Monday, August 11, 2014

Today in Art: What Would Woody Say?

Today the Connecticut Fiber Arts Collective, a vibrant art quilt group of which I am a member, mounted a Woody Guthrie-themed show in the back gallery at Hartford's Theaterworks.

Our show was conceived and designed to correspond with Woody Sez, a musical production on the Depression-era troubadour whose wandering ways and everpresent guitar inspired a long line of  blue-jeaned American singers from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen...and whose social commentary informs the conscience of generations.

Check out the Theaterworks production:

Here's one example of the work we hung today, Toni Torres' American Troubadour.  Wow. 

And how about Carol Eaton's The Plains, showing an empty windswept kind of place like Texas or Oklahoma, where Woody grew up and came of age:

Carol Vinick has Woody singing at a union rally:

and Linda Woods shows us a Depression-era jalopy:

Karen Loprete depicted one of Woody's songs, Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow Tree:
My own piece, What Would Woody Say? juxtaposes illegal Depression-era travels in boxcars--and the hardships that compelled people to live that way--with the contemporary flood of young people from Central America entering our country as they flee drug-related violence and anarchy. 
In each corner of this map of the United States, I've juxtaposed photos of illegal rail travel in the 30s with those of people coming illegally into the country now:

The map of the country is sewn onto a background of headlines about today's Central American immigration, printed on red.  Around the perimeter of the map and the blocks of headlines, I've attached the words to This Land is Your Land.  When it gets to the following verse, I trail those words right across the map to a photo of Woody singing them out from the top of a boxcar:

"In the shadow of the steeple, I saw my people.  By the relief office, I seen my people.  As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking, 'was this land made for you and me?'"

 I mounted it all on ticking, some of it really old vintage ticking, to give the piece a Depression era/jailhouse/orphanage look.

It took us a couple of hours to get the show up.  Here's the hanging crew:

L-R Linda Woods, Diane Cadrain, Carol Vinick, and Antonia Torres.

Our full complement of CFAC members was not present for the hanging today, but we all hope to have a reception for our show,  in conjunction with one of the free hootnnanys following the Sunday matinees. If  we do that, we'll let you know!

If you're planning to go to Woody Sez at Theaterworks, stop by the back lobby and see our work!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Five Fiber Friends: The Denouement

We Five Fiber Friends saw our long-planned art quilt show come to fruition a week ago, with a reception at Fair Haven Furniture's River Street Gallery.  I remember it as if it were just last Sunday, August 3, 2014.

The food was good...

the entertainment sparkling...
...and good times were had, especially by me, for a number of reasons.  One was that I sold a piece of art at the reception.
I have to say that Low Tide, First Encounter Beach looked great where it was hung at the Gallery:

The second reason why this event was so rewarding for me was that it served as a mini-reunion for a group of my high school friends.  We went to Sacred Heart Academy in the New Haven suburb of Hamden, Connecticut, graduating in 1967.  Here we are after the reception at Adriana's Restaurant on Grand Avenue in New Haven:

L-R Diane Cadrain, Rita Shair, Sue McNerney, Gloria Hudson, Paula Forni
Love ya, ladies! 

And some of my Unitarian Society of Hartford art buddies traveled all the way down the state to see the show.  Love you too, my USH art partners!

L-r Tina Davies, Martha Bradley, Diane Cadrain. Sheri Williams

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Today in art: Sunprints, Shibori, and Grape Leaves

Tomorrow, I'll be at a reception for the opening of an art quilt show in which I'm involved, Five Fiber Friends:

Gallery art director Kate Paranteau invited us fiber artists, as part of our show, to make pillows to put on her gallery's sofas. 

So I'm making pillows.  And food for our reception.  More on the food later.

Here's one of the pillows:

The central motif on this one is a simple sunprint made with Pebeo Setacolor paints, a few confetti stars, and a few pieces of arborvitae.
When we Five Fiber Friends were hanging our show, Kate liked to tell us how the pieces we hung together could "tell stories" to one another.

If this pillow were telling a story, it would go something like, "On a quiet night, as the stars were just starting to come out the air was still warm enough to hold the smell of the sunlight on the pine needles."

Or, what about the jazz standard, "Quiet Night of Quiet Stars?"

I like that story.  Here are a couple of other sunprints that continue it:

I gave these two sunprints each two borders:  narrow ones of white linen and wider ones of shibori-dyed Pima cotton.  I like what the shibori does for the sunprints, and vice versa.  As Kate would see it, they're telling the same story. Or different versions of the same story.

I used shibori fabric for the backs of the pillows, too:

In addition to these three sunprints, I'm also going to include  another pillow I made, this one with a central knitted motif:
If this one told a story, it would be, "There was once a twining vine, and it tried and it tried and it reached and it reached until it reached every place it tried to go."

I know a vine like that.

In between making these pillows, I've also been working on some finger-food type snacks for tomorrow's reception.  Somebody else was already bringing cheese and crackers, a veggie platter, and a fruit platter.  What was left?  Nothing healthy that I could think of, except...

I do have all these grape leaves growing on the garage...(lovely, aren't they?) I suppose I could make stuffed grape leaves.

They're a lot of work, but they're exceptional:  my recipe has wonderful ingredients, pine nuts and dill and currants in addition to the rice.  They're so much better than those served in restaurants, which feature mainly rice and certainly not pine nuts or currants.  I can't take credit for my recipe, which is from a cookbook.  All I do is follow it.

So I did:

Grape leaves drying off after their one-minute trip through boiling water

Look at the yummy ingredients in that stuffing!

 Finally they get cooked in a low slow bath of olive oil, lemon juice and water.

They're gonna be good!   And so is the reception.  So please come!  But if you can't come, the exhibit will be up until September 21.