|Hello Kitty/Virgin Mary|
I never heard of Elsa Hansen Oldham but there she is, standing tall at 30 years old, in today’s special New York Times Style Magazine. I want to scream HOW DID SHE RATE THIS? I’m pretty sure she’s very nice, very sweet and probably, most deserving of special NATION WIDE coverage for her talented…cross-stitching? Says right here on page 82, “ her work… is gaining attention in the art world.” So they must know something.
Ms. Oldham lives in Louisville, Kentucky, so there goes that theory, namely: anybody who lives and works in New York City has an unfair advantage on the path to art fame. She is, however, married to a musician and that may score a few extra points.
Enough of that. About her art: Ms. Oldham makes cross stitch pictures of famous people, sometimes surrounded by tiny Atari-like characters, and other times, surrounded by super-significant figures from the personality’s life and experience. Apparently it matters who is paired with whom…Jimmy Buffett partnering with Hunter S. Thompson, Shelley Duvall and Coco Chanel, and Daniel Day-Lewis bedded into peopled scenes from productions he’s starred in. Some pairings - I confess - are pretty funny while others are simply head-scratchers.
Elsa has not one but TWO exhibits opening in New York in September which must be really stressful for her and all I can advise is “ Take an Advil. You’ll survive.”
|Lucia LaVilla-Havelin, various stitchery techniques/antique postcard|
It isn’t as though I don’t respect needlework. I do! And here are two artists I brag about with pride.
Lucia LaVilla-Havelin is one of Rochester’s own. Her husband Jim, a poet, worked in the education department of our art museum in the early 1980’s when I first opened Dawson Gallery. Lucia was one of the first artist whose work we “showcased” and I’m delighted to own one of those very early impossibly tiny stitched petit point broaches.
|stitchery and antique postcard on linen|
She and Jim left Rochester over thirty years ago and live in Texas now but I keep up with Lucia and her changing work and am pleased to report that I still think she has something special going on in that artistic head of hers. The newest pieces combining antique postcards and a combination of stitchery are full of nostalgia and humor and clever use of technical know-how. Here are a few illustrations.
|antique postcard "Campsite"|
I fell head-over-heels with Kathryn Clark’s “foreclosure quilts” the minute I saw them a few years back and when I read her back story, I was even more smitten. Kathryn was educated as a civic planner and architect and turned to fabric as her art medium of choice. I’m not the only one who recognized the foreclosure quilts as something special; the Smithsonian now owns one of these pieces installed in its permanent collection at the Renwick.
Now Kathryn is embroiled in the tradegy of migrants and war-torn refugees of the middle east. These new fiber pieces have grown in size but then, they are tackling a global catastrophy which requires some space. Her committment to her art is commendable; her commiseration with the issues of the voiceless is more than that. I bow to her courage and her talent.
|(detail/stitchery on Tyvek)|
|Idiom Series (an older piece but I love its minimalism)|