Carrying the story of his ancestors to the canvas, by Kristin McNamara Freeman

In 1991 I went to a gallery show in Red Lodge, Montana, and there I “met” an artist whose work called out to me from the walls of the Merida Gallery. Each piece held me  with the strong images presented and the language of Native people illustrated in the techniques of a fine contemporary artist. Kevin Red Star called out to me through the images presented at that show. Each year through 1996 I returned to see his work at this gallery and in 1997 I visited the Red Star Gallery in Roberts, Montana, for a benefit show and sale for the Boys and Girls Clubs. In 1994 and 95 I was able to see his work at the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, a marvelous venue for the exhibition of his paintings. My budget allowed only for me to own some signed posters of his work.

A step back in time to Kevin’s birth in 1943 and his early life in Lodge Grass on the Crow Reservation is where we can learn how Kevin’s creative adeptness was nurtured by his family and teachers. His mother designed and created in applique pieces of regalia for tribal dancers and blankets for people in the tribe. His father, a musician,  would bring Kevin prints of the work of Charlie Russell and he would make copies of those watercolors and learned about creating images of the spaces where a person dwells, for that is what C.M. Russell sketched and painted. There is a wonderful series of videos called from the spirit with Kevin telling his story at www.kevinredstar.com/vodeos, a series well worth taking the time to view. There are some good pieces of information on succeeding in making and selling art; his daily commitment to showing up, creating and getting lost in his work is a large portion of why he has been so successful. His respect for the ownership of a symbol or design he might want to include in a work is expressed in one of his recordings, an interview from The Backroads of Montana on PBS; although he is a Crow, he would never use an image unless the family who has this image on their regalia or other family possessions gave their permission to him for the use.

Inspiration for Kevin’s work comes from looking around the land where he lives and works, taking walks for inspiration and seeing what shapes and forms in the landscape speak to him.He never grows tired of taking in the energy of the land of his people, nor looking closely at the horses, buffalo and the Crow people as he includes them in the work he creates.

In his video “painting the journey” found at the above link, Keven describes his process in creating a large piece for installation at a public building. He describes how he uses the tipi poles and the poles in the travois (used for carrying large loads behind horses) to direct the eyes of the viewer from the historical Native images to the newly constructed building in the painting. Buffalo were important images and yet they were too dominant in the design until he painted them as the clouds in white. Lesson after lesson about design decisions is given by Kevin in this recorded piece.

Kevin’s education at Institute for American Indian Art in Sante Fe, New Mexico, was a life changing opportunity for him. Here he learned not simply technique but how an artist works and presents themselves to the world. From there he went to the Art Institute in San Francisco for more study and growth as an artist. Kevin continued to be a part of the community of working artists as he shared critique session with other artists, presented work in galleries and shows and settled in Sante Fe for several years and still maintains homes in both Montana and New Mexico.

There is a fine article in the “Santa Fe New Mexican”. August 17, 2014, written by Daniel Gibson, author of the newly released book on Kevin Red Star. There is a wonderful photo with the article that captures the heart centered joy that he expresses as he talks to you. You may read the article at http://www.santafenewmexican.com/magazines/indian_market_2014/kevin-red-starr-pushing-into-unknown-territory/article_9aec8c64-23c4

The “Big Sky Journal” has another article penned by the author of the book on Kevin Red Star, Daniel Gibson. Here is a photo of the cover of the magazine

Big Sky Journal Arts 2014  Painting featured in Big Sky Journal article

Big Medicine

Keven’s work is represented at the Smithsonian, The Denver Art Museum, the Heard Museum, the Whitney Museum of Western Art, eSpace in Paris and other galleries and museums in Europe and the US.

Kevin will be speaking at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart Germany on October 6th, 2014. He will present the story of his childhood on the Crow Indian Reservation and his 50 years of making art. He will then be at the Book Faire in Frankfurt, Germany October 8-9.

