Monday, November 25, 2013

Museum of Contemporary Art: Crochet!

Monday, November 25, 2013
First off, Happy Anniversary to the love of my life, Alan Kinsler!

A pictorial essay on our trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, recently. The photos pretty much tell it all!

After a pleasant but chilly trip on the El to downtown, we stopped for hot chocolate first!
Hershey's, Ghiradelli's??
Ghiradelli's, Hershey's???
We opted for Hershey's because we'd been to Ghiradelli's before. Delish!

Dutes Miller crocheting with Coats pink "Pound of Love"
He throws the yarn and does a "made up" single crochet
Dutes told me that he and his partner Stan Shellabarger learned to crochet just for this project, but that they only know the one stitch they are using. Note: Red Heart "Pound of Love" under the chair.

Close up of Dutes crocheting
A very congenial couple, Dutes also told me that they started this project ten years ago as a symbol of their connection, their relationship. When they started with the foundation chain, they literally sat knee to knee and we both crocheting on opposite sides of the chain. As it grew, they were able to crochet simultaneously. The choice of the color pink symbolizes "skin" and the intestine-like tube symbolizes their corporal connection also. They have been together for 17 years.

Stan Shellabarger on the other end of the 80-foot crocheted tube
I walked to the other end to speak to Stan. he's got the hang of single crochet; unlike Dutes who adds an extra chain in-between finishing his sc! No worries; it's art....? He works consistently and he's creating a tube.
Stan Shellabarger crocheting single crochet
Stan told me that they have many satisfying conversations with viewers. "Crocheting is so familiar and it evokes memories that people want to share." The couple crochets about two feet of tube during each performance. I asked Stan if he ever had wrist problems and he told me had once been a carpenter. "This work is a piece of cake compared to some of the rough and heavy work I've done with my hands in the past," he explained.

Viewers amazed by this "performance"

Untitled (Pink Tube): view from one story up
Sometimes the couple sits close together and other times they sit far apart, as shown here. Stan told me that they have even sat in separate rooms with the tube streaming between them. In many places along the tube, it looks faded due to the use of different dye lots in the yarn.

Obviously, these two have minimal interest in learning more of the finer details of crochet or they would have done so by now. They have been crocheting the same stitch (single crochet) for ten years,  periodically exhibiting their "performance" and growing this pink tube! Does an artist have to have a passion or the skills for the technique they are using in order for it to be art?

Does the fact that the tube is now huge and that they have lugged it to various public venues make this art?

We encountered a bonus that day at the museum: Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder both has exhibits on view!!

Alexander Calder
Calder Mobiles

We encountered this sculpture upon leaving the museum: