Respect quilt no. 14 is now done, and heading off soon to Atlanta, GA to celebrate a great American writer: Tayari Jones! In the joyful spirit of love and brotherhood, I am also offering a sale of 50% off all “Seattle” and “Respect” quilts now until Friday January 21, 2022, on etsy!
Right in time to ring out the bad old year and usher in a brighter future, is my new line of Seattle Quilts! They feature calm images–whales, sailboats, (and a sailboat gliding over a whale), seagulls, rolling waves, the cityscape at dawn– alongside bright fabrics celebrating some of Seattle’s many cultures–Mexican florals, Vietnamese tigers, African wax prints, Japanese cranes in flight–plus a UW symbol and adorable kittens–what more could you want? With vintage linens and denims, materials new, old, and hand-made, it projects an inclusive, energetic, upbeat feeling.
Add a back made of black cotton with dayglo dogs in all shades of the rainbow and you’ve got BOLD!
Boldly we go, into the new… let’s hope an early spring will push through the snow!
Couldn’t help adding a few of my favorite things–Honey Girl’s footsteps in the snow, a laptop with stickers from the best radio station in Seattle (or the world, maybe), and other stickers from beloved local shops run by real people (a family in one case) and a feminist art studio in Spain; Salty Dog : a children’s book given to us by my dad the sailor. The Salty Dog books are by Gloria and Ted Rand: a Seattle author/illustrator pair whose work is charming and never fails to grab kiddos. P.S. See the hilarious laughing crows on our shed, by Stroble Art of Puyallup, WA. Then there’s Hello Kitty, just because.
Happy New Year!
We just got back from our semi-annual trip to NJ and NYC, to see family and friends. In NYC, we stayed at the Washington Square Hotel, on Waverly Place: highly recommend! The staff were super nice and helpful, and it was fun to learn from them about the hotel’s art nouveau decor and the many people who’ve been its neighbors in New York history (including the Roosevelts). The hotel is worth a peek even if you don’t stay there.
On our last morning, we walked up to one of my favorite places in the world. Come along!
Another day, we took in the Surrealism exhibit currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum which was Fantastic, as was the Afrofuturist Room. The labels displayed alongside those exhibits are particularly noteworthy–kudos to the curators, for telling stories and giving life histories as well as providing provenance etc., as you’ll see below:
Fabiola Jean-Louis, Haitian, b. 1978, Justice of Ezili (2021).
Arshile Gorky, Turkish, 1904-1948, Water of the Flowery Mill (1944).
Tarsila do Amaral, Brazilian, 1886-1973, City (The Street) (1929).
Also delightful were passing sights, like these:
— an Audre Lord poem in the subway,
–and a sexy unicorn !
(Big Gay Ice Cream shop, 61 Grove Street, NYC)
Last but not least, my art shot, taken from our room at the hotel, which I may call Keeping Things in Hand…
or Still Life with Boots. Either way, that room was sooooo comfortable and quiet.
Great to have photos like these to imagine it again, now that we’re back under the cold wet drenching rain here in Seattle. (Note the sunny weather in NYC?? It was Amazing!)
I’m feeling a spring in my step today, as I wrap up the work on “Respect” quilt no. 12!
It will be available for sale soon, via the “Great Futures Gala and Auction” of the King County Boys and Girls Club, to be held online October 23, 2021.
Here’s to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America!
I’m thrilled to contribute a “Paris révolutionnaire” pillow to the “Free Little Art Gallery” in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. (Sorry it dwarfs the space, at 14″x14″, but this site really is tiny!)
Are there galleries like this in your city? would love to see more pics… a healthy art scene does such wonders for the soul…
It may seem odd to spend weeks making a quilt for a stranger and yet that is exactly what I’ve been doing. “Respect” quilt no. 10 is now done! As I worked, I reread the book which inspired it and realized on p. 230, that the quilt manifests an insight within.
“For the first time in my life, I was dedicated to loving myself so fully that the natural response was also to love unconditionally any authenticity I found in others.”
–Michele Harper, M.D., The Beauty in Breaking, p. 230.
