Monday, May 3, 2010

Stitching Up The Noughties: A Blow-by-Blow

I arrived a bit early for my preview show at the ACME gallery on Friday night.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

The cocktail party was from 7 to 9pm and I wanted to take one last walk around the room before people started arriving.

On Wednesday, I hung the works and in the middle of the space installed a 19th century threadbare rug, a loom draped with a work in progress, a china teacup with the dregs of some Fortnum and Mason tea...

...a shambolic mess of tabloid magazines...

...a chair with a chain mail headrest (because I am an embroidery warrior) and black feather wings (because shouldn't they be required for every armchair traveller?)...

...and 125 cans of Diet Red Bull (no explanation necessary).

On the far wall was a floor-to-ceiling wallpaper I created from books in my personal library.

I wanted people to feel like they were entering an abstracted, exploded version of my brain, and that high literature + lowbrow tabloids + a lot of caffeine + tools of the trade = the recipe for my samplers.
(Wallpaper, detail)

Almost before I knew it, the gallery was packed with familiar faces and friendly strangers.

The signature drink was Pimm's Iced Tea.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

It was so gratifying to see people looking at my pieces and reading my work.

The gestation process for this show was long and at times, I had trouble seeing an end in sight. Now, here it was in front of me.
(Photos by Martha Adams)

I gussied up my loom by painting it black, studding it with brass nailheads and transforming it into a bespoke piece of equipment.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

According to my calculations, over 15,000 feet of cotton embroidery floss went into the creation of my samplers.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

Scary figures, scary headlines.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

I plan on returning to the gallery again and again over the next month to continue adding words to this piece in progress.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

Royal Apothic founder/blogger Sean O'Mara (on right) came and it was such a treat to see him...
(Photo by Martha Adams) it was C&C California founder Claire Stansfield (on left) and fellow blogger Julie Anne Rhodes.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

Good friends, good neighbors...

...and very good eight-year-olds completed the mix of invited guests.

As for family, I was well-represented by my two men...
(Photo by Martha Adams)

...and my mother, sister and two nieces who had flown out from Michigan for the show.
(Photo by Martha Adams)

And now, the samplers...

There are ten pieces in the show, all at least three feet by four feet, with some even larger. (Check back for exact measurements.)

"On Tucking Your Daughter Into Bed"

"On Priorities"

"On the Price of Beauty"

"On the New Economy"

"On Aging"

"On Being Realistic"

"On Truth in Art, Part One"

"On Role Models"

"On Dark and Stormy Nights"

"On East vs. West"

Sorry, I can't figure out how to make the photo bigger by clicking on it. The text reads:

Soy chai latte, downward dog,
Hike up Runyon, kiss the smog.
Palm trees, glamour, sushi roll,
LA's tattooed on my soul.

But NYC is in my skin,
The noise, the crowds, the grit, the sin.
Subways, cynics, coffee black,
Will always keep me coming back.


For those of you in Los Angeles, the show runs through May 29th. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-6pm. All price inquiries for the pieces should be directed to the ACME Gallery (323-857-5942).

I would like to give a massive thank you to o ACME owners Bob Gunderman, Randy Sommer and director Molly Concannon for their unwavering enthusiasm, support and killer cappucinos, to Sarah Walker for setting the proverbial ball in motion, and to all my friends and neighbors who have so generously helped me out with carpools and playdates these last six months (you know who you are).

Also, thank you to my dear friend Martha Adams, who so beautifully documented the evening.

Lastly, to my very own Piero and Luca, thank you for being ever-understanding, ever-encouraging and never once begrudging the months and months I spent bent over the loom or crouched on my hands and knees on the floor, head down, needle and thread in hand, silently counting counting counting.


Jane said...

A big congratulations to you Lisa. I felt like I was almost there.

It is fantastic to see the pieces all framed up, they look so much more serious and stern even than when they are soft and a bit puckered. I think my favourite is the Tucking Daughter into Bed but probably that is because I do this daily and can relate to the emotions so keenly.

