Or 2018…It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
It was just a little over a year ago that I got the email. I almost couldn’t believe my eyes as I read it, re-read it, and read it again. It was a message sent through my contact page from my website, a nice surprise as I don’t receive a lot of those.
“Hello Elena, I am a professional Commercial Interior Designer interested in many of your quilts for a hospital project in Long Island, NY. Please contact me via email so that we can discuss the various quilts of interest.”
Hmm. Wow. Well… it’s probably a scam, I thought. I’ve gotten a quite few of those over the years, most artists do. “Hi, I noticed my wife looking at your website. She really likes [insert quilt title here] and her birthday is coming up so…” Believe or not, that’s a scam.
I responded politely and professionally, but vaguely, to the interior designer in hopes of getting a more explicit response from her. I did. Along with a running list of alphabet soup credentials of degrees, affiliations and title after her name…IIDA, LEED AP BD+C, EDAC Associate Project Interior Designer, Angela inquired as to the prices and availability of five pieces of art on my website. Rather substantial pieces…Tranquil Marsh – Wild Iris, Infinity IV and V, Horizon XI and Clair de Lune. (Please look under the cotton and silk headings to see the pieces in question.)
Okay, breathing deeply, trying to keep my blood pressure down, I proceeded to do some due diligence, aka Google, on the company which turned out to be a BIG global architectural firm. Well, well, well. I responded with prices for four of the five pieces in question still available but informed her that Clair de Lune had sold.
Angela responded back, “Thank you for the pricing information. Do you have a suggestion to replace the unavailable Clair de Lune quilt selection? The quilt does not have to be blue, however, the larger size is of interest. Do you have any new work to share with us that is not on your website? If so, could you send photos for consideration?” I suggested Infinity VI and asked how she had found my website. “We were looking for more color, however, the Infinity VI is beautiful. We will review the coloration with the building finishes and let you know if it will work. If we ultimately decide that more color is needed for the space, would you be amenable to a commissioned piece? If so, we are looking at a schedule for artwork installation in the fall. I found you by doing a Google search of quilt artists with a NY connection.”
Google, again. By this time, I could see that this was a very legit and serious inquiry. And a hospital, too! The thought of having my work hang in such an environment was even more exciting than the money, and that was some good money. The intention behind my work is to create an emotional impact in the viewer, an uplifting one. To envision my work hanging where people enduring the most stressful moments of their lives might take comfort from my work, thrilled me to no end. Yes!
After some back and forth over the next month, Angela let me know, “The sold Clair de Lune quilt is the quilt our client liked. What would be the price for a commissioned quilt similar to the Clair de Lune?” So, four quilts and one commission. Wonderful!
At this point, I was very excited and eager to get a firm, i.e., financial, commitment from them as well as a time frame. I informed her that I would need at least a two month lead time to make the commission piece and really needed a better idea of when I would need to start it so I could clear my calendar. Angela said it was for a new construction for Stony Brook Hospital and they were planning a fall installation. I was busy with projects through the spring so I guesstimated that I would be creating the commission piece during the summer months.
Neither commitment nor time frame would be forthcoming over the next several months during which I felt I was on some sort of emotional roller coaster ride…ecstatic, fretful, patient, annoyed, hopeful and glum. I was, in fact, asked to hold my work with no formal commitment from Angela or her client. This means not only could I not sell them, I was not able to submit them for exhibition. They needed to remain ready and secure in my possession.
Suffice it to say, the remainder of the year proved incredibly stressful, and more than a bit confusing, while I waited completely in the dark for the hospital project to move forward. Angela admitted that the project had already been delayed a year as it had originally been slated for completion in the fall of 2017 and she couldn’t tell me exactly when I could expect to be contacted by the procurement team. But, long story short, eventually I was contacted, the artwork was purchased and shipped, and finally, all is right with the world, thank heavens!
I still have the commission piece to complete but, when all the artwork is installed at the hospital, I plan to make a trip to Stony Brook and see them in situ. Anyone up for a road trip?
SAQA is once again preparing for its annual Benefit Auction! 443 12 x 12 inch mini masterpieces will be available for bidding. This REVERSE auction (bidding starts high then drops through the week) is in three groups for three weeks. Group 1 starts on September 14, Group 3 ends on October 7. I don't have a piece up for auction this year but I plan to bid and help support this wonderful organization.
