Saturday, October 07, 2006

Full Day(s)

True to my badmom moniker, I pulled my daughter out of school on Friday to drive up to San Francisco. We spent yesterday afternoon at Berkeley. We had a good chat with Mark's thesis advisor about science and life in general.

We also spent a great deal of time at Black Oak Books and Epicurious Garden in north Berkeley's gourmet ghetto. On our last trip to Berkeley, Iris and I shared excellent gelato in the 'secret garden'. The Valrhona chocolate flavor was the best chocolate ice cream all three of us have ever had. It was expensive, but a transcendent chocolate experience doesn't come cheap.

Also on the last trip, the book buyer at Black Oak Books told Iris that, if she took good care of her books, Iris would get more money for the books she didn't want anymore. After that, I saw an increase in respect in the way Iris cared for her books. Iris got $6.75 in trade for the books she brought in. She selected an excellent graphic novel called Babymouse: Queen of the World. Not yet 6 but she has already developed excellent taste in books. Ok, I have to stop bragging about her.

Today, we started our day at the new de Young Museum where I saw the Quilts of Gees Bend. Previously, I had bought the exhibition catalog from amazon. That catalog had good photos of the quilts and biographies of the makers. But, as a quilter, I had hoped to learn more technical information about how the quilts were made. It turns out, there is a second touring exhibition of Gees Bend quilts and the catalog for that one, Gees Bend: the Architecture of the Quilt, explains more about the technical aspects of the quilts. I probably will add that book to my collection.

The quilts were even more amazing "in the flesh" than in photos. I was drawn to all of them. They all have such graphic power; I was on sensory overload. I was drawn by a couple of details. In Annie Bendolph's "Thousand Pyramids", note the line of half square blocks that oriented in the opposite direction than the rest. The quilt achieves a sense of tension from that off-kilter detail.

The "My Way" quilts used salvageable pieces of fabric from worn out clothing. I was mesmerized by the complex visual texture achieved with the recycled fabric. I am esthetically attracted to softly variegated colors. The colors were just a by product of the recycled materials used out of necessity by the quilters of Gees Bend. I go to extra effort and expense to hand-dye fabrics and yarn to get that uneven effect.

Others have pointed out the irony. The art of patchwork was invented in an era when fabric was scarce and women's labor was cheap. Now, relatively well-to-do women who are short of time buy new fabric that looks like it is old, and cut it up in little pieces before sewing them back together. It is late now; I will post another time about a quilt I made 15 years ago from old fabrics salvaged from thrift store clothes. That quilt was always a favorite of mine. It took a long time, but we were reunited recently.

The new de Young museum is breathtaking. Iris said that the crack in the courtyard was meant to convince kids to enter the museum. I thought the crack symbolized the San Andreas fault or possibly alluded to San Francisco's location on the ring of fire. I like Iris' interpretation, though.

After that, we took Muni to Aquatic Park. My sister met us by dinghy and took us to her boat which was moored offshore with friends from her sailing club. We watched the Blue Angels aerial show with plenty of good food, wine and company. Then they surprised me with a chocolate chocolate cake for my birthday. A very full two days, indeed.


  1. Anonymous08:57

    I wasn't aware of the second exhibit and second catalog. I will have to look into that book. The quilts are amazing aren't they? I am really impressed with the power of these quilts, made from what most of us would consider cast-offs while many of us have trouble expressing our creativity with endless possibilities surrounding us.

    I suppose it should give us all pause for thought.

    Happy Birthday


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