Tuesday, July 31, 2012

One Adventure Done...more to come

What a fun time all six of us had exhibiting Rita's Excellent Adventure at the Society Gallery during Convergence.  It was definitely worth the time and effort to pull everything together in such a short time.  Although I think my hair has become much more grey. There were a lot of tapestries woven, backs finished and tapestries mounted in a three week time frame.   Plus, an entire book was designed, printed and delivered just in time for the Artists' reception.  The paperback book has the story plus photos of all the tapestries for those who wanted to read the story again, again and again.  And it's now available for purchase on my website.

For me, one memorable moment during Convergence was when I drove past the gallery and was surprised to see the signage the gallery had made for the exhibit. A tear came to my eye seeing my surf perch on the poster.  Who would have guessed I would have poster with one of my tapestries on it.  How cool is that!  And now I have that poster hanging in my studio.  Just seeing it makes me smile.

Another fond memory has to do with folks entering the gallery.  Some went to the right while others went to the left. Normally in a tapestry exhibit, it doesn't matter which way you go.  Since our exhibit told a story, you really had to go clockwise to read & see the story sequentially.  (Well, except perhaps for those folks who read the last page of a mystery story first...) We realized when we saw the gallery for the first time that there might be a problem with folks going the wrong way.  Margie had the answer...she whipped up one more tapestry that simply said "The End".  It was fun to see the folks who went to the right and saw their first tapestry titled "The End'... they would sheepishly smile to each other.. look around to see if anyone had noticed what they had done,,,and then quickly turn to go the other direction.  

How time flies when you're having such fun. It's the end of July and the exhibit was just taken down.  I've included four photos.  The first shows the vacant building that Vayden Roi was re-furbishing to be a gallery space.  The building used to be a bike shop.  Check out those colorful walls!  The other photos include one from the day it went up, a crowd shot from the Artist's reception during Convergence and what the gallery looked like with all twenty Rita tapestries removed from the wall, packed up and heading home.   How empty and sad the gallery looked! 

Many thanks to the Vayden Roi Galleries for allowing us to exhibit Rita's Excellent Adventure for the first time....and for painting those red columns white! 

Now it's time to find the next venue to host the Adventure...

Our First View of the Gallery

Installation Day

Artist's Reception
All Packed Up and Heading Home

Friday, July 27, 2012

Used Looms are Always a Puzzle

Progress on my new loom...

Four Harness Upright
Tapestry Loom by Fireside
I bought this used four harness upright tapestry loom before Convergence, moving it from the third floor studio of a house in Venice to my studio.  It moved in pieces, of course.  How else to get it into our mini-van or for that matter through our very narrow front door?  Quite a puzzle taking it apart into pieces I could lift.   I didn't want to take it all apart...just into enough smaller pieces to get them down three flights, or into the elevator, into our van and through our front door.   Our front door is quite narrow as we discovered the first year we bought a Christmas tree to match the high vaulted ceilings in the living room.  We discovered the fact again when the new refrigerator was delivered..and returned.

I tried to keep as much as possible of the original set up of this loom since it looked quite complex.  I am not familiar with a cantilever loom; all I can say is that it has a lot of cord.  Unofrtunately, I did have to cut all the cords for the move but I carefully taped and tied them for future study to aid in the assemby process.  I could see I would need all new rigging and the metal would need some work.  The salty air of Venice did a number on the metal; the rigging was discolored.

There was lots of cotton seine warp wound onto the top bean that I decided to save.  I'd like to use it if I can since it looks to be 12/6, a favorite warp of mine for smaller tapestries but not sure on such a potentially larger one.  The warp looks to be about 40 inches wide; all the reeds are 48 inches.

I bought lots of texsolv rigging for the loom at Glimakra in the vendor hall at Convergence and spent yesterday and today refurbishing.   First I had to remove all the rust and corrosion on the metal.   That was quite a mess and my hands were not happy. Then I cleaned up the beautiful wood a bit as my hands suffered some more.

Next I started on the rigging which was a tough yet fun puzzle.  I have never seen so much cord on one loom!  It was all over the place.  There looks to be more than 50 yards of the stuff.   I do think I now understand how it works at least with the harnesses..the beater is an altogether different puzzle.  I was able to get the sixteen pieces of cord going from the four harnesses through all the right alleys, over and under the many pulleys and down to the six pedals.  I set it up as a straight tabby to test my theory for the set up...but... it is not quite right...sigh.