In March 19-21, 2015 he will once again be at the benefit auction and sale for the Charlie Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. In Paris, France he will have an exhibition entitles, “Shields, Drums and Masks” at Gallery Orenda, 54 rue de Ver Neuil.

Kevin Red Star

this photo of Kevin has appeared in magazines and newspapers and truly represents the gentle, sensitive and available nature of the man I have met and spoken with on several occasions.

one example of Kevin’s use of the traditional tipi of the Crow as a design element in his paintings. You can visit his Facebook page and see many more of his paintings, and also visit his website to read more of his story and see the work he currently has for sale. kevinredstar.com

Kevin Red Star is a contemporary painter, a member of the Crow Tribe and a man with a fine, gentle and caring demeanor. His skill as an artist reaches out to people from all walks of life and in his work it is my belief that folks are able to see his story and that of the Crow Nation.

Artist twins who meld traditions (by Margaret Cooter)

The Singh Twins, Amrit and Rabindra, have pioneered a new development of the traditional Indian miniature in modern art. Their work addresses important areas of critical debate, challenging stereotypes of heritage and identity.

The twins, who grew in in the United Kingdom, use the language of Indian and Persian miniature painting to depict the contemporary world. Their 2010 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London,  had a room of family scenes and another of the complex world outside the home. It’s intriguing to see how social commentary and political satire fit into the modern into the classical framework, for instance this teenager’s bedroom, rendered in the Indian miniature tradition, with a strong narrative, symbolic content, and eye for detail -

I particularly liked this idol-worshipper, her traditional shape in modern garments -

Apart from wit and skill, the work requires tenacity – it takes four hours to finish a stamp-sized section of the paintings, and the works on show were up to a metre high. The twins’ work is identical to the untrained eye, and in real life they dress alike to the last detail. In this podcast they talk about the concept of being “women artists”.

“1984” shows the notorious storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar – read more about the painting, and see a larger version, here.

One aspect of the artists’ commentary is the blindfolded reporters … but they are very hard to find in the online version.

In another mix of traditions, they received MBEs in 2011, and posed with the Queen’s Beefeaters -

singh-twins

 

Meaningful? Morbid? … or simply a mixed bag to be sorted each on its own merit? (by Olga Norris)

Rabbits’ Village School, Circa 1888
Walter Potter: Rabbits’ Village School
It was popular during the 19th century, and gradually becoming a minority curiosity during the 20th, but then suddenly there has been a revival of the art of taxidermy – or a growth in the use of taxidermy in art. In the 19th century the amateur Walter Potter made sentimental tableaux which can excite responses through the vowels from ah to ugh. (Image above, more images and an article here)
Damien Hirst
Damien Hirst: Away from the flock (from here)
Somehow not really seen as taxidermy (I don’t know the technical details of taxidermy as opposed to – or in addition to preservation in formaldehyde) the conceptual art of Damien Hirst burst onto the scene with a shark, halved cows, sheep, …. And now he is certainly not alone. A few years ago I saw and was intrigued by the work of Claire Morgan, which was when I started thinking about the use of taxidermy in sculpture.
claire-morgan-fantastic-mr-fox
claire-morgan-fantastic-mr-fox1
Claire Morgan: Fantastic Mr Fox (from here)
This was followed by watching a BBC programme about Polly Morgan in the series What do artists do all day? You can watch here and here. There seem to be so many artists now working with taxidermy as part of their sculpture – there are links here and here to some of them.
I find that my initial negative reaction to most of this art gets in the way of my thinking about it. It has nothing to do with guts and feathers and fur, but somehow it feels disrespectful to the beasts if the quality of the work draws attention to the taxidermy rather than to the idea being explored in the piece. I thought of Hirst’s work as art first and considered the technique of presentation seriously only when I read that the shark had to be replaced because it was rotting. It’s the worth of the artistic expression which engages me rather than the particularities of technique in this case. I found that Claire Morgan’s work also engaged me, but perhaps that is because I saw and walked round it, observing, thinking, feeling – whereas the other work is simply represented in photographs and therefore not sufficient to make a considered enough judgement.
Bulldog
Shauna Richardson: Bulldog (from here)
And then I found out about the ‘crochetdermy’ of Shauna Richardson. She, with one tool, overwhelmingly one material, and lots of time achieves remarkable results. Here and here are more links about the crochet work. It certainly is extraordinary craft, as was shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s exhibition The Power of Making, but is it art? I certainly do not think it’s any less worthy of consideration simply because she does not use the body of the original beast. Like all work, I reckon that each individual piece should be weighed on its own merits, and not lumped in with however the technique of its making is considered at any point in time.
I’m curious to know what you think.

