Friday, March 30, 2012

Little escap(ad)e: Georgia O’Keeffe in Munich

At the end of February, my son and I took an outing to Munich together. The Art Museum of the HypoCultural Foundation is currently showing a Georgia O’Keeffe retrospectiveand I had discovered in a flyer that they sometimes offer children’s programmes accompanying the exhibitions. Which would give me time to look at the exhibition myself. 

We were lucky, although I tried to sign him up only one week in advance (thinking that we had probably missed it because too many other kids would have been signed up), we got a space for him in the two-hour-children’s programme.
I had not really known much about Georgia O’Keeffe  before I went to this exhibit, although I had seen some reproductions of her paintings on greeting cards or posters. Or on the cover of the catalogue:

So I was full of curiosity.
What struck me right at the entrance was the arrangement of photographs of the desert in New Mexico where O’Keeffe lived after 1949.

When I was a child, my parents took us to the United States, including a lot of traveling, and the southwestern deserts have stuck with me as some of the most wonderful types of landscape I have ever seen or been to. So the connection with Georgia O’Keeffe that I felt upon entering this exhibit was immediate, and very strong.

The exhibition extends through the entire Kunsthalle, and one is well advised to come with a sufficient amount of time. I was rather disappointed with the quality of the audio-guide (which cost an extra €5 on top of the admission), but if one doesn’t know a whole lot about the artist beforehand it is certainly better to have such an additional medium besides the panels of documentation spread through the exhibit.
It felt very good to learn about a woman who had been a very successful artist over many years, even if some of the early fame was based on the myth of the sexualized woman that had been created by her husband and galerist Alfred Stieglitz. You could really feel her presence when seeing some of the photographs of her that her husband had taken, her character seemed to jump from those sharp and focussed eyes looking out at you. Can’t help but starting to phantasize about how it would have been to meet and get to know her...

I was very impressed with the range of topics that Georgia O’Keeffe painted over the years: the abstractions of flowers, streets and houses in New York, the Southwest...
And with the sincerity with which she settled on the Southwest as her place to be after her husband had died.
My favorite picture is “My Last Door”, an abstraction of that patio door which had been her most important reason to buy her house in Abiquiu.

What most impressed me, though, if there really is a ‘most’ in this experience, was the quality and impact of her few sculptures. 

Too few, for my taste. But one can't do everything...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

After 8 days offline

Lent is, of course, a time of the year when the big churches tell people they should try to “do without” something – I have friends who go seven weeks without alcohol, chocolate, or some other goody-item. Usually I don’t chime in, but this year my 8 days without a computer felt a bit like that. My touchpad had given up and I had been told it might take up to three weeks to get the machine back when they sent it in for repairs. Luckily, it still had guarantee as I had only bought it last year, so off it went, and I prepared myself for a lengthy period of abstinence, with only occasional access to a computer to briefly check e-mail.
Imagine my surprise when I received a phone-call by the repairing company only four days after I had delivered the machine at the store. They wanted to know how satisfied I was with the repair. Surprise on their side when I said I hadn’t even gotten it back yet... Due to the fact that it was only sent off from the facility after the guy talked to me, and some delivery delay, and the weekend, it took until yesterday to get it back to me. But I was happy to have it back.
Not that I didn’t know what to do with myself without the computer. But as I had prepared myself for a longer time ‘without’ I had immediately switched off my sensorium that is on the constant lookout for blog-topics. I did keep up my daily photography, though, but had seriously resigned myself to weeks without posting on the blog.
It is amazing how dependent we get on these little items, even if only to check some piece of information on the internet. On the other hand, the amount of time at one’s disposal when one doesn’t quickly turn to check out this, look at that blog, search for a recipe...
So I spent the week offline dyeing the March shipment for my fabric club, did a bit of sewing to finish Play of Lines XXIX, and prepared Play of Lines XXVIII for quilting (I had had to wait for black batting, and the right threads before I could do this).

March 2012: fabric club selection

Play of Lines XXIX, pieced, unquilted

Play of Lines XXVIII, pieced, unquilted

Got lots of things done.
But am glad to resume posting! And to feel reconnected to the world...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


interruption due to computer problems.
I will resume posting when the computer returns from the repair shop.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Birmingham, here I come...

It’s been nine years since my first and so far last visit to Birmingham – in March, as participant in a European exchange program for university lecturers. By then I had of course heard about the Festival of Quilts, but it was absolutely impossible to combine the two occasions. While I was there, my husband fell seriously ill and I had to return home earlier than planned, so I did not even get to see much besides the university campus. Since then I have been thinking that I want to go and visit the festival at some point.
Some of my quilts have already been there. Two years ago I participated in the competition and had two quilts in the shows. Last year, SAQA’s „Beyond Comfort“ opened in Birmingham, which includes two of my quilts. So I finally decided this would be the year when I would go there myself.
Since November I had been checking the homepage regularly, and was pleased to receive a mail pre-announcing early booking for the festival for members of QGBI “and associated European guilds” – that’s me! After all, I am a member of the German Patchwork Guild, that should qualify. So I downloaded the program, picked out a few classes I would like to participate in, and waited almost patiently for March 1st.
I assumed I might not get into all the classes, but I was lucky. Because I opted to call them and not attempt any online registration processes, it all went smoothly. I managed to reach somebody on my first try, talked to a very nice person on the other end of the line, gave her all the class numbers I had picked out, and she would let me know within two days in case they were not available any longer.
But I received all my tickets a week later. Meanwhile I have even corrected the wrong number of membership I had given them when I quoted my number by heart – no problem, it does not affect my registration.
Everything else I left to our fabulous travel agent, a former school friend of my husband. she is also called Uta, which always makes for nice openings of telephone conversations – “Hi Uta, this is Uta...” She, of course, got me a better deal for a flight than I would have managed to get if I had fidgeted with booking over the internet, and she also managed to get me a better hotel rate than the one I would have got if I had registered as a visitor of the Festival of Quilts.
So I’ll be going to be present at the Festival for the first time in August this year – my plane tickets arrived on Thursday, and I am excited!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

