by Sandra Bruce
All my students signed up thus far for the Zephyr workshop have sent me their photos to grid and I’m sure they are happily selecting fabrics to use. I do have a couple of spaces left, anyone who is a procrastinator and contemplating coming to Zephyr in September! We 4 welcome latecomers.
I wrote a blog post months ago about Chuck Close: his influence upon my Matrix technique and the 2 quilts I made of his image taken from a photograph by the photographer Gianfranco Gorgoni. The story of these quilts, “Chuck Close One” and “Chuck Close Two” (both 60″ by 70″) is a fragmented and ultimately puzzling one which I have not written much about, in part to protect the information I received about Chuck and his health. Suffice it to say, “Chuck Close One” is in the hands of Chuck Close himself, and “Chuck Close Two” I recently sent to Houston for the show in November. I entered it in the “Hands All Around” exhibit, which will travel internationally for a year and be seen by many people. The tops of these 2 quilts were made at the same time and look very much alike. I am thankful to Gorgoni for being the go-between to help me get the quilt to Chuck. I am glad he has it. Here they are side by side.
During the first week of July I took a road trip with my son Matteo. His bike went in the back seat of my car. His emphasis was riding skate parks on his BMX, and I enjoyed being with him and occasionally hitting a fabric store or two, and visiting friends along the way. I knew there was an exhibit in Everett, WA of Chuck’s work and I wanted to be sure to catch it. Chuck grew up in Everett, and attended the junior college there before going onto University of Washington and eventually Yale. My friend Kathy, Matteo and I drove up to Everett to see the show at the Schack Art Center. The emphasis on the show was about his collaborations with other artists, and there were examples of the many techniques Chuck has used. I will say here that I apologize for the quality of these photos, taken with my aging cell phone. But you get the idea. I like this first picture, badly taken as it is, as you can see my reflection taking the photo and also Matteo’s silhouette on the other side of the room. It’s a piece of a lithograph, one process that Close has done repeatedly.
This one I had not seen before. It’s a portrait of his daughter done in many values of paper pulp “blobs”, that were made from a form that he had someone make for him. The form looked like a giant cookie cutter, and took the artist over 2 months to make. Here is the portrait and the form for the pulp.
So, check this out….his image of “Lucas”, which was a painting, made into a silk rug that was on the floor of the gallery. The sign next to it begged the question, “Is this fine art, and should it be on the floor or on the wall?”
I wish I had taken more care to read the information on this one so I could share it with you. I had seen this before in another gallery. He painted his face, which you see at the base…..viewing it in the silver cylinder allows you to view it as he intended. I seem to recall from Art history classes years ago that there were artists during the Renaissance doing this technique. Amazing, isn’t it?
And yet another way of applying the paint in a grid. These round shapes were created by applying a felt circle to a stick and applying the paint with the felt. You can really see the texture and it’s easy to imagine him plopping those little circles on.
Phillip Glass, the musician, has been Chuck’s most repeated subject. Chuck really likes his features. It was interesting to see the same image both in tapestry form, and as a painting that Chuck created using his thumbprint to fill each square with a value of grey. Wonderful!
Wednesday, while stuck in a horrible traffic situation on my way to Meet the Teachers in Pleasant Hill (Heidi, Christine and I were presenters and we made it, finally), I was checking emails on my phone and noticed that several friends had sent me a link to an article about Chuck Close written by Will S Hylton in the NYTimes. Having literally hours to wait going nowhere, to pass the time I read the article out loud to Heidi and Christine. This article (link below), is a beautifully written and tender while at the same time probing piece about Chuck and his work in the latter part of his life. In reading it things came to light about where Chuck has been, literally and figuratively, during the last year or so while I was working on the quilts and trying to get the one to him. I hope you will read the article, which, while quite long, is so worth the time.