Charlene Virts will demonstrate her unique techniques for those swoops and curves in her pine needle sculptures and baskets, Saturday, April 9, 11 to 4:00, at the Fiber Arts Studio Gallery in the Lincoln City Cultural Center. Virts shares the Featured Artist Trunk Show with Linda Gettmann, through April 24.
Virts’ Navajo and tapestry weaving techniques are equally impressive in her saddle blanket inspired rugs and wall hangings. And, she balances the strength and structures with handwoven dreamy soft shawls and scarves and colorful table runners.
Virts gathers needles from a few special Ponderosa pine trees in Bend that have exceptionally long needles. The needles are washed, some are dyed, and then dried. Often forest fire damaged sagebrush and juniper branches are used as the center element of the work. The needles are stitched together to form rope-like “coil”. Coils can also be made from reeds, rope, or bound grass fibers. Waxed linen, artificial sinew, or raffia are used as a “binder” to stitch the coils together.
Each of her coiled baskets is unique. Beads, stone, and native plants from throughout the West are used as accents. Coiled baskets start in a center and winds into a basket or sculptured form. Traditional baskets reflect common basket shapes with some ornamentation and minor variation. Free-form or sculptured baskets follow the movement of the chosen center piece to create a striking work of art.
Coiled baskets can be found all over the world using the materials that are native to the environment and have been part of human existence from the earliest of time. Virts delights at playing with the techniques that formed civilization, and now are seen as beauty and art even in this technological and industrialized age.
In 40 years working in fiber related arts, Virts has made her home in several places in the West: the high desert of Northeastern Nevada, Sonoma Valley wine country, and now in Central Oregon. She is captivated by the beauty and tradition of functional craft and artwork rooted in each region and loves how cultures throughout time have made functional items beautiful. Virts’ work with coiled basketry began with her move to Central Oregon nearly a decade ago.
The Lincoln City Cultural Center Fiber Arts Studio Gallery is open 10 to 4:00, Thursday through Sunday, and by appointment, LCFiberArtsStudio@gmail.com. The Lincoln City Cultural Center is at 540 NE Hwy 101, on the Central Oregon Coast.