'Over and Under'
Jenny Hart weaves together threads of mystery and wonder in this exhibit of embroidery
Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, Fri., Nov. 20, 2009
'Over and Under'
Yard Dog Folk Art
Through Dec. 6
Jenny Hart of acclaimed hand-sewing epicenter Sublime Stitching has gathered works of embroidery by 17 artists for the exhibition currently adding threads of mystery and wonder to the front half of Yard Dog Folk Art on South Congress.
There's no little diversity in the styles and methods of creation on display here, with figurative images, landscape scenes, abstract constructions, and a twist or two on the more typical sampler of homespun wisdom among the offerings.
The beautiful and the strange evoked here are stitched into many different materials, with two works by Kathie Sever – Strongman and Sharpshooter – even yoking a pair of stylish shirts. Kate Bingaman Burt's Purchase Dress and Debt Dress have the relevant money amounts sewn right into their fabric, decimaled numbers brightening the brown clothing in lieu of daisies, say, or hollyhocks.
Michael Aaron McAllister builds up threads on big squares of quilted fabric, bringing out a carpet-thick texture in his arch and colorful portraits of Hieronymus Bosch and Idi Amin: All You Can Eat reads the stitched text in the image of that notoriously cannibalistic latter; To Hell and Back boasts the portrait of the former. Richard Saja treats a pair of vintage fabric panels as if they're pages from a coloring book, embellishing details in the blue-printed pastoral scenes with bright embroidery to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and weird.
The minimalism of Shannon Rankin's works Intersect, Growth, and Disperse – sparse stitches arranged against a field of white – is a fierce contrast to the busy fabric collages of Dana Carlson's Sea Bouquet and Maroon Grazing. A similar play of opposites is the delicate needlework of Diem Chau, whose Grasp and Sojourn are sewn in black thread into transparent material stretched across small antique plates, placed across the gallery from Orly Cogan's large, multicolored portraits of women, Falling, Nature's Girl, and Picasso's Dream.
There are more fine works in this "Over and Under" show, yes, even before you step into the back half of Yard Dog and witness the gorgeous examples of the venue's regular folk art arranged in precise, uncluttered glory, right off the bustling avenue of SoCo. There it is, we trumpet, right in the 78704. In case you were wondering if everything else in town went dormant, artwise, during the East Austin Studio Tour.