Working with the Muse, a regional Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) exhibit, opened at the Strathmore Mansion in Bethesda, MD. last week. I had the opportunity to attend two events associated with the exhibit on Friday–a visit to nearby Glenstone Museum and a juror’s talk and tour of the exhibit. Both were so inspiring!

And I was thrilled to see that they used an image of my Homage to Matisse quilt on the promotional postcard and on flags waving outside the museum. It’s very exciting to be driving down the road and see your work beckoning people in!

A small group started the morning out at Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD. This is a private museum housing a collection of modern art on a 230 acre campus that has two pavilion style buildings, a collection of outdoor sculptures, and beautiful landscaping. Everything is curated for an inspirational experience. No photos are allowed inside the art pavilions, sadly. Included in the collection are examples from the masters of Abstract Expressionism–Jackson Pollock, Wilhelm de Kooning, Mark Rothko and many others–and also fascinating art by artists I wasn’t familiar with, including a number of women.

Interior Reflecting Pond – Glenstone Museum – Cindy Grisdela

Above is an image from one of the art pavilions and below is an outdoor sculpture–Smug by Tony Smith–that I found fascinating.

Smug Sculpture by Tony Smith at Glenstone – Cindy Grisdela

Photography wasn’t allowed inside the building, and there were few signs about the art. Instead, gray robed docents were available in each room to discuss the art and answer any questions visitors had about the art. One docent spent a good bit of time enlightening us about the exacting placement of an Ellsworth Kelly painting and wooden sculpture in the room to maximize the effect of the art in its surroundings.

I was able to get a postcard of one of my favorite pieces of art by Ruth Asawa –a complex arrangement of organic shapes created out of wire. I could have gazed at them all day!

Ruth Asawa Sculpture at Glenstone

After lunch at the museum cafe, we went to the Strathmore for a tour of the exhibit and an informative talk by two of the jurors for the show. I always try to go to these when I have a chance, because there’s always something to learn about how to improve your chances of getting into a show. Juror Judy Kirpich shared some insights–including a recommendation to avoid “mushy” compositions. When asked to define “mushy,” she advised having strong figure/ground relationships and stay away from compositions where there is so much going on the eye doesn’t know where to look. I also liked this quote she used from Wendell Castle–an American designer/craftsman. “Keep trying: if you hit the bull’s eye every time, the target is too near.”

Below are several photos from the exhibit. The Strathmore is a historic home that has been converted into a museum, so the hanging is unique.

Working with the Muse – exhibit statement and artwork by Helen Blumen – Cindy Grisdela

Working with the Muse Exhibit – Floris Flam and Donna Radner

Working with the Muse–artwork by Andrea Finch and Donna Radner

The show is up through April 19, 2020. Hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 10 – 4, Wednesday 10 – 9, and Sunday 12-4. Closed Monday. There will be a Curator’s Tour on March 28 at 1 pm.

Thanks for reading!