By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
It was a lot of fun discovering the fiber work in Gallery Too of the Kenai Fine Arts Center. These pieces definitely go beyond what is traditionally viewed as quilt work per se, and many of them move into what I would consider the contemporary fine art realm.
The finest example of this, for me, was in Anne Louise Gillilan’s “Color of Rhythm,” in which a patched variety of materials come together both figuratively and logistically in an irregularly shaped design that is both subtle and striking. Irregular boundaries are almost a given with fiber work, because everything done to the material causes it to stretch and change in sometimes unpredictable ways. Gillilan has used this proclivity to her benefit, and has accented this character with hand-sewing and
hand-dying that seems so intimate and personal to the piece that it begins to tell a rather involved story. Celtic-looking designs are random and purposeful, so that there is repetition, but not duplication.
Color is applied as if painted afterward, but it is in fact dyed into the material, which works to make the item appear almost like an old found object, some sweet little scrap of something that holds great meaning from the past and lives on as a microcosm of its greater tale.
She also offers us “Snap-Shackle-Swivel-Snatch Block,” a brightly dyed box complete with pen and sticky pad, and a pair of 3-D glasses like you used to get at the movie theaters in
the 1970s. The box looks amazing through the paper-rimmed glasses, but I found that all of the pieces in the exhibit were incredibly different with them, as well. What fun!
“The Magic” looks like blocks of snapshots taken from airplanes while flying over farmland with a mesh of squiggly lines parading throughout the scenes. The colors verge on “natural,” with hot pinks and purples thrown in to create sweet little surprises everywhere.
Rachel Grossl’s “Fall Sentinel” is more naturalistic, representing a tree overlaying a similar patchwork of shapes. Grossl has chosen to push the trunk of the tree as far to the right of the frame as possible, and then allowed its branches to reach back and embrace the rest of the
design. The effect is both appealing and endearing.
Claudette Barber’s “From the Cornfields of Illinois” also uses a nice mix of representationalism and abstraction, and hangs beautifully with the also very pink and quite abstract wall hanging, “The Hierarchy,” by Liza Franzmann.
“Juanita’s Garden” is a soft and yummy little piece that is a fitting memorial to a woman who loved texture, fiber, gardens
and art. Laurie Marta has used deep shades of blues and reds to describe flowers that seem both natural and otherworldly. The hanging apparatus, a dark wiggly stick, works perfectly with the design.
Ann Lillian Schell has outdone herself with a crazy and wonderful hanging called “Autumn Sunflower.” The colors are rich and the texture is abundant and energized with movement. She is having a solo show as a part of the 18th annual Quilting on the Kenai extravaganza happening at the Cook Inlet Academy on Kalifornsky Beach Road from Thursday through Saturday. Included in the extravaganza is the Quilt Walk I’ve embarked on, visiting numerous businesses and seeing a variety of quilts and wall hangings, including a piece done with ties by Jack Ross at Frames and Things, a Gauguin reproduction in fiber at Northcountry Fair, and a
fanciful rockfish done by Chelline Larson at Riverside Books.
If you stop by all of the venues and get signed off, you can hand it in at Robin Place Fabrics to win some great prizes donated by the involved businesses. The other participants include Trinity Greenhouse, Dragonfly Gallery, J and H Sewing, Birchtree Gallery, Donna’s Gifts, Tammy’s Flowers, Chez Moi, Odie’s Deli and, of course, Robin Place Fabrics.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.