Katharine Cobey, A Different Voice

I don’t think I wrote about the opening of Katharine Cobey’s one-woman show at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. Ned and I were thrilled to attend the VIP (smaller) opening on the first night and Katharine’s talk on Saturday afternoon.

We had a few minutes in the gallery prior to the opening so that Ned could get film footage of Katharine’s works on display. Our plan is to make a short documentary about Katharine in hopes to help her find homes for her pieces, particularly the larger ones.

Birds of a Feather, 2003
wool
60 x 74 x 3 inches
Mime for the Gulf War Birds, 1991
Black plastic, wood, steel
72 x 36x 36 inches
How Katharine got it done

Katharine was quite practical about how to get the job done when creating the Gulf War Birds which was knitted out of black garbage bags. She used a swift to hold the plastic bags and cut them directly into a basket.

As anyone who is creative will understand, it’s not just the finished piece that matters. The process and means by which the artist gets there is creative and necessary. How does one cut up a bunch of black plastic garbage bags into useful strips so that they can then be formed into the ultimate piece? I loved that the Farnsworth used this as an example of the ingenuity and creativity of this fiber artist!

Portal (Pillars), 2003/2008
Wool
96 x 36 x 36 inches
Courtesy of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Gift of the Artist, 2019
Detail of Portal (Pillars)

Upon walking into the gallery, I was very moved. I may be said that my “ocular incontinence” kicked in a little bit. (Thanks, Bristol, for the term!) It is very emotional to see these pieces, most of which I had seen in Katharine’s studio, hanging in an art gallery. They’re masterful and thoughtful and quite beautiful. They’re also quite big. Portal, in particular. Katharine told us that at one of the museums where Portal was going to be on display, a staff member asked if there was a form around which the knitted “columns” should be placed in order to give them form. Nope. The columns are perfectly shaped by the knitted stitches. Knits and purls. You can see them in the detail of the piece. Brilliant.

Portrait of Alzheimer’s, 1992
Silk and wool, wood base
69 x 77 x 28 inches

Portrait of Alzheimer’s is probably my favorite piece in this collection. Probably because I have a personal experience with the disease and I can understand this piece better than any other. My mother died from Alzheimer’s Disease. So did Katharine’s mother.

Beginning from the left side, with one strand of yarn, a beautiful lace shawl is knitted together. And it is gorgeous. At about the half-way point of the shawl, the stitches start to be misshapen and become a bit odd, as if there is a mistake, something is happening that is incongruous with what has happened until this point. And then the knitting becomes less “regular” the pattern isn’t regular and can’t really be recognized as the pattern was at the start. And finally, it completely unravels. Unrecognizable as a shawl. Simple strands of yarn in no apparent pattern or shape, with threads hanging out at the edges. Just like the disease that took hold of my mother. And yet, in the middle remains the form of the person whose body supports the shawl.

I have purposely left out several of the pieces that are displayed in this show. I want everyone to go to see it. Fiber Arts in a much-respected museum! A Fiber Artist, a Maine gem, being recognized for her art. This show is at the Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, Maine through April 12, 2020. Go see it!

If you know of a museum that might be interested in any of Katharine’s art, please let me know. Katharine or one of us will be contacting museums. Thanks for your help in advance.

Road Trip! Fun & Maybe Some Whiskey?

It could have been such an awkward experience and I probably wouldn’t have considered going on a day-long road trip with new friends (or mostly strangers) in my younger days. But I took a chance yesterday and went road tripping with eight of the women in my new Friday knitting group. All were knitters and some are bi-stitchual and they quilt, too. So, what better than heading out on the road to see what we can see?!

First stop was Rockland, Maine and Over the Rainbow Yarns.

First Stop Rockland

First Stop Rockland

A little bit of heaven in this little shop on School Street. Chock-a-block full of wonderful yarn from well-known national and international companies and a nice selection of Maine yarns, too. When I travel, it’s the  small local yarn companies that I look for as a souvenir of my travels. There were multiple yarns to choose from here … Darn Good Yarn, Swans Island Yarn, are the ones I can remember that they carried. I’m in love with the Swans Island Yarns. The next time we go there as a group, they said they’d bake us a cake if we let them know we’re coming! I could easily see going there to knit and visit with the DGY knitters! DGY has been open just over a year and I’d suggest you add it as a great stop on your Maine yarn tour!

Another fun stop in Rockland was Quilt Divas.

Stop Two!

Stop Two!

Quilt Divas has both yarn and fabrics (maybe mostly fabrics) but I found some Noro yarn on sale there which made me happy. And they have an amazing machine for quilting quilts that I enjoyed watching. I’m very tempted to take Helen’s (N’s mother’s) old Singer machine to be serviced and start learning how to sew so I can quilt – these girls make it sound so fun! I’d best be careful or I may have a new creative outlet that will want to share my time with knitting … uh oh!

Lunch!

Lunch!

Stop three was our picnic lunch along the way to the third shop in Camden. Route 1 from Rockland to Camden is a straight shot but we were told about a picnic area road-side (we missed it on the first pass) where the picnic table accommodated all nine of us and we shared a meal of sandwiches and laughter. And the sweet smell of wild roses in bloom. There was a beautiful bush of white wild roses that smelled so fragrant. Amazing Mother Nature! The rest area had a beautiful view of the ocean, too … you just had to find the spot to stand where you could look over the plants and bushes.

Back on the road again, to Camden we went. Isabel said several times that she loves Camden and I can understand why. It’s a bustling, thriving town and becomes quite touristy in the summer months. Lots of shops and restaurants and B&Bs to visit. And there’s an exquisite yarn shop called the Cashmere Goat on Bayview Street.

Stop Four!

Stop Four!

