To inspire my thinking, refresh my eyes, or cheer my heart, I look at the world around me. Noted below are some look-worthy goings-on that pique my interest.
Marketing is a visual, emotional, experiential evocation of a concrete, quantifiable goal. There is a parallel between the power of art and architecture to persuade and inform and marketing's aspirations to do the same. The medium is different — marketing uses print ads, catalogs, social media platforms, special events, and the like, but the hoped-for results are the same: to provoke interest, create desire, and build a loyal tribe.
The Skirballs' Imagination Unlimited exhibit of Jim Henson's work highlights Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, Ernie and Bert, Grover, and more than 100 other favorites, including my personal avatar, Cookie Monster. Here's to Henson's mission to delight and inspire people to create a kinder and gentler world.
An exhibition of paper jewelry by Kiff Slemmons from her residencies at Taller Arte Papel in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Paper is the site of poetry,
and in the case of jewelry,
the unexpected site of both.
From the Hammer's exhibit copy: "While there is no overarching theme, many of the artists share common interests. Several grapple with issues of representation, marginalization, and pressures placed on the body. Some artists offer interpretations of cultural practices, proposing how ancient forms of knowledge may be reimagined in the present, or reflect on the current political climate."
The exhibition focuses on influences between Mexican and American craft traditions, on view in the Biscailuz Gallery at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument from through February 25, 2018. Approximately thirty objects will highlight artwork in a variety of media. Related symposium at LACMA, details here.
Tierra is composed of soil from the border region, encased in tubes and woven into a rug. Each tube contains soil from a place significant to Aguiñiga, and labelled, creating a map of space and time. Part of The US-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility, at Craft & Folk Art Museum until Jan 7, 2018.
Detail of Huipil by James Bassler, 1974. In keeping with the show's theme of shared aesthetic traditions, this piece uses a three panel structure that references a MesoAmerican tunic, while the wild silk is from a local Zapotec artist, dyed with materials gathered in the Santa Monica Mountains.
Artist Cecilia Vicuña, a seminal figure in Latin American art and poetry, discussed her poetic and artistic exploration of indigenous forms of knowledge. "If you think a poem is just a poem you are cut off from the spring. Drought ensues."
"An object is not an object. It is a witness to a relationship."
Looking forward to this exhibit of architecture, drawings, furniture, ceramics, and more, "the first to examine how interconnections between California and Mexico shaped the material culture of each place, influencing and enhancing how they presented themselves to the wider world." Part of the Pacific Standard Time event.
I had the unexpected joy of meeting Kath and Kim, founders of The Possibility Project. "Disrupting mindsets into possibility is our priority. If we want peace on earth, we have to make peace with ourselves and each other. The future is not about income, gender, race, colour, or sexuality – it's about ONENESS." Their collective is about fashioning what you need out of what you already have.
Marisa Merz works with non-traditional materials, polymaterialism – wherein she combines humble material such as copper wire, bowls of salt, and knitting needles – exercises sculptural rigor while embracing a sense of play, and explores the possibilities of multimedia, collage, and unfired clay. A tremendous body of work. Artist walkthroughs scheduled for Jul 11 and Aug 16.
Fans of graphic design, bold color, and the playful possibilities of language in space, as well as language as shape and form, will get a kick out of this bold exhibit. I was unaware (until I read the liner notes, as I like to call them) that there was an entire movement related to dimensional and graphic text, a "visual, verbal, and sonic experiment" that took place in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.
Casa Wabi is a non-profit organization that promotes collaboration and social commitment through art. "Convinced that a personal encounter with art has a positive impact," Casa Wabi was created by Mexican artist Bosco Sodi. Wabi-Sabi represents a vision of the world focused on the acceptance of the ephemeral and the imperfect.
Artist and Macarthur Fellow Ann Hamilton shot the video above in conjunction with an exhibit at the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage. "What is here, what is close, what you can experience and then what is less visible and what you draw up, from underneath, the thing that is not visible or said." "Very few times in our lives we are not touching cloth, so cloth is the hand that is constantly touching us."
