Leaf//Cloud Exhibition and Eco Fashion Trunk Show in NYC

Art, fashion, and design join forces to create a transcendent solution.

The lazy days of summer have officially arrived along with fashion staged in leafy gardens and endless beaches with drifting clouds overhead. Writer and curator Alicia Lubowski-Jahn has tapped into our summer reveries with her latest endeavor, LEAF // CLOUD: Nature Tangible and Transcendent at the NYC townhouse art space, Fair Folks & a Goat, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Part indie showcase, part voyeuristic glimpse into how to really live with art, design, and fashion, this extremely thoughtful exhibition pairs eco-conscious art with designs that celebrate creative upcycling, recyclables, and renewable materials in an innovative and fashionable manner.

LEAF // CLOUD opened with a stunning turnout on June 1st, and for the next installment, the curator has joined forces with sustainable fashion expert, Kate McGregor of Kaight boutique, to host an eco fashion trunk show that will be custom-tailored to the Fair Folks & a Goat gallery space. This trunk show will take place on Tuesday, June 14, from 6pm to 9pm, and promises to highlight impressive names in handcrafting, fiber work, and heirloom fashion design.

Writer and curator Alicia Lubowski-Jahn at the opening of Leaf//Cloud in NYC

As Alicia Lubowski-Jahn so eloquently outlines in her reasons for curating an exhibition in a setting like Fair Folks & a Goat, this contemporary art venue that mimics a private home creates an intimate dialogue for ideas about craft, sustainable production, and layered expressions of environmental awareness.

Leaf//Cloud art and design mix at Fair Folks & a Goat’s apartment style gallery

The opening of Leaf//Cloud on June 1 at Fair Folks & a Goat

“One of my curatorial goals for Leaf//Cloud: Nature Tangible and Transcendent was to showcase amazing artists reflecting on the environment in an array of media. You’ll see in the exhibit artists working in a variety of materials, including recycled cork, sustainably-harvested or salvaged wood, and recycled plastics as well as repurposed computer and electronic parts. With regard to the exhibition’s title, the contrasting physical quality of a tangible “leaf” and a transcendent “cloud” very much captures my interest in exploring materiality.

The Fair Folks & a Goat townhouse offers a unique salon setting that allowed me to combine fine arts and design pieces on and off the walls. I am delighted that the fashion and accessories collection curated by Kate McGregor will add another category of design that broadens our nature-inspired and earth-friendly design spectrum. The fact that Kate has specially commissioned unique pieces from such talented designers makes this a rare treat.

The show’s title is actually a reference to a passage by the nineteenth-century English aesthetic critic John Ruskin. Several of the fine arts pieces in the exhibition, including those by Dana Matthews, John Patrick, and Patrick Winfield, are informed by pre-industrial 19th-century nature aesthetics and design techniques. I think these historical references help us to understand the present age in which our relationship to materials is drastically changing and our ideas about what is beautiful are also in flux.” – Alicia Lubowski-Jahn

Cyanotypes by Dana Matthews (above) and indigo painting by John Patrick (below)

Designer John Patrick creating an indigo painting as featured in the NYTimes T Magazine’s blog

This highlighting of the work of designers and artists who demonstrate a genuine passion for and knowledge of natural materials seems fitting in a climate that is in need of slowing down fashion cycles as well as grounding inflated art world strategies. I love that John Patrick of the sustainable fashion label John Patrick Organic is exhibiting his paintings along side botanical cyanotypes by artist Dana Matthews. Again, the curator explains this elemental pairing:

“Dana Matthews’ documentation of organic farming in Delaware County, in New York’s Catskill Mountains, suggests the pastoral idyll of French Barbizon landscape painting. Her impressions of plants in the chemical-free cyanotype process recall the work of English botanist and photographer Anna Atkins (1799–1871), who made some of the earliest and most beautiful cyanotypes of plant specimens.

John Patrick … created an indigo painting, which is part of his wider exploration of historical natural and handmade pigments including honey, cochineal, and china ink.” – Alicia Lubowski-Jahn

Trey Speegle’s ‘You Are The One’ painting at Leaf//Cloud

Felt ‘wall brooch’ by Liz Burow in situ

Other standouts from the exhibition are the paint-by-number paintings of Trey Speegle, sculpture by Susan Benarcik, and a felt wall brooch by Liz Burow.

I asked Alicia what the trunk show will add to the pieces that are already on view at the gallery space, and she had this to say about the expanded view of sustainable fashion and production in conjunction with Leaf//Cloud’s overall message:

“When I approached Kate (McGregor of Kaight) to curate the eco fashion trunk show, we also talked about the relationship of ‘sustainable design’ to ‘craft’ and ‘heirloom’ manufacturing and values. The fact that the collection explores hand-made and natural dye techniques has a heritage component that fits the historical outlook of Leaf//Cloud.”

Eco fashion trunk show exhibitors include: Abigail Doan, Ceca Georgieva, Fr. Andrew O’Connor of Goods of Conscience, Kizzy Jai Knight, Marcus Hicks, Melissa Kirgan and Xing-Zhen Chung-Hilyard of Eko-Lab, and Sono Kuwayama to name a few. Further details can be found on Kaight’s blog.

LEAF // CLOUD: Nature Tangible and Transcendent” is on view through June 27 by appointment. Participating artists include Trey Speegle and Dana Matthews together with Susan Benarcik, Liz Burow, Lilian Cooper, Clemens Kois, John Patrick, and Patrick Winfield. Participating designers include Fernando and Humberto Campana, Kevin Cunningham, Emiliano Godoy, Stewart Webb, and Brooklyn-based designers Stéphane Hubert, Daniel Michalik, and Colleen and Eric Whiteley.

Images: ‘Natural Pattern’ by Susan Benarcik, Trey Speegle, gallery photos by Abigail Doan