The rek Gallery in Tucker, Georgia, held an opening yesterday evening for a showing of the works of Santos Fernandez. I attended the opening, which seemed popular amongst others in attendance. Although a small gallery, perhaps 40-50 people enjoyed the viewings and perhaps made a purchase during the brief time I was there.
As a TrustedHousesitter visiting the area, I was favorably impressed by some of the work I saw. Vibrations of Picasso seemed present to my uneducated eye, but I loved the color palette present in much of Fernandez's work.
In truth, it's a palette that seems special to this part of the country, one almost carelessly adding large areas of deeply toned blue, turquoise, purple, red, magenta, green, and orange, a little like a full-saturation color wheel with accents of tints and shades. Indeed, the home I am in as I write echoes those colors, boldly displayed so as to add richness and depth to the space, much as Fernandez' strokes relied on the same colors to move visual objects forward and backward on the imaginary plane.
My sense of it is that Georgia celebrates color!
However, there were other artists whose work was on display yesterday evening. Imagine my surprise when I realized one of them is a quilter! For several reasons, it was exciting to see the work of Jennifer Hart of Lexington, Kentucky.
I was personally uncomfortable with the subject matter of Jennifer's work. Everything I saw was female in subject and virtually pornographic in approach. As an older woman, I am often dismayed to see the private parts of women used as subject matter for artworks, partly because doing so seems rather sensational, guaranteed to attract attention cheaply, and partly because I would like to think that some things are, and should remain, personal and special.
Nevertheless, Hart's work was meticulously executed and fully acceptable, to my mind, as art. Her skill in crafts(wo)manship was high. Every stitch counted, and if there was an imperfection, my trained eye could not detect it.
I especially appreciated learning about Hart's techniques. She works with colored pencils in most of her pieces, and she incorporates found objects like black lace in the most effective way.
Hart's pieces are not large, seemingly no more than about 30" on the longest side, and many works were smaller than that. Because they are small and densely quilted, and because she turns the outermost edges in to leave a clean finish without a frame or telltale quilt binding, the pieces hang beautifully flat, so much so that at first glance, I did not realize they were quilts.
Hart, I'm sure, and rightly, too, will argue that although craft is important, the content of her art takes priority. At least, that's what I discovered when I came across an article written by Katie Burkholder and published in February 2022 in The Georgia Voice. In the interview, Hart described a difficult and repressive childhood overcome by sheer force of will and determination. She is to be commended for her courage as well as her eye for meaningful content and intentional self-expression.
My takeaway from last night's opening, in addition to the enjoyment of imagery, color, and form present in the work of Santos Fernandez, was an enhanced understanding of the way in which art quilts hanging amongst other media fit into the picture beautifully. One has to look closely to appreciate that Hart's quilts are quilts, and they easily cross the barrier from the world of handicrafts into the world of truly fine art.
My compliments to the artist, Jennifer Hart!
Oh--and if you want to see Hart's (and other artists') work up close and personal, better hurry! The gallery is about to go close its doors and go digital . . .
Mostly, I post on Facebook to tell you about my travels and life experiences, point out people and things that I want to tell you about, and keep you updated on what's happening in my life as an art quilter.