With so little travel these days, it’s a good deal when a wonderful exhibit shows up close to home, like the Small Tapestry International 7: Elements show at the American Association of Woodturners Gallery of Wood Art in St. Paul. I knew it would be fun to see the tapestries from many artists whose work I know well, but it was even better than expected, when combined with fun conversation with the curator, Tib Shaw, and the amazing wood sculptures. When I entered the gallery, Tib greeted me and said she would be happy to answer any questions about the wood pieces, but she didn’t know much about tapestry. I told her if she had questions about tapestry, I’d be happy to answer those!
The show is masterfully hung, and many pieces are near wood sculptures that play well together, either in terms of color or shape. Tib said that her only regret was that there weren’t more tapestries.
I know I will return with friends before this show leaves in June–a good thing, because I realize that my photographing was incomplete! Clearly I was too busy peering at the amazing intricacy of Kathe Todd-Hooker’s tapestry, and trying to puzzle out the woven words, to remember to take photos! I’ve seen many digital images of Kathe’s truck tapestries, so it was wonderful to see one in person. Plus, I forgot to take photos of many of the labels.
Next I moved on to Ellen Ramsey’s beautiful feather homage. I collect feathers on golf courses, but only put them in my bag. Ellen examined her feather and wove this beautifully-proportioned piece. Its presentation in a deep box was perfect.
If you turn around, black-and-white switches to startling red, in both a sculpture and Ulrikka Mokdad’s tapestry.
Lindsey Marshall wove a wave! It mirrors the twisting shape of the sculpture perched below it.
The colors in Jane Freear-Wyld’s tapestry blazed from the wall: small size, big impact.
I love pieces woven with small shapes, varied only by color. When this works well in tapestry, it is a good trick–it’s not like you can just rearrange a square if you don’t like its position! This arrangement by Mary Jane Lord is a winner; I find myself studying it again and again.
Jennifer Sargent’s piece made me shake my head in puzzlement. How did she even plan it? Oh, I’ll just leave long warp ends in one section and then twist them and form them into a spiral and attach it to the bottom of the tapestry? It’s so cool. The shapes are intriguing, but it is when you get up close and notice the variation in color and technique within the piece, that you truly admire it.
I loved this abstract piece by Turid Teague. Is the central black section a little ominous, a la Robert Motherwell? When I looked at it now, writing this post, I suddenly saw the black area as the back of a reclining cat. Even the black lines be deconstructed whiskers. (I apologize to Turid if she doesn’t want viewers to visualize a cat!)
Nearby on the same long gallery wall was Mary Lane’s tapestry with the same rich golds and reds.
Joan Griffin’s evocation of evening fit well with a starry-night sort of wood bowl sculpture. (Yes, it’s wood.)
Both Tib Shaw and I LOVED LOVED the humor in Terry Olson’s interpretation of the “Elements” theme in “Element of Surprise.” (Also, such beautiful soft colors)
While Sharon Crary from Napa, California, was weaving sparkly blue triangles, far away in Dublin, Ireland, Roger Bennett was making the perfect companion piece.
Small tapestries can certainly have an impact in a larger space. Here is Louise Halsey’s “Summer Thunder” shown in the context of the full-width gallery space.
Joyce Hayes’s “Etude 10” sparked a sudden switch to calm and order and contemplation, a need to move closer to see the subtle and even, musical-like marks in the image.
“Waylon,” by Laura Center, finished my gallery tapestry tour. A funny guy! The fuzzy surface was unusual, and she left longer fuzzy pieces at the top of his head for hair–perfect. There was a sort of candy-cane striping at the top and bottom edges. Lucious candy colors.
After examining the tapestries, I made a second round of the gallery to admire the wood sculptures. It is worth making a trip to the Gallery of Wood Art to see the tapestry show or the wood show. Getting to see both is twice as fun.
To finish, here is my favorite wood piece, by Jim Christiansen from Moscow, Idaho.
“We are all influenced by others. They are the elements that largely determine who we are. This work represents our existence as a vessel with a form and shape determined (sometimes unwillingly) by those with whom were have relationships. Diversity adds meaning and interest.”