Sunday, July 20, 2003

Yesterday I took a drive up to Santa Rosa to see the tapestry exhibition put together by TWW at Soundscape Gallery. I haven't gone to many TWW events over the past few years and I think it's time I started again. An additional incentive, besides wanting to see people, was the display of the MTP, or Memorial Tapestry Project.

The gallery occupies the back areas of a stereo store, in a series of rooms that act as showcases. Perhaps a furniture store used to occupy the space. Spotlights vary considerably in effectiveness and brightness, although only a few pieces suffered. Basically, the space has a sprawling character to it that requires a group of artists to fill the walls. Without the artwork, the stereo setups look pretty basic even for high-end systems, so I think I understand their need for something good on the walls. And if anyone is wondering whether tapestry affected the sound quality, I can't tell you since very little music played during the reception. Kinda of odd, huh?

The Memorial Tapestry Project looked good. It covered two full walls, in a very tapestry-like way -- from just under the top molding strip to a few feet off the floor. It gave everyone a lot to look at, with enough variety and detail to hold your attention for a considerable amount of time. Going back to look again rewarded me with an awareness of pieces I missed the first time around. However, in going back several times I finally noticed the way pieces were attached to the black background cloth. The system has a haphazard quality to it. Remounting the works on a full cloth with less patched-in strips and squares would improve it. Ah well. Maybe most people don't pay attention to such things.

Meanwhile, I have to say that seeing Monique Lehman's self-portrait (the one that was on the cover of Fiberarts years ago) gave me food for thought. It is a beautiful piece. Oddly enough, the piece feels intimate even though it must measure 5' high. It is a blow-up that enlarges her profile from slightly above and behind. Her eyes look upward with a troubled gaze, as if she were sitting or kneeling, and her attention seems to be turned inward. She is unaware of being viewed. This brings into question the "small scale=intimacy" equation in a way that surprises me. I need to think about it more.

Constance Hunt had a beautiful small piece of a reclining nude done in tones of peacock blue on a black ground. A jewel of a piece, displayed on the wall with several drawings of nudes (perhaps of the same model) tucked behind. If this piece were set on a table, it would be as if a stack of drawings just happened to yield up a tapestry, or as if I had stumbled on it in an artist's studio. On the wall, however, it's a bit contrived.