What I think I liked best about this shop was that it was such a cozy shop. It’s large, don’t get me wrong, and open and the wood floors were beautiful. They had a lovely selection of yarns and quite a few yarns that we’d not seen in the previous shops. Another amazing selection of the Swans Island yarns and even a couple of their amazing blankets on display. Swans Island is a little island off the coast of Maine that you get to by boat. The yarn company is all organic … a visit there is on my bucket list. But you can’t really get there and back in a day. Bummer. Anyway, back to the Cashmere Goat … it was very nice to visit and I could easily have spent my last penny buying some yarn there. I liked their samples in the shop and the two ladies working there were very friendly.

I have some history in Camden, too. My aunt and uncle had a summer home there. My cousin was married there. I went out there with my sweetie when we were teenagers and we were dating (the first time.) I probably could spend a day there wandering but I have to admit to liking it better during the “off-season” when it’s a bit more sparsely populated.

Needing a little sustenance (yes, we did have lunch), we stopped at Fresh, a bakery and restaurant just below the yarn shop for a bit of sugar. I had a pretty good carrot cake whoopie pie. We all had a bit of something sweet which we enjoyed outside before heading to our last shop. By now, one of the cars in our caravan was suspected of imbibing a bit of whiskey … surely they were having too much fun to be without alcohol? LOL. Maybe it was simply a sugar high. None-the-less, we did have fun!

Stop Five!

Stop Five!

Another of my favorite shops, Halcyon Yarn in Bath. I’ve posted about Halcyon before in my blog and I’d just been here less than a month ago (and when I spent a bit of money on some new yarns!) I love wandering in shops and touching yarns and this is a great place to do just that. While the ladies shopped, I wandered. I’d love to have a loom for weaving one day. I understand that setting up the loom is a bit challenging (or maybe boring), I think the process of weaving is probably very meditative as is knitting. They have a great selection of looms and wheels and the most wonderful wooden stools. Some more “tools” to think about and dream about … in my future atelier!

A last stop at Dairy Queen because ice cream was promised, after all and then we were on our way back home. Dropping off first Laura and then Linda at their respective homes and then back to my lake and my loves both two- and four-legged!

It was a wonderful day with my new friends from Friday knitting. I can’t wait to see them all again in a couple of days! I’ve always said that I haven’t met a knitter that I didn’t like. Today, as I sit here writing about our road trip day, I am even more sure that’s true. I’m so grateful for the women who have embraced me because we share a love of knitting and fiber arts. You know who you are. I feel so blessed to be a fiber artist and look forward to meeting those of you who I’ve not yet met! I’m sure that I’ll enjoy your company, too!

Gone knitting!

A Two-lighthouse Day

Owl's Head Light

We headed out Sunday to see the ocean and a light house. Since Kelly hadn’t ever been to Maine and the Maine coast being my favorite thing, it was a cinch to decide to head eastward.

First stop, Owl’s Head Light near Thomaston, Maine. Thomaston, by the way, is one of my favorite childhood memories. We used to visit this adorable vintage Maine town with the white homes on either side of Route 1 and where the Maine State Penitentiary used to be. Connected to the state prison, there was the prison store. My brothers and I loved visiting there to purchase some little trinket carved by the inmates (and there were real inmates at the cashier’s desk with armed guards). A bit of wonder and a bit of fear made this a great place to visit. They’re open every day but Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day (a couple of days in January and Maine snow days.)

Owl's Head LightBut I digress… the land for Owl’s Head Light was purchased in 1824 by a Congressional appropriation of $4,000.  Owl’s Head marks the entrance to Rockland harbor and the light was first lit by it’s first keeper in September 1825 (the project was completed for a cost of $2,707.79 … way under the appropriation. Bet that wouldn’t happen today!)

Today, you can visit the lighthouse (the keeper’s house is still standing but not open to visitors. It’s a bit of a climb into the tower but the view is worth the effort. The lens of the light is simply amazing.

A 1,000 watt hallogen bulb lights the light today

It’s a Fresnel lens which replaced the original in 1856 and it’s simply amazing. It was originally designed to turn (and has wheels) but they decided to keep it a stationary light as all the others in the area were blinking. Did you know that each lighthouse had it’s own pattern of blinks? Ayuh, they did.

From the Foot of the Tower

From the tower, the Rockland Breakwater was pointed out to us by the volunteer at the top of the tower. (It was a beautiful sunny day and it was hot up there!) She said we could walk out the mile long “jetty” (made from rubble granite) and visit the keepers house and lighthouse. SO, who could resist? Off we went.

View from the Lighthouse over the Breakwater toward shore

The Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse is going through a major renovation and it’s going to be a beautiful place to visit. Well, it was a beautiful place to visit and I could imagine living there as the keeper (all lighthouses in Maine today are automated.) While I think the volunteers could have designed a more professional display of the history of the lighthouse, it’s a fun visit and it’s a treat to see the keeper’s house as well as visit the tower. My camera died so I can’t share with you the views other than the two I took. One above is toward the shore over the breakwater (wear sturdy shoes for this hike) and another looking toward the Owl’s Head light across the harbor.

A visit to Rockland after our lighthouse adventure for a bit of lunch at the Rockland Cafe … where we shared a cup of their seafood chowder (yummy, especially with a dash or three of hot sauce) and ordered a couple of lobster BLTs and a “small” plate of whole belly fried clams. The BLT was tasty (the bread/roll was unoriginal) and the clams were delish. Rockland is also home to some great shops, an excellent (new location is quite a step up) coffee shop and book store (Rock City Cafe) and the fabulous Farnsworth Art Museum, home of many of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings and always a good visit!

Fun day with friends, good food, a bit of exercise and we learned a bit, too. Not typical for us but a great day in Maine!