Convergence 2010

Home from the party...

Convergence ended yesterday afternoon. As the funny-man from Texas who volunteered to watch the entrance to the vendor hall much of the weekend kept telling me, "at 4:01 you won't be a newbie any more!" I had a first-timer sticker on my badge and he called me "newbie" every time I walked through the door. I warmed to the appellation after awhile. It is good to approach the world with fresh eyes.

There is much to say about the past week and I am not sure it is at all possible to get it down in any sort of coherent order. So here are some highlights for those of you who couldn't attend, and for those of you who did and perhaps had different experiences than I did.

I met many wonderful people this week. Many of them I had gotten to know a little bit online and it was a great deal of fun to attach a face to a blogger or body of art I had seen on the internet. I was also able to reconnect with some weavers I had met at Intermountain Weavers Conference and chat with old friends and teachers such as Northern NM College Rio Grande weaving instructor, Karen Martinez.

I enjoyed the ATA forum on Sunday. Lynne Curran and James Koehler gave lectures about their work. Mary Lane also did a digi slam with work of about a dozen tapestry weavers. I have some new perspectives on international tapestry weavers (okay, artists who are not American--I KNOW this is a long time coming, but sometimes it takes a lilting and lovely voice like Lynne Curran's to jolt my brain into recognition of a new perspective) which I will post more about after unpacking the dirty clothes and giving my new spinning wheel a whirl.

I took some fun classes which I talked about briefly in a prior post. Gregory Case's photo classes were extremely useful and I regret that I couldn't hear the last hour of the class Saturday afternoon. I did have an opening to get to.

Here are some photos from the Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus opening Saturday night. The gallery was keeping track of people coming in for the first couple hours and then the volunteer staff left and we don't know how many people came after that. At last count which was about 6pm I think, there had been 150 people to see the show. As the opening lasted another 2 hours, I think it likely we had over 200 people in one evening. I find that amazing considering how busy Convergence was and how far from the convention center the venue was. I was also so pleased to have people from other parts of my life attend. To those of you who came from places as far flung as Ojo Caliente and Gallup, thank you for coming! It meant a great deal to me to see your smiling faces and hear your words of support.

The following 4 photos of the show were taken by Chris Barber for the gallery. He graciously shared them with me since my camera stopped working about 5 minutes into the opening (yes, the new Nikon). His photos are likely better than any I would have taken anyway and it was a relief not to try to take any photos while at my own opening.
Thank you so much Chris for sharing these shots.

Copyright The CTB and SHR Trust, used by permission

Sunday evening we stopped at the Enchanted Pathways opening at William and Joseph gallery in Santa Fe.
This is Megan Swartzfager. She did the cartoon for the Mystic Moon tapestry (she also named it)
of the unicorn we had in this show. She was the artist. I wove the piece. I am happy to report that Megan has begun learning tapestry weaving herself and I hope that she may have a piece that she designed and wove herself in the next small format show. She is a young lady of many interests and talents, so it remains to be seen which ones get her time and attention.

I am sure that I will have much more to say about Convergence at least in my own head over the next week or two. Whether any of that makes it to this blog remains to be seen. The most important things are hard to capture in words or photos and my heart is full of gratitude for all the people who shared bits of themselves with me this week.

Convergence Day 2

Convergence 2010. This is the first Convergence I have been to, and I have to say that I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning. They put a little sticker on your badge that says "First Timer". I guess this is so the other people wandering around with orange HGA bags can help you out if you look too lost.

I got here yesterday and first thing I did was buy a spinning wheel. I wanted to get that task out of the way right away and was glad I did because the inestimable Jim from Yarn Barn of Kansas sold me the only one of these wheels he had and I can take it home Sunday. I have a third of my latest piece left to do and need that wheel to avoid further lateral epicondylitis from trying to ply yarn with my fingers.

James Koehler's book is out and here he is at his book signing with apprentices Sheila Burke and Nancy. I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, but it is full of color photos which are nicely printed. It is truly an art book. It is available on his website.

This is what you see when you first walk into the Albuquerque Convention Center--the yardage exhibit. The fabric is beautiful. If you walk up into the balcony you can actually feel swatches of it.

