Diane and Patty at Post

January and February are the bleakest months of the year on my calendar. That’s why I’m happy to be able to reach back into the pile of pictures I took, and interviews I conducted last year, and bring a little color a bleary January. A highlight was Diane Litten and Patty Pickup’s stop on last years’ Philadelphia Open Studio Tour

I met Diane years ago and knew her primarily as an artist who fashioned sophisticated and unique earrings out of silver wire that she knitted on tiny needles. Alas, don’t have any pictures of these remarkable pieces.

I have learned since then that Diane considers herself to be primarily a fiber artist. She’s self taught, unrestrained by tradition, and influenced by whatever she finds interesting. Her work looks complex, but is deceptively simple, polished, inventive, and fun. This is no happy accident; Diane is not afraid to play with her materials to see how far she can push them. Something more of us should do. Here are some pictures.

Brooch and necklace with magnetic clasp
Display piece from a former show.

Here’s some links and info on Diane. Take a look at her Facebook page here. Follow Diane on Instagram here. Take a look at some work she did with Group Motion, here.

Patty Pickup is no stranger to my little blog. Her last appearance on the Philadelphia Open Studio Tours was with polymer artist Terri Powell (ArtSci designs.). This year, Patty was able to make it in person to Donna Kato’s Atlantic Clay Escape, and come home with some new skills and ideas. Here are some pictures of the results.

It looks like the Atlantic City Escape is going to be one of the last live polymer events we’re going to have for awhile. But a bunch of us, including Patty, are working hard to make Virtual Clayathon 2022 a reality.

Off the Wall: American Art to Wear

I went to a couple of great  exhibits this year before the coronavirus shut the museums.  One of them,  Off the Wall: American Art to Wear, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was especially enjoyable.

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While I’ve never been a fashionista, I’ve always loved colorful, striking clothing.  I grew up in the 70’s with a mother who thought that Leslie Fay was a fashion icon.  Oh, dear.  This made for some interesting discussions best left to memory.  But a lot of people felt like my Mother.

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There has always been art clothing, but usually not for the hoi polloi like me and my Mother who were expected to wear sensible “uniforms” and not stand out.  That seemed to change in the late 60’s and early 70’s when brighter colors became acceptable, tie dye was all the rage, and the hand-made movement took off.   I think that the American art clothing movement was a product of this, and it has definitely left a mark on what we wear today.

Some of my favorite pieces from the exhibit:

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Embroidered Top and Skirt, Mary Ann Schildknecht

There is a saying somewhere  that an article of clothing does not qualify as couture unless a dozen nuns went blind making it.    So I was amused  to learn that nuns taught Mary Ann Schildknecht how to embroider while she was serving a two-year prison sentence in Italy for hashish trafficking.  The result is this astounding top and skirt, above.

I first saw this cape and hat by Susanna Lewis in an issue of Ornament Magazine years ago.  Ornament is the best magazine if you are interested in art clothing.

Double click on the pictures to get  a look at the full sized versions of this headdress and cape by Debra Rappaport.  They are made entirely of found objects.

Knitwear

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Joan Steiner, Manhattan Collar

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Katherine Westphal

 

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One of the entries from the Levis Art Denim contest of 1974. Levis Jeans sponsored a contest inviting its customers to decorate their denim and send them pictures.

This is just a sampling of the wonderful articles of clothing displayed in the exhibit.   The Philadelphia Museum of Art has put together an exhibition book which you can order here.  There’s also a real interesting out-of-print book on the Art to Wear movement,  Art to Wear by Julie Schafler Dale.  You can order a used copy here.  Julie Shafler Dale ran a gallery in Manhattan for a number of years that was known for showcasing innovative crafts and new craft mediums (including polymer) before they made their way into the mainstream.  The Julie Artisans Gallery  is closed now, but you can read about it here.  You can read about the Levis Art Denim Contest  and see the winning entries  here.   If you would like more information on Off the Wall: American Art to Wear, click  here and here and here.