Never heard of SAQA? Studio Art Quilt Associates. Don't know what they do? From their website -
"SAQA is a world-wide resource for information on the art quilt and the artists who create them. In addition to mounting museum-quality exhibitions that travel the world, SAQA documents the artquilt movement through exhibition catalogs and the continuing series of Portfolios, the art quilt sourcebook.
SAQA creates professional development opportunities for the membership that continue to address the ever-changing needs of the artist. From basic studio management to mastering current technology for both business and artistic purposes, SAQA members have access to a treasure trove of support for taking their artwork and career to the next level.
Over the past 30 years, SAQA has evolved into an active and dynamic organization that offers many services to our members as well as to the community at large. Our website provides visibility to the accomplishments of the artist members and gives members immediate access to information about exhibition opportunities, announcements of upcoming events and conferences, and other resources."
Dear SAQA, Quilt Art and Fiber Art friends and colleagues, please help!
Have you heard about the amazing fiber art effort happening at the Hunterdon Art Museum, a small but very fiber friendly art museum in Clinton, NJ? In the past, they have mounted major fiber art shows such a contemporary tapestry exhibit, a fiber print exhibit and last year they had a stunning contemporary embroidery exhibit.
This September, HAM will present a contemporary lace exhibit, Lace not Lace, that will feature the work of many international artists including two large installations, Lieve Jerger’s Carriage of Lost Loves and Choi + Shine’s The Urchins. BUT, The Urchins is not a definite go. The museum wasn’t able to raise enough money to bring them to New Jersey and are seeking help from the community by launching a fund-raising campaign on Kickstarter. Click HERE or on the image above to go to their Kickstarter page and be sure and watch the video. They go into quite a bit of detail of the upcoming exhibit and their efforts and excitement over the Urchins, which are a quite impressive and huge, and would be a phenomenal outdoor installation - The Urchins would only be there for a limited time but it would be a spectacular sight to behold!
Naturally, I always try to support this museum as it is in my own backyard but I am hoping my fellow quilt artists and fiber artists will join me in supporting the museum’s goal of bringing The Urchins to the Hunterdon Art Museum. While they have never mounted a quilt art exhibit at HAM, it is my hope that someday they will, whether it’s a SAQA Global exhibit, a SAQA regional exhibit or a straight out contemporary Quilt Art exhibit. If we in the quilt art/fiber art community show our support for them, maybe they will show their support for us.
Please help spread the word and donate what you can to this fund-raiser. Be sure to email them and let them know the Quilt Art community supports them!
The Hunterdon Art Tour is celebrating its 2nd year!
This year's event will be May 4th, 5th and 6th starting with a kick off Gala Party and Exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, NJ on May 4, 7 - 9m. It's free and fabulous. Last year's Gala night was a huge success with 200 attendees and 10 pieces of artwork sold. They would like an idea of how many are attending so registration is appreciated. To register for the Gala Party, go to Eventbrite. Refreshments served, cash wine bar.
Each of the forty participating artists has one piece in the exhibition, which will run all weekend at HAM, 11 am - 5 pm. Maps for the studio will be available at the museum as well as many localities across the county. For details about the tour and where to find a map or print out you own, visit TheHunterdonArtTour.com.
My Clinton studio will be open May 5th and 6th, 10 am - 6 pm as well as a Sneak Peek right before the Gala on Friday for an hour or two. For details, check out my Exhibitions page or my THAT profile page. I will have some of my small works for sale as well as my hand-dyed scarves and felted vessels. And, my studio room, with works in progress, will NOT be tidied up so you can see where the magic (and mess) happens!
Update - The catalog for Things that Matter is now available on Amazon! The artwork is beautiful and arresting, the artist statements are thoughtful and provocative. A great read full of eye candy.
More than a year ago, Sandra Poteet and Lin Schiffner reached out to several highly accomplished, diverse and passionate fiber artists in a grassroots, artist-initiated effort to form a Coalition of Artists with Purpose. I was one of those artists. They invited each of us to create artwork on the theme Things That Matter.
