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Fiber, textile, and mixed-media at Artspace gallery
by J. Tim Raymond
Cut, Fold, and Weave
Fiber and textiles, usually relegated to large group shows, often offer very little to distinguish the artists, who rely on basic craft traditions that fall into such categories as wall hangings, crocheting in glass framed panels, and some combination of mixed media plus twine. Since the mid-1980s macramé has been seen as the bane of fine arts craft shows, with burlap and glue appliqué blessedly also absent for at least the last 20 years.
So it is with some trepidation that one undertakes to visit a show that fairly shouts its identity as Cut, Fold, and Weave. Notwithstanding these concerns, the three presenting artists are represented in an inventive and compatible display within the spaciously white galleries of Artspace. Lining the Main Street entrance hall is the ingratiating art of Paul Chandler, a day participant at Starlight Studio and Gallery, a learning disabled facility chartered to give their talented participants, guided by practicing teaching artists, full opportunity to develop their chosen art form.
Chandler’s art is exceptionally charming in form and color. Weaving on plastic grid forms, he integrates scraps of cloth fabric from myriad sources in a collage of yarn tableaux, incorporating found objects out of context in plaques and “sock doll”-like structures, playfully and wildly idiosyncratic, many with punning allusions and a sense of ritualistic presence as if part of an aboriginal spectacle, yet totally modern in their re-imagining of totems and talismans, cleverly recycling familiar materials.
Past the glass doors to the interior galleries are installations by Barbara Frackiewicz and Jozef Bajus, both concerned with cut paper but wonderfully different in approach. A well-known artist and educator, Bajus’s constructions often have a leaf-like motif, a specific stenciled leaf shape which, when cut out of paper, is not fully cut through but is left to hinge at its base, which Bajus folds to reverse, so that in its multiple repetitions the base stands out like blades of grass, or knives. Other works emphasize utility in human scale, one using thin office staples to affix handmade paper swatches to each other to form a single sheet of scarlet, staple-stitched throughout, calling to mind scarred healing. Bajus’s work, spare and elegant, is also often pointedly political, as in his Kosevo, Before the Rain series—photocopied images cut, stenciled, sliced, and stitched with red thread, each presented in an open fiber board folder with large loose-leaf binders, calling to mind the bureaucratic nature in accounting for the conflict’s carnage.
At the right of the interior gallery are works by Barbara Frackeiwicz, a cut-paper artist working out of the Polish folk art tradition. Here she shows large and larger expertly cut paper flowers on nimble wooden stems stuck incongruously out of fissures in the massive, load-bearing gallery pillars. One flower has a wall to itself, canted down at an angle six feet above the floor. One another wall, wood bracket mounts hold slim cut-paper scrolls away from the surface lined on a cord where they silently drift in the passing breeze. Minimal ribbon mobiles are suspended from structural uprights and overhead pipes that traverse the far-above ceiling, giving a serene lightness to the interior.
Using ordinary materials these artists present complex works of stimulating and contemplative enjoyment.
—j.tim raymondblog comments powered by Disqus
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