Tucked away in a small Montana town……by Kristin McNamara Freeman

Embroidery by Marjory Hiltner 10265302_10152314257021676_8431305616118869630_oThis spring when I received a newsletter from the Danforth Gallery in Livingston, Montana, a surprise discovery of an artist working in fabric appeared on the pages. As I went looking for more information about the woman who created the work of fiber art pictured above, it became clear to me that somehow in the small population state of Montana a fiber artist, like me, seems to imagine that we know of all the working textile artists in the state. It was my pleasure to discover that Maggy Rozycki Hiltner lives in the small town of Red Lodge which is south of Interstate 90 and is often reached as the terminus of a drive over the Beartooth Hiway that begins at Cooke City near the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park; a place I could visit on a day trip.

In this small rural and somewhat isolated town Maggy creates her fiber pieces using images cut from pieces of vintage embroidery or images she has embroidered by  using patterns from the 20’s, 30′, 40’s and 50’s. These embroidery patterns were often found on the pages of women’s magazines such as”Women’s Home Companion”, “Needlecraft”, “Peterson’s” or “Ladies Home Journal” to name a few of the resources you can still find on Etsy or Ebay today. Back in my younger years a trip to the local “five and dime” store would be the resource for books of design transfers which could be ironed on to fabric or there was always a supply of stamped kitchen towels and pillow cases that could be purchased. The thread most often used was a six strand cotton embroidery floss. Sometimes today you can find a collection of embroidered and/or appliqued household pieces at thrift stores and garage sales. If the stitching needs some repairing the same cotton floss used 50 years ago is still sold and can be used to make some repairs, if desired. It is these used, older pieces of embroidery that Maggie finds and uses to create her artwork today.

In a wonderful interview on the blog:

http://www.mrxstitch.com/future-heirlooms/.  the  interviewer gives a wonderful description of how the artist’s work impacted the author.

“I do not remember when I first came across the work of today’s artist Maggy Rozycki Hiltner but I do know that I immediately enjoyed it. She uses nostalgic figures and imagery to make some playful but poignant remarks about childhood, gender, expectations, friendships, sex, and love. Her technique is a unique blend of collage with found materials, hand embroidery, machine stitch, and applique. Her humor is clever and at times biting. Her work is fabulous.” The article also includes many photos of her artwork.
 
Maggie graduated from Syracuse University in 1997, was Studio Assistant in fibers and textile design at Arrowmont School  of Arts and Crafts in 1998. and has had her work shown across the country since then in solo, group and invitational shows. She has an extensive list of publications where her work has been included in photos and text. A busy, talented woman creating textile art in her studio in this small rural town of Red Lodge, Montana.
 
A visit to her web site.. .www.maggyrhiltner.com/index.html  will have you reading and exploring the heart and art of this artist. Here, from her website in a small vignette from one of her pieces. She currently, through September 1st, has work showing at the Dairy Barn in Athens, OH, and will have work in the following shows (from her website):

Quilt Visions Biennial 2014
October 3, 2014 to January 4, 2015
Visions Arts Museum
San Diego, CA
visit the Visions Arts Museum website
see work to be included in the exhibition

Solo Exhibition
April 24 to August 16, 2015
Dr. Ruth Tam Lim Project Room
Mesa Arts Center
Mesa, AZ
visit the Mesa Arts Center website

Focus: Fiber 2014
September 26, 2014 to January 18, 2015
Erie Art Museum
Erie, PA
visit the Erie Art Museum website

A Common Thread: Stitching and Embroidery
March 7 to July 5, 2015
San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles
San Jose, CA
visit the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles website

If you will be near one of the shows her work is sure to delight the exploring, playful artist within each of us. For some, it will be the remembering of the  images she uses from our days as a child or young adult, or even those times when we have picked up and been tempted to buy a piece or two of embroidered household linens.

