with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Mobile, Alabama – Contemporary Fiber Art Exhibition

As a quilter and not very good fiber art hobbyist, I love great fiber art when I see it. Well, I found some this weekend. My mother is visiting from Seattle and we were wandering downtown Mobile, the “old” city, and stumbled across a gallery called space 301 Gallery. They were hosting a surface/structure contemporary fiber exhibit with some dazzling artistic displays.

Artwork Tapestry by Charlene MarshOne of the artists work that really captured our attention from the moment we walked in the door was Charlene Marsh. From Nashville, Indiana, she uses hand-dyed wool, cotton, and silk yarn to create amazing tapestries. Some have metallic yarns worked into the mix to give sparkle and shine to the textures. The designers are incredibly intricate and vibrant, a sensation of massive texture when viewed close but works of detailed art when viewed from a distance. She has a whole series featuring horses of all colors galloping through amazing abstract landscapes and a three piece series that looks part Celtic, Asian, and new age fantasy mixed together, circles within circles within stars within circles.

Tapestry and beading by Ann Baddeley KeisterAnn Baddeley Keister also won my heart with very intricate tapestry work that includes surface details like fine beading. From Grand Rapids, Michigan, Her artwork is heavily influenced by Native American nature symbols, the fish being a reoccurring theme, and they seem to tell a story, one that I’d have to stand there for a while to consider.

Everything was wonderful, inspiring, and imaginative. We both liked the baskets by Bonnie Zimmer from Indiana. She collects objects, common and uncommon, from nature and man, all “found objects”. The series she presented is called “Homage to Nature: Barn Series”. Notes on the display explain that one of her parents’ old barns burned to the ground after being struck by lightning and she found her inspiration there for these innovative baskets, also paying tribute to her family’s loss, building art from ashes. She used shredded tire rubber, plastic pull tabs for tying wire bundles and such, sticks, grasses, fabric, beads, feathers, and mesh. Amazing and beautiful.

Artwork Tapestry by Charlene Marsh being viewed by some of the gallery visitorsIf you live or are planning a visit soon to Mobile, Alabama, take time out to see this interesting exhibit on Cathedral Square in downtown Mobile at 301 Conti Street. You can visit their website or call at 251-208-5671. This exhibition will continue until June 26, 2005, and next on the schedule is Watercolor and Graphic Arts Society of Mobile and then People’s Art, followed at the end of July with On/Off Paper, something I’ll return to see.

The space 301 gallery is an exhibition hall for contemporary art, part of the non-profit Centre for the Living Arts plans to “transform the historic Mobile Register building into a premier contemporary arts facility”. The process began in 2003 and in 2006, extensive renovations are planned to expand and develop the entire facility.

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