What People Are Saying About Penny

"I like to think of you as a high priced call girl that the unwashed masses can't afford--like Woody Allen's Whore of Mensa. It's not your fault that people offer $10 blowjobs on the street corner. It's not an insult if somebody doesn't buy your art." -Alexandra J Walters

"Once Penny was making her own silk thread, and a midget appeared. Before he could open his ugly mouth, without looking up, she exclaimed, 'Rumpelstiltskin. Now get the fuck out of here.' Fairytale Over."- Beth Featherstone

"Penny can push a needle through a telephone pole without a thimble." -Shane Blaufuss

"When a man asked Penny, 'What’s the meaning of life?' She looked at him for exactly 3 minutes, completely still, until he cried. That man’s name was Steve Jobs."- Beth Featherstone

"A demon from the pits of bitch cunt." -W.C. Hurst

"pulitzer for you too." -John Lurie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shmo-Mamms Fabric Part Deux

While my honey and I were at Cannon Beach this week, we stayed at an amazing B&B. Across the street was a beautiful, well stocked fabric/quilting/sewing/everything store called Center Diamond.
The very nice lady had several back issues of Quilter's Home, and sold me her last copy of the infamous banned from Joann's issue. I've scanned in the images below.
She said it was pretty tame even though it was wrapped in safety plastic. Turns out she was right.
Above- I Remain by Randall Cook,
Below- Uncertainty by Gayle McKay

Helping Hand by Mary Beth Bellah

Above- God of Our Silent Tears by Gwendolyn Magee,
Below- The L Word by Diane Johns

Southern Heritage/Southern Shame by Gwendolyn Magee

And of course, Jesus Get Your Gun by Shawn Quinlan, which I posted in the original blog. You can see it here.

I've tried to put my self in Joann's place, and go through the possible arguments for not including this issue in the store. Is it the homosexual themes? Probably not, because Mark Lipinski is gay, and jokes about it pretty openly. (At least in this issue.)
Is it the baby/vagina quilt? To me, that one is the least provocative. It has a sweetness to it and the lady parts are implied at best.
The Viagra quilt? Talk about implied. I would not have noticed the tiny penises unless they were pointed out to me, but I guess that it is an explicit sexual theme.
Gwendolyn Magee's quilts are certainly political, but there is a long history of politically themed quilts.
Red Butt? Nobody gets offended by The Thinker or David.
I would guess that it's the Jesus Quilt that got the goat. My personal beliefs aside, I get that if you twist religious imagery, you better baton down the hatches for the ensuing shit storm. Joann's carries many Christian themed products while omitting the other big book religions, so it makes sense that they would be reluctant to potentially piss off that demographic.

What I found most interesting about this story is that most of the pieces featured in this article only obliquely discuss the themes they are depicting. I feel like they are squarely outside the viewer's space, meaning, I look at them and go, "Huh. There is it." It's almost like I'm looking at a flash card.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't feel very engaged by the artist. None of the pieces leave me feeling like I know what the artist believes personally about their subject matter, and they don't give me a clue. It feels like these pieces are depicting facts. People get executed, babies come out of vaginas, Viagra helps ED, and lesbians are sometimes referred to as dykes.

It's a very different experience than viewing an Egon Schiele or Francis Bacon painting.
Schiele's Self Portrait, Masturbating, and Bacon's Screaming Pope makes me feel like the artist is trying to engage me, trying to tell me something. I may not understand what it is, but I feel like they're grabbing my arm and speaking very directly to me. They are not just presenting facts, they are involving the viewer in a deliberate conversation, and the artist is being very clear about having a point of view. I feel like the Jesus Get Your Gun quilt is the only piece that even begins to approach that. Maybe that's why it's potentially galling, aside from the imagery.

I don't know, maybe I'm talking out of my ass, and maybe I need to be led by the hand by artists that I like. I'm obviously just speculating, but I'd like to know what you guys think.


  1. I'm guessing Joanns is a craft supplier's, so I suspect they're of the mind that all art/crafsters are of the sanitised variety and prone to fits of the vapours at anything outside of a nice bit of patchwork!

    Can't say there's any image there that mortally offends me or indeed moves me. I took a friend to a Bacon exhibition and she was quite disturbed...it reminded her of the "smell of dirty knickers"...!! But it moved her and I gotta think that anything that provokes a strong reaction one way or another has got to be a good thing...but then I embroider chickens so wadda I know!! ;0)

  2. Mimilove-
    I totally agree with you. The whole point of this quilting article was "Controversial Quilts, GASP!"
    They just don't strike me that way, mainly because I don't feel like they're goading the viewer or provoking a dialog between the viewer and the piece. That's what I was trying to say when I said that they were just presenting facts.
    Bacon and Schiele are well known provocateurs, and I think it's not just the subject matter, but it feels like their work is trying to communicate something very specific.
    I would say that I'm 90% in the "presenting facts" camp with my textile art. I'm not trying to be provocative, (like your chickens!), I'm just showing off what I think is interesting.
    Anyway, I love your blog, and your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
    P.S. I saw that Bacon show in 4 different cities across America with my dad. I'd never seen his work before, and my father introduced me to it. He said, "It's not the sort of thing you want to see first thing in the morning, but goddamn it, I want one!"