My Life and Art - The Ongoing Saga


As the child of a prominent artist in Texas and Colorado, I was often left to my own devices - playing with mud pies and plant materials, which literally kept me close to the Earth and later inspired me to become a potter, spinner and weaver.

An introduction to watercolors inflamed a love of color and led me to enroll as a college freshman art major. Awful experience!! Boring! Flat! I just couldn't stay on the paper and color within the lines. I transferred to philosophy/theology and became an independent-minded potter, spinner, knitter, felter, weaver, mosaic maker with lots of room for experimentation. In time, without losing my individual approach, I learned to produce viable and appealing art for galleries and shows.

Jane smiling with her dog, Bella

 

As a weaver in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia I absorbed the values and techniques of traditional homely craft - linen warp with hand-dyed indigo wool weft in overshot coverlets. Later on, attending UNAM (Universidad Nacional de Mexico), I lived in the old Jewish sector of Mexico City, near the home of Frida Kahlo (and Diego Rivera). Transported by the colors and textures of their work and the trials of the second-class bus system, I saw the country - ruins, museums, native markets - collecting whatever textiles I could afford (and carry home in my backpack).

Still later, back in the Blue Ridge, I taught weaving at schools and fiber fairs, folding up my 36-inch LeClerc loom, spinning wheel, small daughter and her still-smaller puppy to fit into a VW bug to travel across the state.

Through grad school in Chicago, I continued in theology, but managed to get away from the books to feed my soul in a different way through weaving. Inspired by such luminaries as Else Regensteiner, Sheila Hicks and Claire Zeisler at the Art Institute and Lighthouse Art Center, I warped my big loom and set to weave in new directions. Meanwhile, with the North Shore Weavers Guild, I also volunteered as a weaver at the Field Museum. Those were the days of great, hairy, beastly creations. I followed blindly and happily until I discovered Japanese Shibori - stitching and felting on silk and wool. Today I am still evolving these approaches into my own individual interpretations.

My theology degree led to a career as President/CEO of a 180-bed skilled care facility in Chicago, and in Colorado a hospice/hospital/ER chaplain and registered psychotherapist. In those high-stress years of focusing on the needs of others, I maintained my creative spirit with travels to India, the Middle East, Mexico and Peru. In every country I visited galleries, museums and cooperatives, collecting inspirational textiles, of course. 

Since my "retirement" in Colorado, I have served as Executive Director of the Creamery Art Center in Hotchkiss and as a founding Board Member of the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center in Cedaredge. 

Participation in selected Colorado art events has included: Aspen Saturday Market, Telluride Mountain Village Market, Ridgway Rendezvous, Ridgway Farmers Market, Lake City Arts Festival, Sneffels Fiber Fest, Telluride Many Hands, Grand Junction Art Center Holiday Show and Sale and the Winter Members' Exhibit, Cedaredge Pioneer Town, Hotchkiss Sheep Dog Trials, San Juan Weavers Guild Annual Show and Sale, Montrose Women's Club Christmas Bazaar. In Utah

I have exhibited my work in the Moab Annual Memorial Day Arts Festival, the Red Rocks Fall Art Festival and the MARC Holiday Market. My work is also currently available in local galleries and shops - the Aspen Emporium and Flying Circus, Confluence Studios Gallery in Grand Junction, ImpressionZ Gallery in Cedaredge, Dog House Espresso in Delta, and Montrose Center for the Arts.

My first one-woman gallery show was presented by the beautiful new gallery at the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center in Cedaredge - a retrospective of my handwoven, felted and knitted wearables, art and home decor. My classes for adults and children have included weaving and felting experiences.

A  second show was presented by the new Montrose Center for the Arts, with new large art panels and silk felted luxury wraps. Classes were also offered, and my work was featured in the Holiday Market.  Additionally, KAFM public radio station invited me to present another one-woman show in their studio gallery. Lots of fun meeting new people!

Continuing my association from 2020 with the emerging Confluence Studios in Grand Junction, my large felted installations and artwear and will be again be exhibited in 2021, and selected fiber arts classes will be offered.

Having been honored since 2018 to be juried into the Aspen Saturday Market and subsequent Winter Market, I continued in 2019, with a featured Summer Travel Collection of Origami Jackets and Kabuki Travel Coats, plus custom hand woven natural fiber rugs and large felted wall art.

In the pandemic year of 2020, the market included only food/produce vendors, and artists/artisans were excluded. Happily, this year we have been invited to resume our participation for the coming June-October 2021 season. The City of Aspen Market Committee has worked diligently to insure a safe and successful year!

Although we were devastated when the Pandemic limited the 2020 Market to essential food vendors, excluding artisans, we were pleased to be invited by the City of Aspen Special Events Coordinator to create an online presence. In response, my website was listed and received positive attention. 

For the 2020 holiday pandemic season, my website was included in the Junior League of Denver Mile High Holiday Mart, an online venue, Nov.13-Dec.31. Customer response was very rewarding. My work was also featured at the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center, the Montrose Center for the Arts Holiday Show and Sale, and Confluence Studios. 

In the 2021 ASM season, anticipating that our everyday life will be returning to some version of a "new normal" of one kind or another, we are preparing a new collection of handwoven and felted YAKETS, with new felted Yak, Navajo Churro, Icelandic and Alpaca wool from local producers. And, a happy felting experiment in resulted in very beautiful and original Pashmina wraps, 70% Pashmina (cashmere) and 30% Silk, felted with more silk, Merino, viscose and more. These have been well received since our first Aspen Saturday Market of the season on June 12. 

I also anticipate continuing teaching fiber arts:  Nuno Felting, Weave a Rug in a Day, Western Colorado Sheep School (preparing raw fleece, carding, spinning, building a loom, and weaving). Spinning: beginner, cordage, art yarn. Dimensional Vessels, Shibori.  Dyeing: silk, wool, alpaca.

My dream is to continue to evolve my own work - now focused on weaving, spinning and felting - in collaboration with local fiber farmers, artisans and gallery owners to foster a Western Slope fiber cooperative.

The goal is to feature and retain local fiber - varied and beautiful - in our own area, producing beautiful marketable fiber works. With some sense of direction and collaboration, a co-op could provide sustainable financial benefit in a seriously depressed section of the Western Slope.

At this point, I have amassed equipment for classes - extensive felting equipment, a flying shuttle loom, two four-harness floor looms, three spinning wheels and three knitting machines, plus enormous fiber resources - all intended to teach an increasing number of local residents new skills that could provide benefit through a thriving local cottage industry.

Please feel free to contact me with your own supportive ideas as I work to make this dream come true. 

Small steps...little acorns...big dreams!

Jane with many different fabrics