January 24, 2010

A New Rug Hooking Project: Pink Triangles, with an Homage to Mary Heilman

With this new project, I am back to straight line geometry after the organic curves of Roundabout and the geometric curves of Swing. This 12 inch square has lopped off corners, a design that could come from Ellsworth Kelly.

The slightly wacky color – somber blacks with hot pink – is inspired by the work of Mary Heilman. I've admired her exuberant, off kilter abstraction for many years; last winter the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC mounted a exciting retrospective called "Mary Heilman: To Be Someone". Her paintings have a fresh, direct energy that makes simple geometries playful and personal. I would place her in my little category of "funky minimalism", along with Richard Tuttle. There's a similar sense of freedom from restraint, yet working with basics, in both artists. I love Heilman's use of unconventional color, especially pink, which appears in many of her paintings, sometimes paired with black. She's given us, in Guitar, a sassy feminist ("I enjoy being a girl"?) take on the high-art seriousness of abstraction. She has an inventive way of using multiple panels to make an image, as in Chartreuse. In all her work, a sure and juicy brush paints emotional life into geometry.

Mary Heilman, Guitar, 1979, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 inches

Heilman, Chartreuse, 1987, acrylic and watercolor on wood panel, diptych: 62 x 66 inches

Heilman, Little Three for Two: Red, Yellow, Blue, 1976, acrylic on canvas, 13 1/2 x 24 inches


  1. I look forward to seeing the reaching pinks hooked. and it's great to see these Heilmans here, to be reminded of her vision along with so many others you've brought up.

  2. thanks for being my docent today - I feel like I got to visit a museum before heading to work! Looking forward to checking back to see your progess...

  3. I'm glad you're both looking forward to progress, as am I, since a color sketch ends up being so very different from hooked wool. And yes, rappel, hurrah to seeing Heilman alongside other painters.