Friday Favorites 2/4/2011

February 4, 2011

Kyle Hoepner, Editor-in-Chief
If you haven’t seen it already, by all means go experience the fifty-year retrospective of work by fiber artist Sheila Hicks now on view at the Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover. Originally from Hastings, Nebraska, Hicks has been a resident of Paris since 1964. And you could say that her work, too, somehow combines a lively, colorful, homespun sensibility with a sort of languid Continental elegance. Her pieces have ranged in scale from what she calls “minimes‖resembling potholders gone delightfully wrong–to a vast installation for the Minneapolis corporate headquarters of Target. The show runs through February 27. Don’t wait too long; you’ll be sorry if you miss it.

Six Quills (2009). Photo courtesy of Cristina Grajales Gallery, New York

Installation at the Target corporate headquarters in Minneapolis. Photo from www.sheilahicks.com

Linen Lean-To (1967–68). Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Paula M. Bodah, Senior Editor
We often think of quilting as an American art form, the product of those resourceful pioneer women who made their family’s clothing and then pieced together the leftover fabric to make beautiful and functional bedding. In fact, though, carved ivory figures from ancient Egypt show pharaohs wearing what look like quilted clothing, and in the Middle Ages, crusading soldiers wore quilted garments under their armor. The earliest known quilted blanket, displayed today in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, dates from fourteenth-century Sicily.

There’s nothing quite like a quilt for warming you up on a frigid winter night. And by day, a pretty piece-work blanket becomes part of a bedroom’s decor.  I’ve done a bit of quilting myself, although I confess what draws me to it is creating a design and piecing the colorful fabric together. I’d just as soon leave the intricate finishing stitching to someone else. That’s why the next quilt I own may be one I bought from the gorgeous collection of hand-stitched quilts from India at one of my favorite shops, Frog and Toad. The shop, on the East Side of Providence, has an ever-changing collection of unique and fun things–jewelry, accessories and things for the home. The quilts, which range from sixty-inch square throws to queen size, are a beautiful riot of colors and patterns. I may have to buy more than one.

Photo courtesy of Frog and Toad

Photo courtesy of Frog and Toad

Karin Lidbeck Brent, Contributing Editor
Tucked away in the northwest corner of Massachusetts is a jewel, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown. My husband and I took a ride there last weekend to see their current exhibition, Eye to Eye: European Portraits, 1450–1850 (on display through March 27).

This exhibition, with its exquisite portraiture, is intensely powerful, forcing those who attend to imagine the lives behind the fascinating faces painted centuries ago.

“Portrait of Elizabeth de Valois” by Alonso Sanchez Coello

Its not just the captivating face and life of the sitter that stirs me, but I can imagine the experience and tireless work of the artist that painted it.

“Portrait of Margaret Lemon” by Anthony van Dyck

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