Fashion as Art

Often we limit our definition of art to paintings and sculpture, but it is so much more, and it is wonderful to be exposed to it in an unexpected way.

In a stunning exhibition of Oscar de la Renta’s designs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, clothing is art influenced by nature, art history, diverse cultures and the women for whom de la Renta designed.

IMG_0014It was easy to see the influences in his work.  What he saw in Spain colored the way he saw clothes throughout his career.

IMG_0018He was drawn to the bright colors of Spanish art and the decorative elements of bullfighting attire.

IMG_0030When I spotted this coat, there was no question that the inspiration was Russian.  At one time I had a coat reminiscent of this design.  It was red with black embroidery and fur trimmed collar, cuffs and hem.  Oh, how I loved that coat and held on to it for years after it no longer fit!

IMG_0033Who knew that de la Renta was an avid gardener and that this interest would find way into many of his designs?

A quote read, “A garden is probably the most spiritual and pure of joys.  It’s a communion with nature and beauty in the most simple and fundamental form.”

IMG_0032Those words made it easy to appreciate his use of natural elements to create breathtaking designs.

IMG_0023As beautiful and romantic as de la Renta’s designs are, I could not imagine myself in most of them, that is until I got to these, reflecting an Eastern influence.  I am a gal who loves flowing, unstructured clothing that leaves me feeling free.  Any one of these would suit me, but I’m especially drawn to the white and the whimsey of the black.

IMG_0041I loved the attention to detail, the sensitivity to fabric, the use of embellishment in de la Renta’s work, but the real take away from this exhibit is how varied art is.  One just has to find his/her own way of expressing it.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

 

Toilet Paper And a Silk Sleep Hat

Created by Crystal Cawley of Portland, Maine

Before I could say a word, the hubby said, “Remind you of Grandma?”

“Yes,” I answered softly as memories of my mother came flooding in.

For as long as I can remember, Mother wrapped her hair in toilet paper and covered it with a silk sleep hat every night.  From week to week when she had it washed and set again not a hair moved.  If she could feel the wind blow through her hair she’d fuss that it was making her hair a mess.  Still, not a hair moved, and I don’t remember ever touching her hair as that was an unspoken no.

As time passed and I first married and then had children, this ritual continued and it became a family joke, not because we disapproved but because we found it humorous that Mother’s concern was always about her hair.   It was as if it defined who she was, and maybe it did.

So for years the ritual continued.  Then came the time when I would stop in to visit her after she’d had dinner.  Sometimes she’d be in her gown playing solitaire or what she thought to be solitaire, but more often than not she’d already be in bed asleep despite the early hour.  What was missing was the sleep hat.

For some reason I found that very upsetting.  Her hair fixation was a part of life and seeing it become unkempt caused me to feel a little ungrounded.  I began going over a little earlier to wrap her hair and cover it with the sleep hat.  She’d question why and I’d answer lamely that it was to keep her hair from getting messed up.  She’d respond that it would be OK in the morning after she brushed it.  That didn’t happen.

It was something so simple but so significant that let me know that things were changing at a faster pace than I was prepared for.  I had accepted the diagnosis of dementia, but as long as things continued in a somewhat normal fashion I had no idea what that really meant.  Knowledge came quickly, and as any of you who have dealt with dementia know, the  deteriorating process is emotionally painful.  In her lucid moments, Mother said often, “Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind.”  She was, but right until the end I had her hair done and in the few hours that it stayed nice, I could pretend that things were as they always had been.

Today is Mother’s birthday, and I hope she doesn’t mind that I have shared this little story.  Her years of protecting her hair with toilet paper and a silk sleep hat are an endearing memory.  Who knows, one of these days I may take up the habit!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Beauty of Ikat

Are you familiar with ikat textiles made from threads that are dyed section by section?  No doubt you have seen the fabric used in decorative items and clothing, but have you ever thought about how the designs are created?

When done by hand, the threads are stretched on a frame and the pattern is marked off. Each section of the design is then bound off and dyed separately until all areas of the thread are covered.

Ikat textiles are popular these days, but they are not new.

Historically, they have been symbols of status and wealth much like tapestries were in earlier times.

They were offered to rulers, loyal friends and people of importance as part of a centuries old tradition of gift giving.

Some of the gifts were used to establish and cement political alliances.

Today, in some countries, ikat garments are part of the culture.

As a weaver, I am fascinated by the artistry of the fabric,

often woven with silk threads as fine as a strand of hair.  Knowing that I will never be able to duplicate such beautiful creations only enhances my appreciation.

Strand of Silk - Journey Map - Ikat - Producer Communities - padmashali

How grateful I am that the tradition of making ikat textiles by hand is being maintained in places like India, Southeast Asia, Japan and Latin America.  I was very happy to be able to photo these wonderful examples of ikat creations at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Art As Inspiration

After introducing you to Florescence, I cannot resist showing you more of the incredible floral arrangements interpreting the show’s challenges.  Before going on I should tell you that Florescence is one of the largest competitive national flower shows sanctioned by the Garden Club of America in the U.S.  

