I just had an email from friend Suzan that my "A Good Day at Saint-Remy" which is touring with the Butterfly Whirl exhibit has been purchased at the International Quilt Festival in Houston! I am over the moon. It's a good day in Eagle Lake too.
Well, we did try to go the Preview Night at the big quilt show--drove all the way into Houston to the George R. Brown Convention Center, drove around and around blocks directed by police officers, but were unable to get into any parking facility. It was very dark by the time we arrived and the traffic, augmented by construction, was terrible. There was an event (a game?) at Toyota Center nearby, so they were charging at least $30 to park. Deciding it wasn't worth it, we headed back home and made French Toast from our lovely homemade bread, then watched a movie. I will go in early tomorrow, Saturday, as I have volunteer obligations in two booths and really want to see my quilts hanging in the show.
I was delighted to see my story about the Fayetteville show, with Gee Gee's photos, printed in our weekly paper, the Eagle Lake Headlight. In this tiny pond, I'm a headliner. Nice to have news about art, especially fiber art, on the local scene.
I did have time to make a promised stole for Ralph Morgan, our former rector in Eagle Lake. He has moved on to a larger parish in Lufkin TX, in the heart of the Piney Woods. As I lived 20 years in the woods in Huntsville, it was easy to come up with a design for this stole for the green season--Ordinary Time.
Its name is "Evergreens will grow", based on Isaiah 55:10-13. Gee Gee found a translation that said "evergreens will grow in place of thorn bushes, firs will grow in place of nettles" (it's the New English Translation), which uses language different from the more traditional, which used juniper and myrtles. And we found one that talked about sequoias! But there weren't any sequoias in ancient Israel, to the best of my knowledge, so we passed on that one.
Anyway, I think the pine forest came out well; it's all machine embroidered. The river/lake is made from a silk skirt I bought in India. The background is silk canvas, painted with various greens, and the Celtic cross is from a hand-dyed cotton fabric. I wanted to capture the feeling of sunlight filtering through the pines. Altogether, I'm happy with the result. It goes in the mail today.
So now the next project is a long wall hanging for Pinehaven, my nephew Karl's new house being built in Florida's Green Swamp. More pines on the horizon! The house is going to be lovely, with a two-storey great room paneled in pine and lots of windows. I figure the hanging will be about 10 feet long, 36" wide. Lots of stitching.
Then I have to clean up the studio in preparation for the biennial House Tour sponsored by the Garden Club. My current level of creative squalor just won't cut it!
Hurricane Patricia caused massive rains in our area of Texas on the opening day for "Stories in Needle and Threads." I spent much of the day fielding apologetic calls and texts from friends and family, and by 3:00 I was figuring that there would be a total of six people at the reception--me, sister Gee Gee, son Phil and the three employees of ARTS in Fayetteville.
In the end it was much better than that. The whole Board of ARTS, with spouses, turned out, and several friends from Huntsville braved the elements to come. There were a number from Eagle Lake as well. The show looked beautiful, the refreshments were lovely. People seemed truly interested in materials, methods and the Blue Chair series. I had a great time; now looking forward to more great times as folks who could not come last night find time during November to visit the exhibition.
Here you see the purple shirt I painted and dyed for opening night. It came out well, I think.
And here I am with Gee Gee (my enthusiastic advocate and PR consultant) alongside "Nine-Patch Amazon with Poisonous Tree Frogs." After the reception we walked over to Joe's, a really nice local restaurant and had dinner. It looked like most of Fayetteville had the same idea, as the place was filled. Then the dark drive home--it's really dark out here in the country when it's raining. But we arrived just fine, and friend Carolina Castillo Crimm spent the night with us, so we had plenty to talk about. Next week we'll go to the International Quilt Festival in Houston. And then--back to the machine. Two more projects on the horizon.
Yesterday we took my work over to the ARTS gallery in Fayetteville so the staff could set up my solo show, "Stories in Needle & Thread" which will open on Saturday October 24. We talked with Executive Director Jeanne Schilling (on the left here) about the pieces, their stories, how they could be hung, etc. She assured me that they have mounted many shows, and not to worry. Except that I had forgotten one quilt and had not brought enough dowels for hanging. So back to the hardware store, put everything in the car so my anxious brain would not leave it behind, and today we went back to complete the job.
The show is going to look just wonderful. They do know what they're doing, and they want it to be successful as much as I do. This is the first fiber art show they have held, so it's an experiment of sorts. Sister Gee Gee is busy recording the whole process in photos (including the ones in this post)--no one is safe.
Here are many pieces piled up on the handy grand piano, awaiting placement. The plastic hangers are for the six liturgical stoles included in the exhibit. I am thrilled that three pieces have sold even before opening night! Hope that bodes well.
