There’s a strange aura of magic that hovers about wool and other fibrous entities, beckoning the beholder closer and closer, until snared – entangled in lustrous three-dimensional architectures of color, form and feeling.
Hand-dyed fiber for weaving, knitting, felting, quilting, paper and book-making, and other re-imaginings are the stuff of “Fiber Mania,” an exhibit of 14 regional artists in a fiber art show opening with a reception today (Aug. 31) from 4-6 p.m. at Vortexyarns, 218-A Paseo del Pueblo Norte.
Vortexyarns owner artist Merce (pronounced Mercy) Mitchell said she timed her two-month fall shows to coincide with Wool Festival at Taos, this year Oct. 7-8 at Kit Carson Park. A felter herself, Mitchell is past wool fest president and is now Site Manager for all the festival’s fiber fanatics. She is excited to share the “Fiber Mania” show with the community, for the purity of its fine art fiber.
Ramsey Scott’s piece, “No Words Need Be Spoken,” is wet and dry felted merino, yak, targhee and shetland wool, with silk. A resident of El Prado, Scott said she moved into her “fiber paintings” from sculpting and oil painting.
“Felting is more architectural,” Scott said. “And it’s so like painting and sculpting, and being more architectural all at the same time, it’s really cool.”
She got “hooked” (pun intended, she says) and started felting in the fall of 2013, after haunting the halls and galleries of everything wool and fiber she could find in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, where she earned a “Jewel of the Empire” designation for her support of wool.
Scott’s work is shown at Jennifer Peterson and Randy Morris’ Gutíz Restaurant. Many Taoseños will remember well the glorious fiber Gutíz Rooster that used to hang there and that now lives with Florida collectors. She also has work at Common Fire restaurant on State Road 150, and at Aceq Restaurant Gallery in Arroyo Seco. Her online gallery is at ramseyscottfiberartist.com.
Sarah Gaertner is a multimedia artist who owns Raven’s Roost, a studio in El Prado which “encourages creative exploration for adults who don’t consider themselves artists,” she said in an email artist statement. Self taught, she has an interest in creative expression in most mediums and likes to collaborate with others in projects “for the joy of it.”
Her fabric piece “Meadow Dance” was the result of an art challenge that she and a friend initiated together. “She is an exceptional seamstress and I love to play artistically,” Gaertner wrote. “While she was visiting, we decided to individually come up with a collage fabric piece, just to entertain ourselves.” “Meadow Dance” her yarn and fabric collaged and quilted wallhanging, was the result.
She has had some acrylic paintings in Taos Home Furnishings and she has participated and sold in the TAO studio tour. She said she is scheduled to display at the Travis Heights Art Trail in Austin.
Carolyn Hinske’s entries are three different folded knitting-book sculptures. Plus she’s exhibiting her personal knitted journals (for show but not for sale). She says books and knitting have been a part of her life as far back as she can remember.
“I was an elementary school teacher for over 20 years and loved to make books with the children,” she said. “After retiring from teaching, the urge to create books continued. The teacher in me wanted to organize and record knitting projects and using handmade and altered blank books seemed like a natural way to organize and create. Altering professionally bound books is a new art form for me. My inner voice keeps telling me that book pages are not to be bent or folded or changed in any way … but with the help of resale shops and library book sales I’m getting over it! I feel like I’m saving and giving new life to an old book with these fun paper-folding techniques.”
Bettye and George Sullivan are spousal-unit tapestry artists who moved to Taos when Bettye Sullivan started teaching for the now defunct Taos Institute for the Arts back in the 1990s. The pair also worked with Rachel Brown for 13 years, dyeing all the yarn for her Weaving Southwest studio and supplies.
George Sullivans’ piece, “Wedgewood,” has appropriately hued blues. He said he only started weaving upon retiring from practicing orthodontia. The analytical side of him was intrigued and so wife Bettye schooled him, some 20 years ago.
“I consider myself an apprentice of [Rachel Brown],” Bettye Sullivan said. “I learned more just being around her and hearing her talk to customers. She was amazing.”
Rachel Brown essentially revived weaving in Northern New Mexico upon moving to Taos in 1956 with husband Malcom Brown and their three small children. From tapestry and floor rugs of the 19th and 20th centuries to the fiber fine art of the 21st century, the 14 artists in “Fiber Mania” are a nice mix of the art and techniques of fiber arts today.
Fiber Mania will hang at Vortexyarns through Oct. 31. For more information, call (575) 758-1241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Artists in “Fiber Mania” include Adele Frances, Sarah A Gaertner, Jana Greiner, Carolyn Hinske, Melissa Larson, Nancy Lay, Monte McBride, Merce Mitchell, Ramsey Scott, Marsha Stellman, Alex Sullivan, Bettye Sullivan, Kim VanDeman and Faith Welsh.