Sunday, September 28, 2014

You're Invited: October 3rd, 2014 First Friday Artwalk

It's time once again to hop, skip or jump to Winslow for Bainbridge Island's monthly Artwalk!   We'll have wonderful art, fantastic music, and the weather's looking good, so come on down and mingle.

Lisa Wederquist

October 3 – November 2, 2014

Santa Fe artist Lisa Wederquist paints on linen, paper and canvas.
Her paintings capture the essence of the natural world in the Southwest:
Desert sky, wild grasses and the search for water. 

Opening Reception:
First Friday, October 3, 6-8pm

Music by
Peter Spencer & Friends
on the Plaza

(Shown:  Above: Prayer.  38”x76”.  Oil on linen.  Below:  Water Hymn.  48”x34”.  Oil on stretched canvas.

Check back:  We'll have a post up in the next week or so discussing Lisa's work in greater detail; please check back.

Event Location:  The Island Gallery, 400 Winslow Way E., #120, Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Roselle Abramowitz: An Artist's Path

Four years ago we here at The Island Gallery moved into our new space on Winslow Way on beautiful Bainbridge Island, Washington.  We had spent eight lively years at our old location down the street a way and around the corner, but were more than ready for the change.  Our newest artist would be featured in our Grand Opening exhibit that September of 2010 - Roselle Abramowitz, a textile artist and designer of sumptuous contemporary kimonos and other wearables from Stowe, Vermont.  In her first shipment she sent us a series of glorious hand-painted, hand-dyed kimonos:  elaborate silk full-length ones, mid-length organzas, beautiful little waist-length floaty ones, all of which could be worn with great pleasure and pomp or hung on the wall as an artwork.  (Or both!  Why waste a good piece of wearable art by permanently sticking it to a wall when, with a little ingenuity and a good hanging system, you can take it down and wear it once in a while, we always say.)

In any event, that first experience with Roselle's exquisite work was a singular WOW moment, and we were hooked.

As the months went on she continued to brighten the Gallery with casual shirts, softly swinging jackets, comfy silk pant sets, fascinating capes and scarves, cuddly warm blankets, all executed in her trademark and seemingly never-ending artistry.

We are, therefore, more than sad to report that this last June 4th, Roselle died after suffering a brain aneurism.

Canadian songwriter Joni Mitchell famously wrote, "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone," and true to that sentiment, we never knew the fascinating details of Roselle's life until recently.  They revealed her not only as a wonderful artist but as a woman of passion, strength and resilience.  She created art of great beauty and made a beautiful life for herself in Stowe, Vermont, but from her very beginnings had known great personal tragedy. We invite you to read on and join us in a celebration of this artist's path.

Roselle Abramowitz has been described as part fine artist, part textile designer and part seamstress.  Born in Germany in 1937, Roselle lost both of her parents during the Holocaust - her father in Auschwitz and her mother to a fatal illness.  She and her two sisters were supposed to be sent to a concentration camp, but thanks to a paperwork glitch were miraculously saved and hidden in a convent for the duration of the war. The nuns were cruel to the girls, Roselle has said. But they taught her how to sew, a skill that would play a vital role in her future life as an artist. After the war, the three sisters were sent to a camp for displaced Jews. Ruthie, the eldest, had to decide where they would go next. No one would take all three children, so in 1948 they were adopted by separate households in Canada, but managed to stay in touch with one another. Roselle’s adoptive parents were prominent members of Jewish society; her adoptive mother was the sister of Samuel Bronfman, the founder of the Distillers Corporation in Montreal.

As a young woman in Montreal, Roselle studied pattern-making and draping at Cotnoir and Caponi, worked with her husband designing men’s shirts and ties, and then opened her own studio in Old Montreal making original hand-painted quilts.  Roselle and her husband, Lorne, began going to Stowe, Vermont, to ski in the 1960s and owned a second home there, but tragedy struck again when Lorne suffered a heart attack after a day on the mountain. Up until that time, she never talked about her experience during the Holocaust. But after Lorne’s death, possessing no papers nor even a picture of her mother, she traveled back to Europe to try and find out more about her birth parents and, thus, herself; this she managed to do, locating her birth certificate and other family records.

Around this time Roselle decided to make a permanent move to Stowe and became a full-time resident in 2002.  In her new home she blossomed artistically, creating her Roselle Artwear designs in a studio attached to her home where the ever-changing view of woods, pond and mountains offered endless inspiration for gorgeous color palettes and painted designs, ranging from flowers to abstract patterns.  She chose the kimono as the foundation for her art because she liked the sensuality of the T shape, viewing it as an ideal canvas on which to paint.

As to her process, Roselle created her freehand fabric designs in her studio; according to her long-time assistant Ruth Brown, one of the most important aspects of this work was deciding the nature of each fabric, and what it "wanted to be," to complement it and bring out its character.  An artist in Montreal would then hand-paint or dye them onto bolts of luxurious fabric.  Each six-yard bolt of fabric was an original, as Roselle never re-created the same design twice.  She produced a custom kimono pattern from each bolt, based on the weight and color of the fabric and the placement and scale of the hand-painted design. Sometimes she would add beadwork or quilting to highlight a design. The entire process could take up to six months. In a typical year, she might create 10 large pieces and 40 smaller ones.

Her clothing was unique, in that it reflected a blend of influences, from African to French to Japanese, and it could be worn by anyone.  A recent new line, Roselle in the Home, offered decorative throws and quilts that are equally luscious, each a one-of-a-kind design.

Roselle called her artwork “an eclectic mix of past and present, influenced by travel, life, art and the beauty and joy of living in Stowe, Vermont.”

Roselle was an active member of the Jewish Community of Greater Stowe, where she was known for her generous spirit.

Contributions in Roselle’s memory may be made to the Roselle Abramowitz Memorial Fund, in care of JCOGS, 1189 Cape Cod Road, P.O. Box 253, Stowe, VT 05672.

- Our thanks to Ruth Brown for helping us know Roselle better.