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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Poetic Threads

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A new exhibit at the Charles Allis Art Museum weaves together two disparate art forms: poetry and fiber. "Threaded Metaphors" (May 13-July 26) includes the work of six poets and six fiber artists, all from Wisconsin.

The written words of C.J. Muchhala, Helen Padway, Mara Ptacek, Margaret Rozga, Carolyn Vargo and Phyllis Wax will illuminate the Allis Art Museum along with quilted pieces and weavings. This is the third collaboration between many of these poets and artists, the first initiated at UW-Waukesha in 2002.

Several of the writers belong to the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, including East Regional Vice President Carolyn Vargo, and have published in literary journals such as Porcupine. Most of the writers perform as part of the Sparks Poetry Troupe, which produced a CD titled The Sparks Look at News, Weather and Sports in 2002. They also contribute to Woodland Pattern's Poetry Marathons. Rozga, who teaches literature and creative writing at UW-Waukesha, is a former Ragdale Foundation fellow. In February, she published 200 Nights and One Day, which was nominated for both an Independent Book Publishers Award and the Shenandoah/Glasgow Prize. Padway trained in theater, but worked in radio and television as a performer and writer. Each adds to the substantial list of credentials found for this collection of poets.

The fiber artists, who include Mary Ellen Heus, Judy Zoelzer Levine, Elizabeth Lewis, Margaret Magill, Connie Tresch and Pat Zalewski, demonstrate similar distinguished résumés. Several of the artists participate in the Professional Art Quilt Alliance, and they all exhibit locally, nationally and internationally.

Lewis, who works in the field of art education, doubles as both an artist and a poet. She lectures extensively on her interest in the healing powers of art and writing. Levine lectures on quilting and nontraditional fiber techniques. Levine's quilts appear at international and juried shows, and have attracted commissions by Northwestern Mutual Life and Gilda's Club Southeastern Wisconsin.

Whether encompassing feminine relationships, nature, the environment or social and political culture, these 12 artists provide a powerful context for the threads of imagination. Each will be present at an opening reception on Wednesday, May 13, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., with a performance and program scheduled from 6 to 7 p.m.

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