Saturday, December 5, 2015

Counter Culture in Bellevue WA

Years ago, 1975 to be precise, I wished I had been a little older and could have been a real hippie

It was 1975, dammit, I was 16.
And somewhere I got a copy of this book
from the book Native Funk and Flash

and committed it to memory

from my copy of the book "Native Funk and Flash"

Yes, I was that girlfriend. The one who embroidered Alice in Wonderland on your jeans.

from the book Native Funk and Flash
This is Laurel Burch in 1974. Yes, that Laurel Burch.

from the book Native Funk and Flash
Mary Ann Schildknecht and her satin embroidered shirt. I worshipped this shirt.

I looked. You won't.

The show is currently in Bellevue WA at the Bellevue ARTS Museum (vs the Bellevue Art Museum, RIP)

BAM,wa has always had a craft/object bent to it: Joseph Beuys and Issey Miyake have had shows there. Not at the same time, sadly. 

One of the founders of the Cockettes, Hibiscus' scrapbook (one of many I understand)

In addition to the documentary on the Cockettes making the rounds, there is plenty of footage of their performances in the "I Am Divine" documentary, presently on Netflix.

Sparkles everywhere!

Scrumbly's doily suit: did the person name the assemblage technique, or the other way around?

Wavy Gravy jumpsuit (one of two in the show), this one with a Merry Prankster star on the back from his time with Ken Kesey on the bus (because you're on the bus or you're not).

Janet Lipkin vest, with additional embroidery on the lining.

The middle features dresses by Alexandra Jacopetti Hart,  co-founder of Folkwear Patterns.
Yes, if they look familiar to you, that's because it's a straight line from these to that.

A detail from one of Hart's dresses.

Sample case with swatches, foot tracings and sample of foam sole. McGowan apprenticed in a CA sandal factory, probably flip flops given the materials he's using.

Apple Cobbler Scout Boots

Mary Ann Schildknecht's shirt in person. The story is that she was in prison in Italy on hashish charges, and the nuns that ran the prison taught her needlework. She used her bedsheets to make this shirt. It has a story line and a matching skirt (the beginnings shown previously). And pretty much every embroidery floss color on the planet.

Because it is paved with embroidery,  she left holes in the sleeve in case she might need a transfusion. And I needed a photo of those holes.

It was the 70s.

This is one of those moments at an exhibition where the docents get really interested in talking to you about the objects.  I am unsure if it was the number of photos I had taken at this point (they indicated which pieces were not to be photographed - Mama Cass Elliot's astrology dress, ombre died rayon velvet for one - and I comply) or just the level of engagement I had.

Mme. Docent  asked "Do you sew?" and when I responded yes, she had lots of questions for me, mostly about how long it would have taken to make these things. She walked me around the whole thing again and we went over what the clothes were and why. I would have taken a lot more photographs otherwise.

Remembering that book came in handy, but the show is a lot more than just one book.
The entire show is essentially handmade, which stunned her. I mean, there's a lot of sewing machine work for basic structures, but when there's an entire room of crocheted clothing, well, there's no machines for that.
100% Birgitta (Bjerke), Ibiza, 1969, Photo: Karl Ferris

There's a whole room of these scrumble works. And now I feel badly I didn't take more pictures, as they don't seem to be presented online.

Apparently the sewists aren't attending this show. I had lots of questions she had no answers for, and I have a stack of them for the curator, Michael Cepress.

Kaisik Wong, Red Ray and Orange Ray, 1974, Photo: Courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

So please find the eastside of the greater Seattle area, not on a Monday, and go see this. There's no catalog, and it's not likely to tour much if no one sees it here.

And I will get back there before it closes and just snap snap snap. Maybe I should haul the curator around with me. I'm just that kind of pushy.

Sad fleece blanket in gift shop with nice fringe. Project time: that's two yards of fleece and one ball of Noro, plus a crochet hook.

The only item that related to the show in the gift shop was
one of these
And they wonder why museums don't engage their visitors

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing, far out experience. I am planning embroidered jeans. I will try to get this book for inspiration. I should love to see the exhibition, but as you say it probably won't travel. So I am very, very grateful for this marvellous write up. Thank You!


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