Saturday, November 01, 2014

adriatic jessie furrow

I wanted to make sure the last chapters of my life were full, and painting, it turns out, has helped occupy not only space but opened my mind.  George W. Bush

(OK, stay with me here-  I start aimlessly wandering around but it DOES eventually turn into a circle with a bow tied on top!)

“The personal journey for most artists starts with enthusiasm and joy and ends, if the artist does not have huge success, in embarrassed children taking their dead parents’ work to the dump.” 
                     Bob and Roberta Smith:  Art Amnesty at MoMA PS1

And this, the manifesto for art in schools:
(enlarge this or go to the website above and find the readable copy)

My day started out normal enough, the dog pawing the side of the bed telling me its time to go out, dragging myself out from under the blankets I don't remember adding, and being greeted by frigid temperatures!  Here in south Florida we don't usually have to put on furry slippers but it was darn chilly this morning!  Supposed to be in the 40's tonight and only a high in the 60's tomorrow so the slippers are staying on!  As is the heat.  First time I've turned that on in years.  

After the trot outside, I started the coffee and then the dog soup for the week-  I buy bulk legs and thighs and add carrots, celery, and green beans and let it slowly simmer for an hour or two-  they love it.  And I turned to Facebook.  Mostly these days it's pictures of Houston and colorful quilts, but frankly some of them leave me scratching my head or even dropping my jaw in disbelief.  The phrase, "JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN"T MEAN YOU SHOULD..." keep repeating in my brain.  Some people call it 'eye candy', but frankly eating a whole plastic pumpkin full of Snickers wouldn't affect me the same way.  

And then, I got to Jeanne Williamson's post about the show at MoMA PS1-  see links to NYTs story and images above.  My palette was cleansed, truth was told, and yes, most 'art' should be tossed.  I know if I was honest with myself I would dump everything I did from 1975 through 2000.  The rest I would let moulder a bit longer to see what happens, but I know I would be doing my kids a favor.  Some of it can't even be dog beds for the shelter because of the embellishments and doodads which I must admit I was known for back then- until it became overwhelming and everybody was sewing on beads and buttons with abandon.  So, I 'abandoned'.  Now I guess I should banish.  I need a dumpster and happily enough I HAVE ONE over on the building site.  When some stuff is in it and I am not so obvious I will sneak over after dusk and drop a few of the worst offenders in.  

Another post on Facebook from June Underwood telling how her painting teacher asked if she could ever paint something besides a landscape and she scoffed at the thought, of course she could!  And her next work was, of course, another landscape.  

Which brings me to Sheila Hicks (in my own mind, don't try too hard to follow that thread!) who I have been wanting to write about for awhile.  This summer I saw a couple of her works at the ICA in Boston at their fiber show of works from the 60's to the present.  She is now in her 80's and still producing these massive constructions that were so influential to me back when I was in college:

For biographical information and a little aside about how she went to Syracuse (!) check this excellent interview from a NYTs article, 'A CareerWoven From Life', from 2011: 
 “I have no interest in classifying Sheila as a contemporary artist whom we just ‘missed,’ ” said Jenelle Porter, who organized the Philadelphia show (and is a curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston). Ms. Hicks, she explained, has always been “very aware of what’s been going on in contemporary art, but she’s also worked with artisans and craftspeople all over the world, and she’s invented new techniques and materials.” “She goes so much farther than anyone in the design world or the craft world or the art world,” Ms. Porter said. “She crisscrosses back and forth with so much ease.”

This one is from this year, exhibited at Galerie Frank Elbaz in Paris where she now lives.

Cordes Sauvages, 2014

Tanne Cousu, 2014

Her work was included at the ICA fiber show this past summer in the room about gravity, but she pushes her art to transcend the limits of fiber into drawing, sculpture, and concept.  From the ICA brochure on the show, "This interest links her art to developments in serial-style minimalism as well as the post minimalist dictum that a work of art should visibly express the properties of it's materials."  Hicks sought to cultivate the qualities unique to fiber:  
'It had to have a certain inherent truth and observe gravity.  Those were my building principles.  If it was granite, it had its own laws, and if it was fiber it had its own laws.'
I know, simple law, isn't it? But to tie this up with my feelings about some of the work at Houston, it looks to me like some of the 'laws' were disobeyed-  folks are making fiber try to look like something else, specifically painting.  My own personal feeling is that they want to BE legitimate artists and 'art' to them means painting.  If their work isn't part of the mainstream or not accepted in art shows, they get on their high horse about fiber not being accepted.  I think Sheila Hicks might disagree.  
(For more about Sheila Hicks, go to an excellent article from Fiber Art Now written by Blaire Dessent)

Phew.  I need a squirrel now-  bet you do too!   Here's one ready for the cold snap today:

Now, go have a nice warm weekend!

1 comment :

Janet W said...

OK. Just back from Houston and I could not agree more. I found myself dwelling on the traditional quilts which celebrate fabric, and speeding by the ones that look like paintings. If it can be best expressed in another medium, then use that medium. As my sculpture teacher drummed into us "form follows function." Let your materials speak the truth.