I love looking at needlework exhibits and the Exhibit at ANG National Seminar is one of the best. While I worry about judges’ decisions, and generally don’t agree. I love to look at all the inventive needlework people do.
ANG divides its submissions into two broad categories, professional
(people who get paid for doing something in needlework) and
nonprofessional. They also divide pieces into various classes like, painted design with stitch guide, painted design without stitch guide, class project, original, adaptation, etc.
When I go through the exhibit I note the numbers of the pieces to
discover the stitcher, but I don’t pay attention to the classes. I
like it best when I submerge myself into the lovely colors, stitches, and designs.
LaMona Brown made one of the most striking pieces, a wall hanging
done in all Turkey work, called “Tree of Life.” It was stunning,
perfectly sculpted and masterful. Another piece by Bert Kroening of Albuquerque used textured stitches on an overdyed background to
convey a real feeling of the Southwest. She attached small half-pots onto the canvas to complete the effect.
Marnie Ritter’s influence was felt in a couple of pieces. One piece, by Terry L. Beaber, used pounded flowers on Oxford cloth as well as raised work pansies with open buttonhole stitching over to create an Impressionistic piece. Marnie has taught this technique at past seminars. Marnie herself had a delightful piece which combined patchwork with embroidery. It was an envelope pillow. The bottom part of the envelope was done as patchwork stripes, almost like ribbons. The flap of the pillow was done entirely of pattern darned ribbons. This was one of my favorite pieces.
Great finishing is important in wonderful needlepoint and several of the pieces I saw used innovative finishing. Carolyn McClain’s piece, After the Storm, deliberately kept the edges of two different pieces of canvas raw and slightly unraveled to great effect. Caela Conn Tyler’s, An Artist’s Palette, used the shape of a wooden artist’s palette to create a charming spot sampler. Mimi Kaufman created a delightful, miniature 3-D glass slipper on a velvet pillow.
Lou Kilgore created another of my favorite pieces, a book in goldwork with the pages falling out. Each page was delicately outlined and used a different darning pattern. The piece is called At Loose Ends.
A lovely Songbird Christmas stocking was in the non-judged category
and was an astonishing piece. I couldn’t decide if it was embroidery on cloth or canvas except that the cuff showed some exposed canvas. The birds, and there were a bunch of them, were very realistic and done in long and short stitch. The background was also done using this technique in soft blues. The piece was magnificent and I loved it.
I got my new copy of Needlepoint Now yesterday and that lovely songbird stocking is pictured in it. It was done by Gail Sirna for her daughter-in-law. There is a small picture of it. Although you can’t see the wonderful detail, you will get an idea of how delicate and beauiful it is.
Another non-judged piece was a full-size wing chair, done all in tent stitch in wool. It was done by Cynthia S. Jones in lovely shade of orange with geometric motifs and Southwestern symbols.
One of my favorite stitchers, Vicki Coleman, had a wonderful piece on black canvas, called Rainbow and Shadows. She combined geometric motifs, all the colors of the Rainbow, Jean Hilton stitches and a multicolored border an a very colorful, yet not overwhelming piece.
Finally Barbara Mayo Grass did an amazingly realistic Amaryllis, with a painted canvas background which she had stitched over in geometric motifs using thin threads to create a lacy look.
The best piece in the whole show was a magnificent piece by Carolyn Barrani of one of the Cluny Tapstries — It floored me. Done on Penelope canvas, to get detail in the faces she did them in petit point and appliqued them on. The piece was alive with all kinds of
details, many different and unusual threads, all enhanced by a soft faded red background. And it was HUGE and in an elaborate frame — really a masterpiece. Carolyn shared with the list that she had done it 20 years ago, which makes it even more amazing since it was
absolutely cutting edge then.
If it was up to me I’d almost want there to be a much bigger, unjudged exhibit, where more of the delights of needlepoint were shown to people. I would love to see it up longer, in a public place, with a user-friendly guidebook. Wouldn’t this be wonderful to promote our art?