Other artists have included pieces of vintage embroidery in their work, Sue Reno, http://www.suereno.com/ showed pieces of her work incorporating vintage linens in a recent article for Quilting Arts and Deb Lacativa uses vintage linens for the cloth she dyes for sale and in the work she creates http://lacativa.com/ and http://morewgalo.blogspot.com/ . 

What pure delight to discover an unknown to me textile artist living in a small Montana town. An artist whose work reaches from coast to coast here in the USA and brings a new vision to those who see her work.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why fabric? (by Margaret Cooter)

Why quilts – rather than paintings … do you sometimes wonder? Whenever SAQA’s Art Quilt News pops into my inbox (you can subscribe here, it’s free) I ponder this question – the quilts shown in it are each part of an exhibition somewhere. Of course, seeing the work on screen is nothing like seeing it for real, whether its a quilt or painting or other medium … so the quality of the photography for what we see on screen is going to make a difference, especially for quilts, with the texture of the quilting often so very important in the design concept.

This week, thumbs up for fabric in this quilt, Yellow Pod, by Colleen Ansbaugh -

The fabric is monoprinted, which at first made me think – “why not on paper” – but here the quilting adds that necessary something to complement and enhance the lines and colours of the print.

K Velis Turan’s “Please Stand By” is screenprinted, and the reverse applique will make some elements pop, which again seems to enhance the design … and wouldn’t work as well in paint or print on paper. The visible quilting is a graphic element in itself (closeup is here) -

Nancy Crow‘s “Double Mexican Wedding Rings IV” (1988-90) could be a zingy print on paper, but this piece is “so quilty” because it comes right out of the quilt tradition – the blocks need to be pieced, not painted … fabrics, not hues, need to be used.

Would you say much the same about this next quilt? Does it need fabric and stitch to bring the design to life, or would it work equally well in paint, print, or collage?

Alicia Merrett, Blue Harbour

Quilted sea … that makes sense to me – the sea itself has a visible texture … but when it comes to quilted skies, what do you think – does the quilting evoke the feel of the wind or enhance the look of the clouds? Or are skies best left “just” painted?

Photorealism on fabric is another stumbling block for me – it makes me ask “why?”  Perhaps “because I thought it would be interesting” is good enough an answer?

It seems to me that sometimes the use of fabric is either an indulgence, or else a power struggle: the materials need to be vanquished, they need to be bent to the will of the maker.

There’s a further consideration, and I rather hesitate to mention it, but here goes….  What do you think – could it be that some people using fabric because they haven’t developed skills in other media?

Kantha stitching with Dorothy Caldwell (by Kathleen Loomis)

I wrote in June about Dorothy Caldwell, the internationally renowned fiber artist, who conducted workshops for my local fiber and textile art group. This time I’d like to focus on her use of the kantha stitch, aka running stitch, the most basic possible of hand stitches, the one we all learned when we first took up a needle in our hand. Dorothy joked that the reason she uses kantha so much in her own work is that she has never learned any more complicated stitches, but I’m not sure I believe her. Nevertheless, it’s a powerful mark-making tool.

She brought several kantha embroideries that had been made by a cooperative of women in northern India with whom Dorothy has worked for several years. They make large pieces to sell in an effort to improve their village, and among other things have been able to build a meeting house in which to work and to clean up a lake that can now be used for fishing.