Lets hope they all sell and then you can start work on your 2012 show. xoxo

Debra said...

I've been wondering on and off all weekend how it went~ and I can see that a great time was had by all.
I love the ease and whimsy of your work- how refreshing that we can poke fun and laugh at ourselves. You deserve the big prize for bringing smiles and reminding us not to take things too seriously. Each one sending it's own special message~ congratulations Lisa. I cannot wait to see what your next project will be!

Blue said...

A terrific post and a terrific body of work finally visible in its entirety. Its very impressive and mordantly witty. Congratulations, Lisa.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Hearty congratulations on such an obviously successful show! well done you!

I have thought about your work recently. It really is a brilliant mash-up of the centuries of needlework and home arts. I can't think of anyone who has done anything remotely like it. Not only is it witty and well-crafted, it is also a thought provoking commentary on who we were and who we are as women. You should be proud of yourself my dear!

Barbara Wells Sarudy said...

The "chain mail headrest (because I am an embroidery warrior) and black feather wings" are a treasure...

Susan Adler Sobol said...

Bravo! Well done!

skirmishofwit said...

Oh my goodness, how utterly wonderful! Congratulations!!! You must be so happy and proud. The exhibition looks amazing - what a perfect setting for all your hard work. I love your installation (especially the detail of Fortnum & Mason tea!). The samplers are sheer genius - I adore them! I just wish I was in LA so I could visit the exhibition myself, but thank you for sharing it all so wonderfully through your words and pictures.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I am clapping wildly for your achievement and of course a beautiful end to all the work!

I love the cool and original way you designed the gallery space to reflect your personality and showcase the pieces. Just perfect!!!

Kate said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful moment for you and your embroidery. I wish I was in SoCal to see them in person, but your photos are terrific and I love the set up of the loom and rug and exposed "workings" of your mind as part of the presentation. Well done and much success!

Dandy said...

How wonderful! You and Piero and Luca have the whole wide world, at least that's how I see the last picture. :) Congratulations!

pve design said...

You really blow me away.....

Style Court said...

Lisa --

You already know how much I admire the samplers. But the installation? Wow. It's so strong and really adds another dimension.

Congrats again!

Anonymous said...

Huge congratulations! You make me think of Dorothy Parker/Wendy Cope with the fabulous wit, and the installation itself is so beautifully thought out and spot on! I wish terribly I could see "the real thing," but your photos at least make me realise how much I've missed by not being able to so thank you!

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

oh my goodness, how incredible is that?!!

lovely post on what looks like a smashing exhibition. absolutely fabulous!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Lisa - it is so wonderful, congratulations! Truly wish I could have been there.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Wow. Thank you all so much. xx

home before dark said...

I loved everything about this. Congratulations on job well dreamed and done.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

genius -pure and simple. Not only the pieces themselves but the whole ensemble -down to the tea and red bull. How I wish I could have been with you to celbrate in your success.Congratulations!

froogal said...

Thankyouthankyouthankyou...for that amazing post it was like having my own private showing...the installation gave a deeper understanding of your work and lent the perfect clever. I love how you jazzed up your loom and turned it into a work of art...soon to be copied I am sure!

DM said...

YAY! So great to see the final results.

I feel this is something that will be with us the rest of the Universe!
Almost a portrait of an age.

Karena said...

A stunning exhibition, you are truly a talented and unique artist!! Congratulations!!

Gruvkitty said...

Such a wonderful show! Congratulations! xo

Cathi said...

Your art work is fabulous. I hope to get down to see your exhibit soon! :)

Thomas Hogglestock said...

Congratulations. What a great show. I was particularly taken by your book wallpaper of course and the notion of exhibit being an explosion of things that run through your head.

So Lovely said...

Sent you an email too. It was a gorgeous evening - the gallery is intimate and the art pieces are given room to be in all their glory - which I love.
Congratulations! xx

LPC said...

