Thursday, 30 June 2011

Sandra Brownlee: Tactile Notebooks workshop II

Yesterday I wrote about last week's workshop with Sandra Brownlee. Sandra brought several suitcases of goodies with her from Halifax, including her notebooks that have fascinated me for the past 16 years. As I shared, I learned a lot from Sandra and my fellow workshoppees (a new word soon to find itself into the next OED) and this week I'm giving my sketchbooks the royal treatment. I'm coating pages with gesso, ink, soil (yes, really!), and other colourful substances. I'm stitching into pages, playing with correction pens and vellum. Thanks to Thea, I'm playing with vellum and ink in different ways. Thanks to Noelle, I'm looking at my tea bags with a new appreciation and I've made a sinfully delicious vegan cashew cream! (Here I restrained myself to only one exclamation mark, but in truth my excitement for the cashew cream is the equivalent of five). Stylish Gitte shared with me her three favourite stores to buy clothes. I learned at least one thing from each workshop participant and a great deal from Sandra. Writing this just makes me want to go straight to my studio.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sandra Brownlee: Tactile Notebooks & the Written Word workshop

Last week I attended Sandra Brownlee's week-long Tactile Notebooks and the Written Word workshop at the beautiful Contemporary Textile Studio Co-operative in Toronto. I learned a lot from Sandra and from my fellow eleven workshop participants and it will take a few weeks for me to absorb and integrate the new materials and techniques into my sketchbook practice and life. I was impressed with Sandra's teaching, her examples, resources, story-telling, and her Wednesday night lecture at the Textile Museum of Canada. The workshop participants amazed me with their openness and generous sharing of tips, ideas, techniques, and resources. Basically, I was blown away by the people and the well-equipped studio. If you have a chance to take a workshop or course with Sandra Brownlee, do so. If you are in the Toronto area, check out the Contemporary Textile Studio Co-op's workshop offerings.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Postcards: Jennifer Angus

Bugs. Who knew they could be so beautiful en masse? Jennifer Angus obviously realized the potential of bugs pinned into repeat patterns ten years ago. The first exhibition that I saw of her insect work was at the now defunct Tusk Gallery in Toronto, on a cold January day in 2002. The show was called Eupholus Bennetti and the above image is the postcard from that exhibition. Prior to her insect installation work, Jenny worked with photo-transferred images on felt that she stitched and embellished. Her imagery on felt brought her critical acclaim, but the insect installations shot her reputation into the stratosphere. In case you are wondering, Eupholus Bennetti is a weevil, an iridescent purple, blue, and green beetle in the family Curculionidae, and it's a beauty.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Quotes: Buechner + Smith

"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace" -- Frederick Buechner

"when it gets right down to it the individuals that are really doing interesting things and changing the world don't seem to [be] paying much attention to the cutting edge technologies. they're too busy conducting experiments, spending time alone, making mistakes, dreaming up new ideas, sitting in the midst of uncertainty...embracing mystery." -- Keri Smith, from her August 5, 2009 blog post

Friday, 24 June 2011

Found: Dots

Posters are a great source of inspiration. The black dots behind the cowboy and the white dots on his shirt caught my eye. The people who put up posters favour one of three techniques: pasting, taping, or stapling. For selfish reasons, I prefer those who staple because after the advertised event, I can carefully remove the poster and bring it home with me. The above poster was taped in place. Thank goodness for cameras.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

More Illustrator fun

© Karen Thiessen 2011 One-colour hexagon pattern
The black-and-white hexagon figure is the first Adobe Illustrator experiment that was worth saving. Just for you, I put it into repeat. While I was a NSCAD student, I hung out with a friend who crocheted. She would crochet a swatch, unravel the whole thing, crochet another swatch, unravel that, and so on. Until I started to relearn how to knit and crochet this past winter, I didn't get it. The same goes for my Adobe Illustrator play. I make patterns, delete the whole file, make more figures and patterns, delete, and so on... until recently. I'm now onto day 50 of learning and practice and I'm beginning to get results worth saving.

