Sunday, May 04, 2014

Of the Earth, Looking at Dorothy Caldwell: Silent Ice/ Deep Patience

Dorothy Caldwell: Silent Ice/ Deep Patience
March 21 to June 1, 2014
Art Gallery of Peterborough
Peterborough Ontario, Canada

Gallery view, with A Red Hill / A Green Hill, 2012 at far right.
photo by Lesli Onusko © 2014 Art Gallery of Peterborough
Dorothy Caldwell is an American born Canadian artist. Dorothy Caldwell is a master mark maker. Dorothy Caldwell’s practice is based in the use of textile techniques to colour, mark and embellish the 2D picture plane with the essence of (what is) landscape. Beginning at time in the early 1970s when late abstract expressionism and pop art are being displaced by the conceptual and the feminist art movement has established itself. Inspired by the surface treatment in the staining in Mark Rothko’s painting, “staining so light the weave of the canvas came through” *1 and influenced as many were by the 1971 exhibition "Abstract Design in American Quilts" at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York which is now consider instrumental in igniting the quilt renaissance of the 20th and 21st centuries. She has built a career on staining and stitching cloth. She has met the challenge of working in this way and transcended what the contemporary art world has considered the limited boundaries of the medium of textiles.
Dorothy Caldwell with work How Do We Know When It’s Night? 2010, wax & silkscreen resist on cotton with stitching and appliqué photo by Lesli Onusko © 2014 Art Gallery of Peterborough
Spending time in Australia’s Outback and in Canada’s Far North she has, with this exhibition, reached a new level of expression that strips the nonessentials away from documenting the land leaving shape, colour and line to work in concert much like Cezanne. Working with what was there as did the unknown cave painters in Lascaux Caldwell presents both an “I MAX” vista and the entire minutia of the vast landscapes she is encountering in each piece of work.  Some of this work was seen in the fall of 2013 in London, Dublin and Harrogate as a feature exhibition in the Knitting and Stitching Show.  Her audience holds her in high regard and has been building through sold-out workshops and lectures spanning her over 40 year career as an artist exhibiting in Canada, the United States, Japan, Australia and the UK. This new body of landscape images is a game changer in contemporary landscape art.  

Detail of “A Red Hill / A Green Hill” photo by Joe Lewis taken with permission
I felt this work somewhere in the pit of my stomach, a pit of ochre mud perhaps, Stendhal Syndrome perhaps. While it’s all in the details the whole surface of these works envelop you, they take your breath away, and your heart rate accelerates. You feel the atmosphere of the “Where”. Dorothy Caldwell: Silent Ice/ Deep Patience is an exhibition that engages the senses. Your eyes travel constantly across the surface.  When you try to pause to examine a detail, a stitch, a stain; suddenly a mark of colour draws your eye elsewhere. You breathe deeply to still the motion. Caldwell's signature repetitive marks stitched or discharged spread across the walls in piece after piece after piece, hypnotically holding your attention and driving you mad with distractions as you try to take it all in. The dryness of the air, the harsh light that washes out colour, these depictions of the Australian Outback and Canada’s north exist side by side, nothing really signifying its specific locale. You take another breath, give up control, and enjoy the dance you are taken on.

