From last December until March an extraordinary exhibition of Indonesian textiles was up at the venerable Art Institute of Chicago, entitled The Art of Indonesian Textiles. It closed in March, so if you didn’t go, you missed it. But you can still get the book, which is as extraordinary as the exhibition.
Some 50 pieces hung in the show, and the book shows about 70 textiles from the collection, which was given to the museum by E.M. “Pete” Bakwin, a Chicago banker. What, you might ask, inspired a midwestern muckety-muck in the money biz to collect truly outstanding examples of Indonesian textile art? Easy. Patti J. Seery did. She’s a friend of mine who is also based in Bali, although I rarely see her, because she’s usually off sailing on her Spice Island schooner, the Silolona, which operates as a boutique cruise vessel for elite culture and adventure buffs.
When Bakwin met Seery in the 1990s, he caught her infectious passion for Indonesian textiles, and with her advice and assistance collected truly outstanding examples. The cloth of Sumatra, Java and Bali are emphasised in the collection, which suits my own tastes and preferences precisely.