Last week, Gamble members enjoyed a special sneak peek of Agnes Martin / Navajo Blankets, a unique exhibition paintings by artist Agnes Martin with 19th century Navajo blankets. Members wandered through Palo Alto’s Pace Gallery, sipping champagne and marveling at the parallels between the design and craftsmanship of the 19th-century textiles and Martin’s contemporary paintings.
Agnes Martin / Navajo Blankets will be exhibited at the Pace Gallery in Palo Alto until October 28, 2018. The exhibition will then travel to Pace Gallery in New York and be on view there from November 14 – December 22, 2018.
Born in 1912 in Saskatchewan, Canada, Agnes Martin pursued an artistic path that was inextricably tied to the American Southwest, New Mexico in particular. First in 1946, and again in 1968 until the end of her life in 2004, she lived and worked in the unique environment of Northern New Mexico. While she drew upon what constitutes perfect beauty, her experience of the Southwest — with its high desert light and sweeping vistas — was for her a necessary ingredient for unlocking inspiration. An artist of singular purpose, Martin devoted her life to poetic abstraction and a search for perfection and beauty in simple compositions of grids and bands.
Navajo (Dine) weaving is rooted in the story of Na’ashjeii Asdzaa, or Spider Woman, a Holy Person who wove the map of the universe and taught spinning and weaving to the earliest Navajo people. Revered as the first Navajo weaver, she is a source of hozho, a state of balance where the natural and supernatural can coexist. Since the late 18th century, Navajo textiles have been woven by women using a vertical loom and celebrated as ideal manifestations of harmony. They are infused with hozho, which is seen here in the balance of colors, bands, and forms. By 1830, Navajo wearing blankets including mantas, serapes, and “chief-style” blankets were highly desired trade items in the American West, Southwest, Northern Plains, and Missouri Valley. Treasured as marks of honor among members of other Native communities, they continued to be traded among Spanish Americans and Anglo-American settlers into the twentieth century.
source: Pace Gallery
photos: Ana Picazo