Tag Archives: Tessa Greene O’Brien


I am just back from a fun weekend in Portland, Maine — the main objective being to visit “Selvedge”, the group show I am part of at Able Baker Contemporary. Kudos to curator Tessa Greene O’Brien who has compiled a thought-provoking mix of work that is challenging, eclectic, and highly conceptual.

Gallery view

“Selvedge” at Able Baker Contemporary

Despite the artists’ varying approaches and objectives, the work maintains a comfortable sense of integration and, as the week has worn on, the strength of “Selvedge” has become more and more evident as I can’t stop thinking about it. I regret that I wasn’t able to attend the opening so I could talk with some of the other artists about their ideas.

Salon Wall

Salon Wall : “Shift” ©2011 Elizabeth Fram, Wrapped-resist, Discharge and Stitching on Silk and Cotton, 10 x 9.5 inches (green lower half with horizontal stripes in upper right corner), just above the dark piece in the lower left corner of this image.

Tessa’s enlightening essay, which I encourage you to read in its brief entirety, clarifies her curatorial intent:

Each artist has developed a distinct visual language using textile techniques to resolve the two-dimensional concerns of color, space, form, and light. The artists’ use of non-traditional materials does not represent a rejection of painting’s history; instead, these painters embrace the medium with lively curiosity and sincerity.

It is an honor to be included and to see my work hanging in this beautiful gallery in the city next door to where I grew up. “Selvedge” runs through August 5.

Floe (left) and Crystallized (right) © 2015 Elizabeth Fram, Paint, Dye and Embroidery on Silk,  12 x 12 inches

Parterre (left) and Parterre 2 (right) ©2015 Elizabeth Fram, Paint and Embroidery on layered Silk, 12 x 12 inches

“Selvedge” participating artists: Cassie Jones, Elizabeth Kleene, Erica Licea-Kane, Susan Metrician, Maria Molteni, Tessa Greene O’Brien, Isabelle O’Donnell, Martha Tuttle, and Elizabeth Fram

Able Baker Contemporary


Outside the Studio

Happy June!    …month of the summer solstice and the Beta Taurids meteor shower.

I am really looking forward to being part of two exhibitions that open this month, one here in Vermont and another in Portland, Maine. No matter the venue, there is always a sense of liberation in getting work out of the studio and in front of public eyes. I am particularly excited about the Maine exhibit because it’s my first opportunity to show in Maine’s “big city”, the town next door to where I grew up.

Wild Fibers

Wild Fiberswhich opens locally on June 2, will be on view through July 9 at the Emile A. Gruppe Gallery in Jericho. It’s a collection of work from members of the Vermont chapter of the Surface Design Association, an international organization focused on “inspiring creativity, encouraging innovation, and advocating for artistic excellence … in textile-inspired art and design”.

We who are part of SDA Vermont are fortunate to have a very active committee that has devoted countless volunteer hours securing and organizing exhibitions across the state in an effort to expose the public to the wide range of possibility that exists within the world of surface design.* I think the growth of our membership can be directly attributed to the success of these shows. I am always amazed at the breadth of skills among our members, so if you have a chance to stop by the Gruppe Gallery in the next 5 weeks, I’m sure you too will be struck by the diversity of work and process on display.

For those of you who might be interested in activist artists who use knitting as a means of voicing their ideas and concerns about the world, let me give a quick plug to my friend and fellow SDA member, Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, who will be presenting the talk “25 Years of Knitters Speaking Out” in conjunction with Wild Fibers. Her talk will be on Friday, June 16th from 6:30-7:30pm, also at the Gruppe Gallery.


Knitters at Town Meeting Day, Waterbury, VT     ©2016 Elizabeth Fram

Next week I will be shipping five pieces to Able Baker Contemporary for the upcoming show Selvedge, which runs from June 16 to August 5, 2017. If your travels take you anywhere near Portland this summer, I hope you will stop in. Curator Tessa Greene O’Brien has assembled work from nine artists, all of whom incorporate textiles in their practice while strongly maintaining a fine-art approach. The work is process-driven and carries a strong conceptual component. I’m thrilled to have been included and can’t wait to head to Portland in July to experience the show in person.


Able Baker Contemporary is on the Portland Stage block, within 300 yards of The Maine College of Art, Space Gallery, and Space Studios and the Portland Museum of Art, (where I’m excited to see Hans Hofmann; Works on Paper will be showing from June 16 to September 3), — in other words, a cultural hotbed that, combined with Portland’s fine restaurants and oceanside location, makes for an excellent weekend getaway!

Meanwhile, back to the unglamorous…I am slogging my way through an update of my website, and, as is probably to be expected, it’s way more time-consuming than I’d anticipated. There’s no escaping computer chores! However, to leave you on a happy note, I came across this  worthy diversion — a wonderful mix of metaphors and animation by Greg Condon that made me smile; I hope it will amuse you as well.


First Harvest     ©2017 Elizabeth Fram

*Surface design encompasses the coloring, patterning, and structuring of fiber and fabric. This involves creative exploration of processes such as dyeing, painting, printing, stitching, embellishing, quilting, weaving, knitting, felting, and paper-making.

An Unexpected Cold Remedy

But first — happy news this past week! I had the wonderful opportunity to meet and chat with painter Tessa Greene O’Brien, who generously took an afternoon off from her residency at the Vermont Studio Center for a studio visit here with me. Tessa is organizing an exhibition at Able Baker Contemporary in Portland, ME this June/July, which will be based on the work of a number of artists who take a formal and painterly approach to their work while incorporating textiles in some form. I am very honored and excited to have been invited to participate! Stay tuned for further details as they unfold.


©2017 Elizabeth Fram

Meanwhile, it’s that time of the year again. The seasons are changing and my “number came up”, meaning it was my turn to contend with a head cold. Enough time has passed since my last one that I have no right to complain, but it’s hard to be stoic when it feels like your head is filled with socks and that you’re dragging the equivalent of Jacob Marley’s chains from room to room. I know you know the feeling.

I’m fortunate it didn’t last long, and I am grateful that the combo of a sketchbook and a pen make for a great diversion. You can’t spend too much time concentrating on how miserable you feel when your brain is busy comparing the space between shapes and getting a curve “just so”.

Quinn 1

Quinn #1     ©2017 Elizabeth Fram

I continue to be challenged by the relatively wide line of my Lamy Safari fountain pen. Crosshatching and creating a sense of form with a much finer .01 Micron nib is comparatively effortless, producing lines that seem to be naturally more energetic. The thicker stroke of the Safari feels decidedly more awkward and necessitates thinking more in terms of variety of mark and pattern in order to achieve values and textural interest.

Drawing with this pen is a whole different ball game and one that doesn’t come particularly easily to me. But I’m determined to stick with it for two reasons: 1) it’s the only pen I have that glides smoothly (without wearing down), over the relatively rough paper of my Classic Cachet sketchbook… & I still have 1-1/2 sketchbooks of this paper yet to fill! And 2) I’m committed to making it work and hope that by putting in the hours I’ll achieve some level of proficiency. After three months of pretty much daily practice, I’m beginning to see some faint glimmers of progress, but I still have a long way to go.

Quinn 2

Quinn #2     ©2017 Elizabeth Fram

I am reminded of my past post The Reward of Getting it Wrong, in which I wrote about Kathleen Speranza acknowledging that you have to make many, many pieces in order to glean a handful of successes. She estimates she achieves about a 50% success rate; I am way behind that.

But being cozied up on the sofa with the dog, a cup of tea, and a box of kleenex nearby is not only as good a time as any to log in some practice, but also my best suggestion for getting ahead of a pesky cold.