Gallery view (large work at left is called Map Without Words, 2013; the work at the far right is called Walking on Tundra, 2013) photo by Lesli Onusko © 2014 Art Gallery of Peterborough
Colour rubbed off rusty bits of found metal and dirt of different minerals make up the stained cottons that have been made velvety smooth. The colour, both muted and rich, is occasionally blurred with quiet spots of grey that read greasy as if vaseline has been smeared on the surface.  These are lustrous, almost luminous like mother of pearl or dirty ice.  They stand out and float above the densely marked surface. These smears appear in several pieces. They stopped me in my tracks because of the lack of an instantly identifiable process. Are they burnished, as their smoothness suggests; or satin, which has been embedded rather the appliquéd; or merely tarnish? Is this some chemical reaction brought on by exposure to the air? So much in these works seems like a natural reaction, a growth (like lichen on a rock) rather than separately applied embellishment.
View of collection from above photo by Lesli Onusko © 2014 Art Gallery of Peterborough
Done within a very short time span (2010-2013), this show represents work done in, and inspired by two distinct landscapes.  While there is noticeable difference between overall dark and overall light pieces, this work is about the geography not the geographic location. Off to one side is a meticulously organized collection of specimens/ artifacts presented steampunk style with curio cabinetry and shelving all holding debris/ castoffs/ garbage gathered on-site in both locales. Rusty tin cans, bones, rocks (chunks of red ochre) shells, slate (which she has scratched marks into, suggesting both follies and aboriginal pictograph). There is a collection of “notebooks” of her explorations. As Jennifer Angus in her fictional Victorian ethnographic explorer series “A Terrible Beauty” invented a decor for her explorer to inhabit, Caldwell herself is in this case the explorer.  She is both the navigator and the one doing the “Scientific” documenting, always aware that she is the intruder rather then the inhabitant. This may explain the frantic motion of her marks, her stitching the need to take down in short hand the essentials of the sites and removing herself from the surface of the land before she causes an impression and leaves yet another scar of human interference.

 view of collection box and books; works on wall from left to right are Comfort of Fog, 2013, History of Stone, 2013, and Red Hill/Black Hill, 2013. photo by Lesli Onusko © 2014 Art Gallery of Peterborough
There is an incredible peaceful beauty to this body of work which will cause the viewer a moment of awe, understanding process or imposing meaning on the work will not alter the effect it has you. I can only call this experience an intimate moment of connection. The landscape is not captured; it is experienced. Dorothy Caldwell: Silent Ice/ Deep Patience is organized by the Art Gallery of Peterborough in Peterborough Ontario Canada opened on March 22 2014 and will tour to other venues. An exhibition catalogue is in production and will be available later this year.


*1 Dorothy Caldwell Interview Surfacing Journal volume 5 Issue 1, 1984

Art Gallery of Peterborough
250 Crescent Street
Peterborough ON K9J 2G1

Dorothy Caldwell: Silent Ice/ Deep Patience March 21 to June 1, 2014, Art Gallery of Peterborough then touring to St Mary's Art Gallery in Halifax, then the Cambridge Galleries, exhibition catalogue is in production.

Dorothy Caldwell is a graduate of Temple University, Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia, PA, 1970, the 1990 Recipient of the Prix Saidye Bronfman Award, Associate Fellow University of Nebraska, Lincoln as of 2005 her influence on the current and coming generation of artist and crafts persons working in textiles, with textiles in book making and surface exploration grows daily, she is represented in Toronto by David K Gallery.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 2014 Textile Signtings on Facebook

" Unravel: A meditation on the warp and weft of militarism" is a sit and chat participatory work by York University PhD candidate Hellene Vosters at Cross Sections 2014 an interdisciplinary art exhibition that will be held at the Modern Literature and Culture Research Centre (MLC) at Ryerson University from March 14-26th, 2014, it is part of Intersections 2014: Thinking|Feeling a York and Ryerson University Communication & Culture Graduate Student Association Conference

Sunday, March 02, 2014

changing gears, new ways to share, different delivery platforms This is a test

Gateway Ribbons of Galla Placidia, 1996 collection of Artist
Quilts by John Willard: A forty Year Retrospective Feb 15th - Mar 30th, 2014 Burlington Arts Centre, 
Curator: Denis Longchamps
Well lets just start with facebook's way of embedding photo albums into different non facebook delivery systems and since it is a new year I will start by sharing the January and February Textiles Sightings Albums I posted on face book.

fQ January 2014 Textile Sightings.

Post by fibreQUARTERLY Canada on-line Textile and Fibre Arts and Crafts magazine.

while not knowing what this will look like i also have the option through e Blogger to format for a number of different cell phones so I will try that out, but it will be up to you to tell me what it looks like on your phone, since I don't have one. 

"Northern Spring"  joe lewis 2001 layered organza over stitched

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Winter Into Spring 2014 Textile Exhibitions in Ontario

Opening Soon

Quilts by John Willard: A 40 Year Retrospective  
February 15 – March 30, 2014
Burlington Art Centre
1333 Lakeshore Road,
Burlington, Ontario
opening reception and artist talk on Sunday February 23, at 2pm.


