Erfurt Germany

Vernissage: 5.9.2010 Michaeliskirche

The German opening for Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus was September 5th in Erfurt at St. Michael’s church. The show and opening was the reason I went to Germany, but I came home with so much more than I expected. I thought when I decided to do this project three years ago and ultimately go to Germany for the show that it would add something international to my resume and garner me some recognition for my tapestry. It turns out that none of that was important.

People and culture, friends and collaboration, language and communication…

The opening was different than an art opening in the US. Of course most art openings here aren’t held in buildings that are 900 years old. Michaeliskirche is a rather oddly shaped church which may at one time have been a synagogue. I believe Martin Luther preached there, and Frau Hecker showed us the slot where people put their indulgences before the Reformation (see photo below). It was cold in there and somehow that made it seem older. Gravestones that probably used to be on the floor of the church now line the walls and are set upright in the courtyard. There are so many layers of history not only in this church, but in the entire city, it is difficult for an American who has not done much traveling outside of the US to understand the accretions of time and layers of history in all the buildings in the medieval city center. The constant exposure to buildings that had been used and reused over the last thousand years and were beautifully renovated and used still today was humbling.

Our opening began at 5pm with an organ concert given by Andrea Malzahn which lasted most of an hour. As a former student of organ, I greatly enjoyed the reverberations of J.S. Bach coming from the tracker organ in the choir loft. I thought it a fantastic way to celebrate the church, the music, and the beginning of the show. The church was filled to capacity with standing room only. After the concert, Frau Hecker (the woman who takes care of events at the church and accepted our show there) gave a short speech. Conni translated for me while she was talking and I found it fitting that she was officially declaring the show “open”! It was like the concert and ceremony were an hour-long introduction of our work and now the show was ready to be seen. Conni thanked people in German and then I did so in English. Frau Hecker gave us a small gift from the city of Erfurt (hand-made chocolates!) and then we were all ready to drink champagne.

It was a beautiful evening and people stood around drinking and talking for an hour or so in the sun-streaked courtyard lined with gravestones and stone monuments. There were so many people who I did not know with various levels of English proficiency who told me how much they enjoyed the show. (I appreciated that even people who spoke very little English told me they liked it in my language.) When we were completing the hanging of the show earlier in the week there was a German woman who was touring the church. I was standing on the ladder adjusting Contemplative Garden and she looked up at me, gave me a big grin and a thumbs up and said, “Super!” And at the reception, my favorite compliment came from a 6-year-old named Leonard who does not (yet) speak English. He dragged his mom over to tell me that Contemplative Garden was his favorite piece in the entire show and that his older sister agreed with him.

There was so much love and laughter shared in those days. The friends who were there from the US and the new ones I made in Germany were all so supportive and warm-hearted. The good words from Maria Wilson who (along with her husband Quentin) attended not only our show in Albuquerque, but came to Germany to see the show there were especially important to me. Maria is a talented tapestry weaver and colcha artist whose powers of perception in many areas of life are wonderful. I also gained so much from my collaboration with Conni. Having a colleague who you can bounce some of your more unconventional ideas off of and who will tell you what she is thinking about her next project or about art in general is a great gift. We may well do another show together, so watch for us in Weimar in 2012! And it was good of James Koehler to make time in his busy schedule to come to the opening in Erfurt and to bring his work to display along with his students.

An experience like this project and international show pushes my boundaries. That is, I hope, the real definition of education. I gained a much larger (though still definitely nascent) understanding that there is an art world out there much broader than the one I have thus-far experienced in the US. I can learn other languages and about other cultures and I can benefit from the work of tapestry weavers and artists in other mediums outside the confines of my American world. (Thankfully! though there will always be much for me to learn on my home turf.)

My goal for the last few years has been to do things that broaden my world and make it bigger. This show has definitely done that.

**Due to multiple factors involving a car fair in Frankfurt, bratwurst, schnaps, Austria, bronchitis, and Thuringian newspaper reporters, I did not get a chance to return to the church and take some good photographs of the show hanging. Fortunately Cornelia is a much better photographer than I and I am sure she will share some of her photos with me and allow me to post them here soon.

Emmy paying for some future sin... ?

