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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: November 24, 2014

Experimenting with fiber: “Unraveled: Contemporary New England Fiber Art” at Museums of Old York

Written by: Bob Keyes

Warren Seelig turns the idea of fabric upside down with a steel and shale construction that hangs on the wall of the Remick Gallery at the Museums of Old York.

The sculpture doesn’t include a single thread of what we think of when we think about fabric.

It includes a bed of rocks fastened by a metal framework that is woven in a repeating pattern more than 12 feet long. Imagine it as a woven rug, made with stone.

“I am making things of non-textile material but with a textile mentality,” Seelig said. “The stones almost appear as if they are floating in place. I create textile-like surfaces, but not of soft material.”

Seelig’s piece highlights “Unraveled: Contemporary New England Fiber Art.”

The exhibition brings together the work of 18 regional artists who experiment with fiber and the notion of fiber. Like Seelig, who lives in Hope, these artists pay homage to textile traditions, but push the range of material and technique, curator Mary Harding said.

“I wanted to show the variety of what’s happening out there,” she said. “I wanted to do a show that pushes the limits beyond the preconceived notions of materials, context and scale.”

Harding operates the George Marshall Store Gallery in York, which shows contemporary art. She mounted this show in the Remick Gallery to take advantage of the larger space. It is on view through Dec. 6.

Another notable piece is Maine artist Katharine Cobey’s suspended shawl, “Portrait of Alzheimer’s.” It begins in an orderly pattern and descends into threads that spread out in disarray along the floor.

Other Maine artists include Allison Cooke Brown of Yarmouth, Sallie Findlay of Deer Isle, Sarah Haskell of York, Priscilla Nicholson of Brunswick, Melita Westerlund of Bar Harbor and Katharine Whild of North Yarmouth.

“Unraveled” is the latest in a series of regional exhibitions featuring contemporary fiber. Recently in Massachusetts, the Fuller Craft Museum, the American Textile Museum and the ICA/Boston have mounted exhibitions.

“UNRAVELED: CONTEMPORARY NEW ENGLAND FIBER ART”

WHERE: Remick Gallery, Museums of Old York, 3 Lindsay Road, York
WHEN: On view through Dec. 6; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $5, $3 for ages 5 to 15; free 4 and younger
INFO: 207-363-1756 or oldyork.org

December is a busy time at Museums of Old York.

It hosts the annual Christmas tea from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 at historic Jefferds Tavern. The event coincides with York’s Festival of Lights. The theme, “I Saw Three Ships Come Sailing In,” celebrates the commodities of sugar, rum, cocoa and spices that arrived at York by ship. Admission is $10 adults, $5 for children 5 to 14.

Whiskey Tasting, 6 p.m. Dec. 19, Jefferds Tavern. Reservations required; $35.

Holiday concert with Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen, 4 p.m. Dec. 21, Parsons Center; $15, $10 students. The concert usually sells out.

For information, call 207363-1756 or visit oldyork.org.

Handmade Artist Book by Arlene Morris on view at USM's Glickman Library through Dec. 19.

Handmade Artist Book by Arlene Morris on view at USM’s Glickman Library through Dec. 19.

Closer to home, Maine Fiberarts has two shows of contemporary fiber work. One is at the group’s gallery at 13 Main St., Topsham, and includes members’ work that is for sale for the holidays. That show is on view through Dec. 31.

Another is in the Reading Room of the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Family Library, on view through Dec. 9, and includes the work of more than 30 artists, most from Maine.

Christine Macchi, Maine Fiberarts director, said the challenge with the Reading Room is the space itself. There is limited wall space, but the room has numerous wooden cabinets designed to show off artist books. For this show, Maine Fiberarts asked for sculptural and small work. The show includes woven textiles, collaged fabric, stitched landscapes, felted books, tatted bamboo, and needlework.

“MAINE FIBERARTS AT USM”

WHERE: 7th floor, Glickman Family Library, University of Southern Maine, Bedford St., Portland
WHEN: On view through Dec. 19; 7:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 7:45 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: Free
INFO: 207-721-0678 or mainefiberarts.org

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