I had been wanting something new and interesting to wear for the reception. We found a loose white cotton shirt online, and I painted some large designs onto it--but white isn't my color. Gee Gee and I discussed what color I might dye it, concluding that a nice lavender would compliment the paint colors. I explained that the paint would act as a resist, so that any dye would not affect the paint colors but just bond to the white background. So: a not-too-intense solution of liquid Rit in my studio sink, and in went the shirt. The directions said to agitate it constantly for half an hour, but it was really purple after only five minutes! I washed out the extra, rinsed and rinsed, and now it's dripping dry. What does one do with a sinkful of purple dye? Well, I dyed a piece of silk canvas and a rectangle of white felt, then went looking for white tee shirts, found two that I haven't worn because I look dead in them. Now they're purple also. One nice thing about Rit is that you can dispose of it down the sink, so cleanup is easy. I think I'll get some more colors and play around a little.
In the meantime, it will be hard to miss "the artist" on Saturday evening.
Early this year I started painting some watercolor images of scenes from national parks. Some were from photos I had taken, others were inspired by photos in the myriad books about the parks that Patrick and I had collected over the years, in anticipation of writing a book of our own. I had found that I couldn't easily create a fiber landscape from someone else's photo--the lines just didn't seem to make sense. But if I used the photo as a jumping off point for a painting, I could then translate it into cloth quite nicely. Something about having to internalize the lines and masses, I guess.
I had also remembered a poem by John Berryman, who was a professor at University of Minnesota when we were there. He struggled with addictions and personal problems and eventually took his own life. But the poem, "Eleven Addresses to the Lord, #1" was read by Garrison Keillor on the Writer's Almanac feature on NPR, and I was struck by its honesty. I looked it up, printed it out, and have used it as the theme for a series of small landscapes that will be part of Stories in Needle & Threads, my solo show that opens next Saturday. The poem is about faith and doubt. This is the stanza that explains my series title:
"I have no idea whether we live again.
It doesn't seem likely
from either the scientific or the philosophical point of view
but certainly all things are possible to you,
and I believe as fixedly in the Resurrection-appearances to Peter and
as I believe I sit in this blue chair."
John Berryman, Collected Poems (Farrar Straus Giroux)
There are 13 pieces in the series so far; each includes a blue chair. The image above is #5, and of course it's Grand Canyon at sunset. I vividly remember how it did look like this in 1983 when we went down the canyon in wooden boats and enjoyed July Fourth fireworks at the bottom of the canyon.
And this is #6, "Alaska Shore." I photographed the mural on a weathered building when we visited the 49th state in August of 2010. It was very satisfying to be able to use the photo for this piece, and working on it took me right back to that lovely cruise.
After the exhibit is up I'll put the series into the website. But for now, if you're curious you'll have to come to Fayetteville TX and see them all in place. I might even get one more finished before the 24th.
This is one entry that won't have photos. Believe me, you will be relieved.
Last week I attended a reception in Huntsville where my friend Helen Belcher was showing her beautiful traditional quilts. She's especially fond of redwork embroidery and quilts of the 30s, 40s and 50s. It was very nice to see so many old friends who appreciate Helen's work. As things were winding down, one of the ladies came up to me and asked whether the silver car was mine. When I said yes, she told me she'd seen a large rat running across the dashboard.
So, along with several museum staff members, I went out and searched the car. No rat, no sign of rat. So Gee Gee and I got in and headed off for home, a two hour drive. About an hour later I saw the silhouette of the rodent running across the steering column, then disappearing in a downward direction. I did not drive off the road--it was very dark and way out in the country. In the next few days, no sign of rat. Several long drives to Austin, no rat. I hoped and prayed it had found richer pastures.
Then I picked up friends Gene and Ellie at the airport for a brief visit. I have no sense of smell and was concentrating on driving, so did not notice them reacting to "a foul odor" in the car. It was two more days before they had the courage to tell me about it! These dear people were gagging and not letting me know a thing out of politeness. Once I knew, we sped off to the car dealer, where they took apart the dashboard and a good deal of the front of the car before finding the hairy, very dead rodent "and rat poop everywhere" according to the mechanic. I'll pick up the car tomorrow (rental people were super and found me the right vehicle to get home). Best news: insurance agreed to pay for all but my deductible. Thanks, State Farm, Texan Hyundai and Enterprise.
Moral of the story: it's OK to tell your hostess you smell a dead rat in the car. Honest. No hard feelings at all.
More fiber art news next time. Postcards for my solo show went out today.
Bobbe Shapiro Nolan, Fiber Artist in Eagle Lake, TX. Trying to learn to call the sewing room my studio, and myself an artist. I retired after 15 years in hospice nursing--so now I have the time!.