Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Hmm, it has been a while since I last posted here, hasn't it. So I have several things to talk about today. Yesterday I went down to Washington, D.C. to spend the day with my friend Anita Kaplan. We went to the National Museum of the American Indian, the newest museum in the Smithsonian. The building itself is beautiful and the permanent exhibits have more information about American Indians than I had ever imagined existed. In this case "American" refers to the continental Americas, and not to the country.

But what was most interesting is the exhibit featuring the work of Brian Jungen, an Indian from British Columbia, Canada. To quote Paul Smith, the curator of the museum, "he begins with objects that are ordinary, useful, and comforting. When he's through, they are unique, expensive, and useless." Jungen takes objects such as plastic chairs, plastic garbage cans, golf bags, baseball mitts, suitcases, and Nike Air Jordans, cuts them apart and reassembles them into whale skeletons, turtle carapaces, totem poles, statues, and ceremonial masks. You can read more about the exhibit here and also see some of the sculptures.

Being a fiber artist, the piece entitled People's Flag really captured my attention. There isn't a picture of it on the NMAI web page, but if you follow the link to flickr you can see images that others have taken of the exhibit. The People's Flag is red, very, very red and is constructed of red items of mostly clothing. We could see sweaters, dresses, jackets, towels, blankets, bags, whatever. If it was red, made of fabric, and could be flattened into 2 dimensions, it was sewn onto this piece. Sizewise, it it immense. I think maybe 30 feet by 20 feet, although I may be way off. On the flickr site, there is one image that has people in it so that you can see the scale.

This exhibit will be up until next August, so if a trip to D.C. is in your future, I think you will enjoy seeing this.

After we had lunch, we went to the National Museum of Art East Wing. There we saw some of Matisse's cutouts, another exhibit of huge proportions. Also, Jasper Johns, Sol Lewitt, Mark Rothko, and a host of others. Many of these works covered an entire wall, and are inspirations to making very big art. I need a bigger studio. There was much more to see but we were tired and I was going to be going home in rush hour traffic, never a pleasant experience. So much to see, so little time.

When I got home a nice surprise awaited me. A copy of Quilts Japan arrived in the mail with a picture of Family Reunion, my Quilt National piece in it. Also pictured from Quilt National were Kathy Loomis' piece, which won the Quilts Japan Prize, and Anne Smith's piece, Best of Show winner. They only showed these three quilts from the show, so I'm very pleased that I'm one of them. The magazine leans more towards traditional quilting and other sewing crafts, with patterns and such, but since it's in Japanese, I don't get much from the text. There are some nice patterns for totes and purses, and I always like those. I might even make one, if it meets my stringent requirements for a purse. That is, it has to have pockets in the right places for my stuff.

And last but not least, here is a picture of my new kitten Rosie. In August my old cat Chuck finally succumbed to kidney failure and had to be put down. He was 16 years old and a wonderful pet. I knew I was going to be getting another cat but wanted to wait until after I had gotten all our planned vacations out of the way. Three weeks ago I went to the local SPCA and found this kitten. She was 10 weeks old at the time. And they were having a special - animals were free for seniors during September. "Seniors" was defined as anyone over the age of 60, and I was not ashamed to admit it. Otherwise she would have cost $100. Of course, when I took her in to my vet for more shots, it was $140, so in the long haul, that first hundred dollars is going to be a pittance.

Chuck was pretty old and slow, in addition to being ill, so I had completely forgotten how much energy a new kitten has. She dashes from room to room like a kamikaze pilot, crashing into walls and furniture as she slides across the wood floor. Any little item she finds on the floor becomes a new toy to be batted around until it disappears under the sofa or the refrigerator. I'm working on getting her to use the scratching post instead of my furniture and she sort of gets the idea. It's going to take a while I'm afraid.