Hechizoo: Voyages/Explorations. Lustrous textiles pay homage to Amazonian nature at Cristina Grajales Gallery

Hechizoo, a Spanish word that translates to “bewitch” is an apt description for the vibe at last week’s opening of the show Voyages /Explorations. Everyone seemed spellbound by the visual extravaganza on display at the Cristina Grajales Gallery. Colorful tableaus included vividly hued textiles, glittering metal leaves,  even a canoe, every inch of it clad with glass beads, hung from the ceiling.  Grajales, curator and connoisseur of all things unexpected, beautiful and meaningful, in the realm of twentieth century and contemporary design, has dazzled us again.

The exhibition features hand-made pieces by the artisans working at the Bogota, Colombia, based Hechizoo studio. The exhibition is about a journey – literal and symbolic – of the people who live amongst the flora and fauna of the Amazonian landscape; one that tells a story about the jungle that is a powerful part of life there.

I first saw copper weavings in Grajales’ back gallery, some years ago, and was struck by their beauty. I vowed to try and write about Hechizoo. I never did make it to Bogotá to see the artisans at work. I never forgot about them either. Thankfully, Grajales persevered, building her connection with Jorge Lizarazo, the studio’s founder, and kept her support of Hechizoo strong, so that architects and designers around the world now know of their work.

Lizarazo, a self-taught weaver, comes to textiles via architecture, having once worked in the offices of Santiago Calatrava and Massimiliano Fuksas.

Today sixty artisans work full-time at Hechizoo to produce custom made textiles for rugs, upholstery, window treatments and architectural meshes. What defines the work, and makes it so distinctive, is its innovative approach to the weaving of disparate materials: Mixing indigenous organic fibers such as “figue” (a woven rope- like material) with man made materials such as nylon, metal, leather, silk, horse hair, cotton, and copper. The resulting textiles and objects are light reflective and ethereal.

Lizarazo and his team make certain that the level of Hechizoo’s craftsmanship be extremely high-level. Esteemed architect Peter Marino has commissioned pieces for Fendi’s Manhattan flagship store. And one can see Hechizoo in Chanel and Dior.

The exhibition is on view until Jan. 31, 2014.

Cristina Grajales Gallery, 10 Greene st. 4th fl 212-219-9941


A new riff on a traditional form in Philadelphia

When artist Alexander Stadler opened his jewel-box-sized shop a little more than a year ago, near Rittenhouse Square,  in Center City Philadelphia, anyone who knew Stadler was sure it wouldn’t be ordinary. Think of the shop, Stadler Kahn as a well curated  “five & dime”  one featuring cool objects rather than safety pins or baseballs. He sells textiles of his own design, along with furniture, vintage items, art, and all kinds of indescribable unexpected “object,”(pronounced ob-jay”). Stadler, an author/illustrator has authored several children’s books that reveal his whimsical, off-beat take on life. The shop’s point of view expresses this as well.

Tonight, an exhibition of truly unusual hand made doilies, by artist and dancer, Asimina Chremos will open to the public. The show, Neo-Doilies,  is the first solo exhibition by Chremos.

Stadler flipped for her work because of its whimsical quality, which he compares to music: “Chremos’ work, like a jazz riff on a standard, reveals what is possible when a classical structure is toyed with and subverted.  Her work exemplifies the most elevated form of play.”

Chremos brings her  appreciation for free movement and improvisation to her crochet work.  Working without a pattern, she discovers the form organically as she works with the material, although she uses traditional crochet technique.

Asimina was first exposed to the crocheting craft at an early age.  Her mother worked in weaving, spinning and other fiber art, and her grandmothers – though from starkly different backgrounds (one was a native rural Virginian and one first generation Greek) – both did crochet.  Under their guidance, she grew an inherent sense for the feminine traditions of household order, and an appreciation for the loving the creation of crocheted afghans and doilies for domestic space.  She now does crochet-work for several hours each day.


There are nine pieces in Neo-Doilies, ranging from $340-$460.   Freeform and distinct, these biomorphic, sprawling “drawings in movement and thread” vibrate and draw the eye no matter where or how they are displayed.

Asimina uses a small hook – size 10 or 12 – for her crochet-work.  She uses a size 20 thread, which is intentionally on the larger end to allow her work to be delicate yet with a pleasing sturdiness.  To finish each piece, she weaves the ends of the threads back in, then soaking in water and stretching out on a cardboard box with pins.  This process is called “blocking”.  Once dry, she un-pins, irons and starches to create the finished doily.

Opening: Thursday, November 7th, 2013

6:00PM – 8:30PM

November 7th– December 12

1724 Sansom Street (beneath Joseph Fox Books)

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(267) 242-715