The hexagon figure took me a while to make and I learned a lot in the process. I learned how to align figures within each other using the arrow keys and a grid and how to use the blend tool. Now I want to learn how to add colour between each of the black lines, but I haven't discovered the secret yet. I hope it is possible to do this. When I do, I'll share my results. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


© Karen Thiessen 2011 Hexagon pattern
Ta da! Just for you, I learned how to save Adobe Illustrator files as jpegs. As I wrote in my Stain post, I'm finally learning Illustrator and I'm learning it from a book. I now know enough to play with the program and know what I don't know. Huh? Yes, before I didn't know anything and now I have enough knowledge to do certain things, but not enough to do it all. For example, the above design is made up of a figure that I rotated and put into repeat. The figure is made up of six triangles. With the knowledge level that I have, I don't know how to easily align the triangles side-to-side, point-to-point. I'm hoping that eventually I'll reach the lesson where I learn perfect alignment. That would be nirvana, but probably not very Buddhist. 

I now know enough that practicing Illustrator is fun. Everywhere I look I see designs that I want to try replicate in Illustrator, just to see if I can do it. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. Furthermore, Illustrator is invading my thoughts and dreams. Friends who learn second languages tell me that when they start to think and dream in the new language, they are on their way to mastering it. I still have a long way to go in learning this program inside and out, but I'm on the right path!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Postcards: Lynne Heller

Lynne Heller, Cutter Quilt #1 (detail), 2002
Hexagons are a big influence on my thinking these days. I love the possibilities that they offer and how they fit together. This image is a detail of Cutter Quilt #1 by Lynne Heller. The postcard was for a Wide Borders show with Lynne Heller, Lorraine Roy, and Karen Thiessen (me). The show started at the Burlington Art Centre, and then travelled to the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, and finally to the Cambridge Gallery. This postcard is for the Tom Thomson show (2003).

Lynne is a creative polymath: she works with textiles, virtual reality, installation, sound, material culture, web design and she teaches post-secondary art. For the Wide Borders show, she did an installation (called Gift) with 16 channels of sound, recorded interviews and 80 heritage quilts loaned by Jeffrey Alford of Hot Sour Salty Sweet fame. Lynne supplemented her installation with five cutter quilts. Cutter Quilt #1 is a re-imagining of several heritage quilts that were too battered for Jeffrey to repair. Lynne breathed new life into what otherwise may have become landfill. Did you know that hexagons cannot be machine-sewn together: they all must be hand-sewn? Long ago, an unknown woman hand-pieced these hexagons, possibly cut from fabric remnants and old clothing. Lynne used a Dremel tool (probably with the wire brush attachment) to remove the hexagons of fabric to reveal the batting and the architecture of the quilt. How cool is that?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Quotes: Hargadon + Jefferson

"All innovations represent some break from the past––the lightbulb replaced the gas lamp, the automobile replaced the horse and cart, the steamship replaced the sailing ship. By the same token, however, all innovations are built from pieces of the past––Edison's system drew its organizing principles from the gas industry, the early automobiles were built by cart makers, and the first steamships added steam engines to existing sailing ships."
–– Andrew Hargadon, from How Breakthroughs Happen To learn more about Andrew Hargadon visit his website at

"If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature."
–– Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813

Friday, 17 June 2011

More Sandra Brownlee Goodness II

Artwork by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod
Artwork by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod
Artwork by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod
Artwork by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod

Artwork by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod
The last textile reads: "I am becoming more centred as I recommit to being in the studio as my way of life." The top two images are of an unfinished textile "report" that Sandra Brownlee stitched in 1993 for her interim Pew Fellowship report of her trip to India. She tried to write the report on paper but the words just weren't there. After much angst, Brownlee decided to stitch the report so that she could feel the shape of each letter, word, and sentence. Slow stitching on cotton fabric that she bought in Madras did the trick. The words for her conventional report came to her before she finished stitching the story. A finished report on white 8.5" X 11" paper was submitted; the stitched story remains unfinished.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Sandra Brownlee: Tactile Notebooks and the Written Word

Contemporary Textile Studio Co-op presents:

Textile Talk by Sandra Brownlee: Tactile Notebooks and the Written Word

When: Wednesday, June 22, 2011 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm  
Where: Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Avenue, Toronto, Ontario
Tickets: $10.00 (available at the door)

What: Artist Sandra Brownlee will speak about her textile work and creative process. Working in her notebooks, she is motivated by 'haptic' considerations; she uses the sense of touch to stimulate and awaken perception, to guide the making process, and to revive sensitivity in the way she communicates both visually and verbally. Through this practice, she creates tactile pages, playing with materials, techniques and words to make concrete the vital elements of experience. Drawing from this process, her woven textiles unfold intuitively. Her work at the loom is part weaving, part drawing and part writing.

