27 June 2012

City Quilter and High Line park, New York

Astilbes in bloom, High Line park.
The week-end of June 16, 2012, DH and I visited our offspring in New York.  I planned a trip to The City Quilter, a Manhattan fabric store, with an associated art quilt gallery, recommended by quilt friend Linda. Daughter decided to show me the High Line, as it's in the same geographical area.  The High Line is easily accessible by subway, and became our scenic route to The City Quilter.

The High Line is a defunct elevated freight rail line reborn as a linear urban park in the former meat-packing district of Manhattan. Wildly popular, if the crowds were anything to go by on a beautiful June day, there are food stalls, fixed lounge chairs, loads of special events, and flowers and foliage galore. Almost too many plants, as at times the generous planting beds squeeze the walkway to a narrow bottleneck, slowing the pace and forcing a single file passage. This is a minor quibble, however; overall it's a wonderful, unique addition to New York's open space.  Part of our subway system here in Boston is called the Green Line - the High Line is, literally,  New York's Green Line.

The High Line.

The long green line of High Line park.
 The City Quilter, which sells fabrics, books, and needlework supplies such as sashiko samplers, has an associated gallery for art quilts.  Hand-made gifts are quite reasonable; I purchased a hand-dyed rayon scarf for daughter for only $15, my Manhattan bargain.

The City Quilter and The ArtQuilt Gallery - NYC.

Lots of goodies and nice staff.

Daughter admires quilts on display.

 On our way back to the subway, we stopped for liquid refreshment at Argo Tea Cafe Chelsea location (275 7th Avenue).  Tea and light bites to stay or go, plus a wall of tea to make at home.

Argo Tea Cafe.
Got tea?

24 June 2012

Paula Nadelstern Kaleidoscope Quilts

Kaleidoscope XXVII: September 11, 2002

I caught an exhibit of quilts by Paula Nadelstern on the last hour of the last day it was up, June 15, 2012.  Shown at the arts center of Endicott College, on Boston's North Shore, the touring exhibit of work by New Yorker Nadelstern was organized by the American Folk Art Museum.  In addition to the textiles, the show featured several actual kaleidoscopes, including one by Kennebunkport artist Sue Rioux.

Collage of images from Snowy Egret kaleidoscope by Sue Rioux.

Snowy Egret kaleidoscope, Sue Rioux.

Kaleidoscope XX: Elegant After Maths.

Most of the exhibit quilts are published in a new book, Paula Nadelstern's Kaleidoscope Quilts An Artist's Journey Continues, in which Ms. Nadelstern also explains her methods. The two images below are from this book.

Diagram of cutting and assembling kaleidoscope components.

Basically, Ms. Nadelstern positions wedge-shaped templates over printed fabric, cutting multiples of the same motif from the fabric pattern repeats. These wedges are then stitched together to construct her symmetries. Ms. Nadelstern did not invent this technique but she has refined it to a level achieved by few other artists.

Kaleidoscope XVII: Caribbean Blues.

The quilt above, Kaleidoscope XVII: Caribbean Blues, was used for the promotional materials, and is a masterpiece.  Unlike some of the quilts in which a variety of deployed pieced kaleidoscopes, unified only by a vaguely similar color palette, sit in uneasy relationships with one another, in this quilt only one motif is seen in its entirety.

This geometric mandala is joined by identically-patterned, partial motifs. Since they are cut from the same cloth, literally, all the pieced kaleidoscopes reinforce one another, and the repetition of the motifs creates a surface of elements in harmony, not competition. The kaleidoscope motif is so complex, its repetition gives the viewer needed opportunity to absorb and comprehend the pattern. The continuous unbroken border contains the energy, and there is no awkward field/border relationship to distract from the glowing geometry of the kaleidoscope units.

The background is clearly delineated through color and, rather than being just leftover space, forms a glowing interstitial matrix containing and framing the exploding bursts of color.

Caribbean Blues, detail.
The centers of the Caribbean Blues motifs were simplified for technical reasons, but this construction allowed the introduction of a fabric with a lot of white, a perfect foil for the saturated tones of the background. Let's hope this work enters a sympathetic museum someday.

Caribbean Blues, detail of wedge construction.

Also on view were pieced, individual kaleidoscopes, which hold their own masterfully, without the need for placement into a quilt.

Eight Kaleidoscope Blocks.

Viewing Kaleidoscope XXXIII: Shards.