POLLY APFELBAUM: EVERGREEN BLUESHOES

BCA Center • Burlington, VT • burlingtoncityarts.org • Through June 7, 2014

By: Ric Kasini Kadour

Polly Apfelbaum’s Evergreen Blueshoes is a two-room installation. For this environmental work, the artist covers the BCA gallery with wallpaper she designed and produced that shows naked hippies in a field dancing in a circle. Viewers are encouraged to remove their shoes and walk upon four of her monochromatic green rugs marked with blue footprints. The exhibition title comes from the name of a Sixties-era band that Apfelbaum found on the Internet, and the image of naked dancing hippies is one of the band’s album covers.

Apfelbaum has made a career out of exploring the slipstream between art and craft, and between abstraction, Pop, and minimalism. She describes herself as a hybrid traveling between mediums. She made a monumental, rainbow-colored, houndstooth hand-woven rug for Lucien Terras in New York; at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, she cut out petals of crushed velvet and arranged them on the floor like the mandala of a Buddhist monk. For the International House, Columbia University, she took stretched velvet and dyed, tore, and crumpled it into piles. Her pieces are gestures of color and material expressed in painting, sculpture, and
installation.

evergreen blue shoes wallpaper 1

Polly Apfelbaum, Evergreen Blueshoes, 2014, 4 woven textiles, 9 x 18′ each, 2 wallpapers, dimensions room size. Photo: Polly Apfelbaum.

Apfelbaum has been making art in the same loft studio in New York’s South Street Seaport since 1978. As a 2012-2013 recipient of the Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize, Apfelbaum spent much of last year taking in, among other things, the cosmati floors at Francesco Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Evergreen Blueshoes is her first exhibition since returning from Rome, and the product of reflecting on her artmaking while there.

With the Burlington exhibition Apfelbaum’s practice has evolved. The choice of color is informed by a desire to root her work in a sense of place. Apfelbaum spent summers as a child attending the Quaker-based camp Farm & Wilderness in Plymouth, Vermont. Informed by those memories, the monochromatic green rugs and blue footprints summon her memories of Vermont. The photo-based, found imagery in the wallpaper is new. The invitation to walk on the rugs is also new for Apfelbaum and an attempt to connect with viewers, to forge a world in which we can immerse ourselves, to move us from seeing to being.



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