[Fine Art]

Overly measured art

Brenda Jones’ garment art is a little too careful

Marriage Apron 2” is made of stitched-together dryer sheets.
Susanne Forestieri

“Measure twice, cut once”—the old proverb that advises one to plan and be careful before taking action—is an apt title for Brenda Jones’ stitchery exhibition, but it may not be the best advice for making art. Jones feels fabricating aprons and garments connects her to generations of anonymous women and a homespun tradition. But the best of these witty, sometimes elegant garments may be less idealized domesticity and more confessions of a mad housewife.

A visual standout is the oddly beautiful “Marriage Dress,” consisting of a bustier and an A-line skirt. Made of used coffee filters stintingly embroidered with spirals of glass beads and prosaic advice, it has a half-hearted decoration and soiled appearance that intimates that marriage may be a mixed blessing—messy, but still attractive.

“Marriage Apron 2” is ambivalent as well. Made of stitched-together dryer sheets and as long and translucent as a bridal veil, it has an embossed rust and brown pattern, mimicking iron burns, that implies the honeymoon is over. It is a compelling combination of the ethereal juxtaposed with the down-to-earth.

Similarly, the robe-like “Delete” is composed of dryer sheets, each printed with text overlaid with pencil drawings of a rich variety of scissors. The consistent coloration of gray and pale red unifies the design, while the imagery of cutting utensils creates a marvelous tension as it repeatedly reminds you that the finished garment is composed of pieces tenuously held together by delicate threads—a wonderful metaphor for human relations.

The Details

Measure Twice, Cut Once by Brenda Jones
Two and a half stars
Through November 19
Charleston Heights Arts Center, 800 Brush St., 229-6383.

Aprons with repeated prints of household items and ’50s-style perky moms and pipe-smoking dads are too pat. But “The Right Tool for the Job,” a bib apron with ruffles on the hem and shoulders and block prints of rolling pins and barrels of apples, induced a sense of nostalgia for the aprons my grandmother used to wear.

Two works interweave Japanese elements into American-style aprons. “Sunbonnet Sue Meets Kimono Kim” alternates the perennially popular Sue with an origami figure. “Japan Journey” is more visually complex. Combining polka-dot and latticework patterns with various texts and Japanese figures, its asymmetric, crazy-quilt character is consonant with the mash-up of different cultures.

When Jones allows her unconscious to percolate upward, the results are resonant and rich with associations. When she is careful, the results are amusing, but too pat.


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