Warp and weft

Alan Magee, “Cairn,” tapestry, 2004.

Alan Magee, “Cairn,” tapestry, 2004.

What happens when modern technology and digital imagery meet traditional old-world weaving craftsmanship? An amazing marriage of weft-and-warp imagery! Witness it firsthand in the 10 tapestries of Magnolia Editions: Tapestries, the exhibit currently hanging at JayJay, located at 5520 Elvas Avenue.

Artists Donald Farnsworth and John Nava, from the Oakland art press Magnolia Editions, have melded digitally captured images with the card-weaving technique utilized to make tapestries on a Jacquard loom. Their process allows an artist to scan an original work on a computer and then have that work precisely duplicated in tapestry, with no alterations by the weaver. The tapestries are made of cotton, viscose (a cellulose-cotton blend), or wool and viscose threads. All are woven at a small, family-run mill in Belgium. The resulting imagery from a number of well-known artists—including Squeak Carnwath, Bruce Conner, Leon Golub, Mel Ramos, Nancy Spero, William Wiley and Katherine Westerhout—adorns the gallery’s walls right now.

These are not your typical rugs. From afar, Golub’s large, 82-inch-by-169-inch “Reclining Youth” offers an atmospheric background with a watercolor-like quality. Elsewhere, it appears the artist used a heavier hand with the “paint,” and it was absorbed quickly into the “canvas.” There’s also a shimmering effect that has to be attributed to the viscose. It’s curious and rich, so much so that you have to step closer to get the nuances of color.

While Golub’s piece is painterly, Alan Magee’s “Cairn” is a pile of rocks so realistic that, again, you just have to look closely to determine if it’s simply a photo screened over the canvas. But this, too, is woven.

No matter the artist’s style, the overall effect is amazing and well worth investigating. But you have to hurry. The show comes down after February 19. For more information, call (916) 453-2999.