Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fabulous Fiber Art in San Francisco

The last week of October - in my other life as a professional antiques dealer - my husband and I exhibited for the 26th year at the San Francisco Fall Antiques Show, a charity show benefiting Enterprise for high School Students. As always it was a glorious and glittering affair bringing together the best possible material in fine art and antiques from all over the world. You can view our small stand in the photo on the left.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the week is the very venue of the show which is in one of the old WWII pier buildings jutting right out into San Francisco Bay at Fort Mason Center in the Marina area not far from the Presidio. At break time it is possible to slip out the side door for spectacular views of the Golden Gate on one side and Alcatraz and Tiburon on the other. The sea lions swim past and beneath the pier hunting for food.

I spent some time during the quiet hours of the show wandering with my camera and found some fascinating examples of textiles and
fiber art among the furniture, ceramics, silver and other decorative arts offered for sale.

Directly across from our stand Eddie Keshishian, a tapestry and carpet dealer from London displayed a gorgeous small 16th century French tapestry. the underlying pattern of beautifully shaded baroque form overlapping leaves kept drawing my eye throughout the week. I sketched some of the leaves thinking they would make a wonderful art quilt someday. The borders are complete - a rarity in tapestries of this age and the colors are still bright and vibrant through hundreds of years.

My dear friend and colleague Kathleen Taylor of Kathleen Taylor -
the Lotus Collection
in San Francisco's Jackson square is also a tapestry specialist, but I simply love the photo of her wide selection of European and Asian textile pieces. Purchased by collectors and interior designers to be enjoyed as wall hangings or fabricated into luxurious pillows or upholstery on rare furniture pieces, can you imagine better eye candy? Imagine your 18th century Louis XV chair with a beautiful brocade seat of the period or your dining room table with a runner of 18th century Japanese

On set up day earlier in the week I had been drawn to the stand of Joel Cooner from Dallas, Texas and his amazingly beautiful late 17th century Spanish processional figure of Queen Isabella of Aragon. Not only was her carved face exquisitely sculpted, but her elaborate gown was a fascinating combination of early European brocades and velvets with a beautiful early Chinese silk embroidered petticoat. For closer (and much better) views of this remarkable piece go to her page on Joel's site.

Sandra Whitman of San Francisco is a specialist in fine antique Chinese and Tibetan rugs and her stand is always filled with wonderful early examples. I was especially struck by this 18th century Ningxia runner with its geometric design and subtle colors. The carpet is wool on cotton foundation. Does anyone else see a Courthouse Steps design here? Nothing is really new.....

Finally, Jeff Bridgeman, an Americana and folk art dealer from Pennsylvania exhibited along with an amazing collection of antique and vintage American flags a pieced table cover made from 19h century cigar silks. In the Victorian era these narrow silk ribbons, printed with the name of the cigar brand were tied around bundles of cigars. Women kept them and made into a variety of decorative items. The center of the cover was pieced in a crazy quilt pattern typical of the 1880s. This piece has been framed as a vibrant wall piece.

I hope you've enjoyed this brief textile tour!