Dorothy Caldwell, Walking on Tundra,
silkscreen and discharged cotton, dyed, stitched and appliqué,
66 cm x 134.62 cm, 2013
Silent Ice / Deep Patience: Dorothy Caldwell
Art Gallery of Peterborough,
250 Crescent Peterborough 250 Crescent
 Opening Reception: Friday, March 21, 7 pm

This new body of work developed by Caldwell continues her exploration of place, how we mark the land, and how it is visualized in mapping practices, both conventional and personal. The scope of her research included extensive travel in both the Australian Outback and the Canadian Arctic. There are strong parallels between Canada and Australia and how they each imagine themselves. Both have large central wilderness landscapes, and are technically both deserts. The Outback and the Arctic are harsh landscapes that the indigenous populations have learned to survive in. They are both powerful landscapes that inspire the imagination and the way we view the country.

“The works for the exhibition will be a response to these experiences and how they relate to my own sense of place. Ultimately one comes back to the familiar landscape with renewed perspective and ongoing questions about interpreting images and values of another culture in light of our own experience.” 
- Dorothy Caldwell

Caldwell maintains an active international exhibition and teaching schedule from her studio in Hastings, Ontario. Her travel and research in India, Japan, and Australia have influenced her work both as sources of dyeing and stitching practices and as places where textile artists share her beliefs in the integration of historical work in contemporary contexts. Caldwell has been recipient of the Saidye Bronfman Award.

She has executed major architectural commissions, and her work is in many permanent collections including the Museum of Art and Design in New York, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Art Gallery of Peterborough.

Silent Ice / Deep Patience is an AGP touring exhibition and will be accompanied by a publication.

Both John Willard and Dorothy Caldwell exhibits will present workshops with the artist for more information check out each gallery's websites and book participation through them.


Images on invitation all details from Clockwise left to right: Peggy Mersesau, Bulls eye 2003, J. Lynne Cambel, Gift # 1, 1993, Ilse Amyas- Sailkauskas Mountain Memories, 1987, Barbara Brown, Ink Scribbles 1988, Linda Pinhay, New Orleans (Blanche’s Trip). 1996, David H Kaye Grounds to Wander The engaged Relief Series. 1982, Ted Hallman, Death Grip 1996,

25 Years of Collecting
January 24 - February 23, 2014
Cambridge Galleries IDEA | EXCHANGE, 
Queen's Square and Design at Riverside

A special expanded edition of the annual Select Works exhibition has been created as the finale to the Cambridge Galleries IDEA | EXCHANGE ’s 35th Anniversary celebrations. for more information

Karen Thiessen, Hamilton Ontario, The Journey Series: Forgiveness #6 1999, Cotton, dyed and distressed, quilted.
Acquired with assistance of Starry Night Committee 2001
You can see photos from this event and other shows that opened in January on fQ's facebook page 

Transformations: Taking Felt in New Directions

  Maggie Glossop and Andrea Graham
21 January, 2014 ~ 15 March, 2014
Norah Rosamond Hughes Gallery,
Mississippi Valley Textile Museum
3, Rosamond St. E.
Almonte, Ontario
Image on Invitation "Not to Know But to Go On, (detail) 2010 -2013, found fabrics, cotton embroidery floss, artist canvas cotton tape, hand stitched.
 Judy Martin: Mended World
January 19- March 2, 2014
Art Gallery of Sudbury
251 rue John St.
Sudbury, Ontario

visit Judy Martin on line to find out more about her work.

Title: Hamilton Sample, installation, 2014, collage of digital and silkscreen prints on fabric, found objects and photographs, hand embroidery. Size: 180x300cm
Photo by Istvan Zsako, provided by Anna Torma

On Thursday feb9 2014 I saw new work by Anna Torma at Hamilton Artist Inc. [becoming] The Logic of Memory: Corinne Duchesne, Peter Horvath, Anna Torma, January 23 – March 1, 2014, the show is very well shaped the combination of Images/ artists work very well. A catalogue essay by Tara Bursey can be downloaded

From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru
Jan 29, 2014 - Apr 11, 2014
Textile Museum of Canada
Organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Curated by Barry Till 

