibilities.

On a subsequent visit, I took photos of surgical instruments in the collection. Here are a few:

photo from surgical textbook




scissors, needle drivers


Other members of the group have chosen other topics, including medicinal plants, the human spine, and the jars and bottles holding the "wet specimens".

Here are some of the decisions involved in putting the show together:
  • Where will the work be displayed?
  • How much wall space is available?
  • What hanging hardware will be used?
  • Should there be some consistency between the individual pieces? (We've decided we will all work in a 36 x 24 format, and mount our work on gallery-style canvas.)
Because a printed booklet will be produced by the museum to accompany the show, we must provide
  • individual biographies
  • individual artist statements
  • a history of the group
  • an artist statement and title for the project
  • a group photo
  • photos of the individual artists
  • photos of the individual pieces, with their titles
Written material will be translated into French, and all must be submitted by April 1.

The vitrine cases and tables in the display space will be filled with items from the collection that inspired our individual pieces. Dr. Fraser and his assistant, Joan O'Malley, will be responsible for this, working with the staff at the William Osler Library, where the work will be displayed.

In an upcoming post I will explore some of the techniques I am considering for my piece.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mitchell and Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation

Jean-Paul Riopelle, La Forét Ardent, 1955

Just before it closed, on January 7, I had a chance to visit an excellent exhibition at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec (otherwise known as the MNBAQ.) You can read about the exhibit here.

Joan Mitchell, Untitled, 1961

The good news is that the show, titled "Nothing in Moderation", will now travel to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and is scheduled to open February 17.

What makes the show so interesting is the juxtaposition of work by the two artists. Both could be called Abstract Expressionists. Both often worked on a large scale. Both experimented with media and technique. And because they were involved in a personal relationship over a long period of time, both shared similar influences and similar themes, and inspired each other.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, Saint-Anthon, 1954

Generally speaking, Jean-Paul Riopelle preferred an impasto technique, slapping on great quantities of oil paint, modelling it with a palette knife.  His work has been compared to mosaic and stained glass. The patterning of his paint strokes were characteristically crystalline, and his palette was bold, favouring black, white and the primaries. Joan Mitchell's paint strokes were more lyrical, curving and spritely, made with thinned paint. Her palette was softer, her range of colour wider.

Joan Mitchell, La Fontaine, 1957

It could be said that each of their palettes was influenced by their favoured landscapes. In later years, after their romantic relationship ended, Riopelle returned to the Laurentians, and its rustic, vigorous landscape was reflected in his bold colour choices and the coarse, raw nature of his palette knife application.

Mitchell's later years were spent in the pastoral town of Vétheuil, just west of Paris and on the Seine. She was influenced by the tamer nature of her surroundings; her garden and its trees were important to her.

Joan Mitchell, Girolata, 1964
Jean-Paul Riopelle, Large Triptych, 1964

The show includes biographical timelines for both artists, and films and photos of them as individuals and as a couple. An excellent exhibition, well worth seeing.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Old Brewery Mission, Montreal

Mission accomplished! Here are some photos of my latest series, installed on the lovely old brick walls of the Old Brewery Mission.

Having the twelve pieces hung together makes a strong impact, and the lighting is favourable too. The overall effect is warm, bold and bright.

Many of the clients came by during the installation and added their words of appreciation.

The space is managed by artists Susan Porter and Karen Hosker. For more information about Galerie Carlos, please visit the web page.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thirteenth in New Series: An Irrefutable Truth

Yes! I've completed enough pieces in my new series to have a show of twelve, each measuring 24 x 24. All the works have been treated with Fabric Shield to protect them from sunlight and fading.

Will now catch my breath and make some time to catch up on the more mundane tasks of everyday life, and some reading, and of course researching the next project. And yes, will be sure to post a photo of the series in situ.

tentatively titled: An Irrefutable Truth

There is something "mid-century modern"  about these shapes, don't you think? The background is actually a Granny Smith green, a favourite colour of mine. The magenta is a perfect complement to it. The hand-dyed linen has a nicely mottled surface, for all three colours.

The upper right quadrant has a semi-circular shape defined by machine stitching in parallel lines, using variegated thread. Detail below.

detail, An Irrefutable Truth

Or.... What do you think of orienting it like this? And would it need a new title? Such As It Is? In All Probability?

An Irrefutable Truth, rotated?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Twelfth in New Series: Neither Here nor There

This 24 x 24 piece is made of hand-dyed linen, pieced, with couched threads and hand-stitching.

Tentatively titled Neither Here nor There

The blue background has a lovely mottled look. The green and grey shapes also have some mottling, though because they are smaller the variation in colouring is not as evident.

Neither Here nor There, detail

Now, you'd think that since I need twelve pieces for my upcoming show, that I would be able to take a break at this point. But no. One of my earliest pieces is not available, as it was accepted into the Stewart Hall rental collection. One more addition to the series is needed by January 10.

And so, back to work....