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Concrete Cathedrals — Robert L. Jones

December 23rd, 2008|Inspiration|4 Comments

I haven’t posted for awhile because I’m deep in the throes of updating my web site — I thought the break between semesters would be a good time for that. But for some reason, I always underestimate the scope of this project and it always takes so much longer than it ought to. I needed to take a breather from that and think about something else for a bit, and looking at work by other photographers is always a worthwhile endeavor.

jones-cc_5cSan Antonio, Texas, January, 2001    ©Robert L. Jones

Robert L. Jones is a photographer and writer with whom I’ve corresponded off and on for a couple of years after he contacted me through my web site. I’ve not met him personally, but his work really appeals to me because a lot of it has a reverence for the same things that I am drawn to: the anachronistic image of a place that time seems to have forgotten, a chance composition discovered by looking down at the ground, and the majestic grain elevator.

This latter subject is a particular specialty of Jones’, and it’s obvious from the title he gives them that he holds them in high esteem. I’ve learned from looking at these photos that the oddly tilted perspective appearing unbidden in some of my own work is not a thing to be repudiated, but is rather something to be embraced for the dynamic presence it imparts to an image of a static subject. I’m especially intrigued by the above image because of the abrupt shift in the tonal value of the building on the right. It draws me in to thinking about what might have happened here: were they still in the process of painting this building when the photo was taken, or had they long since given up, interrupted by perhaps a financial disaster and never to return to the project? (I suppose I could research the matter and find out, but I prefer to wonder.) This demarcation line also forms a continuation of the strong diagonal started by the building on the left, creating a compelling composition.

Jones is something of a purist in his methods, preferring to work with film and doing his own developing and printing on coveted favorite papers, painstakingly working to perfect his technique, and refraining from fully accepting the label of “artist” until he feels he has done so. I find this admirable in our age of instant gratification. However, I must take just a tiny bit of exception to one thing he says in a discussion of his philosophy: “More so than any other artistic medium, photographers pride themselves in mastering technique, i.e., craft, and in perfecting each stage of the … process.” It isn’t that I don’t believe photographers do this, it’s just that I know artists in other media do so also, as I am personally aware of many textile artists who are completely obsessesed with perfecting their process. It seems that photography suffers some of the same crisis of identity that textile art suffers: is it art, or is it a craft?

I guess I’ll go out on a limb here — how could such a framing of the Phillips 66 station in its Technicolor brilliance be anything other than art?

jones-rte87abernathy
U.S. Route 87, Abernathy, Texas, February, 2002       ©Robert L. Jones
December 23rd, 2008|Inspiration|4 Comments

Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters, 6 Voices at RMQM, Golden, Colorado

December 8th, 2008|Exhibitions|Comments Off on Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters, 6 Voices at RMQM, Golden, Colorado

Adds Up, 77 x 54 inches, ©2005 Cynthia Corbin

The Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, Colorado is dedicated to the preservation of the art and history or American quilt making. They maintain a permanent collection of quilts with historical significance and offer exhibitions and educational events in the support of their mission. The exhibitions include both historical as well as contemporary offerings. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters, 6 Voices exhibition in person. I’ve had the book for awhile now, and I wrote about Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer’s work in a previous post. But it was a treat to see all the work in person, as photos usually don’t do justice to textile work, missing the nuances of texture and depth that are visible in the piece when you see it face-to-face.

Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer’s rich color and beautiful hand stitching create a lush environment of subtle light and shadow play on each rich surface. Ann Johnston uses her signature dye-painting techniques along with a diverse vocabulary of stitch patterns for her complex and dynamic compositions. Quinn Zander Corum includes beading and hand-stitching to invite the viewer to come in close for a better look. Her piece “The Back Forty,” consisting of 40 fully-developed small compositions, is a library of colors and techniques reminiscent of the traditional sampler quilt. Nancy Erickson invokes an ancient world where animals rule, realized with her personal iconography of cave paintings and her exhuberant brushwork. Trisha Hassler puts a unique spin on her mixed media work: she combines jagged, rusted steel with counterpoints of hand-dyed, quilted fabric pieces in a harmonious blending of hard and soft. Cynthia Corbin’s work is fascinating for its use of texture, both in the patterning of the fabrics as well as in the amazingly dense machine quilting which covers each piece. Her piece “Adds Up” is shown above, and here is a detail:

My only complaint about the show is that the exhibition space is unfortunately rather small, resulting in a very crowded show with pieces stacked one on top of the other. Some of the smaller works, which would have benefited from an eye-level viewing, were placed too high to see properly. But in any case, I highly recommend going to see this show. It’s up until January 31, 2009.

Also currently on view at the Museum is California Gold, an exhibit of quilts made in the 1870s and 1880s which include a warm yellow fabric of a color nicknamed “California Gold.” The exhibit honors the 150th anniversary of the Forty-Niners, pioneers who risked everything to travel west for the gold rush.

Turkey Tracks, 74 x 85 inches, c. 1885, collection of the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

The signage for this piece reads “Woe betide the quiltmaker who decided to stitch this pattern for her son! Turkey Tracks, also known as ‘Wandering Foot,’ was thought to encourage people who slept under it to become endless wanderers … especially boys.”

December 8th, 2008|Exhibitions|Comments Off on Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters, 6 Voices at RMQM, Golden, Colorado

First Friday Art Walk in Denver

December 5th, 2008|Exhibitions, Fiber / mixed media|2 Comments

Reflections, 38 x 92, ©2008 Deidre Adams

UPDATE – 2:15 pm
Just found out from gallery manager they are NOT planning to be open tonight. I apologize if anyone is inconvenienced by this!

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As today is the first Friday in December, this means tonight there will be another opportunity to peruse the galleries in Denver’s ArtDistrict on Santa Fe, including Translations Gallery, where my solo show continues through January 2. Above is one of my latest works which is on exhibit at the gallery. This is the end result of the piece that you can see me working on in the video on the gallery’s home page.

Also, a reminder to anyone in the Denver metro area that the Speaking in Cloth: 6 Quilters, 6 Voices exhibition, featuring the work of Ann Johnston, Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer, Cynthia Corbin, Nancy Erickson, Quinn Zander Corum, and Trisha Hassler, is currently showing at the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Golden, through Jan. 31, 2009.

December 5th, 2008|Exhibitions, Fiber / mixed media|2 Comments