Hey, if you’re in the SLC area, there’s a great show tonight at Kayo Gallery featuring two of Salt Lake’s finest illustrators and artists Dan Christofferson and David Habbin. I’ve gotten an early peek at Dan’s work for this show and it is going to be rad. Plus, titling by Dan Cassaro! So good!
Dan asked me to write the intro/artist statement for Dan’s work, the full (florid, unwieldy) text of which follows, below:
Little is known about the Society of American Garment Architects (AGA), and even less about its first and only high master, the lone member to ever have reached the esteemed (but highly secretive) Fifty-Fifth Degree. His understanding of the cosmos and fine, old-world woolenry was matched only by the deftness of his hand.
From the odd journals and remaining ephemera of his life, a dim image of this master tailor has emerged: hunched over bolts of cloth pinned heavy with patterns of his own devising, he toiled from early morning late into the night, soon becoming entranced by the steady rhythm of his own movements. As the lamps would grow dim, so too would any awareness of his stitches, and his atelier would dissolve as he ascended that Jacob’s ladder of consciousness. Indeed, after the rites of the Fifty-Fifth Degree were performed, he was heard to remark to those in the circle, “in those dusky twilight hours, all that remained was the thread: a hallowed, golden strand woven into all that I did and all that I was — my hands and needles like a mudra: lacing the whole of creation into that flaxen seam!”¹
While much was circulated at the time regarding his revelatory interpretation of the allegory of “The Spider and the Hive,” any published accounts have long been snatched up and now reside in the hands of private collectors, as secretive as the Society itself.
The best known artifacts are undoubtedly the works of Dan Christofferson as collected in “Portrait of an American Fifty Fifth Degree Garment Architect in Full Dress”. While Christofferson’s familiarity with the Order of the 55th Degree is unclear, the hallmarks of the society’s own sacraments are clearly apparent to those initiated: the mystery of creation via the Golden Thread, the ebb and flow of life as represented by sundry embroidered flora and fauna, and the tailor’s tools of exactness and righteousness: thimble, needle, hook & hand. Most notable, if less clearly understood, is the “ever shearing edge” of the Gilded Blade and the moldering beauty of the Calaveras de las Flores, now veritable icons of the 55th degree’s comprehension of eternal creation through destruction and death.²
Sadly, at this late hour, these curious paintings and assemblages are the sole remaining relics of this grand society. And these too will likely soon be gone, leaving only rough sketches and marginalia for those that come after to piece together a hazy understanding of this hallowed chapter in our city’s history.
— J. D. Hemmelgarn
author, Spindle & Spool: The Society of Garment Architects in the City of Salt
¹ While these manifestations would be marveled at by his peers in the orders below him, his long-suffering wife was said to exclaim “and when he awakes from these visions and finds he’s sewn his sleeve to his pants, who do you think has to come cut him out?”
² Curiously absent is any depiction of the so-called “Black Bobbin,” thought by many to be a representation of the “dark” needed to fully comprehend and embrace the “light”, also the key to the society’s mastery of non-chafing poly-cotton blends.
You guys, I’m so stoked for this show! 6:00pm tonight at Kayo Gallery on Broadway in Salt Lake (Facebook Event)! Be there!