There are two other exhibitions on at the TMC
Telling Stories Until Apr 13, 2014

Fictions and Legends: Heather Goodchild and Jérôme Havre  Until Apr 13, 2014

 South African artist Fiona Kirkwood's work in the bar / dinning room at the Gladstone Hotel is part of Hardtwist. note the people sitting down to dinner if you need a size/ scale reference point see more of her work on her website

Hard Twist 2014 – This is Personal
Thurs Jan 23, 2014- Sun April 27, 2014
Queen Street West and Gladstone avenue
The Gladstone Hotel’s 8th Annual Juried Textile and Fibre Arts Exhibition. Hard Twist 8: This is Personal showcases works exploring the nuances, complexities and politics of that which is individual, private and intimate.

Cloth is personal. Cloth speaks of the person cocooned in successive layers of textile that communicate who they are, that tell of their dreams and aspirations. And occasionally betray their secrets.

Radiating out from underwear – intensely personal, usually hidden, and sometimes surprising – through the various layers that signal origins, social position, hopes, fears, sexuality and aspirations, Hard Twist 8 – This Is Personal encompasses the gamut of the human with signals wrapped in cloth.

I will be interviewing the curators Helena Frei and Chris Mitchell who have been organizing this show since it began in 2006 to coincided with the Textile Society of America's symposium Textile Narratives which took place at Harbourfront Centre in October 2006.

Marcel Marois, Tapestry Les angles d’un site, 1994-1995 high warp, wool, Gift to the Cambridge Galleries collection from the Cadillac Fairview Corporation 2013 
  When I attended the opening of  "25 years of Collecting" Cambridge Galleries. to see this tapestry was both a shock and a joy to see this Marcel Marois, Tapestry Les angles d’un site, 1994-1995, has been on display in the Bay King corridor in Toronto. This and other Tapestry have along with the Mies van der Rohe designed TD Centre (where this piece lived) given this area the prestige late modern architecture should have. Unfortunately they are disappearing as these building become renovated generic office towers out side of the history of Architecture. the joy comes from seeing it has found a new home. 

Since 2006 when I published a story called "Who made that: a question about Public (Textile) Art in Canada?" in fibreQUARTERLY Volume 3 Issue 1 / Winter 2007  I have been following the adventures of the tapestry works hanging in the Bay King corridor of downtown Toronto as they slowly disappear. Hopefully they will all end up in public collections where they can be seen. 

While I am sure there are more exhibitions featuring textiles such  as Born of the Indian Ocean: The Silks of Madagascar curator Sarah Fee which is on for a limited time in the Middle East / South Asia Special Exhibit case, 3rd Floor Lee-Chin the ROM (I have not seen it yet) and there will be coming up these are the one's that I have been able to track down.

Try and get out and see some beautiful historic textiles and interesting contemporary work and bring some colour and light into these horrible lingering days of this seemingly never ending winter.

From  From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru at the Textile Museum of Canada detail of: Disassembled Kimono, Silk, gold thread embroidered, painted. Gift of Mrs. Fumi Suzuki, SC 1114AGGV,

For cleaning. A kimono would be disassembled and its standardized, narrow panels sewn together into one long strip up to 11 meters long. After cleaning it would be stitched back together by hand

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Save and Retrieve, "Arlene Stamp: 1983+30 " reviewed

Detail of:  Arlene Stamp, Now Won’t You Listen Dearie, 1998, woven laminated inkjet prints
58.4 x 58.4 cm, Collection of Nickle Galleries, gift of the artist, photo: John Hails
Arlene Stamp 1983 + 30
18 October, 2013 - 4 January, 2014
Organized from the collection of the Nickle Galleries,
curated by Christine Sowiak with assistance from Katie Green and catalogue essay by Chris Cran.
Nickle Galleries Floor, Taylor Family Digital Library, University of Calgary

Save and Retrieve, "Arlene Stamp: 1983+30 "

Arlene Stamp, painter (b at London, Ont 4 June 1938). Stamp studied art at the Alberta College of Art and Design (1974-76) and the UNIVERSITY OF CALGARY (BFA, 1979, and post-graduate studies from 1979-80). Previously she had studied mathematics at the UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO (BA, 1960). *1