Mend is a sea of porcelain houses, broken and mended: representing the heart as home – a safe nourishing place. When we experience trauma, our walls crack, our foundations shift and our identity, as we know it, changes. The scars and fissures are signs of wisdom. Link to more images of Lisa's striking work below.
Next Thurs from 6 to 8 pm at the Angel City Brewery in DTLA, Textile Arts | LA member Mimi Haddon will offer a block printing and beer workshop. Create your own foam stamps to experiment with print techniques, colorful block patterns and stamping on fabric. This event is hosted by the Craft and Folk Art Museum and will be held at Angel City Brewery at 216 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012. I have an extra ticket for the first person who responds they'd like to join me, or rsvp yourself via the link below.
Snark alert: the photo above sums up the futile, mind-numbing experience of this immersive art event. Held within the now-empty, 150,000 sq ft Van de Kamp bakery warehouse on the outskirts of DTLA, this "monumental, multiple-media, socially engaged art and documentary experience" became infamous as the site of the $200,000 selfie snafu. Bonus: I had my tarot read for the first time.
This show boasts an exuberantly colorful assemblage of print textiles, offering a commentary on literacy, politics, commerce, status, and more. Complete outfits mix with stunning b&w photos to tell a complex history of the print cloth trade in West and Central Africa. Featuring styles from Ghana, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, and Senegal.
The Blackboard Gallery will host an exhibit from California Fibers now through May 6. Work from the 17 artists on display address the theme of “Time." Inventive, unexpected, dimensional. A panel discussion with Carrie Burckle, Mary Beth Schwartzenberger, Cameron Taylor-Brown, and Lori Zimmerman is scheduled for Sat, April 22 at 1 PM.
Somebody special introduced me to The Last Bookstore. I'd become so discouraged by the closing of independent bookshops I'd stopped believing any existed. New and used books, vinyl records!, a yarn shop ('cause you know what they say about text and textiles!) and live events. See for yourself, soon. Their motto: "What are you waiting for? We won't be here forever."
Bicycling the streets of Los Angeles with camera in hand, Tony shoots textures, color, the discarded, worn out, and left behind. His body of work was collected and published by Verb Editions as True Image, four color offset on tabloid newsprint; edition of 1000 designed by David Blankenship for Because.
Not beautiful in any traditional sense, these paintings are a master class in the human form and landscape, as felt rather than seen. I found the work viscerally shocking, frequently uncomfortable, messy even. On a related note: Did you know you can walk down the access road back to the parking lot? Terrific for nighttime views of the glimmering lights on the 405.
A visually arresting and complex show, Uncommon Threads highlights several artists' interpretations of the same curatorial directive: to stay within the box. For sheer delight factor, and nostalgia for my grandmother, Gere Kavanaugh's piece was a favorite. Check out her site for a dive through her wide-ranging influence on the LA visual scene. Through January 15.
Cuban artist Hector Frank is showing at Bryant Toth Fine Art, in a pop-up at Platform that runs through Sept 17. Frank's expressive figures, built up in a variety of collaged techniques, are striking. I cut this guy off at the neck – it's worth a looksee to experience the full effect of the work. Plus the gallery is across from Van Leeuwen ice cream.
Celebrated textile artist Ann Hamilton's recent work is on display at Gemini G.E.L. on Melrose Ave. This exhibit includes screenprints and blind-emboss etchings with hand-applied inks. At her opening last Saturday, which I attended with fiber artist Barbara Bryn Klare, we were able to get a behind-the-scenes look at the working print space and see Richard Serra's latest editions in progress.
As part of a personal exploration into the metaphors underpinning textiles and mending and their expression in art and craft, I was excited to see CAFAM's Material as Metaphor exhibit. The work is all from contemporary artists working in the western United States who "generate large-scale fiber forms through experimentation with gravity, process, and mass."
