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FiberArts Magazine
Volume 10, Issue 2

Tapestries and Paintings:

The diversity of images and media in Barbara Levine's recent exhibition showed her highly refined and personal approach to color and design. The major works are tapestries, and they are executed with such a high degree of technical control that we know she is saying exactly what she means. Gouache and watercolor paintings show the intermediate stage in her color explorations, before she makes the commitment to thread. All her images relate to her feeling for nature, formulated in both abstract and realistic terms.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is the tapestry Salamis Temora, the first in a series of eight on butterflies and moths. The butterfly Salamis Temora, an African species, is rendered accurately from photographs, but the image seems abstract since only a small section of the wing is shown. By enlarging the image Barbara Levine sacrifices recognition of form to focus on blending and contrasting color, materials and texture.

Soul, a tapestry that rivals Salamis Temora in size and importance, is shocking in its juxtaposition of hues. Movement on the roughly woven surface is intense in the swirling blues and lilacs that surround an orange form. The image is unnerving and looks like an upside down fetus. The title suggests that it is about that inner self that needs to be expressed.

- Ruth Pasquine

Ruth Pasquine is a gallery lecturer at the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum's medieval exhibition space in New York City.

Art joins with business
Corporate headquarters commissions weaver's work:

The only sound intruding into the quiet of weaver Barbara Levine's home workshop is the tinkle of a woodchime from the deck outside.

Levine is at work on her 48-by-30 inch tapestry triptych of Dogwood Trees. Progress is slow because she is inlaying most of the yarn by hand, using a technique called Russian weave. The tapestry elongates at the rate of about one inch every three hours.

Levine was commissioned by the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company to create Dogwood Trees for an annex to the company's headquarters on State Street in Springfield. The tapestries were installed there last week. This is the artist's fourth major corporate commision in Massachusetts.

Many of the paintings are reminiscent of the floral abstractions of Georgia 0'Keefe, but are most closely related to Levine's own flower gardens. Certain of her designs - such as an abstraction that turns out to be an expanded detail from a butterfly wing - she has both painted and woven. Often what she paints small she weaves big. This is the case with "Dogwoods." She worked from a miniature, meticulous version propped up beside her loom in her downstairs workshop. Levine regards herself as a fine artist in various media. One challenge she sets for herself in her tapestries is to create a painting's three-dimensionality. One way she does this is by making ever so slight variations in color tones and shadings. This she accomplishes by constantly mixing her palette of yarns.

Levine was given carte blanche on the design after company officials viewed some of her work, including her "Maple Tree Motif in Two Parts" installed at Prospect Hill Industrial Park in Walthham. The design she came up with is meant to compliment the Persian rug in the lobby of the Mass. Mutual annex where the tapestry now hangs. She designed the peace to be light in both color and line to offset the somber coloring of the rug, the walls and the furniture.

- Daily Hampshire Gazette

Abstract Show at Nacul Center Gallery

Barbara Levine shows a great variety of pieces, each revealing a particular approach and style. The Dancers of Senegal is a wonderful gouache with colorful, geometric forms stretching and bending to create motion. They at times appear to dip into the recesses, below the surface of the paper, while at other times seem to move forward, reaching out to grab the hand of someone who might want to join the dance. This floating scene continues in Giotto's Lily Tower, where numerous soft architectural forms, created in a more translucent watercolor, lean and point up toward the center. It is as if they are separating and floating upward, supporting the clouds.

- by Jane Tingle Broderick

Jane Tingle Broderick of Greenfield is an artist and an educator.