Contemporary Textile Studio Co-op
401 Richmond Street West, Studio 10
Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3A8

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Sandra Brownlee: 3. The Present 2005-2011

* Part three of three
Artwork by Sandra Brownlee; Photography by Keith McLeod
Artwork by Sandra Brownlee; Photography by Keith McLeod
Artwork by Sandra Brownlee; Photography by Keith McLeod
In 2005 Sandra Brownlee returned to her beloved Nova Scotia and bought a bijou house in a mature neighbourhood just outside of Halifax. Her home is cosy, warm, and inviting and it exudes Brownlee's charm and creativity. Her studio occupies two window-lined rooms that once functioned as sun rooms and overlooks lush front and side yards. Her creativity extends outside where, together with a few NSCAD students, she constructed a twig lattice structure that wraps above and around her porch. In time vines will fill the structure to create a living green bower. Around her herb, vegetable, and perennial gardens, Brownlee has constructed short wattle fences. Her home and garden delight and inspire.

A decade of expanded studio focus and teaching children rejuvenated Brownlee and led her back to her weaving practice and to teaching at the university level. The old parameters of scale, weave structure, and materials remain the same but much of the new imagery is calm, spare, and meditative. Brownlee admits that returning to the loom is hard work. She has come full circle and is teaching at NSCAD once again. Each semester she teaches one or two courses to enthusiastic students. Now Brownlee finds teaching college students refreshing. She loves their spirit, hunger, receptivity, desire to express themselves, and their appreciation for her input. She continues to teach young children: this time they are the children of her Halifax-based nieces.

The fruits of ten years of intensive notebook work led Brownlee to develop a workshop called Tactile Notebooks and the Written Word with Anne West, a professor at RISDUntil a few years ago, they taught the workshop together, but now Brownlee teaches it solo. 

As I wrote in this post, Brownlee had a solo show, Departures and Returns, of recent work at the Mary Black Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia in fall 2009. There  she exhibited excisions from her autobiographical bookworks, new finely woven black-and-white imagery, and a few hand-embroidered textiles. Accompanying this exhibition was a video that film-maker Andrea Dorfman shot of Sandra in her studio. A gorgeous catalogue rounded out her offerings.

When I asked her during a telephone interview if she intends to combine her weaving, stitching, notebook and collecting practices into one form, Brownlee replied that "weaving is a pure form, not material-oriented, and very graphic" and thus she intends to keep these practices separate. Well, sort of. On a visit to her studio last August she showed me one of her new projects: paper spinning. She has started to spin photocopies of her notebook pages into thread that she intends to weave with. Brownlee now has a desire to work more coarsely: notebook plus handwriting plus weaving in a more direct, stream-of-conscious way. I can't wait to see the results.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sandra Brownlee: 2. Turning Point and Transition

* This is the second of a multi-part series about artist and weaver Sandra Brownlee
Tactile Notebook page by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod
1) A Turning Point: 1995-1996
How do artists sustain long careers while keeping themselves engaged in the work, healthy, and the work fresh? For those committed to a life in the arts, this is an important question. Some artists repeat themselves in the mid to latter parts of their careers as a result of personal, professional, or financial obligations. Some feel that they have little choice but to continue making the same work in order to satisfy the expectations of their galleries and clientele. Other artists are adverse to learning a new technique or medium and stick to what they already excel at. There is personal, professional, and financial risk in changing a way of working. There is greater risk in continuing on the same path when it no longer satisfies the artist. Here is an account of Sandra Brownlee's courageous decision to revitalize her practice after nearly 30 years of teaching and making.

"Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility." –– Pablo Picasso

"Whatever gets in the way of the work, is the work." –– Jason Shinder, poet

In a 1994 Fiberarts article, Sandra Brownlee is quoted as saying: "Throughout my experience as a weaver I have felt intensely alive (London, 33)." By late 1995, this was no longer the case. Brownlee was 47 years old and had been weaving for 27 years: more than half her lifetime. Suddenly she felt that she was repeating herself and that her work was becoming formulaic. When she sat down at the loom, it felt arid. Furthermore, by 1996 Brownlee felt that she was not able to mentor and guide students at the college level. She had been teaching steadily at a number of art institutions for 25 years, and at that moment she felt that she had nothing relevant to offer. Brownlee had reached a turning point and she needed a change.