Congratulations. And it looks like so much fun. Love the installation component - and the idea that you will continue to add to one sampler as the exhibition continues.

Anonymous said...

What a great job!
Did you really use that loom? I thought you worked on your hands and knees...
very cool.


24 Corners said...

Thank you so much for giving all of us the opportunity to attend your is breathtaking! I actually gasped several times in the viewing!
The brilliant personal visuals you added to the room are stunning and as much a testement to your creativity as are your amazing samplers!

Bravo & Congratulations (can you hear the standing ovation?)!!!

xxoo Jessica

Susan said...

Loved your stitchery. I plan to link to your site from my blog. May I have your permission to copy one of your photos to display in my blog (this photo would link to your blog) or shall I just link to your site

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

Bravo! Could not have been more exciting to see. I've already been back to visit, and have a blog about it coming out later today. Congratulations and can't wait for more of your creative genius!

Simply Colette said...

Congratulations! How wonderful... I just love those needlepoints!

balsamfir said...

Congratulations. Its great to see the pictures of the show, and read what you think about the pieces. The balance of humor and spooky thoughtfulness is terrific, and they look very strange; so large and black they are. I hope you get lots of attention for them.

Jane Kilpatrick Schott said...

Really fabulous! Shades of a Modern Day Dorothy Parker?


Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

I did the first four pieces on the floor on my hands and knees and nearly killed my back.... Then I bought the loom after a recommendation from Little Augury and life started looking up again (literally). But then I started obsessing about the loom because I couldn't stand the look of it (think pale IKEA pine), and felt compelled to personalize it and make it my own.

Jane said...

Wow! You are an inspiration - your work is absolutely brilliant. I think using words as art is my idea of perfection. And you are wonderful to share the process of putting it together. I love your installation in the middle of the room and your wallpaper too. Well done, well done, well done.

helen tilston said...

Oh Lisa what a show. You brought great joy to all who attended the opening and to all of us readers. I join in my fellow readers wish o having being able to be there to experience the energy of your masterpieces.
You deserve a day at the spa and some days in the sun
Continued blessings
Helen Tilston

Susan's Snippets said...

Lisa -

I read and re-read your words. Then I looked and looked even closer at all the photos.

Awesomely divine!!

superstar you shine

L.P. said...

Congratulations! How fun to see all the pictures. Your work is funny and touching.

donna baker said...

Bravo, Lisa. Stunning!

EE said...

Sigh - so wonderful. Love it all. The most serious works of art (embroideries) aside, I <3 your book wallpaper. Congratulations - what a lovely reflection of your thoughts, vision, talent, and all the rest... hope you're really proud.

Anonymous said...

Insane!!! One woman's work?? I can only stand here in complete Awe. I wish I could step into a time machine, fast forward 200 years to find your work. What a treasure. Beyond proud of you, XXX, Carmie.

Rocio said...

Wow. Extraordinary.
Congratulations, cannot wait to see your next show!!!

Sophie said...

Congratulations on the exhibition! I really wish I could see it for myself, but it is marvellous to see the photographs and to read your brilliant description. After reading about your creative process it is so exciting to see the end result. The samplers are superb and I only wish I had one hanging on my bedroom wall! Any chance of producing a series of postcards, or something? ;)

Courtney said...

Lisa! I think it all turned out so spectacular. I'd give anything to see these guys in person --- or better yet, on my wall :) They look incredible and your hard work most certainly paid off. The final photo is priceless!

Congrats to you!

opera glass said...

These are amazing. I especially like "On Truth in Art, Part I" and the installation itself is really interesting as well. Congratulations!

maya said...

congrats! love all the photos.

& i love the mix of traditional embroidery with today.


Sarah Carlson said...