While people that know Calgary based Arlene Stamp's work would argue that it has nothing to do with textiles they would be ignoring the obvious in her body of woven strips of laminated InkJet prints not to mention her manipulation of the grid. With “Arlene Stamp 1983 + 30” the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary has organized a retrospective of this artist work that, while inclusive of the different approaches to materials and methods of creating as is representative of their collection, for me this exhibition provides a small glimpse into her wide reaching conceptual thinking. Stamp came of age as an artist when there were many shifts in attitudes towards and in art making. It was an exciting, volatile and confusing time. Feminism was gaining ground. Many female artist were claiming that handicrafts : such as needle work, china painting and other “Decorative” arts along with weaving and quilting which were assumed /assigned to be woman's work, whether it was traditionally or not as an avenue of explorations. Just as many female artist where rejecting these handicrafts /mediums and expanding ways of approaching the pictorial surface and codify painting in order to reassert its position in a new hierarchy where conceptual work held primacy. Arlene Stamp's work is concerned with that pictorial plane/ surface.

Arlene Stamp, Plaza, 1991, vinyl tile on Masonite, 365.76 x 731.52 cm
Collection of Nickle Galleries, gift of the artist, photo: courtesy of Arlene Stamp
 I first came across Arlene Stamps work in Toronto's corridor of power in one of the bank towers at Bay and King.Binary Frieze (Squeeze)” and “Bianary Frieze (Stretch)” are 1993 pieces installed in the Ernst & Young Lobby, Toronto Dominion Centre, Toronto, Ontario. They are made of  vinyl tile on aluminum. While many of the bank towers in this neighbourhood have had tapestries hanging in their lobbies (as was the fashion of the era in which these buildings where constructed), following the postwar “modern” architectural movement which followed La Corbusier’s clarion call for “tapestries to decorate the walls of the new architecture” (*2)  Not wanting to be thought none modern Toronto designers followed suit. Unfortunately with the renovations which  the buildings in this neighbourhood  have had in recent years many of the  emblematic modern era tapestries have disappeared from street level, public view including Binary Frieze (Stretch and Squeeze). The retrospective includes two pieces constructed with vinyl tiles: JumpShift 1993, (wall piece) 152.76 X 248.92, vinyl tile, mahogany veneer, gator board and aluminum stripping, and “Plaza” 1991, a floor piece 365.76 X 731.52, Vinyl tile on Masonite which Stamp describes as

“ This series represents my first attempts to picture a non-periodic pattern using real materials, in this case a line of standard vinyl floor tiles. Two overlapping grids of tile patterns were set at an angle of 13 degrees with respect to one another. Because this angle cuts the grids into shapes with sides of an irrational * length, I thought the resulting pattern could never repeat. While it does create a a complex and interesting pattern, I now think I was wrong about it being non-periodic. (* an irrational number in mathematics is represented by a decimal that goes on forever) “ (*3)

Arlene Stamp, Plato and My Garden II, 1990
oil and egg medium acryloid and graphite on canvas
24 panels each 45.7 x 45.7 cm
Collection of Nickle Galleries, gift of the artist
photo: John Hails
Her interest in mathematics naturally/organically led to working with digital technologies however there is work in the show that explores none fine art reproduction technologies such as carbon paper, photo copies and early/simple computerized graphic design software. These explorations seem to be used in a counter intuitive manner which is very interesting. Chris Cran in his catalogue essay writes about her use of Xeroxes “ a way of removing herself from the choices that a painter might always be confronted with: subject matter, composition, colour etc. In this process these formal components would be predetermined.” (*4)  I see more going on then just what Chris Cran describes above as these exploration continued  over time and will look at what I see as her attempts to remove herself from the making process., while still having her work occur. The “Gladys M Johnson” series which is based of Xerox images of a collection of paintings Chris Cran own are copied in paint onto canvas by Stamp in the early 1980s  In the beginning of 2000 she is revisiting these images in the “lost Paintings” series by using a scanned slide of the early work. In the first series I see her attempting to remove her hand (unsuccessfully) from the making of these drawings and paintings as well as the decision making process, in the latter series which were presented as “Paint By Number” kits enabling/ allowing others to complete the works and possibly secede in removing her hand from the finishing of what she calls “Impossible Paintings.” 