In the process, I broke a small piece of the wood which has now been glued.  It needed to dry so I looked for something else to work on.

Since all the warp in already on the top beam and I secured the warp which went through the heddles when I removed the heddles; all I have to do it tie-on vs. re-thread the heddles.  Lots and lots of knots are in my future...   I just started to tie on the warp and have noticed that it looks like what I have is a straight 1-2-3-4 tie-up so I can easily do a tabby or a twill if I want to get fancy.   So far I have only about 20% of the warp tied on.

Sigh.  So much more to do...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wedge Weave Revisited

I like this piece better when hung on an angle...

View from Cape Royal

Wedge Weave

Here is the piece I started in a workshop I recently took at Convergence.  The class was on wedge weave taught by Connie Lippert.   I have always been intrigued by the wedge weave technique; it goes to the side of me that enjoys the unexpected and pushes the unconventional.

When I finished the piece it reminded me of seeing the Colorado River from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; hence the title.  I unwound the warp on one edge to give it a more flowing - less rigid appearance more like the feeling I had when I looked down at the river from up high at Cape Royal; like looking down from a cloud.

View From Cape Royal

To me one of the wonderful things about wedge weave is that the edges are not straight.  They curve in and out. And you can make them curve in different ways.  Yes, I do like curves...circles show up in many of my pieces.  I had expected that I would really like wedge weave due to those curves...but to my surprise I did not.  It has taken me a few days however to figure out why.  It turns out that although the edges turn out curvy; the entire woven portion is all straight lines.  For two days I wove straight lines which felt quite controlling and methodical with most of the creativity coming from the selection of the yarn color. I am not a "color" person...but more of a 'structure' person.  I think the most fun was weaving the hole in the middle of my tapestry.

However, I am still curious about wedge weave.  I am going to try another piece...this time adding some curves...


I have always found it "interesting" that the first thing most weavers do when they evaluate a weaving is to look at the edges and see how straight they are.  The straighter the edges the better.  How straight the edges are exemplifies the technical expertise of the artist and how good the weaving is.  We are taught to weave straight edges.  How many times have you heard that a sign of an experienced weaver is straight edges?

There was this weaving in one of the exhibits in Long Beach during Convergence - a wall hanging ...not a scarf or table runner.  I over heard several people say they didn't like the piece because the edges were not straight and the bottom was not 'finished' in a straight manner.  I thought that was one of its strong points giving the piece an organic and more free flowing appearance.  I guess I was looking at it in its totality as a piece of art vs. evaluating the artists technical ability.  Who knows, perhaps the artist could weave a straight edge but chose not to in this piece in order to add a layer of meaning to the piece.

I think we do a dis-service to our chosen field by dismissing pieces based on their edges and not the totality of the work.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tapestry & Poetry

I finally have a moment to breathe.

Reading a Tapestry Poem
Ode to the Ocean by Nicki Bair
It seems like I have been running at full speed since the beginning of the year.  In six months, I have had an article published in Handwoven, spoken at the San Diego Guild, been interviewed about my piece in Small Expressions, did all the prep work to be up in nine exhibits this year, did all the photography and design work for the Pacific Portals catalog and finished three tapestries for Rita's Excellent Adventure told in tapestry...and the list goes on.  

I really look forward to going to Convergence and kicking back, taking workshops and just hanging around. Even more inviting is August, when I can just sit around in my studio and get some things started on all my empty looms.

I am hoping some downtime will also stir my creative writing which has been at a standstill all year.  When I am racing around to meet deadlines the creative juices simply do not flow.   I had a bit of down time docenting at the Timeless Textiles exhibit in Camarillo where I have two of my tapestry poems; one that addresses the fragility of the ocean and the other which addresses erosion.   I'd like to do another series of tapestry poems; they seem to really engage the viewer who must spend time figuring out the letters which are woven into the tapestry, stringing the letters into words and then reading the poem.  I, probably like most people, read poems too quickly.  Poems are meant to be read slowly and savored.  Each word is important and is carefully selected.   Often the sounds of the words selected add meaning to the message of the poem.   I find writing poetry slow...similar to weaving tapestry.  Both a slow mediums...the perfect combination for me.