London, Peter. “Uncovering The Muse Within.” Fiberarts Magazine. Vol. 21, No. 2 (Sept/Oct. 1994) pp: 28-33.
Tactile Notebook page by Sandra Brownlee, Photography by Keith McLeod
2) Transition or A Change is as Good as a Rest: 1995-2005
By chance Sandra Brownlee discovered the means to launch a decade of creative growth and renewal. In early 1996, she taught a workshop to children that she found rejuvenating and absorbing. In September she let go of her part-time teaching commitment at the University of the Arts and began teaching full-time multidisciplinary art to Kindergarten to grade four girls at the Agnes Irwin Lower School, outside Philadelphia.

Instead of forcing herself to sit at a loom where there was no spark, at the end of 1995 she took a hiatus from weaving actively and channelled her attention to her notebooks. The energy was in the everyday and the notebook, not at the loom. During her first year at Agnes Irwin, Brownlee focussed on exploring and inventing in her notebooks, often filling a page a day. (For more information, I wrote about Brownlee's notebooks in this post and this post.) The energy that she once had teaching at post-secondary art institutions was now found in the classroom with clay, finger paints, and cloth scraps transformed by young imaginations. The students' unbridled curiosity and inventiveness inspired Brownlee to bring childhood art activities into her studio practice. She set aside the many limits that had defined her weaving practice and explored colour, textures, materials, and techniques on a greater scale. The notebooks provided another bonus: unlike a loom, they were portable and Brownlee was now free to create art anywhere.

Out of her newly revitalized notebook practice emerged her Tactile Notebooks series that she started making in 1999, when she shifted to teaching part-time at Agnes Irwin. Cloth Book, My Story and Garden of Joy are two autobiographical book works from this series.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sandra Brownlee: 1. Beginnings 1948-1995

* This is the first of a multi-part series about artist and weaver Sandra Brownlee.
Sandra Brownlee, <i>Unusual Animals #6</i>  (1993), Photo: Jack Ramsdale
Sandra Brownlee, Unusual Animal Series #6 1993. Photo: Jack Ramsdale
Beginnings: 1948-1995
Beyond our genes, we are shaped by family, culture, and landscape. For Sandra Brownlee, these were all found in the environs of Halifax, Nova Scotia where she lived for most of her life until she departed at age 31 to attend graduate school. From early on, Brownlee was clearly a kinaesthetic child who loved the outdoors. Her fondest memories are swimming in the Bedford Basin or wandering in woods scented with lady's slippers and mayflowers, stroking velvety moss, and inhaling crisp, clean air. Brownlee spent a lot of time walking, exploring, and swimming–– closely investigating the sight, scent, and tactility of her surroundings.

Sandra Brownlee knows things through her hands, so it was natural that she would attend the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) to study weaving. From the moment that she first sat down at a loom in 1968, she loved the rhythm, structure, limits, and the gradual building of cloth. When she graduated in 1971, she was armed with a BFA in Textiles and a diploma in Art Education. From her graduation till she departed Nova Scotia in 1979, Brownlee balanced studio work with teaching. She taught part-time at NSCAD and other schools for nine years. During this period, her studio practice was mostly focussed on weaving utilitarian cloth and exploring textile traditions. In 1978, Brownlee had a solo show at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, a harbinger of great things to come. The following year, she made the first of four significant moves when she departed Nova Scotia to attend the prestigious Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. It was there that she started developing the exquisite black-and-white woven imagery that has earned her accolades.

During this period, Brownlee set parameters on her weaving practice to allow her to focus solely on the woven imagery. She limited her palette to black and white, mostly using ubiquitous cotton sewing thread and wove her fine imagery on a countermarch floor loom that she brought back from Finland in the mid-1970s. Furthermore, she limited her scale and weave structure. While at Cranbrook, Brownlee met the love of her life, photographer Jack Ramsdale, and they eloped shortly after graduating from Cranbrook with their MFA degrees. They moved to Toronto so that Brownlee could fill a sabbatical-leave teaching position at Sheridan College. In her four years of living in Toronto, her woven images became more complex and mature and she was recognized with numerous grants and exhibitions.

In 1987, they moved to Philadelphia so that she could fill a another sabbatical teaching position, this time for the esteemed Warren Seelig at the University of the Arts. From 1987 to 1996 she balanced her weaving practice with teaching at several art institutions including: University of the Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, the Tyler School of Art, and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India. Beyond these schools, she taught workshops at Haystack and Penland, and in 1994 Brownlee had a residency at the renowned Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia. She received the ultimate recognition of her innovative woven imagery with a 1995-1996 solo exhibition, Weaving Out Loud, at the Museum for Textiles in Toronto, that toured to other galleries in Canada and the United States. This show was a mid-career survey of close to 15 years of her woven textiles. 

