Wednesday, August 19, 2015

road trip--encampment

A hot hazy day in western Massachusetts. Thunderstorms in the forecast. Summer in the Berkshires. Tuesday. My free day.

The previous days I had had several great conversations. What inspires you? How do you get ideas? What do you look at from the corner of your being--not to copy but to observe and learn. These conversations with other artists at the Berkshire Craft Show are part of what makes doing shows so inspiring for me. The conversations had continued at the studio--a young artist who is trying to create her own style of art quilts. A phone interview I had for a feature article (more on that at a later date.) The writer had studied my quilts and asked probing questions.

Time for a road trip to MASS MoCA in North Adams. Now MASS MoCA is a true national treasure. So much art in a reused industrial complex. There is always something new and exciting to see. I go there as often as I can--frequently in winter. But there were new exhibits. Buildings that are not open then. Enough to see that we could wander and gaze until we had had enough.

I loved the photographs of Clifford Ross and especially digital video where he deconstructed the images into colors that danced through space in ways that a quilt maker could only dream about. The blue color washes of Liz Deschenes intrigued me in their simple complexity. Jim Shaw's cartoonish renditions of contemporary American politics were interesting but did not grab me.

So I was not sure what to expect when I entered Francesco Clemente's Encampment exhibit. At first you just see six colorful tents camped out in the large room that you can walk through. I started quickly just scanning the paintings done in collaboration with craftspeople of Rajastan, Do you see all the sketches on the surface. This could be studied for a long time.

Then I started looking more closely at the designs--such wonderful graphics, so many great colors--and I got caught up in seeing more and more possibilities and wonder within the tents.

Wouldn't those be great designs for my new circle quilts. Well not just like that but as a sketch--a starting point?

Don't you just love the colors?

And consider the possibilities here. Yes, this is all painted on canvas with the depth only from the perspective used.

And another wonderful design. What fun that would be to sketch out. Maybe it could be used for another project I am working on. Hmmm.

And even more of a challenge. Great concept though isn't it?

And of course there is this amazing beehive design. All I can say is wow.

And of course the wonderful use of greys and dark browns here. So archetypal. Not a "design" that I would use but so powerful in its own right.

Well I could go one. So many more wonderful paintings up stairs. Such great colors. And I still haven't shown you all of MASS MoCA. Maybe I need to go back myself and study these more. I want to.

Have you seen this show? Are you planning a road trip? What inspires you? How do you look at things differently? The website for the Museum is And don't forget--my studio in Shelburne Falls is about 20 miles away--just saying.