For two thousand years now, people have been mesmerized by the mythical stories told by tapestries. Yesterday, some 300 people packed the Petaluma Arts Center’s opening reception for “Shining Brightly: Tapestry Weavers West Celebrates 25 Years.” and had a chance to see how this age old weaving practice has evolved into a vital contemporary art form. The exhibition includes 52 intricate contemporary tapestries, all made members of a West Coast weaving guild, and runs through February 21, 1010. The show was curated by Sonja Miremont from Petaluma, assisted by Jan Langdon, TWW President from Pt. Reyes Station, and Nancy Jackson from Vallejo.
Tapestry Weavers West has about 45 members who are spread out from Canada to La Hoya, California. “Shining Brightly” includes the works of 21 of these artist weavers, half of whom are from California, with several from Sonoma and Marin counties. These tapestry artists are devoted to tapestry, a specific from of weaving where the weaver doesn’t carry a specific color through from one side to another, rather color passes are treated as individual segments.
Contemporary American Tapestry has its genesis in the European revival of the tapestry in the 1950′s and in the vital fiber arts movement of the 1960′s.
“Shining Brightly” shows how theart form has continued to evolve in the past 60 years with fine examples abstraction as well as highly-developed compositions–all of which require hours of design preparation before the actual weaving begins.
ARThound did a double take when speaking to fiber artist Joan McColgan who collaborated with artist Nancy Jackson of Timshel Sudios in Vallejo by weaving “Incarnation,” one of thee panels in Jackson’s ”Incarnation” triptych (2003), a focal tapestry in the Arts Center exhibition. This 4 x 5 foot segment, which addresses spiritual transformation, has an estimated 25 hues of red, orange and green paternayan Persian wool yarn and took McColgan a whopping 1067 hours to weave! We can only imagine the hours that went into the entire triptych. McColgan doesn’t think of it as work though. In fact, she views it a kind of meditation and finds it relaxing and immensely satisfying. “It makes my heart sing like nothing else,” explained McColgan who was honored to work with Jackson, a well-known artist. More to come on the amazing artist weavers in this show. There are a a number of events on weekends to educate the public about tapestry weaving with additional weaving demonstration days being arranged. Contact the Petaluma Arts Council, (707) 762-5600, for days and times.
Sunday, Jan 24: 1-2 pm–Artists will discuss their tapestries. 2-3:30 pm–Lecture by Alex Friedman “Contemporary Tapestry: 25 Years Along the Warp”
Saturdays, Jan 16, 30 & Feb 13, 1-3pm, Tapestry Weaving Demonstrations on looms set up in the gallery at the Petaluma Arts Council. Gallery Hours: Thursday-Monday, noon to 4 pm.