I so admire that line and the mindset it suggests; would that everyone felt equally strong and capable of loving, despite the hardships and pain it may bring. Harper’s candid and sometimes heart-breaking writing provides a beacon of hope, and a means of connection, for us readers.
I hope she’ll like the quilt.
At the June 10 ArtWalk event announced earlier this week, visitors enjoyed playing “Make a Quilt” and entering in the drawing to WIN YOUR QUILT! It was a hit. So much so, that we are now planning to do it again later this summer on the front sidewalk outside West Seattle Grounds coffee shop. In the meantime, thought you’d enjoy some glimpses of the creativity from Thursday night!
Some lovely non-winners below
This is how the “Make a Quilt” game works:
Public: Who can play? Everyone!
1. Ensure hands are clean, with wipes provided.
2. Browse through the quilt squares, choose 15 that you like. Put the other ones into a neat pile to the side.
3. Choose your layout: horizontal or vertical.
(“Frankenstein” is vertical; “Respect wall-hanging” is horizontal)
4. Lay out your quilt squares in lines according to the blue taped areas on the table. It will create a design that is 3 squares x 5 squares (vertical), or 5 squares x 3 squares (horizontal).
5. Straighten it all up.
6. Take a photo with your cell phone.
Congratulations! You are now a quilt designer and that is your first e-quilt!
To win a real quilt made out of your design, join the WIN YOUR QUILT drawing!
These signs are visible now in WSEA! Come to West Seattle Grounds coffee shop tonight, 5-8pm, and find out what all the excitement is about!
Here is the destination, West Seattle Grounds coffee shop, situated at 2141 CALIFORNIA AVE SW SEATTLE, WA 98116.
P.S. How fun to become a guerilla artist, posting signs around the neighborhood. Without hurting any trees. In fact the trees were my helpers, holding the yarn in their bark while I stretched my arms around their trunks. Art is life!
“Respect” wall-hanging no. 1, pictured above, is an example of art that speaks. It is one of the ways I’m trying to emulate the wisdom espoused in Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I found that book–a slim paperback–on a chance visit to a used bookstore in New Orleans. It was during a time when I was still working as a professor but sensed I wanted a different life, more open to creative possibilities. I found Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit, at that same store, so I owe a huge debt of thanks to whoever gave those books up for adoption.
In Art and Fear: Observations about the Perils (and Rewards) of Art Making, the authors offer sober, sensible yet not heartless advice for would-be artists. My favorite is what they call a “useful working approach to making art: notice the objects you notice. (e.g. Read that sentence again.) Or put another way: make objects that talk–and then listen to them.” (p. 101)
The “Respect” wall-hangings and quilts speak of a hopeful attitude toward living together, and that is the one I wish for us. They say: “Dream Big”; “Believe Racial Equity is Possible”; “Celebrate Beauty of All Kinds” and “Our Time is Now.” The back of this wall-hanging, which juxtaposes a vibrant African cotton in blue/green/and brown (an image that resembles a palm tree or a long-necked woman’s head) alongside strips of a lily-bedecked Japanese block print in blue, shows what can happen when strangers unite.
The three little birds from Bob Marley’s song are there too, in the white and black trim of the front; see them peeking through? The front also conveys a more explicitly political message, of course, thanks to the patches commemorating civil rights leader Malcolm X, reggae legend Bob Marley, and the BLM activists, whose rallying cry, “Respect Existence or Expect Resistance” forms the heart of the matter.
P.S. Caveat: This is not to say that I am sort of saintly warrior for racial equity, sitting around singing “Kumbaya.” I will admit that I did give a fellow driver the finger yesterday. He was the aggressive driver of a grey truck who cut me off while we were both jockeying for a place in the incredibly congested traffic of West Seattle’s detour route (which has forced us all into massive traffic jams for over a year now. Tempers are flaring.). And when he reached out to indicate his indifference to my honk, I noted he was Black. I acknowledge that exchange was not very nice. But he cut me off! Sigh. May we live another day and try again tomorrow…
P.S.S. Like “Respect” quilts, these wall-hangings are available to you now, via the Honey Girl Etsy store! As a fund-raiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, it’s a fairly painless way to give… and to be part of the change.