"Liebster Blog" Award

We've been having terrible server problems lately and I have hardly been able to get into the net to check e-mails, not to even think or speak  about posting on my blogs. So it came as a surprise when yesterday I found a mail by Kathleen Loomis from several days ago that she would make me the recipient of her second round of passing on the "Liebster Blog" award, which she had already received last year and has now received again. Thank you for this honor, Kathy! I know Kathy from a Nancy Crow workshop, and we had a wonderful Daily Art Project in 2010/11 with our "Daily Mail" project, which we have posted about here and here.
Now this award already has succeeded in getting me two additional registered readers, and it has bumped up my viewer number on Kathy's publication date considerably, so thank you all for following Kathy's lead and checking out my blog.
As this award comes with conditions, I would like to fulfill at least two of these right now:
first condition calls for posting the picture on the blog. Which I do here:
Second condition calls for thanking the awarder - which I have already done, see above - and setting a link to that person's blog, which I have done repeatedly before but am happy to do again here.

Third condition calls for passing on the award to five other blogs. Now as I couldn't find an originator of the award in a quick net-search, nor could find out who altered the rules and set the number of blogs for the award to be passed on to up to five in the last year - it used to be three when Kathy first received it - I have decided to stick to the semantics of the German word 'Liebster' - "most favorite" and pass the award on to only one other blog. Now Kathy, as the person who gave me the award and has it received twice already is out of bounds, though hers is really my most favorite blog. The second-favorite blog I read has over 800 registered readers - so I will take a few days to think this over before deciding...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Surface Design Association

After I had received the invitation to join the TAFA-list last fall I finally decided to do something I had been meaning to do for quite a while: I joined SDA, the Surface Design Association.

I had heard a lot of praise about their journal, and as my decision to join SAQA a little more than two years ago definitely had a boosting effect on my work, I thought “who knows, might happen here, too”.
Now, so far I would definitely not consider myself an accomplished “surface designer”. I am a good hand-quilter, though sometimes struggling to adapt hand-quilting to modern design quilts. I am working on my machine quilting. I still haven’t done any screen-printing (though I am planning to, once Ste. Marie is over). So far, I do a little bit of additional stitching beyond quilting, and am planning to do a lot more of that.

Shapes 3  (2012), detail.
Surface design is slowly showing up in my work...
I have only theoretically done any folding or pleating or manipulating of fabric (though, again, I am planning to for the future). But good things take time.
When I received the first copy of SDA’s journal I was thrilled to see all the interesting things reported on. And when I had finished reading, I felt humbled. Indeed, I am still pretty far from being an accomplished surface designer. But one can learn, and that I intend to do.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

“Quilting Bee”

Last weekend I left town with a package of three rolled up quilts-in-progress under my arm and a quilting hoop dangling from my carry-on. I went to Fulda, where a private meeting of the regional representatives of the German Patchwork Guild took place. I used to be a regional representative for  a couple of years, but that was a couple of years ago already. However, ‘former’ representatives are also welcome, and as the group that gets together for a weekend of working and chatting is such a nice and pleasant group I had quickly said that I would come once again after the last meeting last year. When I had my panic attack  after that planning meeting with my husband  I had seriously debated with myself whether I should cancel. But I had already bought a non-refundable train ticket, my husband had gone through a number of organizational adjustments to make this weekend possible for me, and so I decided that I did not want all of these preparations to be for naught.
Several quilts I am currently working on were in stages where a lot of work by hand was necessary, such as sinking threads and other pleasant jobs like that. So I rolled those up, packed my stuff and set off.
We met in a Franciscan monastry in Fulda, a city which is also the place of the most gorgeous button shop I have everseen. Because I was the first one to arrive and did not know whether the others would want to go there again after we had been there last year already, I went down-town immediately after my arrival to revisit.

Window display at the "Button Paradise"

In the afternoon our group received a guided tour through the monastry’s tailor shop, which was highly interesting. Of course, the group of ten women went wild with delight when Brother Gerhard mentioned that he had no use for the swatch books of the last season, and one of us had the courage to ask whether we could have them.

None of them was left behind!

The remainder of the weekend was spent working. Those interested were given an introductory demonstration of the quilting design software EQ.

None of us brought a sewing machine, as that is the agreed upon format of the weekend: bring work that can be done by hand. So while most of the others were trying out little surprise projects that had been prepared in advance, I took the liberty to stick mostly with my three quilts in the making. I sank about a zillion thready on “Shapes II” and “Shapes III”, and started some surface work – a combination of embroidery/stitching and hand quilting, besides the machine quilting that I had already done earlier.

Hand-stitching on Play of Lines XXVII

Combination of hand and machine quilting on Shapes III

So I was basically the only one of us actually quilting, but it very much felt like a quilting bee nevertheless. I got a lot of stuff done: concentrated work on little stuff is done much more quickly when you don’t have to think about what you are going to cook for dinner today. And sinking threads does need a lot of concentration, otherwise I tend to put if off for much too long to ever get a possibility to feel good about it again.
So it was very well worth the time and money to have gone out of town to work - productivity and focus get a boost in surroundings like this!

Light art on the way to the downstairs facilities