Coming Home – Still Lifes by Kaffe Fassett & Erin Lee Gafill
Kaffe Fassett is an internationally renowned textile designer. Kaffe’s niece Erin Lee Gafill is a well known local landscape artist. They share a common upbringing in Big Sur, California, with roots in the arts going back to their childhoods at Nepenthe Restaurant, the creative Mecca founded by Kaffe’s parents, and to their shared ancestor, California Modernist painter Jane Gallatin Powers.
Kaffe inspired Erin to embrace the artist’s life. Erin inspired Kaffe’s return to fine art painting.
Every year since 2001 they have stolen a week out of the year to paint together.
The same objects and textiles surface year after year. Fresh fruit from Nepenthe’s gardens – lemons, tangerines – and colorful thrift shop finds add color and pattern to the mix.
Kaffe, who revolutionized knitwear in the 80’s with his use of color and pattern, is a pioneer in contemporary needlepoint, mosaic, quilting, and fabric design. Here, he returns to his roots – painting – through the tradition of still life.
Erin, known for large scale abstracted landscapes and boldly colored still lifes displays a new voice here with her muted palette, emphasis on overlapping pattern, and chromatic range.
Over the years, influences cross-pollinate through their conversations, and in their painted dialogue. There are more than just two voices here. One sees echoes of Giorgio Morandi, a favorite of both artists, with his obsessive repetition of subjects and chromatic grays, the chiaroscuro of Edouard Manet and his flower portraits, and the delight of color, textiles, and the home celebrated by Matisse.
Other influences deeply felt in these works include the larger Fassett family, and selected works from Kaffe’s sisters Holly and Dorcas and Erin’s daughter Emily are included here. Who inspired whom? Perhaps it is the very home space itself, its rich textiles, timeworn tapestries, black and white family photographs and well loved books that have formed and informed them all, this tribe of artists.
Placing Kaffe’s and Erin’s paintings against or near the textiles and objects celebrated in the paintings themselves, draws a connection between inspiration and outcome, inviting the visitor to see how an artist sees, comparing and contrasting the physical reality against the two differing visions. By including select pieces from other family artists including Kaffe’s grandmother Jane Gallatin Powers, sister Holly Fassett, and Erin’s daughter Emily Birmingham, the experience of painting as a family activity is hinted at, inviting the visitor to enter, if only briefly, the creative space.
Tableaux recreating the studio suggest the corner of a living room, with an overstuffed chair hung with a hand stitched quilt, a basket of yarn at its feet and a half finished project emerging. Wall texts offer pull quotes from the two artists describing their process of painting together, the role making textiles has played in both of their lives and work, and how each has influenced and learned from the other.
Home Coming; Kaffe Fassett and Erin Lee Gafill explores the lineage of artmaking practices in one California art family connecting six generations, exploring influences that are cross-generational and inter-disciplinary.
Image Catalog – Kaffe Fassett
Image Catalog – Erin Lee Gafill
Photographs & Installations
Bio | Artist Statement
Erin Lee Gafill
CV | Bio | Artist Statement
- A beautifully illustrated color catalogue will be published by 26 Letter Press to accompany the exhibition and will include essays by Kaffe Fassett and Erin Lee Gafill.
Digital Files containing all wall text will be provided
A selection of high resolution images will be provided for press and promotional purposes
Both artists are available to offer a slideshow/talk about their work as well as one to three day workshops on painting and/or design.
May 2020 and October 2020