Friday, May 7, 2010

Clare Murray Adams, OF TIME AND PLACE. Anderson Creative Gallery, 5/7 – 5/29/10

Anderson Gallery is currently showing one of the most intriguing art shows that I have seen in awhile. It is worth several visits over the course of the exhibit because it is nearly impossible…no, it IS impossible …to absorb all of the intricacies of Clare Murray Adam’s fabric collage installation pieces in just one viewing. When I use the words “intriguing art show”, I mean that the exhibit is based on actual, physical, tactile art, not words, and it is a hidden love affair between her land and her surfaces.

To set the stage so one understands what this installation is all about, Clare made one piece each week for one year, about and influenced by, the changing landscape around her home, a 50 acre farm south of town. Now I am no math whiz, but the 52 pieces are really 104 works of art, because they are double sided. The presentation of these works is ingenious as well, thanks to Kevin’s understanding of graphic design and construction as they hang at eye level (relatively speaking) allowing for a flow within the gallery that utilizes all the space without feeling overwhelmed and leads the viewer to the back where images of the farm are projected on the wall. The projector sits on an antique sewing machine cabinet with the original trundle pedal (I learned to sew using a machine attached to one of those….) which is in harmony with the whole concept of the works.

Those of us with a background in the hand crafts of embroidery, needlepoint, and quilting as well as a love of collage and a tendency to hoard every scrap of interesting fabric, paper, or textile, will truly enjoy looking at each and every work. They all contain tiny snippets of material and materials that build upon each other to create the miniature landscapes recording the passage of time. The physical time of year for each work is recorded with a symbolism the artist devised in order to avoid introducing an incongruous element (numbers or letters) and yet remain true to the visual content and technique. Once you figure it out, the system contributes to the experience of each piece after you get over the whole “story problems” mental block we all carry from our tragic years of middle school math.

I was also reminded of the Kimono exhibition in Clare’s use of color and how the winter pieces are more monochromatic. I felt she grew more comfortable with the concept as the works progressed and to her credit, did admit to losing her focus for a bit along the journey. It takes dedication to see a full year’s concept through from start to finish and maintain the same quality of work, I don’t think I could do that, I’d get bored, so her perseverance is to be appreciated. The colors change dramatically as the seasons progress and the pieces contain imagery both associative (pumpkins in the fall) and ethereal (purples in the spring). Every now and then, be sure to look up and out at the overview of the whole installation. I saw things that way which I had overlooked the first time. Also, look at which elements are on both sides and which only occupy one side, which leads to the question, which side do you like better and why? Kevin offers a display method for those who purchase a piece, so that both sides can be seen. That guy knows his details and his market because such an issue could dissuade some buyers who may feel faced with making a choice of front or back.

One aspect I found to be clever, and is probably only a matter of happenstance, is that the works are hung facing east and west which is the orientation of the gallery space. For those of us who spend time in the woods, we know that east and west are the interesting sides of nature whereas north and south tend to be consistent. Rising and falling sunlight affects colors, vegetation density, light and shadow, temperature and just makes for more interesting overall landscapes. Think of great works of landscape art, most of them are oriented to the sun’s movement in one way or another. (Just a little scouting info there people because I happen to enjoy orienteering and using a compass.)

You will find large print (thank you Craig) statements of the walls in areas that correspond to the seasonal changes. I will confess that I did not read each word; I read passages as I prefer to find my own way through the work. What a treasure trove I unearthed including ionic columns (seriously? You have those on the farm?), birdhouses, spider webs, ladybugs, an onion, and my friend Linda pointed out the embroidery hoop shape on one piece. Children will delight in this show although they may have to use a step stool to see every detail. Be sure to make the effort to spend some time in the gallery and look at each of the 52 (104…) pieces. They are also very reasonably priced, after genius here had to ask what the numbers were on the wall for. I am so glad to see work that still relies on the handcrafted needle arts of ancestors and an art form that has unified women over the centuries. Toss in some painted areas and I was a happy camper! This is a “not to be missed “show!

PS - I owe an apology to Casey Vogt....MR.Casey Vogt. Wrong gender assumption on my part in the Fresh show posting. Sorry!!!

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