It is impossible not to be awed by these creations

and seeing them displayed with the art that inspired them makes them even more dramatic.

I was blown away by creations inspired by  couture dresses from the Museum of Fine Art’s collection.

As I look again at this photo, I notice that the arrangement mimics the flow of the dress…..absolutely stunning!

Here a styrofoam head wears an elaborate headdress made primarily of natural plant material.  What sea goddess wouldn’t love to be so adorned?

Many times I see wooden boxes used on tables as centerpieces. Unique here is the mix of succulents, roses, lilies and tropicals that demonstrate how anything can work together provided the choices are selected with a critical eye.

Particularly interesting were arrangements incorporating abstract qualities inspired by pieces in the Museum’s contemporary art collection.

The varied materials used with flowers and plant materials was wonderful,

and I will be keeping my eyes open for elements that add interest.

 Though I marveled over over the elaborate creations, I could not see such in my future.  I was attracted to the ikebana technique because it seems a little more doable,

 and I like the simplicity both of the containers and the flower design.

If I were to step a little out of my comfort zone, however, it would be to do something like this, so full of color and whimsey.

Oh, there is so much more I could show you, but hopefully, there is enough here to encourage your own creativity.  It would be wonderful to see the results.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Art: The Magic

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.

Twyla Thorpe

For me, looking at art is running away, enjoying the magic of another’s creative reality. A few days ago I went to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts for an exhibit of sculpture by Ron Mueck.  To say the least, I was blown away.

He is called a hyperrealist sculptor, and it is easy to see why.  No detail is left to the imagination.

Using resin, silicone, fiberglass and other materials he creates human forms that portray life through its various stages: birth,

middle age,

elderly.

Not always are the figures true to scale.  They may be larger 

or smaller giving one the idea that size reflects the enormity of the event represented.

It is said that some of Mueck’s images reflect Christian imagery 

while others draw on the perfection of Renaissance painting.

Whatever the influences, Mueck’s sculptures demand attention. Like them or not, one cannot help but appreciate the artist’s attention to detail and the time such must require.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

A Piece of the World

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I’ve just ordered this long awaited book and can’t wait to read it not just because it’s by an author whose works I enjoy but because it’s about people and place quite familiar to me.

Olson HouseThe piece of the world the title refers to is the Olson House in Cushing, Maine.  It is a place I’ve visited many times and am intrigued by its stories.

christinas_world-e1380208783741The main character of Kline’s novel is Christina Olson who shared the house with her brother Alvaro.  She was a simple woman crippled by a then undiagnosed disease.  She was made famous by her friend Andrew Wyeth’s iconic painting Christina’s World which hangs in New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  It was her many viewings of this painting and her visits to the Olson House that inspired Kline to write A Piece of the World.

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Christina Olson painted by Andrew Wyeth

Last summer I had the privilege of hearing the author talk about the inspiration for her novel which is not just about place but about a woman’s perseverance, independence and strength.  At the same time Christina Olson possessed these qualities, there was a vulnerability about her.  Inspired by the painting, Kline spent several years researching the Olsons and their 30 year relationship with Wyeth.  As history unfolded, she began to appreciate that it was likely Wyeth found something of himself in Christina.  

As I listened to Kline discuss the underlying mystery  and the influence of the rural landscape found in Wyeth’s painting, I began thinking about the power of visual art and how many ways it gives birth to another art form.  Certainly, this is true for the author whose name she shares with her subject.  I suspect that if one knew Christina Baker Kline, one would find, like with Wyeth, something shared with Christina.

What I would really like to know is how Christina felt when she saw herself as portrayed by Wyeth and how she would respond to being subject of Kline’s book.  That is the part of her story we may never know.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Have (he)ART

IMG_5636Meet Greta Van Campen, a young Maine artist who just happens to have a show in Houston this month.  Greta travels the U.S. recording what she sees and interpreting it in her unique style.  

IMG_5635Wherever she shows, her work is reflective of the region and has resulted in quite a following throughout the country.

Afternoon12:31:15I like her meticulously done creations, but what I like even better is Greta’s desire to make a difference.  She feels very blessed to have enjoyed success at her young age, and while she doesn’t feel she yet has the resources for significant philanthropic giving she has found an alternative.

1452521794976This year Greta plans to auction a small painting each week that interprets the ever changing view outside her window in Tenants Harbor, Maine.  The successful bidder donates the bid amount to a charity of his/her choice, sends the receipt to Greta and receives a jewel of a painting in return.  Can you think of a better win/win?

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Mine!

I plan on bidding frequently in hope of acquiring several of Greta’s little gems, at the same time donating to a few of my favorite charities.  I am touched by her desire to give back and excited at the prospect of having my own collection of her small pieces.

I hope you will join me in supporting Greta’s generous heart.  For more information, take a look here.  Then follow along until you find your favorite painting and bid, bid, bid.  I’ll try real hard not to outbid you!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind