Everywhere I turn, I’m seeing beauty in the world. Yes, the snow, and also the handwork of so many startlingly talented people from today and history.
The Guilford Arts Center has a crisp show of Connecticut-made contemporary quilts, “Local Color: Connecticut Stories.”
I was impressed by the landscape and genre character of many of the quilts.
Paula Klingerman, Happily Every After
And the number of artists using the photographer as part of the image.
Rita Daley Hannafin, Snapshot
Kate Themel, Self-Portrait
Talk about mixed media!
With quilts, part of the pleasure is the texture. I like this work that mixes different kinds of needlework.
Detail, Karen Loprete
This work reminded me of Miriam Schapiro’s exhibit at the National Academy of Design Museum. A must see!
Once she got past what the art world was doing and found her own voice, in alignment with 1970s feminism, Schapiro’s work is simply breathtaking in its decorative design and message power.
Miriam Schapiro, Blue Burst Fan, 1979, acrylic and collage on canvas
Here, she shows us a traditional female object–the fan–and creates a form of high art from what male critics deemed low-art. Together, with Judy Chicago, Schapiro reshaped the dialogue about what art was and how to bring the woman artist out of anonymity.
On the wall label, she is quoted from 1977, “I wanted to validate the traditional activiites of women, to connect myself to the unknown women artists who had made quilts, who had done the invisible ‘women’s work’ of civilization.”
Detail, Blue Burst Fan
Schapiro coined a term femmage to describe this art form that is created by a woman, has women-centric themes, and uses mixed media, patterns, and narrative. The definition is even more detailed that I just relayed and is a bit prescriptive for me. I don’t know that the term has taken off, but this outstanding show demonstrates how important she was for opening doors to today’s artists, including the quilters at the Guilford Arts Center.
I love this piece, which my friend Helen describes as a transition from her early work of hard-edge abstraction to her own voice of femmage.
Miriam Schapiro, Lady Gengi’s Maze, 1972
is she referencing the amazing illustrations in Tales of Genji, the world’s first novel?
For a little wow factor, it never hurts to stop in at the Met. Although I was headed to another exhibit, I was delayed by Diana and Her Chariot. This video gives you some sense of her magic.
Automaton Clock in the form of Diana and Her Chariot, German, c1610
Her eyes move with the tick-tock of the seconds, the leopards leap up and down, the wheels of the chariot move, the monkey raises and lowers that hand with the ball, and yes, Diana shoots the arrow!
The “Luxury of Time” exhibit is full of such beauty and grace and magic. Fun, too, when the clocks go off on the quarter hour.
Clockmaker: Paul Gudin Le Jeune, figures by the Meissen Factory, Flowers by Vincennes Manufactory, c1750
I was enchanted by this Rococo clock, with it’s ‘hand-kiss’ group and elegant flowers. Charmant!
How’s this for a souvenir?
Watchmaker: Firm of Vacheron and Constantin, c1844
If you went on the Grand Tour, and didn’t want to schlep a lot of art around, you could pick up this pocket watch, with its view of St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican etched in. Pretty nifty.
I would like one of these though, even better.
Watchmaker: Abraham Vacheron Girod (Swiss), 1832
Watchmaker: Nicolaus Rugendas the Younger, c1670
What I was actually headed toward is the special exhibition of Artistic Furniture of the Gilded Age. Oh my goodness!
Dazzling. Ah, what a little money will do. Here are some of my favorites.
Cabinet, made in New York City, 1884-5, Rosewood, mahogany, cherry, pine, pewter, brass, mother-of-pearl inlay
Imagine the mother-of-pearl inlay in the star pattern shimmering in candlelight.
Side Chair, New York City, 1881-5, mahogany, other woods, mother-of-pearl, brass, copper, pewter, upholstery
Who’s sitting in this chair? Well, everyone who comes to visit (and hopefully has a small bum). It’s one of a set.
Herter Brothers, Secretary, from the Jay Gould House, New York City, 1882
As with many of the objects I was attracted to, this dense inlay in the floral pattern recalls the then-fashionable Near Eastern patterns. I talked with a woodworker who was mesmerized by the piece. They just don’t make ’em like this any more…
Bedstead, carved for Elizabeth Love Marquand (daughter of the 2nd president of the Met), 1881-4
Women weren’t the only anonymous artists. This bed was likely carved by an expert immigrant who brought his skills to the U.S.
Those anonymous artists are lost to us today, but fortunately, we can still melt into the magnificence of what they left behind.