Friday, February 17, 2012

Jon Eric Riis' "Shimmer" at the Sumter County Gallery of Art

(Jon Eric Riis in front of his Blue-tipped Emu Feather Jacket at the Sumter County Gallery of Art, Sumter, South Carolina.)

Last night Steve and I went to the Sumter County Gallery of Art for the opening reception of Jon Eric Riis' solo show, Shimmer. I wouldn't have missed it for the world and the experience will remain with me as an inspiration on so many different levels.

(Above: Invitation image for the exhibition.)

First, it isn't every day that an artist with a truly international reputation has a solo show in the middle of South Carolina! Jon Eric Riis is arguably the very best contemporary tapestry artist on the entire planet. He excels in every approach to his work: conceptually, spiritually, artistically, technically, creatively, and according to every known "rule" for making quality works. There's been plenty of writing done on his processes, inspirational journey, and on his life and works. I'm not about to try adding to the scholarly writing. Let me just provide this LINK to his website and add ... He's a really, really nice man too!

I first met Jon Eric Riis in October 2009 at "Talking Threads", a one-day fiber and quilt symposium at the Sumter County Gallery of Art. I blogged about this experience HERE. The symposium went along with the exhibition on display at the time: Tradition/Innovation. Jon Eric Riis had work in this South Arts sponsored show (which is still touring). He was the keynote speaker at the symposium. He was amazing. Gifted and talented, he took time for every question (not matter how silly or clueless they were). He was gracious, approachable, a good listener, and willing to share his thoughts openly. I'd long admired his work (having seen pieces in the Renwick, the Textile Museum, and at the Met.) After meeting him, he also became a role model ... an inspiration for the best sort of character an artist can be. It is no wonder that Karen Watson, the Sumter County Gallery of Art Executive director, sought him out for a solo show.

So ... Jon Eric Riis is a world class artist. He's a nice man, the sort after whom one might model an artistic character. Yet, the most important reason to travel to Sumter is THE ARTWORK! I'm not sure there are words to adequately describe this work, the luster and shine, the sheer quantity of it, the professional presentation, or the many thoughts and feelings it evokes. I'm not going to try. Instead ... here's a little tour ... in the order I took the photos! (I've posted the exhibition statement and a photo from the reception at the end of this post.)

(From Shimmer, a solo show of work by Jon Eric Riis. Click on any image to enlarge ... which is really worth doing since this is meticulous work done most masterfully!)

(Above: Night Flight Tapestry Coat, 2004, detail. Woven metallic thread and silk, black freshwater pearls and coral.)

(Above: Flight Tapestry Coat, 2004, detail. Woven metallic thread and silk, freshwater pearls and turquoise beads.)

(Above: Exhibition shot.)

(Above: Triad Tapestry Coat (from The Black and White Series), 2006. Woven thread and silk)

(Above: Sacred Heart Tapestry Coat, 2005. Eight layers, woven metallic thread, Swarovski crystal beads. If forced to select a favorite in the show ... this is it. I will always think about the seven layers of this piece that were necessary for the whole but are mostly unseen. This is a physical manifestation of "doing it right" ... no matter what!)

(Above: Sacred Heart Tapestry Coat, 2005, detail. Eight layers, woven metallic thread, Swarovski crystal beads.)

(Above: Dialogue, Suite of Twenty Panels, 2009. Woven metallic thread.)

(Above: Dialogue, Suite of Twenty Panels, 2009, detail shot from the side. Woven metallic thread.)

(Above: Golden Boy, after statue of Paris, 1999. Woven metallic thread.)

(Above: Bruised, 2006. Woven metallic thread, black agate beads.)

(Above: Exhibition shot.)

(Above: Blue-tipped Emu Feather Coat, 2009. Woven metallic thread.)

(Above: Blue-tipped Emu Feather Coat, 2009, detail. Woven metallic thread.)

(Above: Icarus II, 2003. Woven silk and metallic thread, Swarovski crystal beads.)

(Above: Icarus II, 2003, detail shot from the side. Woven silk and metallic thread, Swarovski crystal beads.)

(Above: Dancing Couple Tapestry Coat, 2007. Woven metallic thread, Swarovski crystal beads.)

(Above: Exhibition shot.)

(Above: Exhibition statement.)

(Above: Reception!)


Roberta said...

Oh. Hear me gasp.

The butterfly beadwork is astounding........

Gabriela said...

Thanks for sharing this exhibition Susan! It's breathtaking! I can only imagine how fantastic to see it in person!

Julie said...

Your post has conveyed the many emotions that this fantastic exhibition must have stirred. It is equally fascinating, disturbing and amazing. Thank you for blogging about it.

Sue Reno said...

Wonderful and inspirational. Thanks for sharing this.

KAM said...

Susan, thank you so very much for this "tour" of the exhibit. The work is incredible, well-presented, compelling and a collection I will remember and a name I will search for in exhibits close enough to see in person. What a wonderful opportunity to see up close you have provided here. Thank you Kristin

Rosalyn's Space said...

Susan Thank U. I beaded and felted a vest and when I went to put it on, it was too stiff...imagine that. This exhibit has inspired me to cut the pieces and use them as in a new way...thank you for inspiring me this day.