The Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock held a Tuesday evening private reception and preview of a retrospective exhibit featuring Carnegie Arts Center Distinguished Artist 2012, Yvonne Porcella, to open to the public beginning on Wednesday.
The Carnegie Arts Center is dedicated to recognizing excellence in regional artists through its Distinguished Artist program, an annual event that includes an award and retrospective exhibition for the honoree. The first honoree is Yvonne Porcella, an accomplished textile artist whose works today are in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the de Young Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Art & Design in New York, NY, the Phoenix Art Museum, and others. This retrospective exhibit traces Porcella’s career from her earliest works up to and including the present. It is an opportunity to celebrate and honor a life’s work to date.
On Tuesday night, many Carnegie members previewed the Yvonne Porcella retrospective exhibit while getting to meet the artist and even having some of the works personally interpreted by the artist.
Porcella explains that “Waiting for Pink Linoleum” is about the Gallo Center, about a performing arts center in Modesto, before it ever became the Gallo Center.
“In the planning stages, it was going to have a visual arts gallery also,” explains Porcella. “As they got the bids in they decided that they would exclude the visual arts, but I made the quilt because I didn’t think we’d ever get a performing arts center.”
Porcella reveals that there’s hidden meaning in the quilted art piece about the visual artist and the performing artist conflict.
“Performing art is shared, everyone is sharing in it, while visual art, it’s me and you… It’s, ‘Can you interact with my piece?’ and it’s one on one,” states Porcella.
Yvonne Porcella expressed how delighted she was with the new Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock and its visual arts space. Porcella had an exhibit at the old Carnegie Arts Center in 2000, and two pieces in her 2012 retrospective exhibit are from the previous Turlock exhibit.
“I think that this (Carnegie) exhibit space with the upstairs… the building is beautiful, it’s a great combination of performing arts and visual arts space,” said Porcella. “So often performing arts is first, and visual arts has to cry out for a space.”
Before Yvonne Porcella’s exhibit came to be shown at the Carnegie Arts Center, she had 20 works on display at Stanford University in March 2011 and a small retrospective at the end of November into January at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.
“If you count individual pieces, there are 72 pieces in this Carnegie show,” stated Porcella.
Collectors from all over have loaned some pieces of Porcella’s work to be put on display at the Carnegie.
The Yvonne Porcella retrospective exhibit is open to the public on January 18, 2012 through March 14, 2012, Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Admission is only $5 (children under 12 free) and Carnegie Member discounts apply.
Rebecca Phillips Abbott, Carnegie Arts Center Executive Director and Curator, tells of Yvonne Porcella’s life and career.
Porcella’s drive for artistic expression began in the 1960s after observing that the same fabrics were used again and again in the garments people were wearing. She began spinning her own thread, weaving her own fabrics, and making her own garments, and was soon involved in the Conference of Northern California Handweavers. In these early years, Porcella was influenced by ethnic clothing, primarily from Guatemala and by pieced and embroidered textiles from Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. In 1972 she had her first exhibition of weavings and wearable art. In 1977 she published Five Ethnic Patterns, followed by an ethnic pattern book Plus Five then Pieced Clothing in 1980 and Pieced Clothing Variations in 1981. More publications would follow, including Yvonne Porcella: Art & Inspirations, published in 1998.
Porcella’s shift from weaving to quiltmaking began when she started to make garments out of patchwork. In 1979 she attended the West Coast Quilter’s Conference and by the following year she had completely stopped weaving. It was a pivotal moment, so much so that she can tell you the date and time she last wove: 28 April 1980 at 8:30 in the morning. By 1980, she had created Takoage, her first art quilt which was later acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. It was a promising start for Porcella who rapidly emerged as a visionary force artistically and in the art quilt movement as a whole. As founder of the Studio Art Quilts Association and President of the Board of Directors, she worked tirelessly to establish art quilting as an artistic genre in its own right. By 1998, she had been inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana.
Porcella’s art quilts are known for their bold originality as well as for their intricate narratives which inevitably treat the experiences of everyday life with a great deal of energy, substance, and humor. Waiting for Pink Linoleum, 2001, laments the lack of an arts center in Modesto, CA. At the time this quilt was made, it appeared there would be no funding for building what later became the Gallo Center for the Arts. In it two figures can be seen running from the prospect of funding an arts center. Vaudevillian hooks at the center help to propel their respective flights. There is as well a subtle poke at the absence of the visual arts, in view of the prominence of the musical clef. One senses that the figure to the right is moving extremely quickly out of the image frame to the right while the figure to the left is flustered and running in the opposite direction. Form and color are merged here for a sophisticated artistic statement that takes life on its own terms and finds all the joy there is to find in it.