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Well, the holidays and the opening of my solo show in Ormond Beach Florida in January got the best of me, and despite good intentions, I had no time to process photographs or write blog posts in December. I hope to make up for that in the coming weeks.

Before posting about my own show and some recent shows of other people’s work that I attended, I wanted to post some more photos from our European trip.

Here are a few from Trieste. The first is a neighborhood fish market and a view of a canal in the city center. The last three are from Trieste’s wonderful theater museum.

Neighborhood-Fish-Store

Fish Market in Trieste Neighbor. Open for only a few hours in the morning when the fish are fresh.

Trieste-Canal

Display-in-Theater-Museum

Poster-in-Theater-Museum

Puppet-in-Theater-Museum

 

From Trieste, we took a bus to Rovinj, Croatia, a beautiful seaside town on the Adriatic. It was a peaceful and relaxing place, partly because cars were not allowed in much of the city center. The narrow streets were a visual feast for the artistic eye, since texture and muted colors were everywhere. Below is a window and wall on the street where we stayed, in a charming airbnb.

Wall-and-Window-Rovinj

 

After Rovinj, we drove to Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. None of my photographs could capture the awe-inspiring majesty of this amazing place, so I’m not including them here. Check out the above link to see why this park is worth a visit.

Next it was onto Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. Below are a few of the many photographs I took there:

Outdoor-Market-Zagreb

Main food market in center of Zagreb

 

Partly-Reconstructed-Church-Zagreb

Partly restored cathedral. This is being restored over time as the city has money to do so.

 

Statues-Inside-Church-Zagreb

Statues inside cathedral

 

Two-of-Zagreb's-Beautiful-Women

Zagreb is said to have the most beautiful women in Europe. Here are two examples.

The Mirogoj Cemetery, owned by the city of Zagreb, is one of the most famous in Europe. It is non-denominational and people of all faiths, and no faith, are buried there. The cemetery contains many beautiful sculptures and art work as well as beautifully-designed buildings.

 

Statue-at-Cemetary

Image-at-Cemetary-2

 

One of the most exciting museums in Zagreb was the atelier and home of the famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović, now transformed into the Ivan Meštrović Gallery. Meštrović’s work is extraordinary, and it was fascinating to see the range of media in which he worked. Later in life, he emigrated to the United States where he taught at the University of Notre Dame.

Sculpture-Museum-1

Sculpture-Museum-2

Sculpture-Museum-3

Upon leaving Zagreb, we took a spectacular train ride to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Every mile contained amazing vistas. Below is a bridge reflected in the river below it.

Zagreb-to-Ljubljana

 

Ljubljana was like a fairy tale city, its beautiful buildings lining a small river that wound throughout the city. Despite its fairy tale appearance, the city was very modern and technologically savvy, using a smart card for public transportation and the free rental of bikes to be used for short trips. City Hall, set in an amazing old building, featured a juried exhibit of energy-conscious projects from all over the world.

Lbj-Building-along-River

Sculpture-on-Church-Doors-Lbj

Part of a sculpture on the doors of St. Nicholas Cathedral. Though the cathedral itself is old, the front doors were replaced in 1996 with the bronze sculptured doors shown here.

Ljb-Grafitti

Graffiti was common in some parts of the city, especially on the local trains and on some walls.

 

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The first destination on our trip was Rome. I wasn’t sure what to expect especially because several friends had described Rome as one of their favorite cities. It wasn’t mine.

Instead, I found Rome to be confusing and chaotic.  I  felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of museums and sights and found it hard to decide what to see in the 3 days we had in the city.

Busy-Roman-Street

Busy Roman Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite that initial reaction, there were many things I found intriguing about Rome, and in the end, I was glad that I had gone. As in most of the other places I visited, I liked the conviviality and sense of community that was evident everywhere. It wasn’t unusual to be in a small restaurant or cafe and have a person pop in to have a conversation with someone working in the restaurant. It was also a common sight to see people hanging out in cafes and bars, enjoying the company of their friends. This was particularly true of elderly residents who seemed to spend hours in their favorite cafe.

The neighborhood we stayed in, Trastevere, had once been a working class section of Rome. Now it was full of little trattorias and and nightlife destinations. The area was very charming, and our apartment  looked out onto a small cobblestone street. Trastevere was also close to the Tiber river, a very beautiful destination especially at night.

View-from-Window-Trastevere

View from Window Trastevere

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another interesting aspect of  Rome was  that on almost every corner, there was something of artistic or historical interest. One day, after walking through the old Jewish ghetto areas, we came upon what I believe are the ruins of the Teatro di Marcello, originally planned by Julius Caesar around 12 BC. On top of the ruins, a palace was built in the 16th century. As I photographed these ruins, two women came along with their shopping bags, not paying any attention to what was clearly a commonplace sight for them.

Ruins-2-Rome

Ruins Teatro di Marcello

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruins-Rome

Ruins Teatro di Marcello

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On another day, we visited a food market in Testaccio, once the meat packing district of Rome. The market itself was not very exciting compared to some of the markets we later visited in other cities. It was set inside a modern building on a small side street. But on the walk to the market, we passed many small shops selling interesting food and household items. Testaccio, a pleasant neighborhood, has now become somewhat trendy. Several of the well known restaurants serve varieties of offal, in accordance with the neighborhood tradition of butchers bringing home whatever was left at the end of the day. Testaccio also houses a foodie delicatessen, Gastronomia Volpetti. We bought sandwiches there, and the man behind the counter separately weighed every item that went into the sandwich including the bread and the roasted peppers.