Cornelia Theimer's Tomorrow I and II and Contemplative Garden

Cornelia Theimer's work: Topography, Abiquiu Lines, Passage

Hanging Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus in Erfurt, Germany

We arrived in Erfurt, Germany on Monday, August 30th. The jet lag was severe and I picked up a cold on the plane (from now on I'm flying internationally with a bag full of antibacterial wipes and I don't care if I look like a freak wiping down the seat and tray table on the airplane), so gelato was in order right away. Here I am with Conni eating my daily (sometimes twice daily!) ration. The poster on the door of the Erfurt tourism office is for our show.

We hung the show on Friday September 3rd. Michaeliskirche is a beautiful building which is now close to 1000 years old. I really enjoyed hanging my tapestries in such an amazing place.
Below, Conni, James, and I talk about the placement of tapestries. The woman in the salmon sweater is Frau Hecker who accepted and arranged the show for us.
Germany TV did a 90 second spot on the Saturday evening news about our show. They were at the church filming us for several hours and the resulting clip looked great! (Especially because I don't speak German and don't really know what they said.)
Conni had a banner made for the outside of the church. It was fun to walk around the corner and see it hanging there. We got a lot of publicity in Germany thanks to Conni's hard work.James hanging one of his Wheelmaker pieces while being filmed for the TV spot.

There was a wedding in the church Friday afternoon and we had to leave for a couple hours during the hanging of the show. This is the wedding party leaving (we were waiting across the street to get back in there and finish hanging the pieces). This church is so busy with events, we had difficulty finding time to prepare for and hang the show. Finally Frau Hecker loaned us her keys so we could go in on Sunday morning when they weren't open and finish the final details.
Tapestry is something that begs to be touched. As much as we'd like people to be able to do that, all the gelato and bratwurst walking around on people's hands isn't the best for the artwork. So these little signs went on the floor in front of the pieces.

James Koehler's Harmonic Oscillation series.

It was a relief to get the show hung and we celebrated with more good food. And by the way, what is the etiquette regarding hanging your work next to a tombstone? (Emergence II)

Antibiotics and other miracles

Emily and I flew back into Albuquerque from Frankfurt yesterday (well, that is a gross oversimplification. We took 2 trains, 3 planes, various trams and shuttles, and a car ride--as well as a 36 hour day and a night sitting in the Frankfurt airport before that!).

The trip to Germany was fantastic. I can't believe how much I enjoyed it. There is much to tell and hopefully I'll find some time to post photos of the show (Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus) in the coming week as well as some photos of Thuringia and the Bavarian Alps of Austria.

A big big thank you to Cornelia Theimer Gardella and her husband Kurt Gardella for being at the train station when we arrived in Erfurt, for endless translation of menus as well as talking to chefs about what I could and couldn't eat, for having the patience to teach two German illiterates some language (though I'm still not sure I can spell eisbien correctly--and I'm not entirely sure it is a word I will need to use again when I return to Germany for that matter), for showing me how to buy the right train ticket and warning me how not to make a fool out of myself, for taking us to a fantastic place in the Bavarian Alps, and for being such generous, kind, and engaging people.
Bavarian Alps--Austria

The poster of our show on the door of the Erfurt tourism office.

The show opening was wonderful, the food was excellent (gelato has added 5 pounds to my belly, but it was SO good!), the towns and scenery were one marvel after another, and the friends were lovely. I will post photos of the show and our travels soon!

Right now I am glad for antibiotics and am going to return to sleeping off my jet lag and bronchitis.

Off to Germany

On August 29th I am flying to Germany. I have not been out of the United States since 1997 when I took a trip to Prague. This is a shame, but I am ready to remedy the situation. The Bauhaus project show is coming down in Albuquerque next week and we are taking it to Erfurt, Germany which is Cornelia's home town. It will be shown in St. Michael's church in the city center. The opening is September 5th at 5pm and it will be up through the month of October. The show is called Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus. We had a wonderful run in Albuquerque at Open Space Gallery and are excited about showing the work in Germany. Thanks to all you fabulous people who came to see the show in Albuquerque! We got so much good feedback and a couple great newspaper articles also.

I plan to enjoy excellent libations (drink beer, or wish I could), eat regional cuisine (stuff myself with bratwurst), and visit many of the towns in Thuringia. I also hope to see the Bauhaus museum in Dessau and visit Bauhaus sites in Weimar. I'd like to go bicycling in the forest and see the Austrian Alps. And I think we might just have time to do those things. I am bringing some tapestries, my walking shoes, a rain jacket, my favorite sweater, and some socks to knit.

Anything else I need?

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.