Hauser & Wirth is a contemporary art gallery, bookstore, urban garden and farm (oy, there are chickens!!), host-er of a restaurant – Manuela – and event space. Whew! I didn't know what to look at first. Jason Rhoades' neon assemblage was leaving, so I started there. If you're interested in joining me for a return visit, email here.
I met Mario in a previous chapter of our lives and became an immediate fan of Slanguage (a multi-disciplinary arts studio he co-runs with Karla Diaz). Mario had a show at the Fabric Workshop and Museum (see Ann Hamilton's post, below left). Title: Books Of Drawings, Beyond Our Dreams, Blame Our Dads, Brains On Drugs, Better Off Dead.
On the other end of the aesthetic spectrum from big city museums – yet equally visually and culturally stimulating – are state fairs. 4H animals, fried foods, local crafts, a ferris wheel, and my great luck: a demolition derby. Among the most viscerally satisfying and wholly unexpected displays of raw aggression and silliness I've ever witnessed. Bring it on.
Wandering around the Getty last weekend I came across a small room featuring Edgar Degas' "Russian Dancers" and an instructive multimedia explanation of his materials (pastels) and process. The effect was a visceral and humanizing peek into the tactile and creative experience of art-making.
As a child growing up outside Washington, D.C. I distinctly recall spending hours staring at Robert Rauschenberg's works in the Smithsonian. I didn't know what "Gemini G.E.L." was, and only now learned the workshop was based in Los Angeles . . . but the power of this creative group to engage my attention has never flagged. Next up on my list of exhibits to explore: The Serial Impulse at LACMA.
Featuring creative and alternative approaches to textile industry waste, “Scraps: Fashion, Textiles and Creative Reuse,” showcases the work of three designers who embrace the tradition of using handcraft to give new life to scraps and cast-offs: Luisa Cevese, founder of Milan-based design studio Riedizioni; Christina Kim, founder of Los Angeles-based brand dosa; and Reiko Sudo, cofounder of Toyko textile design firm Nuno.
"I pledge my life to mending America by being a watchful and vigilant community member; peacefully and firmly fighting racism, sexism, and oppression; crafting spaces where all people are welcome; to continue to create change through call to actions, skill sharing, sewing, and mending; and to persistently persevere in spite of the seeming futility of it all." Stop Shopping Start Sewing
Last summer I had the good fortune to meet the women behind The Weaving Mill, proprietors of 54" and 90" looms that had been sitting dormant in a warehouse re-purposed as a social services agency for developmentally disabled adults. Can technically trained artists harness the production demands of industrial scale equipment and sustain a viable business? Let's hope so.
Although I'm unlikely to make it to Minnesota, this workshop deserves a mention as it will be taught by professional textile educator and new friend Cameron Taylor-Brown, who I met at last year's SDA conference (see below). "Explore a wide range of weaving across different cultures and time periods and closely examine how weave choices dramatically affect our perception of color in cloth."
The Surface Design Association hosted their 2015 conference at Arrowmont, one of our nation's oldest craft schools (and site of devastating fires this past week). How can we develop a business model that captures the value of professional craft work when we have become so reliant on low cost, disposable goods – and are generally so unaware of the alternatives?
Despite the delight I take in language, I was not aware until recently that the the word text comes from the Latin "woven." So we weave stories and we weave textiles, explaining perhaps why this blog of words devotes so much space to textile art. The piece above is from a Surface Design Association exhibit at CAFAM – more images and details via the button below.
Ms. Wada is an proponent of traditional and sustainable practices in fashion and textile production. She is president of the World Shibori Network and founder of Slow Fiber Studios. The 10th International Shibori Symposium was held in Oaxaca in November.
Internationally recognized fiber artist Valya has curated a striking selection of textile and art-to-wear works for this one-woman show at the Branch Gallery (connected to The Knitting Tree LA). Each piece offers an evocative neutral palette and experimental forms. Valya has previously exhibited at Lithuania's National Art Museum, as well as galleries in Laguna and throughout So Cal.