One of the historical sights in Testaccio is the Pyramid of Cestius, dating from 12BC. It now situated alongside a busy street and would look completely out of place in this modern context if you weren’t in Rome!

Pyramid-of-Cestius

Pyramid of Cestius

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just past the Pyramid is a metro station from which you can catch a public bus to the Appian Way. Having read about the Appian Way as the first road on which Roman troops began their marches outside the city, I had no idea what it would look like in its modern incarnation.

View-Along-Appian-Way

View Along Appian Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The road is cobblestoned and very narrow and is bordered by high stone walls. The bus that travels the Appian Way lets people off at several catacomb stops along the road. It’s possible to tour those catacombs. There is also a beautiful pedestrian path parallel to the Appian Way which we walked along for some distance before catching another city bus back to the Metro station.

On our last day in Rome, we visited the Vatican Museum. We were lucky to be able to do so on a Friday evening when the museum was much less crowded than during the day. It is hard to describe the treasures found in this museum. In every room, there was something of interest, though after awhile, it became hard to take in the innumerable sights because there were so many.

Statue-in-Vatican-Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ceiling-In-Vatican-Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The walk through the museum follows a specific path, from which you cannot deviate, winding in and out of many rooms, and up and down lots and lots of stairs. It culminates in the Sistine Chapel. My favorite images in the museum were in one of the galleries near the end of the tour. I liked their sense of whimsey and lightheartedness which was a change from some of more serious art depicted elsewhere.

Whimsical-Image-1-Vatican

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whimsical-Image-2-Vatican

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The museum also houses a section of contemporary art, including a piece by the Ghanian artist El Anatsui.

El-Anatsui-Vatican-Museum

El Anatsui Piece in Vatican Museum

 

The question of why galleries and museums tend not to show fiber art–with the exception of exhibits that focus on fashion (such as the Iris Apfel exhibition, Rare Bird of Fashion, at the Peabody Museum of Art in 2010 or the Elsa Schiaperelli and Miuccia Prada’s Impossible Conversations exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2012)–has long puzzled me.

Several of the small museums in my area hold annual juried shows featuring local artists. It is rare to see a piece of textile art in those exhibitions, unless the art is a picture of a textile or a real textile hidden under glass, which of course obscures the very qualities that make textiles different from other media.

I am especially perplexed by this tendency when I see some of the amazing fiber art that is being created today. The Fiberarts International exhibit, at the Textile History Museum in Lowell, and the Game Changers: Fiber Art Masters and Innovators exhibit, at the Fuller Craft Museum, both show the scope and breadth of the contemporary fiber art scene.

Given that I have long pondered this question, I was very interested to see a blog post today written by Mirka Knaster, a textile artist and writer. Knaster’s post, entitled Artists and Textiles, explores the ways many famous artists have either depicted textiles in their work or created art that incorporates textiles in some way.

Mirka asks the same question I do–“Why the exclusion?”–and then speculates on some possible answers: “Objects constructed with fiber–through knotting, quilting, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, etc.–are most often associated with domestic activity by women. Even when the items are prized, lower status is accorded to traditionally female work. There is also the division that arose (I don’t know in which century) between ‘fine arts’ and ‘applied arts.’ I have yet to understand why this distinction exists.”

She then goes on to cite the long list of artists who engaged with textiles in some way in their work. Among these were Henri Matisse, Raoul Dufy, Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, Marc Chagall, Lucian Freud, Pablo Picasso, Barbara Hepworth, Sonia Delaunay, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and quite a few others.

A number of images of the textile work of some of these artists are included in Mirka’s post. Here are a couple of examples:

Dali

“Spring Rain” (1949), by Salvador Dali. Photo: Steve Tanner. Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/9298395/How-textiles-took-Dali-and-Picassos-art-to-the-masses.html

 

Henry Moore

“Family Group,” textile square designed by Henry Moore (1944). Source: http://www.apollo-magazine.com/review-artist-textiles-picasso-warhol-fashion-textile-museum/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirka ends her post by pointing to a recent exhibit held in London and the Netherlands: ARTIST TEXTILES Picasso to Warhol at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London (31 January–18 May 2014) and at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg, the Netherlands (14 June-14 September 2014).

While it is heartening to know that some famous artists of the past did not eschew, and even appreciated, the textile form, their interest–and the interest of museums who show their work–does not compensate for the lack of representation of fiber art in the contemporary gallery and museum scenes. Organizations such as the Surface Design Association and Studio Art Quilts Associates have made it part of their mission to educate the public and members of the art education communities about contemporary fiber. Let’s hope they succeed!

Recently I visited the Fuller Craft Museum which is currently showing several fascinating exhibits related to fiber. They include Game Changers: Fiber Art Masters and Innovators, featuring well known fiber art masters such as Michael James, Arturo Alonzo Sandoval, and Chunghie Lee, as well as lesser known but quite innovative artists who use fiber in surprising ways.

Another exhibit, Floating, features the work of Annette Bellamy, an artist and commercial fisher from Alaska. Below are examples of her work, including a large piece created entirely from fish skins. Bellamy works in several media, but her fish skin piece was particularly compelling.

 

Fuller-Art-Museum-Fiber-Exhibit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These exhibits are on view through the fall and are well worth seeing.

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