Katherine Lewis at the open Renwick Gallery
Katherine traveled to the other Washington to visit “A Measure of the Earth: The Cole-Ware Collection of American Baskets” at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The first time we ran into the federal government shutdown. This time around the doors were open for visitors.
She was able to tour the exhibition with Steve Cole who collected all the baskets. Hearing Steve’s stories about finding the basketmakers and collecting the baskets was a real treat. They also visited with exhibition curator Nicholas Bell, and all three posed for a photo next to Katherine’s Irish Potato Basket which invites visitors in to view the baskets.
collector Steve Cole, basketmaker Katherine Lewis, curator Nicholas Bell at Renwick Gallery next to a Lewis willow basket.
Hands-on exhibit at the Renwick Gallery
Photos weren’t allowed in the exhibition but Katherine did take a photo of the “Hands-on gallery” from the adjacent museum gift store. You can see Katherine’s fitched willow market basket on the right end of the table. The baskets in the hands-on area are tethered to the tables with a cord, and visitors are encouraged to pick up the baskets to feel and view them in detail. Another nice surprise was seeing one of Steve’s photos of the Dunbar Gardens basket willows used in this area (on the far left in the photo).
Katherine has six willow baskets in the exhibition in addition to the “hands-on gallery” basket. Fortunately the Smithsonian American Art Museum posted a set of photos of the exhibition to their Flickr photo gallery. In this photo courtesy of the Smithsonian you can see four of Katherine’s baskets in a display with other willow baskets.
Katherine’s baskets are on the left: Red & White Panier à Jour, Zig Zag Shopper, Willow Bark Tray, and Bicycle Handlebar Basket. You can view our photos of all these baskets in a previous post. Another one of Katherine’s baskets is a willow rope coil weave basket that was given a featured position in the gallery as you can see in this photo courtesy of the Smithsonian. The Rope Coil is at the perfect height for viewing both the exterior and interior details. (However we were a little perplexed at the chosen background of a hay field, and wondered why they didn’t use one of the Dunbar Gardens willow photos used in the exhibition catalog to represent the landscape from which the basket is created.)
Katherine had a wonderful time in Washington, DC. Although she did visit other museums, she visited the Renwick all three days she was there. She saw Steve Cole there all three days as well; proof that he spends a lot of time sharing stories with not only the basketmakers but other visitors as well. Steve was kind enough to spend a little more time with Katherine and her friend and basket buddy Sharle who flew out from Washington for the weekend.
Katherine is honored to have her work included in this wonderful display of American basketry. There are over 100 baskets by 63 basketmakers working with a variety of materials. If you are interested in baskets, the exhibition is definitely worth a visit. You can find more information and links at the Smithsonian website. It runs through December 8, 2013.