The vendor hall is a treasure trove. I have given myself very very strict instructions about what I can purchase there. I probably should have some sort of technological lock on my credit card. I usually buy many books while at conferences and it has taken a lot of willpower for me not to buy more than one. This time there were only two items on my shopping list, and on the second day, I have purchased both of those items and as they were both pricey, have told myself I can do no further purchasing as much as yarn like this calls to me! This is the Weaving Southwest booth. Their yarn is hand-dyed and gorgeous.
The two items were, as I mentioned above, the spinning wheel (ended up with a Schacht Ladybug which was not at all what I expected. But after trying the other candidates, it seemed to fit my needs and body the best. I hope I like it!) and James Koehler's new autobiography, Woven Color.
I have taken three classes so far. I took a free form knitting class from Adrienne Sloane which was interesting. She was hilarious and I appreciated the less-than-gentle nudge to try knitting without patterns. It is a good lesson in letting go of control... and in creating a mess and knowing how to fix it! I definitely created a mess. But I learned how to short-row and then knit off in another direction AND how to knit backwards. I'm proud of the last one. Not sure when I'll use it, but maybe if I do entrelac one day...

This morning I took a class from a fantastic Brit named Stacey Harvey-Brown about ancient and archival textiles. The description of how to make velvet blew me away--I had no idea. And the stream of photos of fabrics from the last 500 years which she has studied in libraries and museums across Europe was stunning.

This afternoon I took a class about photographing artwork. I am happy to report that I already knew how to do this. I thought maybe there were some magic secrets that I wasn't getting, but really everything I have been doing is right. I just have to put that new camera to use and keep shooting.

This evening I am going to Paisanos for a fantastic Italian gluten free meal (I cannot say enough good about this restaurant. They gave me hope for my gustatory future when I had none) and then to see a tapestry show I have been wanting to see.

Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus Opening Saturday 7/24

So Convergence is upon us. It snuck up on me... but I am excited to meet many weavers and reconnect with ones I haven't seen in years. I hope to see some of the members of the Reno Fiber Guild who helped start me on my weaving way about a decade ago.

Here is the beautiful rack card Cornelia designed for our show. The photo is hers and the weaving detail is James Koehler's Rhythms of Nature. The show is at Open Space Gallery at the Open Space Visitors Center at 6500 Coors Blvd in Albuquerque. More information and the phone number of the gallery is available on their website here.

The opening is Saturday the 24th of July from 4-8 pm.

Further information about our project is available at the project website here. The show will go to Germany in September and October with the opening in Erfurt on September 5th at St. Michael's church at 5 pm.

Convergence: It begins.

I realized today (with some ferocity) that Convergence is upon us. I realized this as I was "killing" 45 minutes at Village Wools in Albuquerque (more like savoring 45 minutes in a great shop full of yarn). I saw a lovely guild show and then spent some time looking at Kathe Todd-Hooker's show. Suddenly I was talking to two women, one a teacher of doubleweave (who incidently also sells at Weaving Southwest whom I had not yet met), and the other a fiber enthusiast interested in learning tapestry. I was off chatting about weaving and where to learn in NM and suddenly realized the Convergence experience had started. I was in Albuquerque today to bring my family to the airport, but was sucked early into the conference vortex.

Before I can attend the conference for real (and mostly I am looking forward to seeing all the exhibits), I have to spend another marathon weaving day tomorrow. I am about 2/3rds of the way done with this one, but the next 7 inches are going to be intense and likely will take more time than the entire rest of the piece. This one is going to Germany and has to be finished in the next two weeks.


Here is the unicorn tapestry. It isn't my first commission, but it is my first commission from a 9 year old! It made me feel like an old-time tapestry weaver. Megan Swartzfager (age 9 at the time) designed this tapestry and I wove it pretty much exactly as she drew it. The tapestry is not as bowed as this snapshot shows--my zoom point and shoot creates this weird ballooning (yes I know I still need to get the new camera to photograph my work...). I had fun weaving this. It was the first thing I wove on a Mirrix and the only piece I have ever woven that was "realistic". Realism isn't my style (not that unicorns are necessarily real!), but it was fun to do something different. I used some weird novelty yarns to make the unicorn white and the tail fuzzy and the horn silver. It was a grand experiment and it ended up looking like the original drawing. I hope Megan is pleased. After the Enchanted Pathways exhibit at Convergence, it will go to her. She named the piece Mystic Moon. I think she might even make a visit out to New Mexico (she lives in Mississippi) to see her piece in the show on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. I hope in 2012 she has her own tapestry to submit.

