Wednesday, November 25, 2009 , Updated
Artist honors blues singers in Denton exhibitionby Morgan Walker of North Texas Daily
Students interested in learning the art of mixed media now have an opportunity while listening to the soulful sounds of early female blues singers.
“Tapestry in Blue,” a mixed media quilt, honors 24 early female blues singers and inspired Lenz to create the larger installation, “Blues Chapel.”
“These early female blues singers lived in a male-dominated culture in the segregated South, primarily,” Lenz said.
The chapel honors singers such as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Bessie Smith.
Lenz said she wanted to depict these women as if they were martyred saints because they put the woes in their life into their lyrics and were passionate about music.
When she started to make art, Lenz said her mentor told her to enter juried shows, which provide artists the opportunity to submit their work to a qualified juror who then decides whether to do a show featuring that artist’s work.
“You get more rejects than acceptances,” Lenz said.
The best juried shows have well-respected jurors from beyond the local area who produce catalogs, Lenz added.
Lenz said she came to Denton because of Materials: Hard and Soft, a show the Center for Visual Arts puts on every year.
“Two years ago I got one piece in and last year I got two pieces in and got awarded with a catalog and it was so exciting,” Lenz said.
Deb Dyer, associate director of the center, said she loved the idea of the “Blues Chapel” from the moment she saw Lenz’s work on a disc.
“I wanted something that gave another dimension to fiber art besides just patchwork quilts,” Dyer said.
It has a much stronger statement than paintings hanging on a wall, Dyer added.
Lenz created an environment for “Blues Chapel” by placing church pews in the center of the gallery with her work surrounding the room while soulful music plays.
“It’s not painting a single piece, it’s something that sort of builds and when you create that environment it becomes multidimensional,” Dyer said.
Lenz said when the installation was first created in 2006, three of the women she included in her piece were still alive but Ruth Brown and Anita O’Day died in November 2006 and Koko Taylor died in June 2009.
“I wanted a way to pay tribute and respect to people that paved the way for the world to be a better place,” Lenz said.
“Blues Chapel” will be at the Gough Gallery until Jan. 8.
For more information call the Center for Visual Arts at 940-382-2787.