Soke Fine Art features African American quilts |

Soke Fine Art features African American quilts

Daily Staff Writer
AE Soke1 SM 8-4 Shane Macomber/ Bela, By Dawn Howkinson

Soke Fine Art in Minturn is heating up August with two exhibitions: African American quilts by Rosie Lee Tompkins from the Eli Leon Collection and mixed media paintings by Dawn Howkinson Siebel.Born in 1936 in southeast Arkansas, Tompkins now uses a pseudonym to protect her anonymity. Exposure of her work is due to the efforts of a small group of collectors and curators headed by Oakland-based scholar Eli Leon. Tompkins’ indelible impression at the 2002 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial is evidence of the growth in recognition of this art form – quilting.

There are few formal characteristics to Tompkins’ work. Using a variety of fabrics, Tompkins creates a push and pull of color and shape, creating a visual exuberance that masks the distinction between art and craft. Her work has been compared by critics to the compositions of 20th century painters Stuart Davis and Hans Hoffman. In a review of Tompkins’ work in the New York Times, Roberta Smith remarked:”The combination of order and irregularity, and the semblance of repetition where there is actually none, create a pulsing, seductive energy. The eye is seduced into re-experiencing the decisions, fortuitous accidents and devotion that brought these astounding works into existence.”Meghan Dailey of ArtForum wrote:

“I doubt that Tompkins set out to trump painting with her quilts, but with cloth and thread she does achieve a kind of improvisational restlessness, and ultimate coherence that a lot of painters can only hope to approximate.” The compositions are compared to jazz improvisations ,but in fact much of the inspiration for Tompkins’ work comes from a deep religious faith, and her work takes on a form of spiritual worship.

A list of cataloged exhibitions of Tompkins’ work includes the Whitney, San Francisco Craft and Folk Museum and Berkeley Art Museum. Her work has been featured in galleries in New York and San Francisco.

In the viewing room, Soke features Dawn Howkinson Siebel’s mixed media works. The exhibition includes the artist’s installation lighting pieces. Siebel’s work is a methodical process beginning with a scanned photograph, printed and sealed to a wooden panel. Each work begins with a particular image that is then expanded to tell a story or depict a certain memory. Preserving memories in a historical sense is at the root of the Siebel’s oil and collage paintings. These works become a means of escape into a certain period. Akin to a stage set, the intimate works gently provoke the viewer into close examination, where the stories are often revealed. There is an overall dream quality to most of her work that captures, quite readily, the essence of tracing a memory. For more information, contact Soke Fine Art at 827-4265.

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