28 November 2012

Member Profile - Linda Strowbridge (Baltimore, MD)

There’s an old saying about analyzing art that goes, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”

I stitch about architecture, which is probably an equally absurd, but intriguing, challenge.

My interest in the environments we build for ourselves has been fueled by growing up in Newfoundland and later moving to Nova Scotia, Ontario, Chicago and Baltimore. A few years ago, I started making art quilts that explore architectural themes - the striking graphics of built environments, the beauty of decaying buildings, the ways that building styles reflect the energy and attitudes of the people using them, and the ongoing tug between nature and architecture.

I have never attended art school, so this activity also involves an endlessly fascinating (and often frustrating) quest to better comprehend the interplay of colors, the fundamentals of good composition, the impact of adding texture to cloth, and how all of those elements combine and influence the effectiveness of a piece of textile art.

The Hapless Super's Tenement House
44 x 26 inches

13 November 2012

SAQA/SDA 2012 Conference - Philadelphia

by Laurie Swim

Shortly after moving to Nova Scotia from downtown Toronto to Blue Rocks in 2004, I felt the need to join SAQA to broaden my horizons and observe the rising tide of interest in fibre art in general and specifically quilt art which has been my creative pursuit with my art making since the early seventies.

I have only attended one other SAQA conference and it was in 2005 in Athens, Ohio shortly after joining. SAQA conferences took place then in Athens annually and still do to coincide with the opening of Quilt National at the Dairy Barn in which many SAQA members participate.

As well as seeing and meeting many of the well known quilters in the field, one of the most important things I came away with is when I sat in on a  round table discussion with Jane Sauer, then manager of Thirteen Moons Gallery, now owner of The Jane Sauer Gallery in Sante Fe. At that time, I had just attained representation by del Mano Fine Craft Gallery in Los Angeles and my husband and I were about to open our own establishment, The Art Quilt Gallery of the Atlantic here in Lunenburg, NS. I was wearing two hats and it was very interesting to me to hear Jane speak to why loyalty to your gallery is important not only to the gallery’s existence but also ethically to the reputation and promotion of the artist.

After the conference, I volunteered to represent SAQA in the Atlantic region and due to the fact that the one Canadian rep wanted to retire, I took over as the Canada wide rep, not exactly my comfort zone and I was able to split off that responsibility to the able hands of Karen Goetzinger in central Canada and Anna Hergart in the West. Since my retirement from that mantle, I have not only seen the Atlantic region membership grow but the rise of the interest of other individual artists in the art quilt in our area.

This past March, with the assistance of a professional development grant from the Dept. of Nova Scotia Communities, Culture and Heritage, I was able to attend the Studio Art Quilt Associates/ Surface Design Association Conference in Philadelphia, March 29 - April 1, 2012.

The conference was all and more than expected - a very satisfying and successful experience. From the very start, serendipity was on my side. First of all, the direct flight from Halifax to Philadelphia was a big plus. In today’s travel, catching connecter flights is a growing hassle. After arrival in the Philadelphia airport I located the info desk for the shuttle to the conference hotel and there was one other person waiting. It turned out to be Marianne R. Williamson from Florida.

Marianne comes from a painting background like I do and she approaches her work as if she is painting in fabric. This is not to be confused with painting on fabric because that is not what she does. I later got a chance to see her work during the conference in the prestigious Art Quilt Elements show and observe her textural stitch technique. I found it inspiring and have since explored it in my own work.  Coincidently, Marianne was the last person I spoke with on the last day of the conference as well.

Over the weekend, I met many of the 250 members of the two associations participating in attendance and to my pleasant surprise many of them knew of my art. Since the conference was scheduled at the same time as the Fiber Philadelphia Festival, participants attended the opening of Art Quilt Elements, an important showcase of textile art from around the world at the Wayne Art Center. An acquaintance, Mary Pal from Ottawa, was awarded an Honourable Mention for her work portraying Jane Goodall. Anyone interested in portraiture in fibre should Google her work. Mary is also now on the board of SAQA.

On Saturday, there were shuttles arranged to take us to the different fibre shows in downtown Philly. One of these was the Snyderman-Works Gallery, a very well known and long standing fibre art institution, one in which I wish I was represented but I fear my work is not ‘edgy’ enough for them. There were other galleries and shows featuring fibre works in the same district. At the Liao Collections, I was able to view the woven work of my old friend and fellow Nova Scotian, Sandra Brownlee. I also took in the show Outside/Inside the Box and studios at the Crane Arts Bldg.

During the conference, I met Marcia Young, Editor in Chief of Fiber Art Now Magazine based in East Freetown, MA. I gave her the catalog from my 2010 show at the Mary E Black Gallery and invited her to visit Nova Scotia to see the varied artists working in fibre here.

Both the Opening and Closing Keynote speakers were very informative, Bruce Pepich, Exec. Director and Curator of Collections at the Racine Art Museum spoke about museums and contemporary fiber art collections; Bruce Hoffman, an independent curator and writer spoke about the Venice Biennale and that there appears to be more focus on fibre art than there has been in the past. This is very good news for both us as artists and confirming to collectors of our art form.

My last afternoon at the conference was spent sitting in on a critique session with Sandra Sider, art history professor, studio quilt artist, curator, critic and the present President of SAQA. She had critiqued a piece of my own work in 2009 on line and it was of interest to me to see her in action with others. Earlier the same day, she had pulled me up along with three others from the audience to role play for her lecture on how to respond to situations when asked, “And what do you do?” My role was as an artist at an exhibit of my work being asked why a piece of the same size as another in the show was priced higher.  I responded that my husband did the pricing and she would have to speak to him about it. That brought the house down.

Next year’s conference is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a place I long to see, as it is where many galleries, particularly those of the Fine Craft nature are located. I am looking at the possibility of attending. Anyone interested in accompanying me? It promises to be an exhilarating experience!

02 November 2012

Atlantic Canadians in Portfolio 19

Work by two members of the Atlantic region appears in SAQA's Portfolio 19. Regina Marzlin's abstract 'Stepping Stones' and Teri Springer's ROOTED landscape 'Bitter Harvest' are among the 246 art quilt pieces featured in this collection which documents the art quilt movement. SAQA Portfolios give Professional Artist Members the opportunity to showcase their work to a wider audience of collectors and designers.

01 November 2012

News - Laurie Swim (Lunenburg, NS)

from Laurie

Alas, I was not awarded the Portia White prize on Friday at the Creative Nova Scotia Gala in the Brewery Market in Halifax. The winner, Thom Fitzgerald, is an award winning film maker with work shown at Sundance. Pretty stiff competition for a quilt artist. It is still an honour to be on the short list for such a prestigious prize and there is always next year. Thanks to those who were supportive and sent me notes of encouragement.

For those who are in Halifax this week, please drop by Zwickers Gallery on Doyle Street near the old Library on Spring Garden to see an exhibit of my work, some old, some new. This is the first time my work has been displayed in a traditional Fine Art establishment. Ian and Kim did a wonderful job of putting it all together. The show comes down on Saturday, November 3.  Also, you can see and purchase the newly released soft cover version of my book, Rags to Riches. Great price at $16.95.