DescriptionFROM THE ESTATE OF DR. EDMUND P. PILLSBURY
JOHN CARL SYKES (American, b. 1946)
Achieve Liberation by the Ocean , 2001
Needlepoint tapestry of French Persian wool
33-1/2 x 35 inches (85.1 x 88.9 cm)
Signed, titled and dated lower center in needlepoint
Acquired directly from the artist
Sykes worked in the membership department at the Kimbell Art Museum during Ted Pillsbury's tenure as director, and then followed him to the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2003-4 when Ted became director there. Claire Barry, Chief Conservator at the Kimbell, recalls: "In addition to sometimes doing portraits, John also did a series of paintings from the Barnes Collection in needlepoint [when selections were on loan to the Kimbell]. He copied a lot of Matisse and Picasso paintings. Other [Kimbell] staff members (me, for example) bought his needlepoint. I have one at home!"
Sykes recalls the circumstances surrounding the production of this tapestry, as well as Ted's acquisition of it very clearly. "I'd lost a good friend, Willard, and we were doing a tribute to him. Another friend commissioned this work from me, and the words on it were from a country song by Lee Ann Womack that we all really liked. They are arranged around an early portrait of Picasso. Ted came over to my studio when I'd just finished the tapestry. And Ted really liked it and really wanted it. Before I could explain that it wasn't for sale, he'd written me a check, and before I knew it he had it in his hands and I remember standing there with my mouth gaping. So I ended up making another one for my friend."
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