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Handmade

A busy art weekend

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery

Last Friday evening Craft Alliance opened a new exhibition at its UCity Gallery, "Storylines: Contemporary Embroidery." Five artists were invited to participate in the show, including an old friend, Michael Aaron McAllister, shown below. The other artists are Deborah Slabeck Baker, Diem Chau, Chris Niver, Cayce Zavaglia, and Ray Materson. If you are interested in art and needlework, this is definitely an exhibition to see.  Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery
I was first exposed to Aaron's talent with a needle and embroidery thread when we worked for Mary Engelbreit years ago. During the lunch hour, Aaron would work on his fabulous creations; and, on occasion I would receive one of his cherished stitched invitations to his annual Oscar Night party in Soulard. He often includes a line of humor in his pieces, which depict historical and literary figures. When he isn't "hooping" he works as an Assistant Librarian at the Upper School at MICDS…a job he adores.

Aaron told me on Friday that he was quite honored to be included in "Storylines." One of the other artists in the exhibition, Ray Materson, learned to stitch when he was a prison inmate. He would unravel socks and use the thread to create his miniature works, which are collector's items, and measure a mere 2.5 x 3". The feathered stitches in his fascinating pieces are amazingly tiny.  Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery

Two of Aaron's pieces exhibited at Craft Alliance are shown here, one of Coco Chanel and a partial shot of an embroidery of Frank Lloyd Wright. The exhibition runs through May 8.

 

 

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery
Also last week, the Sam Fox School at Washington University hosted the 2011 International Printmaking Conference,titled "Equilibrium". More than 1200 printmakers descended on St. Louis, and several galleries in the Central West End held exhibitions featuring printmakers to coincide with the Conference. 

At the Atrium Gallery, 4728 McPherson, internationally-known printmaker Karen Kunc, standing above right, gave a Saturday morning lecture following the Friday night opening of her exhibition, "An Eden."  Carolyn Miles, Atrium Gallery's founder, is shown standing left.  Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery

Karen Kunc is a printmaking professor at the University of Nebraska. She explained her printmaking process to an audience that included participants of the Printmaking Conference including a Japanese student from a small college in southern California who fell in love with the CWE. "An Eden" will be on exhibit until May 8.

 

 

 

 

 Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery

Another CWE gallery participating in the printmaking conference was the Duane Reed Gallery, located across from Atrium Gallery at 4729 McPherson. The work of Eva Isaksen, a Seattle-based artist who was born in Norway, will be on exhibit until April 23.  Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery

 

Isaksen(left) prints, draws, and cuts thin papers and then layers them endlessly to create her art, shown above and in the background to the right. (You'll have to stop by Duane Reed to get a better look.)

 

 

 

 

 

 Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery

The back room at Duane Reed houses an exhibition of Therman Statom's glass pieces. Statom is an American Studio Glass artist whose primary medium is sheet glass, which he paints and assembles adding found objects, shown above and below, to stunning effect.  Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Events, Sightings Handmade  Therman Statom Ray Materson Michael Aaron McAllister Mary Engelbreit Karen Kunc Eva Isaksen Duane Reed Gallery Carolyn Miles Atrium Gallery
Therman Statom's work will be also be shown at the Duane Reed Gallery until April 23. Finally, the Willam Shearburn Gallery at 4735 McPherson showed an eclectic mix of art including works on paper by Edward Ruscha and Wayne Thiebaud.

 

Sewing for more than a cause

 Nicki's Central West End Guide For Children Handmade  Martin's Variety Making a Difference Little Dresses for Africa CSNBC Brian Williams Brasserie by Niche

When my four sisters and I were growing up, my mother dressed us alike on Christmas, above, and other special occasions. She made our dresses on a Singer sewing machine that was set up in our playroom. I have no idea how she could concentrate while the five of us swirled around her, but I am sure it was a way for her to be there….and not be there, if you know what I mean. Also shown in the background is a handmade "supermarket" playhouse made by my father, who was a talented woodworker.  As we got older my mother taught those of us who were interested how to sew and to knit, another of her many talents.  By the way, we were not always a family of girls. My wonderful brother finally made his debut, and by the time my parents were thirty they had six children…not unusual for those post-World War II days.

Now that my mother is 88, her notion of a dull day is a) when the sun isn't shining (most of this winter), and b) when she doesn't have a lunch date. My siblings count ourselves lucky that our mother can live in her own house and still drive, but she is always looking for something more to do.

She had lost interest in sewing until we both saw CNBC's Brian Williams air one of his  "Making a Difference" segments–this one on The Little Dresses for Africa  earlier this year. I called her right after the broadcast to ask if she had seen it. Indeed she had, and the more we talked about making one of the dresses ourselves the more enthused she became. Soon she retrieved her old Singer from my sister Jody, and was whipping up the little sundress shown below, right.
Nicki's Central West End Guide For Children Handmade  Martin's Variety Making a Difference Little Dresses for Africa CSNBC Brian Williams Brasserie by Niche

My mother dolled up her dress with a cute little bow on the pocket. Mine is on the left and is made from a sarong that I cut apart. I photographed the dresses in our laundry room under a tin Haitian sculpture that makes doing the laundry a little cheerier. A couple of weeks ago, I mailed the dresses off to the Little Dresses charity, which is based in Michigan. My mother and I hope that before long two little girls in Africa will feel just as pretty as they are when they wear our creations.

If you are so inclined, the instructions for the dresses can be found on this website. One version uses a pillowcase and promises minimal sewing. So, here is where this post is going: If I didn't have fabric and the tools needed to complete the project in my stash of supplies, I would have found myself treking to the county to get them. So on my wish list for the neighborhood is a home-goods store…a Ben Franklin, perhaps, where we could find fabric, sewing needles, buttons, and more.

Many years ago there was such a store on Laclede where the fabulous Brasserie by Niche is now located. Martin's Variety was a riot of a place where there was merchandise everywhere, including hanging from the ceiling. Despite the apparent disarray, Martin, the proprietor, could somehow find just what you needed, or at least some version of it. It was the kind of place where you could find a last-minute inexpensive birthday gift, a spool of thread, and children could come up with a treasure for less than $1. It was fun—