Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Becky Meyer at Paul Petro's special projects and WASHI WALK AROUND

Dateline: Toronto, June 8 2008

While coming from the washi sale at the Gladstone on my way east on Queen Street West to the opening of the "Washi Challenge" at Edward Day Gallery I was stopped in my tracks by the window of the Paul Petro's Special Projects Gallery.

Cinder blocks with an almost luminous in the sunshine mass of long flowing powdery white twine draped through them caught my eye.

"Untitled Mass" was an installation by two recent Georgian College graduates Becky Meyer working in rope dipped in plaster and Sonya Grabowski ( soft textile sculpture suspended)

Meyer's work is elegant in appearance, countering the actual psychical make up of its elements, it's attraction lies somewhere between the fascination of looking into a construction site while it could have been ropes of pearls accompanying Grabowski's satiny beads in the window in of Tiffany's

I spoke with Becky Meyer briefly about her processes and thought she sounded exactly like a textile artist, labour intensive, repetitive processing of hundreds of lengths of fibre: spinner weaver, dyer, embroider - I know that story. She has a portfolio on facebook that shows a progression of familiarizingly herself with her media and exploring its potential. She told me she has developed her own tools for working with the length and bulk of the material, its dry time shaping storing. her approach to this material process has been considered resulting in its simple elegance. Its is neither awkward or unfinished in presentation, its visual and visceral impact is strong.

She is working on a website and I am looking forward to see where she takes this work next.


Washi Walk About: in this case pictures just would do the work has to been seen to be appreciated.

The majority of work on display in the various galleries around town are prints: showcasing the skills of the print makers and ranging from beginner to amazing. This work does not necessarily come of as a celebration of washi it comes across as a celebration of print making much the way Contact is about photography. I said the majority was printmaking but that is not all that can be seen. It is when the work leaves the surface that the exploration of washi begins.

That said make sure you see the exhibitions at the Japan Foundation located at 131 Bloor Street West to get a historic perspective, David Kaye Gallery 1092 Queen Street west ( entrance off of Dovercourt) The Edward Day Gallery 952 Queen Street West (off the MOCCA parking lot at Queen, west of Shaw) *new*Gallery 906 Queen Street West.

I have to admit my disappoint so far has been in what I haven't seen as opposed to to what I seen. I had higher hopes for this event and perhaps participating in workshops might have removed some of that frustration but they filled up fast. The fact that master papermakers have come from Japan to give workshops where is the show case of there work? At the Japanese Paper Place i was alarmed by the 6' X 4" sample of Hiroko Karuno's woven Shifu and three skeins of her spun paper I wanted more and I also wanted to feel it, but being a well trained viewer and practitioner of textile arts I just will not touch things unless the artist tells me to. I will be attending her lecture at the Textile Museum and am looking very forward to it after reading Stephen Szczepanek story "Paper Weight" in issue 22 of Selvedge Magazine. There is an example of washi weaving and embroidery at the Edward Day Gallery ( along with a flock of origami pigeons ) and a woven garment at Proof Gallery (55 Mill Street, Building 74) in the Distillery District which I haven't seen yet.

It is early days yet and going to openings is not the best way to see the work and it is foolish to wine about what's not there when there is a great deal of work to be seen. I am not the general public and there for not the audience this event is geared towards, but i think a bit more information about the paper used would have been of use. Textile artist for some reason are expected to be able to identify most components and methods used in producing their work. That information which may or may not be understood is still expected. The catalog that has been produced to accompany this month long event has enough basic information in it and a conversation with the artist can provide more but won't necessarily be present.

'Dry point etching on Gampi from Kochi Perfecture made by _?__" may be information that people don't have any interest in, but if the concept is to promote the art form and try to ensure the practice of this traditional paper making continues perhaps this type of acknowledgment of the papermaker should become the norm.

Those are just some of my thoughts on the washi seen this week.

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