By Susan Froyd
By Byron Graham
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davies
By Josiah M. Hesse
By Bree Davies
By Susan Froyd
By Kate Gibbons
One of the few exceptions is "Clashy, Trashy Feathered Stars," by Faye Anderson, a more or less traditional quilt made of nine quilt squares each featuring an eight-sided star medallion. It has been hand-pieced, quilted and trimmed in black, with the rolled edge of the red-colored backing serving as a frame. But Anderson confronts tradition by incorporating what she herself calls "ugly fabrics" in jarring color juxtapositions. She has carefully joined the fabrics, some of which have been printed with pictures of televisions or insects, to create an easy-to-read rhythm of light and dark.
Janet Robinson's "Urban Jungle-August 1994" is a pictorial quilt. Both printed fabrics and hand-dyed and hand-stamped fabrics have been machine-appliqued and -quilted. The quilt depicts a tree with a bower of leaves that on closer examination turn out to be a riot of images of food, playing cards and money. Perched among the leaves are birds. The background is covered with lurid black-on-white newspaper headlines from August 1994, such as "Shots From Car Kill Man" and "Nude Body Found."
Many of the stand-out works in The Artist and the Quilt look to geometric abstract painting for inspiration. This is particularly true of the two pieces by Diana Bunnell, most notably "Windows," which is made of strips of painted canvas attached to a backing--also made of painted canvas. The edges of the canvas strips, laid out log-cabin style, are frayed. Bunnell exaggerates the fraying by pulling and tying the errant threads and drawing additional "frays" with oil pastel. This same effect is seen in Bunnell's other piece, "Totaled Too," a four-panel work whose topic, inspired by a car accident, is a shattered windshield.
Another quilter whose interests apparently encompass both geometric abstraction and narrative content is Lynn Mattingly, whose "Fire in the Rock" seems to suggest a forest fire. Using preprinted fabrics with a predominance of red, orange, burgundy and pink, Mattingly creates a minimal abstraction with rows of short vertical bars, each row connected by a long horizontal bar in the same fabric. By cutting up and reassembling the fabrics, Mattingly turns even recognizable objects into little more than patterns or swaths of color. The maple-leaf fabric in the lower center, for example, provides a necessary touch of green in the otherwise mostly red piece.
Bunnell and Mattingly aren't the only quilters in the show who utilize the nature of their materials as an artistic device. Many of these works at first seem to be variations on abstract paintings--but they are not painted; rather, they are pieced and sewn. For example, machine-sewn zigzags and cable stitches in metallic thread hold Patricia Joy's "Mind Maze II" together, both visually and literally. In that beautiful abstract, triangles of fabric have been joined with light-colored handmade fibrous paper that has the consistency of lint.
Sewing techniques are also a big part of the visual appeal of Carol Moe's "Manhattan Fever," for which the artist strip-pieced fabric, cut the sewn fabric on the diagonal, then resewed and machine-quilted it. Moe has laid brightly colored bars vertically, then offset them with a few horizontal bars. Framing the piece are various shades of red fabric that have been sewn together.
Fancy mechanized stitching likewise shows up in Karla Price's "Textures," an elaborate arrangement of rectangles mostly expressed in muted earth-tone colors such as sage green or mustard yellow. The color panels have been embellished with prominent stitching, often following circular lines, which creates a pattern against the plain fabrics chosen by Price.
The quilts in The Artist and the Quilt are well-crafted, and the woodcuts included in the Carol Summers show have been executed to a supremely high standard. And if the unspeakably hot weather makes it difficult even to contemplate the undertaking of such arduous labors, rest assured that it's to your benefit to take a good, long look anyway.
Carol Summers: A Graphic Odyssey, through September 14 at CSK Gallery and David Cook Fine American Art, 1637 Wazee Street, 436-9236.
The Artist and the Quilt '96, through August 28 at the MSCD Center for the Visual Arts, 1701 Wazee Street, 294-5207.
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