Friday evening was the Gloria F. Ross tapestry lecture, which was very interesting-- it was given by Dr. Alice Zrebiec (she's the former curator of textiles at the Dept of European Sculpture & Decorative Arts at the Met Museum of Art). Her lecture & slides focused on discussing the history of American tapestry ateliers from the late 19th - early 20th centuries, with info & photos she had gathered during the 10 years of research she did for her PhD dissertation (she became so interested she is still working on this project since some of the tapestries have still not been located). The ateliers' production methods & work ethics followed the French models, but the interesting twist was that they were depicting American flora & fauna. Some of the tapestries are still installed as part of the woodwork in the homes that originally commissioned the pieces (most are in NY & the New England area). Some were even in a college (in Pennsylvania or Massachusetts, I think-- can't remember the name of the college) & the college didn't know what treasures they had.... there were vending machines pushed up in front of the tapestries when Alice visited! She also found many of the tapestries rolled up & forgotten in attics. Kind of the American version of the Unicorn tapestries being discovered in use as a covering for potatoes! It was very fascinating & some of the tapestries were so large it was mind boggling.
Saturday was the ATA symposium & ATB 6 reception. It began with informal networking with representatives of the regional tapestry groups: TWINE, TAPS, TWW, TWS, TAPIS, CTN, & weavers from the southwest (we don't really have a group, but maybe we will, soon!). Speakers & their topics during the symposium were: Jean Pierre Larochette (Weaving in the USA: A Personal Experience); Melissa Leventon (former curator of textiles at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco - the tapestries in the musuem's collection were her subject); Barbara Heller (Tapestry Grows Up); ATA: Celebrating 25 Years of Contemporary Tapestry-- Jim Brown, Marti Fleischer, Joan Griffin, Christine Laffer, Mary Lane, Judy Schuster. All of the speakers had great slides to go along with their talks. This was then followed by a panel discussion of the ATA members who had spoken-- Mary Lane coordinated questions that were directed at each person; most of the questions sought to discover how each of them envisioned ATA's future. Barbara Heller had donated a tapestry which was raffled off, (a former student of hers won it) & we were surrounded by the ATB 6 installation. The space at the San Jose Museum was small, but very wonderful; many people were saying that it showed the tapestries off to their best advantage, much better than the previous venue they had been exhibited in. The wall that functioned as the "backdrop" for the slide show & panel discussion was covered with Christine Laffer's "Cloth of Construction" tapestry. All of the tapestries in the exhibit were glowing like beautiful jewels.
Sunday was the studio tour... we visited Christine Laffer, Jan Moore, Tricia Goldberg, Jean Pierre Larochette & Yael Lurie. A bus had been arranged to take us around--- Tricia was the perfect "den mother", herding us from place to place like a precious bunch of chicks. It felt like we were a Brownie troop on a field trip, with lots of chatter & laughter on the bus. Every weaver we visited was very gracious, answering many questions & allowing us to take photos. Most of them had many of their tapestries hung so we could view them. Lunch was al fresco at Tricia's & she outdid herself-- the tables all had tablecloths & vases of freshly cut flowers from her gardens. The last stop was at Jean Pierre & Yael's... quite a few people left us there to take the BART to San Francisco airport for their journey home. It was sad, like the last day of summer camp when you have to tell your new found friends goodbye. Many hugs & waves goodbye, then we journeyed back to San Jose, arriving tired, our minds fuzzy with fiber thoughts, but happy!