Dianne Denholm, director of the TACtile Textile Arts Center in Tamarac Square, is seriously proud – and a little bit scared – of the leap she’s taken there, but she’s also excited, now that the center has earned nonprofit status and is beginning to get off the ground (here’s what we said about it in this year’s Best of Denver). The former owner of D’Lea’s, a longtime fixture in Cherry Creek North known for its quality fabrics and unusual buttons, Denholm hopes to have a daily class schedule in place by the fall, offering everything from workshops in weaving and dyeing to a cozy, good old-fashioned stitch and bitch. If all goes well, the center, which provides work and exhibit space for a variety of fiber artists and guilds, will serve not only the veteran fiber folks, but maybe a contingent of the new DIY crowd, as well: The young, self-taught novices who would like to improve their skills. “If they really learn it, they’ll be more empowered,” Denholm says, implying the challenge of it.
When she gave me a tour of the center not long ago, the first thing I realized is that Dianne herself is a work of art. This is a woman with flair: Her short red-gold hair pulled back nonchalantly by sunglasses, she wore a twinkle in her eye, beautiful jewelry and accessories, a pale blue brocade shirt over equally pale green silk pants, matched by fabric covered sandals in the same shade of green, from which her toenails, painted the same silver-blue color of her shirt, peeked unexpectedly. And she looked perfectly home in the gallery, surrounded by the plethora of woven, pieced, dyed and stitched masterpieces that comprise TACtile’s first annual Member Showcase exhibit.
Because the show was unjuried, Denholm didn’t really know what to expect on her doorstep, but she ended up with a little piece of handmade heaven, including works by artists who are booked for shows elsewhere well into next year. The array, which attests to the painstakingly technical minds of fiber artists, will boggle the mind of any art-wear fashionista worth her singularity and salt, beginning on the high end with Leslie Molen’s exquisitely costumed dolls and rabbits with hand-painted silk faces and the miniature beadwoven robes of Nancy Zellars, which effortlessly put poor Bob Mackey Barbie to shame.
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From there, the exhibit trickles all the way down, through layers of gorgeous quilted jackets, hand-dyed and painted wraps, color-splashed African-influenced beaded jewelry, delicate purses decorated with feminine photo transfers, puckered silk-and-wool-felt scarves and cheeky baskets, to the most affordable little fabric tissue or glasses cases, as well as a small store of beautiful fabric yardage – “to help people realize how things are made from parts and pieces,” Denholm notes. “It’s like food these days – you eat it, but you don’t really know where that comes from anymore.”
If all goes according to plan, Denholm’s baby, modeled after the Textile Center in Minneapolis, will continue to exhibit and sell such works in the gallery-style front end of the space, while hosting workshops, lectures and guild meetings in the large back end, where there’s also a neatly organized dyeing studio tucked away. Its momentum kept going by the close-knit textile community, a hard-working board and Denholm’s vision, TACtile, 7777 E. Hampden Avenue, Ste. 114, in Tamarac Square, sews up a real need in Denver. Go check out this lovely needle in the haystack.
– Susan Froyd