I love that I get books to review…it’s even better when it’s a book I already own, so I can give away the extra. I got an artist copy of the Art Quilt Portfolio: People and Portraits, but I also received a review copy, so if you want it, just comment to that effect and I’ll draw names next Friday, April 5, and mail it out to you.
I did read this book cover to cover. It’s my favorite kind of book, full of a good variety of artists and pictures, with nice big pictures of the art, and insights into what the artists think about their work and their process. Yes, I am one of the featured artists, but if I didn’t like the book, I wouldn’t be giving a positive review.
Martha Sielman did a great job tailoring the questions to the specific work of the artists and providing us with some people we’ve all heard of and some who were merely blips on my radar (and even some I’d never heard of, which just means I’m not listening hard enough).
The profiled artists include Joan Sowada, Bodil Gardner, Maria Elkins, Colette Berends, Pat Kumicich, Sherry Davis Kleinman, Cheryl Dineen Ferrin, Yoshiko Kurihara, Lora Rocke, Margot Lovinger, Ulva Ugerup, Viola Burley Leak, Margene Gloria May, Lori Lupe Pelish, Sonia Bardella, Leni Wiener, Mary Pal, Jenny Bowker, myself, Pam RuBert, and Carol Goddu. Each featured artist had about 6 quilts pictured on 6 pages. I liked that each artist covered topics that were specific to their work and lives. In trying to answer interview questions in the past, I know that trying to answer wide-open and vague questions is difficult. Sielman definitely did her homework before sending out questions to the artists, and you can clearly hear the artist’s voice in each section.
There is a wide variety of work here, from the more realistic work done by Bardella, Elkins, and Rocke; to the more abstract pieces of Pelish, Burley Leak, and May; into the whimsical and expressive work of RuBert, Ugerup and Gardner; to Pal, Dineen Ferrin, and Bowker’s intriguing and revealing portraits of particular people. I was fascinated by Kurihara, Berends, and Goddu’s use of fabrics, although they don’t work in a similar fashion at all. I have been lucky to have been following the work of Lovinger for years, and Wiener’s blog is a great background to how she creates her work. Sowada and Davis Kleinman’s work have been on my radar for a good long time, and Kumicich is a recent find, as she is one of the artists in the I’m Not Crazy exhibit I curated.
I would suggest reading Elizabeth Barton’s review as well…she makes an interesting comparison between this volume and the Nature volume of Art Quilt Portfolio. She brings up a point that I also noticed, that there is no contact information in each artist’s section, and even the information at the back is fairly sparse. Although I know how to Google, it would be nice to have that information, even if half of it were out of date by publication…maybe that is why they leave it out.
I mentioned when I reviewed the Nature volume that I liked the galleries of other artists, but they seemed to make more sense in the Nature volume. There were logical topics. I suggested that for the People and Portraits, coming up with gallery titles that were relevant and yet were a means to gather work together would be difficult, and I was apparently right about that. I’m not sure I see the connections in some of the galleries…it might be OK to just not title them. I did enjoy the variety of other artists working with the figure, especially artists whose work I had not seen before. I think that is one of the great strengths of this type of book, in that it is not predictable, that the artists we might expect to see profiled here were not necessarily the artists chosen.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Sielman comes up with next. Again, if you want my copy, comment…