Volume 10, Issue 2
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.
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.
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
Pasquine is a gallery lecturer at the Cloisters, the Metropolitan Museum's
medieval exhibition space in New York City.
joins with business
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.
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.
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.
Show at Nacul Center Gallery
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
- by Jane
Broderick of Greenfield is an artist and an educator.