Interestingly in following this line of investigation she was the curator of a show called “Painting Machines” (5*) for the New Gallery in Calgary in 1997 where she presented the work a number of younger artist who were making paintings through automated processes. They had each created or modified machinery that place paint on the surface through the means of a brush or spray. I had the luck to see the show and attend a panel discussion during which they discussed their processes and the reasons behind them.

Arlene Stamp,
left,:Now Won’t You Listen Dearie, 1998, woven laminated inkjet prints, 58.4 x 58.4 cm.,
right:“A” You’re Adorable, 1998,woven laminated inkjet prints,58.4 x 58.4 cm
Collection of Nickle Galleries, gift of the artist,photo: John Hails
This way of using reproduction or information storage technologies led to another thread of work which situated the hand implicitly into the digital process. In some ways it is a very simplistic process where she has transcribed interviews from audio tape, set the text over a multicoloured background and then printed these texts with an inkjet printer, laminated them, cut them into strips, and then wove them in plain weave structure. “The Mum Tapes” 1998 are part a body of work build on the relationship between her mother and herself. The source material is archival (old home movies and photographs) and collaboratively created audio recordings of her mother reminiscences . Thinking about “The Mum Tapes” and its various components and iterations the processes become part of the works, not in an obvious way but in a subtle ways in which the deterioration of stored materials not retrieved invalidate or perhaps fictionalize the information making it more accessible.  As her mother's voice is recorded and played back the tapes themselves distort. The flow of the lamented printed text ( Now You Won't Listen Dearie” and “A' You'er adorable” are in the exhibition) is interrupted/ distorted by the interlacing of these strips. The film strip “Real Life 58 Frames”  an enlarged 8 mm “home movies” backed with a electroluminescent light are safely presented while the originals have suffered deterioration by being shown and, like the audio tapes, will crumble. The web presentation of this material along with images of lyrics of songs popular in her mother's youth in the work “Modern Mother” (*6), all the original materials have been digitized / stored in a “binary” format that is retrievable by current computer technologies but their security depends on this technology which will be obsolete one day.

These steps through different storage and retrieval systems are in many ways constantly in play throughout out all her works as is the fact of this exhibition:
·                 . As photocopies of source material (the Gladys Johnson Series) and computer graphic design system enabled
·                 the CMYK colour layers (The Red Paintings and Plato and My Garden) removed decisions making from her painting process,
·                 and audio visual recording and website creation provided a way of  moving captured/ created information (memory and object) from a physical to a “non-physical” space.
·                 And as lost photocopies led to the Impossible Paintings series this exhibition is a result of accessing/ retrieving a whole body of stored work. 

Having stopped her studio practice in 2003,  the organizing/ creating an inventory of her entire body of work is a major achievement, as is finding a home (Storage and Retrieval mechanism) for it through donating it to  three  institutions in Alberta: the Nickle Galleries at the University of Calgary, ( where Arlene Stamp 1983 +30 is on display)The Glenbow Museum in Calgary and  the Art Gallery of Alberta. In so doing, she has “created” a  final work in which she has successfully removed her hand from the creation process. Like the “impossible Painting" series,  it is some on else who has completed the work.  In this case, it is , curator Christine Sowiak with assistance from Katie Green.

Joe Lewis January 5 2014

*2 “who Made That : a question about Public (Textile) Art in Canada? By joe Lewis FQ Volume 3, Issue 1/ Winter 2007  and “Time and Line: brief history of Modern Tapestry “ by Joe Lewis fQ Volume 5 Issue 3/ Fall 2009
*3 “Arlene Stamp 1983 +30' catalogue p.13
*4  “Arlene Stamp” Chris Cran, “Arlene Stamp 1983 +30' catalogue p.4
*5 Painting Machine” New Gallery, Calgary Alberta 1997, Heather Raymont, Jason Dufresne, Roy Meuwissen, Chris Bennett, Brian White, Ayad Sinawi, John Eisler