Saturday, May 21, 2011


We have returned home from a week hotel-living in Seattle. We love living walking distance from markets, stores, coffee and people watching. Wednesday we hopped on the free bus and visited the Seattle Art Museum. The premier exhibit is the Chicago artist, Nick Cave’s creative recycled material figures, Meet Me At The Center of the Earth.

“Cave uses fur, fabric, buttons, potholders, plastic tabs, sandwich bags, spinning tops and found objects in ways that transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. The exhibition includes over 30 of the elaborate sculptures he calls Soundsuits as well as media components which show these utterly opulent characters leaping, jumping and dancing.”

At one point I was mesmerized. Turning to speak to my husband I realized he was far ahead of me and standing patiently at the exit. When I caught up with him his comment simply stated was “he uses doilies.”

I have been reading a series called the Elm Creek Quilts novels by Jennifer Chiavernini. In The Master Quilter the character Gwen expects to be made Liberal Arts department chair at her college. She has researched and published four books in sixteen years. Her subject is textiles and how they reveal social history. She is passed over for another woman who researches social media, “a more serious study than quilts.”

Cave grew up in a large family and I understood his statements about recycles illustrated in his Soundsuits. One presented hundreds of Beanie Babies stitched onto a wearable costume. For another he stitched knitted sweaters together to form a six foot tall animal. Others of fake fur flowed while the wearer danced. I found the doilies and quilts interesting. Cave's workmanship was excellent.

Cris Brodahl, exhibited in another area, is a painter who layers “jump-cuts” to create a patchwork of images. The monochromatic colors form surreal paintings of ordinary people.

We stood in front of a giant, wooly rat sitting atop a plaster man in bed and argued about the mediums artists use. Are wood, paint, or metal more artistic than textiles? Can doilies and buttons make valuable statements about culture as well as paint and ceramics?

The age-old debate continues: what is art and what purpose does it serve?

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