We were charged to create artwork at least 6o inches wide, either one large single piece or multiple smaller pieces, focused on one single concept, just one 'Thing'. It could be anything the artist felt strongly about - family, justice, clean air, fairness, democracy, honesty, re-cycling, faith, climate change, equality, respect, literacy, peace, humor, education, etc. We were to create a visceral reminder, at this moment in our shared history when the world feels uncertain and divided, of things that truly matter.
Thirty one artists came together, committed to the project and retreated to their studios to ponder and reflect, to craft and hone their concepts into their creations. While finishing up other projects, I contemplated what I would make, letting ideas come and go. I struggled to find that one Thing that resonated with me the most and still fit within my body of work. As the months (yes, months!) passed, I found myself becoming overwhelmed and depressed by the constant barrage of the media. All media. Social. Mass. Fake. Whatever. I just wanted it to stop. I couldn't breathe. And, then I knew what I would make. I knew what my Thing was. Peace and Quiet.
Above is a detail of Horizon XII - Peace and Quiet and you can see the full image in my silk gallery. We were also asked to write a statement about our Thing. Here's mine:
"In this age of mass media and social media we live in a culture of information overload, with a growing dependency on our personal devices - non-stop texting, tweeting and selfies, liking, sharing and emojis. The media’s constant barrage of and obsession over the latest tragedy, scandal, ‘fake news’ bombshell and the increasingly hostile political climate are so overwhelming and depressing. More and more, for my own well-being and peace of mind, I just need to completely UNPLUG…
To turn off the television, put down the phone, walk away from the computer.
To silence the media madness.
To escape to the wilderness, to the water, to the vast horizon.
To listen to the gaping silence.
To breathe in the fleeting precious splendor of the dying day.
To feel lost yet found in the solitude of peace and quiet.
To just be."
Sandra and Lin, as well creating artwork of their own, tackled the daunting job of approaching art museums and securing venues for the exhibition. They have secured two definite venues so far and more are in the works. Next month, on April 21st will be the opening of a preview exhibit at the Vision Art Museum in San Diego, CA. It is a partial exhibit as the museum was not able to accommodate the entire show. Mine is one of the fortunate pieces to be included in this exhibit. I'm so pleased, I am. And, then later this year in November, the Chandler Center for the Arts in Chandler, AZ will present the show in its entirety.
Sandra and Lin have also been working on producing a catalog and that will hopefully be ready for the Visions exhibit. I won't be able to travel to San Diego to see the show so I am most eager to see the catalog.
I want to thank Lin and Sandy for all your hard work in mounting this very ambitious and important exhibition. I'm sure I speak for all the artists when I say how grateful we are for entrusting us with your vision and for empowering our voices.
Finally, I share with you the Exhibition Statement used to promote the show:
Fabric and other familiar fibers, found items and cast-offs have great power when melded by the artistic hand precisely because of their everyday-ness. We are startled by how something so common can be transformed into something so new and unexpected. We are compelled to touch the artist’s textiles to reassure ourselves that they are indeed something we know. It is wondrous, but at the same time reassuring. The medium itself is relatable. When paired with purpose it is inherently understood.
Grown out of ordinary artist-citizens demonstrating mastery of their medium, this exhibition is a timely and powerful response to this moment in history. Fiber artists are using their collective talents to say THIS thing, this idea, this place, this part of humanity is important and should not be forgotten or undefended when at risk to intolerance, ignorance, indifference, or greed."
Continuing down the long hallway past the array of tempting edibles and potables, we found the second gallery space of the Wayne Art Center filled with a dazzling display of visual delight.
The Ethel Sargeant Clark Smith Gallery
Left to right, Simple Joys by Kay Campbell, Recollections by Viviana Lombrozo and Lost and Found: Green Panel by Kay Healy.
Patty Kennedy-Zafred's Steel Town: First Shift and Teresa Barkley's The Life Cycle of the Little Black Dress.
Rosemary Hoffenberg's Cafe hangs beside Pat Kroth's Fiber Optics.
Marti Plager's Conversation and Bonnie J. Smith's Alviso.
Jill Kerttula's Urban Voyeur - Tracks with two detail shots below, and Gerri Spilka's Moving Through received the Wayne Art Center Award.
I love the combination of techniques Jill uses to build her imagery.
Liz Axford's Counterpoint 6, a wonderful example of resist dyeing.
Kathleen Probst's signature minimalist style in Corner.
