Brunch report: Jane Sauer + Cindy Hickok

The first ever brunch-and-learn hosted by the New Mexico Committee of theNational Museum of Women in the Arts convened at La Posada last Saturday. It was an intimate gathering of mostly women and a few men, with strawberry puree, eggs florentine, and fresh fruit served in the stately old hotel.

Jane Sauer, well-known for her community involvement in Santa Fe, spoke about the shift in her career path from studio artist to gallery owner. “It’s embarrassing how much no one needs art,” she joked. “But, all cultures throughout time, no matter how poor, have made art and embellished their homes and their lives. It’s my job to convince people that they must love and want and need these objects, and I just love it. Even though no one really ‘needs’ it, what is preserved over time and handed down through cultures in history? It’s always the arts.”

Jane Sauer Gallery on Canyon Road holds a wide range of price points and types of items, with a staff emphasis on accessibility and education for patrons- an unintimidating atmosphere for both first-time buyers and seasoned collectors. “My focus is on being a part of the community and developing artists’ careers,” said Jane.

‘Waiting’ by Cindy Hickok

One such artist is Cindy Hickok (Houston, TX). Cindy talked on her creative process, and inspirations for her humorous ‘thread in needle, tongue in cheek’ creations. “I like to capitalize on frustrations in the subject matter for my artwork,” said Cindy. One example of this strategy is a Mona Lisa composition, in which only the top of Mona Lisa’s head can be seen over the crowd at the Louvre, a real-life experience for Cindy’s first trip to the museum in France. Or, in ‘Her Mother Told Her To Eat a Balanced Meal,’ a daughter has interpreted her mother’s rule to mean equally large sized hamburgers and slices of cake, balancing toppling portions on a huge platter in each hand. ‘The Daily Diet’ series piece ‘Sardines’ calls to mind being the guy who gets the middle seat on a plane.

“My mentor told me, and I really believe this, ‘Do images that mean things to you.’ For me, that’s food and famous paintings,” said Cindy. Many of her images incorporate well-known figures, faces, and scenes from art history in present-day (often frustrating) situations such as Botticelli’s Venus on a cell phone, positioned near Van Gogh and his severed ear on the dial pad. Works also feature subjects like the American Gothic couple mixing and mingling at tea or brunch, or Toulouse-Lautrec’s girls languishing in a waiting room with figures and foods derived from other paintings.

Cindy incorporates three to five values of each color wherever it’s used. She embroiders onto water soluble fabric, which she dissolves after completing a project so that in the finished works, only thread remains. Although her method is delicate, intricate, and tiny, Cindy advised, “Don’t worry a piece. Always enjoy what you do.” She keeps her whole color palette of threads on a wall in her studio, so she has her tools and her inspiration in front of her at all times.

I was intrigued to learn that, like me, Cindy is from a small town in Iowa, and actually attended Iowa State University–the same undergraduate school as my husband. She has gone on to travel and live around the world, and has artwork in museums including The Met. Her piece ‘See the USA,’ a recycled toy car covered in a garment of embroidered scenes spanning America to San Francisco, was used as the invitation and signage image for Pfaff Art Embroidery’s ‘Let Us Travel’ machine stitchery exhibition in Paris and London 2009-2010. Recently returned from its time abroad, the car was passed around the room for everyone to see at Saturday’s brunch.

Cindy Hickok is represented exclusively by Jane Sauer Gallery, Santa Fe.

-Kristin

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