Saturday, November 20, 2010

musings on patterns and the Washington Craft Show

As I ride the escalators--and there are several of them--up to Level D of the Convention Center to do the Washington Craft Show I am struck by the patterns around me. The building itself is a wonderful modern building of steel and stone and glass in great geometric designs and constantly shifting shadows.

Inside there are  reflections from the windows. A massive open space and some wonderful installations. But--maybe because I am a fabric person--my eye is drawn to the carpet. Check it out if you get a chance. The basic overall pattern--so simple and yet complex of the design. Note the little red blocks that pop against the soft blues.

The center area has more design--great arches matching the lines of the building. Then the  burnt orange--red guiding you to the stairs. Standing in this focal area the first time I felt the glow of the colors. Try it--subtle and magical.

Further patterns of the admissions kiosk--clearly a Sol Lewitt design. So geometric and beckoning. Playful and joyous in its celebratory colors. So much more to see outside the show but I want time to peruse the aisles while I still can.

I am delighted that my friend Liz Alpert Fay is showing. Liz is one of those multi-talented artists. In one life she was a wonderful quilt maker. Then she began making hooked rugs that kept the charm of the tradition while also having a contemporary feel. Now she has moved on to mixed media. There are some small wall hangings where she uses shapes in nature to create very unique juxtapositions of shape and form--worth studying. A sculpture made by stringing filaments of a plant similar to a thistle on fishing wire with the seeds falling to the bottom. Wonderful in its graceful and simplicity.

My favorite though is her tribute to her chickens. This is the most personal of her pieces I feel. She and her family have four chickens and she wanted to convey the inattention we currently have for where our food comes from with the beauty and the diversity that the chickens provide.

An interesting piece worth studying both for its wonderful patterns--the circles of the eggs and the hooked rugs. The thought that went into the labeling of the eggs. In the center is the first egg--as a farm girl I remember what a treat it was when finally the pullets started laying eggs--at first tiny eggs. So special and such a celebration of life.

The other eggs show the diversity of sizes and colors that eggs come in--all from her chickens. There is something very personal about this--so different from store bought eggs. The rug is one of her hooked rugs. This time she included facts about chickens that we don't often know. Again there is the wonderful humanity of the rug--round, exquisitely crafted but still made by a person. I want to spend the time to absorb the text.

However I must also spend a bit of time appreciating the charm of Carolyn  Beard Whitlow's quilts. Oh what an interesting person she seems--I didn't realize until I checked her website that she is also a Professor of English and an accomplished poet. As she said, she is improvising on the African American tradition to create poetry with her quilts using fine quality fabrics collected  from the Caribbean, Ghana and the United States she cuts them into small pieces and then pieces them into fabric collage with a sure knowledge of color and effect. What an exuberant and complex use of color.

And yet just as the viewer might get overwhelmed by the color and intensity there is the border enclosing and containing the color. Brilliant and sophisticated.

But alas the show starts and I return to my booth to see what the day may hold. Hopefully I can see more of the show tomorrow morning. See how the pattern will influence my work. And you--what patterns have you noticed recently?

1 comment:

  1. Ann, thanks so much for the vivid report from the show. Wish I still lived in DC so I could be there. Good luck!