Textile news

MAY 2017

Quilts by Ann Johnston at the Bellevue Arts Museum

Ann Johnston, The Contact: Talus (2016), 87 x 56 in. (Talus slope or deposit, a slope formed by an accumulation of broken rock debris, as at the base of a cliff or other high place, also called scree.)

Until June 11, surface designer Ann Johnston will have 32 works on view in The Contact: Sierra Nevada, Dyed and Stitched at the Bellevue Arts Museum (Bellevue, Washington). This fiber-friendly venue, located across Lake Washington from Seattle, is well worth a visit. The Contact features imagery that visitors of the Sierra Nevada might recognize—bands of colors in the earth, mineral-rich rock layers that have been squeezed and heated over centuries, mountain peaks, lakes, and rock formations. The word “contact” in the exhibition’s title has a double meaning. It refers to a place where geologic units touch each other as well as alluding to the human influence on the landscape. Johnston described The Contact: Talus for my blog readers: “Midday sun casts small, sharp shadows on granite fallen from cliffs above. Some pieces are fresh and look like they broke off yesterday; others are overgrown by lichen or weathered to sand. We arrive to cast shadows and squint in the brightness, diminished by the grandeur.”



Growing Power: Quilts by Jane Sassaman at the National Quilt Museum

Jane Sassaman, Cosmic Star (2007), 61 x 61 in. Photo by Gregory Gantner.

Quilt artist Jane Sassaman has produced some 90 works featuring fabric designed by her, of which 16 are on view in her solo show at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. Sassaman says, “This is an unusual show in that it is not about spectacular workmanship, but about making a spectacular quilt with spectacular fabrics. In most cases, the construction is pretty basic and the fabric does all the work. These quilts were specifically made to showcase the fabric. I consider my fabric designs to be ‘art by the yard.’ They are very graphic and have a definite personality and attitude. That’s why I call them ‘personality’ prints. The motifs are similar to those in my appliqued art quilts, but are printed on yardage instead. This is also the purpose of my book, Patchwork Sassaman Style. I have come to see designing commercial fabrics as contributing to the design of my time. We date vintage quilts by their fabrics and we will do the same when our quilts get older, too. Contemporary design reflects our time through color, subject, scale, materials, etc. Just as, for another example, the commercial linen embroidery kits sold during the Bungalow Movement (Arts and Crafts influence) represented a particular lifestyle that revered nature and through stylized design.” Museum curator Judy Schwender remarks, “I am so excited about this exhibit!  One thing that I hope people take away is that you can make a very simply constructed quilt from dramatic fabrics and it becomes something very special.” On view until July 11.



David Begbie’s Solo Exhibition in London

One of David Begbie’s wire mesh sculptures, with shadow, in his London solo show.





Cutting Edge by noted sculptor David Begbie opened on April 26 in Contini Art UK, exploring the nature of beauty in the context of masculinity and femininity as defined by contemporary society. Begbie’s subtle introduction of androgynous elements prompts a reconsideration of gender, and his manipulation of light through wire mesh figural forms creates shadows—sometimes distorted—that question assumptions about spatial relationships and perception. The exhibition closes on May 31.



 Modern Quilt Guild at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Christa Watson, Modern X (2014), an example of the Modern Quilt Guild aesthetic.


Extending through two galleries in the museum, Modern Quilt Guild presents 36 works by as many artists in the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG), founded in 2009 and now with thousands of members worldwide. Bold and graphically focused, these quilts follow and expand upon the tenets of the MQG movement, including solid colors, minimalism, and manipulation of the grid. Amy DiPlacido, exhibition coordinator, tells us, “The show is fresh insight into the direction of contemporary quilting.” Closing on July 16.





London’s Fashion and Textile Museum

Josef Frank, printing block for Spring (1925-1930, one of his early designs).

Josef Frank, Spring printed textile (the printing block motifs are reversed).

Last month I promised to share more information about the Josef Frank exhibition of Swedish Modern textiles in London, and in April I had the opportunity to visit this small but chock-full venue located not too far from the famous Tower of London. Very informative, the show included printed textiles alongside Frank’s actual printing blocks and drawings of the motifs, several pieces of furniture upholstered in his fabrics, and an entire gallery of Frank watercolors, in which textiles figure significantly. My photos here give you a taste of the exhibition and the gallery space.







Josef Frank, drawing for Poison (1943-1945, while living in New York City, depicting some of the plant stimulants found in the western hemisphere).

Josef Frank, Poison printed textile.












Josef Frank, gallery of textiles in London’s Fashion and Textile Museum (April 2017),

Josef Frank, Watercolor (1950s, in Provence, after he stopped designing textiles).

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