FOR GOURDS' SAKE by Gail Hohlweg


: Gourd Art by Gail Hohlweg
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A coffee-table book featuring color photos of the artist’s work in natural materials.

Hohlweg’s oeuvre pays homage to a historical and geographical range of influences, with sections devoted to pieces inspired by Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern and Greek art, as well as individual works with hints of India and Native America. Some designs are taken from paintings (with attribution) while others imitate patterns of traditional tile and textile art, mainly from the East. Pieces in this collection are from her first six years as a gourd artist, 2001 to 2006, arranged according to similarity of style and cultural content rather than chronology. Many works bespeak a passion for things of the Earth. The golden-brown tones of the pieces are covered in natural stippling, fluting, bumps and blemishes. Other works feature curving woody stems and vines and lacy tendrils–all of which wrap around the sensuous, rounded bodies of the natural gourds. Certain pieces demonstrate unique ingenuity, as when Hohlweg treats the gourds’ surfaces so they resemble bronze, pewter and other man-made materials. Some works also take on stiffer, more artificial shapes. The artist shows considerable whimsy and a love for puns–one political piece is entitled “One Nation Under Gourd with a Bush Out of ‘is Gourd!” while another, “All o’ Gourd’s Children,” shows the faces of kids across the globe. Most pieces in the book are vessels, but there are also musical instruments, jewelry and sculptures. The photographs are rich and luminous and the selection shows an impressive spectrum of work, which is by and large allowed to speak for itself. A bit more in the way of text would be welcome. It might clarify how the artist achieved these remarkable effects and expound upon sources of the various motifs.

A labor of love and a feast for the eye and imagination.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4243-3029-4
Program: Kirkus Indie
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