Monday, March 1, 2010

Quality in Art...

...or "Why isn't tapestry considered an art form in many places?"

I was having this discussion with my weaving mentor yesterday in Santa Fe. It is a long-standing discussion which is pretty one-sided as we both agree that tapestry struggles to be recognized as an art form. A case in point is HGA's difficulty finding venues for exhibits during Convergence. We were lucky to get a venue at Open Spaces Gallery for our Bauhaus exhibit (Interwoven Traditions: New Mexico and Bauhaus), but many people were not so lucky. The small format ATA show ended up in Santa Fe and the ATB8 show didn't find a venue at all in New Mexico. I heard from HGA and ATA people looking for spaces that what they were hearing from galleries was that they only focused on "traditional" weaving. In New Mexico, that refers to the traditions of the Navajo and Hispanic weavers.
When I look at "fiber shows" I often am amazed at the poor craftsmanship that is hung on the wall and called art. It is an age-old debate, what constitutes art, but for me good craftsmanship is part of the equation. I think as tapestry artists, if we can't make good-quality work to start with, we are asking to be considered simply "craft." And this leads to situations where high-quality tapestry shows like ATB8 or an ATA show can't find a venue in a major American city--one that is steeped in art and surrounded by cultures devoted to weaving. ...just my beginning thoughts on the matter.

And for visual interest, a photo from a hike I took Saturday near Velarde, NM... an old adobe building that had a descanso inside it.

And here is a photo of some cranes at the Bosque del Apache during morning fly out a few weeks ago. I have watched them fly over my house in fast-moving clots of croaking sandhills through most of February. They seem to be gone now. When I was in the San Luis Valley a week ago, I was able to visit them again at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge. My Pentax point and shoot 4 megapixel is no match for the mega-cameras that appear at the refuge, but this shot isn't bad (at least at low resolution in small size).


  1. I know, from having approached galleries in NM for both my own work, and for an IWC conference, that many galleries there will only consider weavings that are created in the state. I believe they feel they are being protective of the weavers, especially native American ones, who live and weave there. It is a frustration, though, especially for conferences that might want to come there from outside NM.

  2. I have heard similar tales of woe from other ATA members who live in Santa Fe, it is unfortunate, but understandable, I guess, especially considering the state of our economy & how it has affected artists.

    I am happy you were able to get a venue for the Bauhaus exhibit... will it be up during Convergence? Janie & I will be coming for the ATA events & we'll hope to see you!



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