Brownlee's career flourished with teaching, grants, awards, noteworthy exhibitions, her woven imagery adapted into a book GRRRHHHH: a study of social patterns, and more. Unfortunately her marriage to Jack Ramsdale was over by the time she returned from a teaching stint in India in 1993. Given the intensity of this era, it was no wonder that by 1995, Brownlee's creative stores were depleted and she needed a change. 

Friday, 10 June 2011

More Rebecca Vidotto goodness

Rebecca Vidotto's show at Loose Canon is over, but I had to share more images of her work. Yes, I am gushing: it's not often that I am knocked off my feet by an emerging artist. I went back to the gallery on a quiet day and was able to photograph her work to my heart's content. The top photo is an overall shot of her installation and the rest are details. Yes, those are teeth in the bottom photo. Now, how cool is that! For more information about Rebecca Vidotto, see my May 19 post. As I wrote before, Rebecca Vidotto is an emerging artist with extraordinary talent: she's one to watch.

Here is her artist statement:
what will become of you?
i was left standing in the wilderness and a thousand nights went by, all blurring into one. it was here that i met many prophets, providing excitations in every direction. but, nothing is static, not that it ever was. i'm tongue tied, dizzy, my palms sweat and i'm restless. it is time to get out of here, it is time to move on. don't delay me, this is the preservation of balance, this is inevitiablity [sic]. the excavations of this place have all run dry. this is what i've found, this is what i will take with me. for where these treasures are, my heart is also. this is an enthography [sic], and i just can't keep it to myself.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Penny Power: New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale

Penny Power is a fun Mennonite Central Committee initiative where people of all ages collect spare change and bring it to their local Mennonite relief sale. This year some creative folks constructed a board with small pegs that caught the coins as people dropped them through the upper slot. The upper and lower images reveal the progress from the beginning to the end of the New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale. The crazy thing is that all the loose change is counted and rolled by hand by a team of volunteers. All money collected goes toward MCC's local and global initiatives. Your small change can lead to big change.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Fibre with a Difference: Nui Project

Sandra Brownlee introduced me to the Nui Project 1 and 2 books during a visit to her studio last summer. Sandra had prepared for my visit with piles of books to show me, plus examples of her own work both inside and out. I've written about Sandra before and I'll write more about this remarkable woman another time. When I returned home to Ontario, the Nui Project images and story were still dancing in my head (no visions of sugar plums for me) so I ordered both books from Yoshiko Wada's website. Like my posts about Judith Scott and Hannelore Baron, it is difficult to convey my deep admiration for the intuitive textile work of the Nui Project participants. The Nui Project is a group of male and female textile artists who have intellectual disabilities and live in a facility called Shobu Gakuen in Kagoshima, Japan. The Nui Project textile artists embroider ready-made shirts to be sold as commercial products and the results are spectacular. The shirts aren't all wearable but function more as remarkable sculptural objects. Each artist has his or her own distinct style.

The top textile is by Atsushi Yoshimoto and is on the cover of the Nui Project 1 book; the middle image of the shirt is by Mikio Hamada and a coordinator (image found in Nui Project 1 book, page 22); the bottom shirt is by Naoki Fujimura and Aki Nozawa and the image is found in Nui Project 2, page 38.

For more information and images about this project check out these websites:

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Postcards: Seth

In 2009, Seth, aka Gregory Gallant, exhibited a model town called Dominion. The exhibit, organized by the University of Waterloo Art Gallery, travelled across Canada and the United States. Seth constructed the model town as a study for his fictional town Dominion that he immortalized in his graphic novel George Sprott. He constructed the town from humble cardboard that he painted with great detail.
Check out this website to view six of the buildings.  

