Among factors contributing to the movement's solid support on Philadelphia's Main Line is this biennial's ongoing ties to a small, dedicated group from Philadelphia's Sedgwick Cultural Center in Mount Airy, where it originated modestly as part of a 1999 community arts festival. Some still participate in its installation planning.
The handsome display gives a generous sampling of work by quilters who reshape noble subjects (Barbara Schneider of Illinois, Mary Pel of Canada) or employ subtle colors and textures (Toot Reid of Washington state, Jette Clover of Belgium). And it highlights the bold optical gesture (Diane Nunez of Michigan), at times using glowing color to achieve a sensuous surface and velvety depth (Dianne Firth of Australia, Vicki Carlson of Colorado).
Somehow the use of technology here doesn't really challenge the myth of the artist as an inspired visionary whose art is her (generally her) vehicle for self-expression. We'll leave that to be hammered out to their satisfaction by some of the brilliant mastiffs among these inspired artist-craftspeople. Must see.
Wayne Art Center, 413 Maplewood Ave., Wayne. To May 12. Mon.-Fri. 9-5, Sat. 10-4. Free. 610-688-3553.
Show and tell
The Brandywine River Museum, practically weaned on the art of the Golden Age of Illustration, 1880-1914, over the years has added much art of that era to its permanent collection. It now even owns the former Scribner's Magazine's card-file record of every piece of art it published. What a find.
Brandywine's new show, "Scribner's Magazine: The Early Years in Illustration," features many of that American publisher's most celebrated and gifted individuals.
The attraction isn't so much that these paintings, drawings, engravings, etchings, and lithographs portray events wrenched from the headlines of their day, it's the inventiveness and vigor of the images, their arresting spatial character and complexity, the use of gesture and touch. These attain what are at times beautiful realized surfaces, whether events are being reported, historical episodes reinterpreted, or simple flights of fantasy captured. And once the sequence begins, the story takes on a lot of polish.
Howard Pyle leads off, tapping into historical sources to make a significant statement for his own day in the oil painting Gambetta Proclaiming the Republic of France. Its reproduction from a master engraver's state-of-the-art technology became Scribner's first frontispiece in 1887. And it's not the only appealing Pyle piece here.
In that first issue, Scribner's made a promise it kept - that each issue "will be fully and handsomely illustrated by the best work of the leading artists, engraved in the most skillful manner, or reproduced by the best methods known."
Scribner's in fact did become a major player worldwide in the artistic achievements of illustration's "golden age." Among the artists it hired who are included here were N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Charles Dana Gibson, Thornton Oakley, Rose O'Neill, Frank Schoonover, John Twachtman, and William S. Kendall. It was Wyeth's 1907 frontispiece On the October Trail that made it to full color via one of the processes explained in the show that students of illustration will find helpful. In all, a fine exhibition, curated by Christine Podmaniczky.
Brandywine River Museum, Rte. 1, Chadds Ford. To May 20. Daily 9:30-4:30. Adults $12; seniors & students $6. Free Sunday mornings 9:30-12, except Memorial Day weekend. 610-388-2700.
Gasali Adeyemo, a Nigerian master indigo dyer now settled in New Mexico, who conducts workshops and exhibitions nationwide, arrived at Indigo Arts in the Crane Arts Building in early March with a cassava-starch resist and tie-dyeing demonstration and his current display celebrating the gallery's 25th anniversary.
Betraying an almost sibling intimacy in the similarity of their richly patterned abstract designs, the African textiles on view feature natural indigo dyeing and weaving techniques such as resist-dyed Yoruba adire, Malian Bamana tie-dye, and strip-woven indigo kente cloth from the Ewe of Ghana and Togo.
Adeyemo served as consultant for the informative hour-long video on indigo history being shown. It's all part of the current FiberPhiladelphia event, running through April.
Indigo Arts Gallery, Crane Arts Building, 1400 N. American St., Phila. To April 28. Wed.-Sat. 12-6. 215-765-1041.