Thursday, January 5, 2017

Installing the show

Today is the opening of our show at Pyro Gallery, so Tuesday and yesterday were installation days.  How hard could it be to put up four quilts?  Heck, I've hung shows with 40 quilts in a single day and been out of there well before cocktail hour.  But I hadn't anticipated how much harder it is to hang REALLY BIG work -- or more accurately, REALLY TALL work.  It doesn't really matter how wide something is, but things get difficult fast when you have to get farther up on a ladder.

Fortunately I invited my very tall son to help, and there's a very tall ladder plus a regular ladder plus a stepstool in the back closet.  The stepstool came in handy because I am forbidden to climb ladders until my broken toe heals (also forbidden to drive my manual transmission car, lest pressure on the clutch knock the bone out of alignment).

One of the four quilts is 97 inches tall, one is 86, one is 82, and one is a short and squatty 59 inches tall, which still required me to go up on a stool to hold up one side while Steve secured the other.  So how does a person forbidden to use a ladder help the other guy?  I stood on the stepstool, nice and flat on my bad foot, then climbed onto my good foot one more step up the ladder.  Steve did lots of moving the ladders while I stood in place holding things.

The task was made easier by the fact that I decided not to hang two of the quilts in the conventional way from a sleeve and stick.  Instead, we simply nailed them to the wall.  Since the quilts are quite distressed to begin with, with spots and holes and mended places and raw-edge seams, I figured nail holes wouldn't make any difference, and it's sure easy to get those suckers up on the wall fast.  And if the side bulges a little or the bottom edge ripples out, just hold it down with another nail.  You've never seen a quilt hang so perfectly flat against the wall!

Things worked out pretty well until the last and tallest piece, which had to be suspended from the ceiling molding.  This one had a sleeve, and a brass rod extending about an inch out on either side.

The quilt had to hang above a credenza, which didn't seem sturdy enough to stand on, and probably wouldn't have been tall enough anyway.  The credenza was immovable, so we could only get the ladder so far in from either side.  Steve had to climb way up, then lean in perilously to get clamps positioned on top of the molding.  We hung loops of fishing line from the clamps, then slipped the brass rod into the loops.

As we were proceeding toward the actual placement of the quilt we realized -- how would I hold up the free end of the brass rod while Steve moved the ladder around and climbed up on the other side?  We rooted around in that back closet and came up with a paint scraper on a 6-foot pole, with a hole in the handle so it could be hung on a hook. The free end of the brass rod fit neatly into the hole, the handle was rubberlike so the rod didn't slip, and voila, I could hold the rod up at ceiling level while Steve went up and down and around and did all the hard work.

The flags all look wonderful, three of them displayed for the first time and on walls big enough to hold them properly!

The show opens today, with the gallery (909 E. Market St. in Louisville) open at noon and the reception from 6-9.  If you miss that, tomorrow is the First Friday gallery hop and we'll do it all over again!  And if you miss THAT, we're doing an artists gallery talk on Saturday the 14th at 12:30.  I hope to see you at one or more of these events.


  1. For those of us not in Louisville, could you post a shot of all the installed flags? Congrats on the show!

  2. It doesn't matter if you are tall or short, hanging big work is BIG WORK! Glad you were able to get it done, and don't we love our tall sons!!

  3. Congratulations on this show Kathy. Wish I could beam in for a look. Take pics!

  4. Normally on my day off a gallery not five miles away would be very tempting. Looking out the window at the Watterson crawling along in the snow, I will be staying home today. I'll try to remember to find time next week.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  5. That looks like it is amazing! Congratulations! There is nothing like artwork that takes up a big wall space.

  6. Congratulations on this exhibition!
    Your flags are very powerful, and very apt for this month of the inaguration.

    They would not be as powerful if they did not have the large scale....but I do hear you about going up on ladders.

    happy new year!

  7. You,too, with a broken toe?! Tall sons certainly come in handy. I wish mine didn't live so far away.
    Your quilts look fabulous. Be sure to show pictures of the show.