After a sad spell, I return with good news, energy, and curiosity alight, thanks to the fabulous new book by art historian Samantha Noël which just arrived today. I made Respect quilt no. 7 for her, in fact, in memory of our time together during the years at Notre Dame and in admiration for her work. She works on Black artists and culture-creators of the Caribbean and the USA, and shows how their creations are interwoven with real aesthetic merit and political intention, despite being misunderstood or written off by the authorities. I’ve been waiting for my copy of the book so that I could pose the quilt with it, and the combination is even better than I imagined. I love the way the quilt’s vibe matches the message of the book! dancing people, tropical landscapes, a jaunty air of subversion–they are soulmates. Knowing it was destined to Samantha, I made this quilt particularly bright and cheerful. Do you see the visual reminder of the year it was made?*
A couple passages will show you why I’m such a fan of the book. It’s Samantha Noël’s ability to bring you right into the scene, to take the reader on a sensory journey to Trinidad or Cuba, to jangling cities and noisy jungles, where a luscious tropical heat shields a whole different world of smells, sights, and sounds and people with deep customs and histories linking them to Africa and the islands. Or to the glamorous world of Josephine Baker in the 1920s, when she took Paris by storm. (It is still sickening to remember that despite amazing talent, Baker was rebuffed at home in the USA, and that some part of her success was due to her concession to perform in the nude, with a male partner, a titillating danse des sauvages for white audiences). Noël’s focus on Black culture, island diasporas, and Southern histories is also a breath of new air into my Northwestern life, and one I’m eager to take in. Plus there’s a very intriguing photo of Maya Angelou on an album cover, as “Miss Calypso,” that I’m dying to explore!
Samantha Noël paints a complicated picture of the jamettes, or women who belonged to the poor of urban Trinidad, whose male counterparts were called badjohns. Instead of consigning them to the toxic influences that dominated their daily lives (abuse, sex work, poverty), she also notes the feisty, flamboyant style they embraced and the important role they played in the neighborhood. Famous jamettes–Yvonne “Bubulups” Smith and Gateway Elaine, for example–could be seen during street happenings of all kinds, from political protests to Carnival carousing. The consequences were sometimes dire, as the author notes:
“When Bubulups initiated a battle with her opponents, policemen arrested a naked and wounded Bubulups. … The difficulty of a jamette’s life is best summed up in Jean’s words: ‘Listen to me Dinah. … The road I walk had nothing. It didn’t have no money, no food. I didn’t have no mother. I didn’t have no father. All I ever wanted in my life was money and that is the only way I know how to do it. And that is how I am going down.’ … society branded them vulgar. As uncouth spectacles, their physiques gestured indiscretion against the repressive colonial order. Vulgar now became the pejorative agent in the sociocultural framing of these Black working-class women.
… she captures the attention of onlookers. Her monumental presence captured in the photograph also highlights her explicit control of the domain around her as she literally makes space, transforming the tropical, colonial territory as she traverses it.
Their movements were akin to the steel bands, whose rhythmic and melodic sound also emitted an unruly flair as the steel pan voiced the Black masses’ desire for acknowledgment of their political, social, and creative presence. The jamettes thus reveled in the music in their costumes, oscillating their hips with their arms akimbo, some waving the flags of their affiliated steel bands and others simply moving to the music while singing refrains from popular calypsos. If the jamettes were indeed primitive, it is because they were appropriating primitivity in their performance as a means of challenging the colonial order.” (pp. 133-135 in Tropical Aesthetics of Black Modernism, Duke University Press, 2021).
Select Honey Girl quilts will be on sale for one day only, March 10, 2021. Check it out!
photo of Maya Angelou album cover courtesy of: By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36595496
*the ox on the green & yellow square is a symbol of 2021: Year of the Ox according to the Chinese zodiac.
On left above, an oil painting by Aaron Douglas, Aspects of Negro Life: From Slavery to Reconstruction, 1934, courtesy of the Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.