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The Story Behind Frank Barnett's Pendleton® Woolen Mills' Tapestry Series
In 2005, Photographer Frank Barnett met Brot Bishop, the former Chief Executive Officer of Pendleton® Woolen Mills, who introduced him to the historic company’s tapestry program. At that time, Pendleton® was weaving wall hangings in large editions numbering in the hundreds. Barnett was struck by their beauty and proposed that Pendleton® establish The Pendleton® Studio with a charter to translate iconic images and the work of major artists into tapestries in much smaller editions. From the beginning, Barnett had imagined editions of fewer than ten for each image. However, when his tapestries were finally woven, the edition size for his large tapestries was set at 99 and 160 for the smaller versions.
In the summer of 2005, Barnett traveled throughout the Southwest with his late wife Sharan on behalf of Pendleton® Woolen Mills, visiting museums, galleries, and individual artists who were interested in having their work translated into tapestries woven on antique Jacquard looms in Pendleton, Oregon.
By 2007, six of Barnett’s photographs (in addition to Ranchos de Taos, which had been woven earlier) had been produced in trial runs of fewer than ten each. Just as Pendleton® was about to move into full production, Sharan was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Barnett put everything on hold to care for his wife. The Pendleton® Studio project came to a virtual standstill. Sharan passed away in April, 2009.
Barnett contacted Pendleton® in 2011 and arranged to purchase Pendleton’s entire inventory of tapestries that had been produced with his images. At that time, he learned that he had inadvertently got his wish to have tapestries produced in editions of fewer than ten. Where labels had already been affixed with the larger edition sizes indicated, Barnett decided to leave those unaltered, as they represent the original planned edition size. This Provenance represents a much more accurate number of the tapestries that were ultimately woven. Barnett has elected not to reassign edition numbers to any of the tapestries created from his photographs.
About Pendleton® Woolen Mills
Few company names inspire as much confidence and pride as Pendleton® Woolen Mills. For six generations, the Bishop family has been creating Indian blankets, robes and shawls that are highly prized by much of our Native American population. In fact, they are viewed by many of America’s indigenous people as “sacred objects.” Serious art collectors and dealers will want to include these extremely limited editions in their collections.
About the Jacquard Loom
In 1801, Joseph Marie Jacquard invented the Jacquard mechanical loom that simplified the process of manufacturing textiles with complex patterns. Controlled by punch cards, each punched hole corresponds to a Bolus hook which can be either up or down. The loom’s harness that carries and guides the warp thread will either lie above or below the weft, depending on the card’s instructions. The threading of a Jacquard loom is very labor intensive. Even small looms with only a few thousand warp ends can take days to re-thread. Therefore, creating Barnett’s very small edition tapestries represents a major artistic achievement.
Featured in this 2012 issue of Cowboys & Indians