• 9 February 2023 7:40

Ramekon O’Arwisters: Flowered Thorns

Italiano (Italian)

Patricia Sweetow Gallery, 315 Potrero Avenue, San Francisco CA 94103
Exhibition Dates: September 11 – October 23, 2021
Reception: Saturday, September 11 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Preview Zoom Event: Thursday, September 9th at 4:00 pm PST

Elaine Y. Yau, Associate Curator of the Eli Leon Living Trust Collection of African American Quilts at BAM/PFA leads a conversation with artist Ramekon O’Arwisters & collector Roderick Kiracofe.

Gallery Walk-Through: September 18th at 2:00 pm. Join us as Ramekon O’Arwisters walks us through his exhibition. Appointments are required through the Booking App on the website, or email the gallery. Approved masks are required.

Zoom event: Thursday, September 23rd, 4:30 pm PDT; 7:30 EST

In Conversation: Curator & Historian Glenn Adamson & Ramekon O’Arwisters

RAMEKON O’ARWISTERS | Flowered Thorns #11 | 2020/21 | fabric, ceramics from CSULB ceramic program, beads, pins | 25 x 15 x 15 inches

PATRICIA SWEETOW GALLERY  present San Francisco artist Ramekon O’Arwisters in a one-person exhibition, with sculpture from two series, Cheesecake & Flowered Thorns, along with rewoven quilt tops from the Eli Leon Estate. In the second gallery it will present an installation of quilt tops from the collection of Roderick Kiracofe.

RAMEKON O’ARWISTERS | Flowered Thorns #10 | 2020/21 | fabric, ceramics from CSULB ceramic program, beads, pins | 27 x 17 x 17 inches

Ramekon O’Arwisters new sculpture, Flowered Thorns, dives into the abyss with large, sharp ceramic shards strapped and knotted together, embellished with shredded fabric. They stand as cultural totems, embodying the couture of drag, along with the rich history of African American quilting. This series has been brewing in his studio the past two years as Covid, racial injustice, climate change and political chicanery were normalized. While there are numerous parables about thorns and thistles, one learned very early is the origin story of Adam and Eve. The telling of this parable posits thorns didn’t exist prior to Adam succumbing to an eroticized Eve, the original “dangerous woman”. That Eve changed the course of nature is astounding, but beyond Eve, there’s the issue of thorns. Let’s face it, thorns have a bad rap, they’re stand-ins for sin, illegitimacy, threat, exclusion – wars wage over “thorns”. Thus, we circle back to Flowered Thorns, as O’Arwisters adroitly turns prevailing orthodoxies on their ear with his compelling communion of opposing materials that cohabitate with elegant grace. His sculpture amplifies an alternative message, the thorns that bite are not the threat, but the liberating difference that bestow purpose and meaning.

RAMEKON O’ARWISTERS | Flowered Thorns #10 | 2020/21 | fabric, ceramics from CSULB ceramic program, beads, pins | 27 x 17 x 17 inches

Cheesecake, completed in 2019, are diminutive and glamorous. Each sculpture is densely wrapped and draped with decorative fabric, interspersed with small ceramic shards. The moniker Cheesecake is subverted from its intended reference of objectifying a man or woman, to a fully embraced description referring to his glammed-up ‘objects’.

RAMEKON O’ARWISTERS | Flowered Thorns #9 | 2020/21 | fabric, ceramics from CSULB ceramic program, beads, pins | 18 x 18 x 13 inches

Ramekon O’Arwisters is the 2021 recipient of the McLaughlin Award for The Project Space at The Headlands Center for the Arts, Artist-in-Residence program. In addition, he received a Pollock- Krasner Foundation Grant for 2020/21. Past artist-in-residence programs include the de Young Museum Artist in Residence, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Recology San Francisco Artists- in-Residence Program and the Vermont Studio Center. Grants and Awards include Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue, NY, the San Francisco Foundation, the San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Program, Black Artists Fund, Sacramento, and the Eureka Fellow awarded by the Fleishhacker Foundation in San Francisco. His work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, 7×7 Magazine, Artnet, and the San Francisco Examiner. Born in Kernersville, North Carolina, O’Arwisters earned a M.Div. from Duke University Divinity School in 1986. O’Arwisters is the founder of Crochet Jam, a community arts project infused with folk-art traditions that foster a creative culture in cooperative relationships.

Upcoming exhibitions include Untitled Miami 2021, and Queer Threads at the Textile Museum, San Jose in 2022.

RAMEKON O’ARWISTERS | Flowered Thorns #7 | 2020/21 | fabric, ceramics from CSULB ceramic program, beads, pins | 22 x 18.5 x 15 inches

From the Collection of Roderick Kiracofe: American Quilts Below the Radar, 1950-2000

In our back gallery, renowned quilt connoisseur and collector Roderick Kiracofe will be sharing his storied collection of quilts. Shrouding our 12 x 12 foot gallery in quilt tops, along with finished quilts cascading from various containers, the environment promises an immersion in the stories and tradition of quilt making. His authoritative book, Unconventional & Unexpected, originally published in 2014 is now in its 2nd edition, and can be preordered through Quiltfolk.

We’re so pleased that Roderick has agreed to share this important collection with us. His collection is primarily from unknown makers, hailing from Texas, Alabama and other locations in the South and Mid-West. The beauty and creativity of pattern, color and technique radiate with or without origin stories. We are privileged to view a truly American art form, the collective lens shared by diverse communities of mostly women, conserved by the Kiracofe collection.

One Patch Diamond (parte superiore non finita) | C. 1980 -2000 | Attribuito a “Mrs. Wilson” 100 anni nel 2005 | Trovato a Fayette, in Alabama, Poliestere a maglia doppia | 73 x 84 pollici

We’re so pleased that Roderick has agreed to share this important collection with us. His collection is primarily from unknown makers, hailing from Texas, Alabama and other locations in the South and Mid-West. The beauty and creativity of pattern, color and technique radiate with or without origin stories. We are privileged to view a truly American art form, the collective lens shared by diverse communities of mostly women, conserved by the Kiracofe collection.