More minimalism here with Sherri Lipman McCauley's Branches Orange, one of my favorites in the show.
Hand stitching takes center focus in Marianne Burr's Desert Pools, winner of the The Greater Than the Sum Of Its Parts Award. Detail below.
Best of Show Award goes to Niraja Lorenz for her amazing Strange Attractor #20. She only works with solids, every stripe, triangle and square is a separate piece of fabric, as you can see in the details below. Masterful!
And, to finish up the tour, winner of the Innovation in Medium Award, another of my very favorites by an artist I've admire for many years, The Crossing Times 13 by Chiaki Dosho, made with old Japanese kimono fabrics. I am always struck by juxtaposition of the power and the delicacy of her work, both simple and complex. I can get lost in these details...
I hope you enjoy my posts about exhibitions and contemporary quilt art and hope that they inspire you to go see them, to own them and/or to create more of them!
To see a more complete view of all the artwork (with better photos, too!), please visit artquiltelements.org.
This was my first time being juried into Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center and I am truly honored to be among this group of artists, some of whom are on my must watch list. My photos do not do justice to the artwork due to my very old Iphone. I apologize in advance for any poorly framed and blurry photos or photos with inaccurate color.
I'll start with some overview pictures to whet your appetite and give you a sense of the spaces. There are two main galleries at the Wayne Art Center, for those who've yet to visit, the Davenport Gallery and, down the hallway, the Ethel Sargeant Clark Smith Gallery. The first time I attended an AQE opening reception in 2012, I didn't know about the second gallery until the end and almost missed half the show. So beware!
The Davenport Gallery
On the left, Sandra Palmer Ciolino's Precaria #8, Crucible won the Leslie Patterson Award for Best Use of Color. Scroll up to see the full piece. Center is Elizabeth Brandt's Slipstream beside Astrid Bennet's Fields and Fences 2.
Catherine W. Smith's Transfusion #3, Dan Olfe's National Gallery of Art in the center and, Lenore Crawford's Pinecones, winner of the Heartstring Quilters Award.
Susan Lenz's Large Stained Glass LXXXI, Heather Pregger's Banded Iron Formation #1 and Aryanna Londir's Red Flags.
Diana Savona's innovative work Structurally Unsound hanging next to Karen Schulz's Juxtaposition 1: Crossing Lines, winner of the Juror’s Award of Merit.
Erika Carter's Backyard II and Andrew Steinbrecher's Crossroads #5: This Could Be the Way.
Hope Wilmarth's Constructions III beside my own River Daze.
Margaret Black's Curb Appeal V took the Carolyn Lee Thrasher Vehslage Award. Karen Brown's Seeking a Common Ground graces the cover of the AQE 2018 catalog.
Above is Ruth Marchese's Death and Destruction Amid a River of Blood, a lovely example of Korean bojagi.
I love the work of Marianne Williamson. This is one of my favorites, Perpetual Motion.
And finally, just for sheer delight, I finish Part I with Betty Busby's stunning Wing, my favorite piece in the show. I love the way it moved and fluttered as people walked by.
Up next in Part II, I'll bring you the work hanging in the Ethel Sargeant Clark Smith Gallery where Best in Show hangs. Stay tuned!
And now for the award winners. I cannot even image how one would choose among this incredible collection of artwork but award jurist Marcia Young was charged with this impossible task. Here are the results...
The Shirley Hastedt Award:Red Jive and Blue Jive by Gerri Spilka...
The Catherine Hastedt Award for Hand Workmanship:Compaction & Drift by Shea Wilkinson... Sorry, I goofed and accidentally posted this one yesterday.
The Schweinfurth Award for Excellence:Tumbling by Naomi Velasquez, side angle detail below...
Juror's Choice:Frameworks IV by Julia Graziano...
Juror's Choice: Flying Geese- One Voice by Vicki Conley...
Juror's Choice:Breakthrough by Elizabeth Busch...
Award for Surface Design: Griffith and Broadway byMarian Zielinski...
Third Prize:Container by Kathy Ford...
Second Prize: Infinity IV by Elena Stokes...oh, that's me! I'm so honored!!!
So, I've been asked to talk about why I split the design into a diptych and its significance. What meaning was I trying to convey? Well, you all know the expression 'What came first, the chicken or the egg'? Well, if the egg is the idea and the chicken is what grew up out of it, I'm afraid the chicken came first.