Dear Lisa,

What a perfectly clever and aesthetic installation piece you made! - perhaps it's because I've been following your blog of late that every single piece appears so integrated into a sensible whole, but even so, to a frequent gallery hopper, it's really refreshing to see an installation piece that makes sense from beginning to end - or rather, that the artist in question, appears to have actually reflected upon and made sense of every single artifact added to their piece.

So, in conclusion (to this most lengthy comment) I find it a most thought-through contemporary take on the traditionally unpretentious and mundane tradition of women's crafts and folk art - and to top it all off, it's so pretty too:O)

I hope you keep up with the installation/performance part in addition to your actual stitching - they compliment each other beautifully!

Kindest regards,

katiedid said...

A big fat hug of congratulations, my dear, on your brilliant show! I so wish I could have been there in person, but the pictures let me feel like I had been a part. It looks like a wonderful evening of friends and supporters. The installation was stellar. I feel so much better knowing I am not alone in my grocery store tabloid curiosity.....different parts of us do make up for a much more fascinating whole! And you are indeed fascinating. I hope to see much more of your work in the future....perhaps even OWN a piece!!! Bravo!

wild thyme flowers said...

Hey Lisa, BRAVO !

Unknown said...


i wish i could have been there (but i'll be stoppping by the gallery to view in person during a less crowded time- all the better to soak it all in).

congratulations to you, awesome art lady!

Purple Flowers said...

Excellent, excellent exhibit. I enjoyed it from my armchair. I am sure I would have loved it in person.

L said...

I just caught this post; it's the next best thing to being there. But I think I am going to sit down with a glass of port and spend a little more time taking it all in tonight.

How wonderful for you to have found your own centering line of thought & art.

Anonymous said...

With so much mediocre stuff out there these days, and too many wannabes falling short of producing anything original or unique, it is FANTASTIC to see the mind, soul and wit of of a real artist at work here. Installation looks utterly inspired as well. Marvelous!!

Unknown said...

Lisa, I am late to say how amazing your work is. Single handedly(!!!) you have pulled it all together, art, work, critique on our current culture, humor and some cynism....
You reime, you stich, you rock!

Congtratulations! What a show!

Emily said...

You are too cool for school! I'm so impressed with your creativity. All of it! From the displays to the the stitch work themselves. You my dear have created a niche for yourself in a city where it must at times be hard to exist.

hello gorgeous said...

Congrats to you!! Excellent show! Excellent work and hilarious sentiments. Wish I could see it in person. Love the last photo, too.

Maria Speidel said...

So my husband opens the LA Times today and says, "Here's something up your alley," and I screamed "That's my favorite blogger! The book I'm reading now, The Odd Women, was even suggested by her!" He said, "Calm down." Looking forward to stopping by the Acme to see your work in person. Congrats on all. Keep inspiring!

Unknown said...

My sister and I took a fun field trip to ACME yesterday to see your work. AMAZING! It is soooo worth seeing. We loved each and every one of your samplers! I can't help but smile when I think of the sampler about Ambien. We also loved the wall of book covers. We recognized so many and have read quite a few of them too. What fun! You are wonderfully talented.

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Maria S.: Your comment is so fabulous! And I love that you're reading "The Odd Women". I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. If you go to Acme, let me know and I'll try to pop by when you're there. Xxx

Romi: I'm so pleased you liked the show. The "Ambien" one just sold yesterday. :)

JustJoan said...

wow, just came across your blog via the la times. what a great show...wish i was closer to see it up close.

Helen James said...

Lisa I am very late with the congratulations as I have been a busy lady of late but a HUGE congrats to you. I loved every single piece your attention to detail is inspiring..... Well done and enjoy some R&R now that you have completed them x x

Mr. Peacock said...

Oh my gosh!!! Brilliant!!! You're so talented!!! I can't begin to choose a favorite!!! Congratulations!!!

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Titanium Jewelry said...

Thankyouthankyouthankyou...for that amazing post it was like having my own private showing...the installation gave a deeper understanding of your work and lent the perfect clever.


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