DSCN5449

One of the recurring motifs in the embroideries is a woman’s headdress that seems almost to be blowing away, billowing behind the figure. In fact, it shows a sari that is no longer draped over the woman’s face — as the women in this village used to dress when they were dependent and downtrodden — but is pushed back in freedom.

One or two of the women are in charge of drawing the cartoon onto the blank fabric, after which many women might work on the same piece. Popular compositions might be repeated many times but in different color schemes. Here’s a large scene that was executed twice, once in white on black and the other in black on white.

DSCN5446DSCN5447DSCN5448

We didn’t have time in the two-day workshop to make any such elaborate embroideries, but we did spend enough time with the kantha stitch to see how it can be deployed in many different patterns and rhythms.

Here are my two kantha samplers, still in progress. I’ll definitely keep working with this stitch and learn more about how it works.

DSCN8111

Some Time Later (by Clairan Ferrono)

photo 4

E Hesse

http://collection.mam.org/search.php?search=Hesse%2C%20Eva

 

Some time ago I posted about an art filled trip I’d taken to Wisconsin.  This post was meant to follow shortly thereafter, but life intervened.  Finally, we move on to the Milwaukee museum of art. I had limited time, so I quickly determined to see only the modern art (which is what I am most interested in).  One room was closed, which was a disappointment, but that allowed me to spend more time with each piece that intrigued me.

L Carroll

L Carroll Grey Sleeping Painting 2010-12

Carroll detail Carroll detail 2

details

I was taken by this rough mixed media piece by Lawrence Carroll, an artist I’d never seen before:  https://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Carroll  Of course, the stitching drew me in! This piece is made of wax and canvas on wood.

O'Keefe

G. O’Keeffe

There was a room of O’Keeffes, but I found none very interesting except for this small still life.  The vegetables seem to me to have her particular sensuality, and I like how they are clearly situated in the white bowl? on the white cloth? which is narrowly delineated at the top of the painting.

De Witt detailDeWitt detail

S. LeWitt Wall Drawing #88

This piece by Sol LeWitt was drawn on an entire wall of the museum in pencil.

Sol de Witt

The work was conceived by de Witt specifically for the Milwaukee Museum of Art, but not executed by him.  He gave instructions (above) that  6″ grids should be drawn to cover the wall and that freehand lines (looking very much like quilting!) should be drawn inside each square.  He further instructed that the inside of the wall have blue and yellow lines, but this was not done.  He clearly believed that “the hand of the artist” was not essential, only the idea.  However, I wonder what the work would have looked like if he himself had drawn all the lines.

Joan Mitchell

J. Mitchell Untitled 1969

I spent most of my time with the abstract expressionists (no surprise here!).  I like the movement around the dark clotted enter of this piece by Joan Mitchell. I also like the texture of the thick paint.

Mitchell detail

detail

Rothko

Rothko Green Red Blue 1955

This is not one of the best Rothkos, but his work is always worth looking at to my mind.

Hoffman

H Hoffman Dew and Dusk 1957

Hans Hoffman was the teacher of the early abstract expressionists and a master of color.  His work is so exuberant I couldn’t help smiling the entire time I was looking at it. The multiple colors are so saturated  that there is no hint of the “rainbow” effect.

Hoffman detail

detail

 

Diebenkorn

Diebenkorn 2

R Diebenkorn OCEAN PARK #88 1974

The Diebenkorn was too large for me to get a full shot of, and again, it’s not his best work, but still quite lovely melting soft soothing sea colors kept from being too sweet by some dark and sharp lines of color containing them. I love the blurred edges as well.

As it turned out, I had 15 minutes extra which I spent just sitting in a big comfy chair, looking out a window at a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.  In addition, it is worth a trip to this museum for the building itself designed by Saarinen. It has wings which are opened and closed at specific times of day.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFQQJIUTv9M

https://mam.org/info/details/quadracci.phpwww.mam.org

You can get an app for your phone showing different views of the wings opening and closing.


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