Now that I have a moment to breathe, I need to find that stirring in my heart which will bring forth the words of the poem...perhaps this moment is it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Rita's Excellent Adventure has Popped Up in Long Beach!

Rita's Excellent Adventure told in tapestry is a story about a young sand crab that loves purple plankton.  One day she heads out on a current to find the best plankton in Santa Monica Bay and has an adventure which is illustrated with 20 tapestries woven by six tapestry artist.  I wrote the story in verse and with five other weavers in the Seaside Tapestry Group we spent a year creating the tapestries.

It's Rita by Nicki Bair

It's a fun exhibit.  The first time around the room you read the verses and see how the artists have chosen to illustrate the story in tapestry.  And perhaps you discover Rita's eyes staring back at you from a spot hidden in a tapestry or two.  The second time around you notice how the frames on each tapestry use the same yarns but look different.  Each frame is at a minimum 1/2 inch wide but no more than 1 1/2 inches wide but then the creativity begins. Each frame is different.   Next you step back and try to guess which tapestries were done by the same artist; can you recognize their styles?  So many layers to a single exhibit!

It was wonderful to be selected for a HGA Community Exhibit as part of Convergence Long Beach 2012.  The gallery space is part of a program that Long Beach has which converts vacant commercial space into pop-up galleries thereby creating excitement and activity in the area. And of course, it makes the vacant building must more attractive for potential buyers.  The space for Rita used to be a bicycle shop.  

From a fiber standpoint the great thing is that there are three of these pop-up galleries within blocks of each other on Pine St., so if you go see one you get to see three fiber exhibits.  Just a half a block up is Designing Weaver's World of Fiber exhibit and a block or so away is Susan Mcghee's exhibit of woven metal at 555 Pine St. 

I did find out the hours in the Gallery Guide were incorrect.  The three galleries will be open this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting in the evenings.   Then during Convergence Long Beach 2012 the gallery will only be open for the big reception on Friday July 20th from 6 to 10pm. 

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Timeless Textiles

I attended the opening reception for the Designing Weavers exhibit, Timeless Textiles.  It was at the SCIART Gallery in Camarillo and the exhibit will be up until Saturday July 28th.    I thought it was one of the best shows I've seen at that gallery.  The juror Dale Gluckman did an outstanding job in selecting the best pieces created by the Designing Weavers members.   This fiber exhibit simply pops with a diversity in composition, technique, material and color.

My husband took some photos... here are a few to give you the flavor of the show...but you should definately drop in.  It is well worth the trip.

By Michael Rhode
By Nicki Bair

By Sandra Rude

By Nadine Spier

By Julie Kornblum

By Heasoon Rhee

By Sofi Khachmanyan

By Deborah Jarchow

Saturday, July 07, 2012

My Beetles & Me

I was interviewed by a docent, Debby Thompson about my piece in Small Expressions at the Long Beach Museum of Art.    If you would like to hear and see more about my piece, my studio and me check out the YouTube video she created based on the interview.  I think she has done a wonderful job.  What fun to have a hobby like video and to be able to combine it with a love of art to meet, interview and share  in depth insights of artists showing at the Museum.


Friday, July 06, 2012

Pacific Portals

Merna, Karen and I hung the Pacific Portals exhibit at the Long Beach Public Library - Main Library today; 152 beautiful and diverse tapestries from 12 countries.   This is the 9th unjuried international small format tapestry exhibit and is sponsored by the American Tapestry Alliance.

The library is a great venue and allowed us to separate the pieces into three spots; a Lobby Gallery at the entrance of the library, an Art Exhibit area where the tapestries are in display cases and the Lower Level Gallery which as the name implies is on the lower level of the library.   Being able to separate the show into three locations avoids the tendency to be overwhelmed by the great number of tapestries in this exhibit.   We also provided a listing which allows folks to find where a specific person's tapestry is located.

The exhibit will be up until August 30th and is open during library hours.  The library is closed on Sundays and Mondays.  If you are going to Convergence check it out.  If you are not, buy the catalog when it is available on the ATA site - it too is fabulous....but not quite as fabulous as the exhibit itself.

Here are some shots of the exhibit...

Lower Level Gallery

Entrance Gallery

Display Case

More Display Cases