When I prepare for my next project, I cut and prep my batting, sort of like prepping a canvas for paint. I cut it to size, iron on a fusible to both sides, fuse fabric to the back, then pin it to my design wall. I had prepped a 72 inch wide piece of batting in contemplation of my next project when a challenge came up in my guild. I only participate in challenges like that if they can work into my body of work and this one did. It was a proposed exhibition in partnership with the Nurture Nature Center in Easton, Pa whose focus that year was Weather. That theme worked well with my body of work and I decided to build upon my Infinity series incorporating a feeling of Wind. The only catch was it could be no wider than 60 inches. So, I decided to cut 12 inches off my prepped batting. I figured it could be cut up into 12 inch squares for small work.
As I worked on the design, the tapering waves were very effective and beautiful but I realized the main swath of color seemed off because it came to a blunt end at the edge of the quilt. I felt like it needed to continue to a point. Then I looked at the discarded 12 inch section and thought 'Why not? Try it. It'll either look really stupid or really cool.' Well, as you can see, it looks pretty cool. It's an odd place for split but somehow it works visually and, as someone said at the QAQ reception, it looks mysterious.
Lots of layered meaning emerged as well - the sweeping horizon line signifying the unending process of transformation; the winds of change that shape our lives; seeds blowing to far-off fertile lands. I have a subtitle for it, Like Seeds to the Wind, but mostly it's about my Infinity series.
And, that's the story of how the chicken came first and the egg of ideas and meaning came afterwards.
First Prize:People of the Wind by Shin-hee Chin, detail of intense stitchwork below...
Best of Show:Ruins 1 by Leah Higgins...
Funny story here, above is Ruins 1 as it was displayed at the Schweinfurth opening reception. But, I saw that artist Leah Higgins' post on Facebook announcing her Best of Show award and the picture she posted displayed it inverted, as I clumsily did below. The funny thing is, during the weekend I was in conversation with a fellow artist who said her work had been hung upside down. It seems the bottom sleeve intended for a secondary slat to weight the bottom was mistook for the top hanging sleeve. They didn't notice the label at the bottom right to guide them as to what was top and bottom. Well, it seems that's what must have happened here, I'm guessing. It's a lesson for us all - be careful of those bottom sleeves, they might get your work hung upside down! Always supply instructions as to the top of quilt if you use a bottom sleeve.
By the way, I did let Leah know about the inversion of her work and she contacted the Schweinfurth Art Center.
I hope you enjoyed seeing my pictures of the show but they really don't do justice to the work. If you can get there, go see them in person!
In my second installment on the opening weekend of Quilts=Art=Quilts I will share some pieces in the show. I apologize in advance for the quality of the images, some are a little blurry. In fact, while I tried to get pictures of most the quilts, some turned out so blurry they're unusable.
I'll start with a few pieces inspired by water...
Below the Surface by Marianne Williamson is a beautiful example of her fascination with light and water.
Clapotis, another lovely watery piece, by Elisabeth Nacenta de la Croix.
Refresh III by Erika Carter captures the feel of water with hand painted silk. Detail below.
Out Beyond by Wen Redmond, her work is inspired by nature as she is drawn to water and trees. And, more trees...
Winter Woods by Kathy Ford.
Black Crows Blues by Helena Scheffer.
A little more water... Water, Earth 5 by Pat Pauly.
Mirage by Diane Melms.
Mourning After by Karen Hinkle is a photograph she took the morning after a fire burned down thirteen businesses in Garrettsville, OH. Another angle is below.
The Triangle Fire: Flightless Birds 1 and 2 by Helen Geglio based on the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York.
This Land Was Our Land by Patty Zafred- Kennedy.
Looking for the Pattern That Connects by Paula Kovarik. Check out the detail of the front and from the back.
The Language of Color 9: The Color of Dissonance by The Pixeladies, Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki.
Compaction and Drift by Shea Wilkinson.
Strange Attractor 18 by Niraja Lorenz.
Terra Mundi by Ellen Wong. Apologies to Ellen for this blurry photo, the camera in my phone isn't very good.
As you can see, it's a very strong show and I haven't even gotten to the award winners yet. I'm saving that for next time...