Quality in Art...

...or "Why isn't tapestry considered an art form in many places?"

I was having this discussion with my weaving mentor yesterday in Santa Fe. It is a long-standing discussion which is pretty one-sided as we both agree that tapestry struggles to be recognized as an art form. A case in point is HGA's difficulty finding venues for exhibits during Convergence. We were lucky to get a venue at Open Spaces Gallery for our Bauhaus exhibit (Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus), but many people were not so lucky. The small format ATA show ended up in Santa Fe and the ATB8 show didn't find a venue at all in New Mexico. I heard from HGA and ATA people looking for spaces that what they were hearing from galleries was that they only focused on "traditional" weaving. In New Mexico, that refers to the traditions of the Navajo and Hispanic weavers.
When I look at "fiber shows" I often am amazed at the poor craftsmanship that is hung on the wall and called art. It is an age-old debate, what constitutes art, but for me good craftsmanship is part of the equation. I think as tapestry artists, if we can't make good-quality work to start with, we are asking to be considered simply "craft." And this leads to situations where high-quality tapestry shows like ATB8 or an ATA show can't find a venue in a major American city--one that is steeped in art and surrounded by cultures devoted to weaving. ...just my beginning thoughts on the matter.

And for visual interest, a photo from a hike I took Saturday near Velarde, NM... an old adobe building that had a descanso inside it.

And here is a photo of some cranes at the Bosque del Apache during morning fly out a few weeks ago. I have watched them fly over my house in fast-moving clots of croaking sandhills through most of February. They seem to be gone now. When I was in the San Luis Valley a week ago, I was able to visit them again at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge. My Pentax point and shoot 4 megapixel is no match for the mega-cameras that appear at the refuge, but this shot isn't bad (at least at low resolution in small size).

Another Bauhaus Project Update

I have written a fair bit about the Bauhaus Tapestry Project that I am working on in conjunction with James Koehler and Cornelia Theimer Gardella. The project is in full swing and has several different facets. It is a mentoring project between James and Conni and I including study of Bauhaus principles and how those principles have impacted our current work as contemporary tapestry weavers. It also includes two shows in 2010. The first is in Albuquerque during Convergence and the second is in Erfurt, Germany. The project started as an idea of Cornelia's as 2009 was the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus and includes drawing parallels between the Germany Bauhaus ideals and our current practice as artists in northern NM (as well as Cornelia's work in Germany). Please see our website for the project description and other details if you're interested HERE.

We are still looking for funding for this project. If anyone has any ideas of where to get about $10,000, please let me know! I'm not a grant writer and we seem to be running out of ideas. We have a fiscal sponsor but money for the arts is slim right now. Most of the money is for a catalog which will include photos and descriptions of our process and connections to the Bauhaus, for the travel to Germany, and for shipping work there and back. Info on our fiscal sponsor is on the Bauhaus Tapestry Project website.

Lastly, if you are a tapestry weaver and you haven't seen Silvia Heyden's article On the 90th anniversary of the Bauhaus movement: How the Bauhaus tradition has continued to inspire me for over 50 years of tapestry weaving, take a look at it. It is in the Winter 2009 issue of Tapestry Topics (newsletter of the American Tapestry Alliance) and can be seen online here. Unfortunately they were not able to put the entire text of the article online, so the combination of photos on the internet and the printed version of the magazine is needed.

Thanks also to Lyn Hart for her great review of the workshop Silvia presented in Mendocino in July. Reading these two articles made me wish I had been able to take this workshop with Silvia!

This photo is just to prove that I have been weaving. I need to get this piece and two more done before the show opens in July--and they have to be done early enough to get a catalog printed before Convergence! I have some work to do.

And lastly and completely unrelatedly--I was looking through one of my kitchen cupboards this morning and found some excellent potato specimens in a gorgeous state of growth. I didn't know potatoes could put out this kind of color! I was quite pleased... well, not pleased that I have to compost 6 big potatoes AGAIN, but very pleased by the purple shoots.