Great art lifts us out of our earth-caked shoes into the golden realm of imagination, and the current show at the Eubank Gallery is just such a site for take-off. Marlie de Swart, who runs the weaving and woven-clothing shop in downtown Point Reyes, is exhibiting tunics and vests alongside her brother Peter de Swart, whose wooden sculptures harmonize with them uncannily. The exhibit is up until Jan. 2.
At first glance, the sculptures and fabric wall-hangings appear as autonomous works of art, not-to-be-touched museum pieces. But the tunics and vests are for wearing. They’re serviceable against the cold, appropriate for ritual participation or cocktail parties, and could be worn, gloatingly, to the opera. The sculptures are designed to grace tables as long, narrow, and functional boxes; some have small compartments running almost the length of the box, some have carved lids, and two have a small pewter or glass container for flowers. One can play with them, stroke the exquisitely fitted wood and silky surfaces, lift lids, slide attachments.
Some of the table pieces are long, narrow boats whose suspension and thrust suggest Vikings, a useful metaphor for the entire exhibit. Indeed, the show’s works of art seem evolved not out of berserker marauders but from ancient, perilous voyages and the exquisite, crucial domestic handicraft essential to the survival of the northern adventurers and their families. Marlie’s garments are woven from local wool and are hand-spun, hand-woven, hand-loomed, hand-stitched and hand-painted. They illustrate women’s exuberant artistry in the service of function. Peter’s table boxes are as useful and crafted; they transform where we daily gather for eating into a place in which beauty insists on participating.
Action, touch, utility, focus, adherence to a transcendent, always-to-be-striven-for ultimate Ideal — all this lies in the garments and sculptured furnishings, and all ground us in the idea, ultimately, of hearth and community. It’s where our imagination lands and where it settles us, self-referentially and happily. The Eubank Gallery, at 11101 Highway 1, Suite 105, is open from noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and by appointment by calling (415) 521.0240.
Julia Hawkins is a Cotati-based writer. She wrote for the Light in the ‘70s while living in Inverness.