|With Nava’s guidance, the tapestries created by these contemporary artists focus on one central image or an overall pattern. Most striking is Chuck Close’s grisaille portrait of the composer Phillip Glass. This looming close up of Glass is blown up to a large scale, and his head emerges out of the woven gloom like a modern icon.
Other key images include Nava’s dramatic portrait of his model, who also takes on a monumental aspect in her spot-lit isolation. Hall’s sun-kissed portrait of a California girl, “Perfect,” becomes larger than life as hard edges soften and colors become even more luminous in wool. Carnwath’s idiosyncratic geometrics meander over the surface of her tapestry, the “Story of Painting,” a jewel-like and whimsical abstraction. Moses’ overall patterns in vivid colors also translate well into the tapestry medium. They look like a blown-up slide of microscopic images that glisten under the magnifying lens. Rupert Garcia’s centralized, flowery image is perfectly suited to the tapestry medium, as his drips and splotches glow in brilliant colors that alternately reveal and cover up his organic motif. Not as effective are the symmetrical pop images, including Hank Pitcher’s “Surfboard,” and Mel Ramos’s “Chiquita” pin-up. They need the defined edges, brighter colors and flat surfaces of painting to retain their visual impact.
The willingness of Nava, Farnsworth and all the other artists here to translate their works into a new medium is noteworthy, and in the best scenario their work takes on new meaning as their images change scale, their colors become more vibrant, and their surfaces gain new depth.
Bruce Conner, "Double Angel,"
1991/2004, tapestry, 105 x 115".
DJ Hall, "Perfect," 2006,
tapestry, 105 x 78".
Hank Pitcher, "Surfboard,"