A room of cardboard buildings opened my world. Before visiting Dominion I had never read a graphic novel. After Dominion, I read every one of Seth's graphic novels and then moved on to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis and then Neil Gaiman's Coraline. Persepolis is a powerful memoir in graphic novel format. What grabbed me was how Satrapi told her story in stark black-and-white. The strong images are burned into my memory. If you have never read a graphic novel, go now to your nearest library or bookstore and give it a try. You might be surprised: I know I was.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Quotes: Förster + Da Vinci

"The computer is a tool; I can't do without it. But the nice thing about making models is that in the process of doing, I'm more open to mistakes – maybe I put the tape in a way that I don't intend, but it shows a new possibility. In a computer everything is perfect. When I make models, it's intuitive and rough: I take a flat piece of paper, I cut it, I tape it. It's very quick. I find it very refreshing." 
-- Monica Förster, Stockholm furniture designer. 
Quote found in the May 2011 Dwell magazine, page 52. To view Monica Förster's work check out her website

"Stand still and watch the patterns, which by pure chance have been generated: Stains on the wall, or ashes in the fireplace, or the clouds in the sky, or the gravel on the beach or other things. If you look at them carefully you might discover miraculous inventions." -- Leonardo Da Vinci

Friday, 3 June 2011

Evelyn Kelch: Well Dressed Man

Evelyn Kelch Eyelet 
Evelyn Kelch Gun 
Evelyn Kelch's graphic design training is evident in her crisp, clean surrealist collages. A modern-day Hannah Höch, Kelch constructs her precise images from current magazines and with the exception of Gun, most of the 14 framed collages are black-and-white. The work is so seamless that I had to look closely to determine that the collages weren't photographic prints. The images are cool-toned and have a feel of machine-made stainless steel men. 

Evelyn Kelch's exhibit Well Dressed Man is showing at You Me Gallery until June 5 and it is paired with Kathy Renwald's Seek ShelterKelch's collages provide a contrast to Kathy Renwald's loose three-dimensional assemblages. The pairing of Kelch and Renwald is brilliant: go see for yourself.

Evelyn Kelch Well-Dressed Man #1

Kathy Renwald: Seek Shelter

Kathy Renwald Building #1 2011
Kathy Renwald Building #1 detail 2011
Kathy Renwald Building #7 2011
Kathy Renwald Building #7 2011
Kathy Renwald Building #7 2011
Kathy Renwald has the Midas touch: everything she does, she does well. When she isn't writing about gardens or cars, she's up to her elbows in paper, cardboard, tape, glue and tacks creating her own models of Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau. Her show, Seek Shelter, is on at you me gallery in Hamilton until June 5. Renwald has been collaging for over ten years and two years ago she turned to attention to assemblage and the results are stunning. The sculptures could easily be models for avant garde stage sets for Cirque du Soleil.

Her artist statement reads:
"Buildings in decay, in rebirth, attacked by wind and water, blown apart, put back together again.
Plywood, plastic, cardboard, tin, tape, glue and tacks, whatever it takes to shut out chaos and create shelter.
My shelters were built with urgency, without method, in a rush to outfox the shifting earth."

Paired with Renwald's Seek Shelter is Evelyn Kelch's Well Dressed Man that I will write about in a separate post. Renwald and Kelch are a brilliant pairing. If you haven't already seen the show, go before it's too late.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Kearon Roy Taylor: Photolithography

Kearon Roy Taylor Geist/Superposition 2011
Kearon Roy Taylor Everything & Nothing 2011
Kearon Roy Taylor Untitled (Jaws) 2011
Run, don't walk, to Loose Canon to see The Sky is Not Only Beautiful because it closes June 3. All good things come to an end. As you enter the gallery, Kearon Roy Taylor's photolithographs command your attention and provide a contrast to the equally strong Rebecca Vidotto installation. Printed on plywood, Taylor's artworks are about 2' X 4' in size and they are nicely spaced in the gallery so that each piece has room to breathe. The warmth of the wood allow the images to sit back and invite you to contemplate them. Geist/Superposition and Untitled (Jaws) are a convincing hybrid of photography and Op Art (and they are my favourite pieces). Taylor is a 2011 graduate of the studio art program at McMaster University and was awarded the McMaster Museum of Art Museum Award. Kearon Roy Taylor is another emerging artist to watch.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Quilts: New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale

On Saturday I got up bright and early to attend the 44th annual New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale. If you have never attended such an event, you may wonder what one does. Basically you eat, visit, bid on quilts, eat, visit, bid on household goods and old tractors, eat and visit. Every year the quilt auction attracts diehard collectors who arrive the day before to preview the quilts, secure their seats, and register for their bidding numbers. The quilt in the top photo appears to be #053 Double Irish Chain. Some quilts are subject to fierce bidding. In 2003, a woman attended the sale to buy a strawberry pie and went home with the $44,000 feature quilt "Kaleidoscope of Nations." All proceeds from the sale go to Mennonite Central Committee's work around the world.