The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 19, 2010


Weave your way through landscapes at the Gleason Public Library

Lewka Z. Cims with his painting “Of Twigs and Trees.”
(Photo by Anne Marie Brako)

Displaying the interspersed work of two artists at a single exhibit proves effective when the media differs completely: there isn’t a doubt about who did what. It isn’t often that complementary shades of color support side-by-side juxtaposition of the pieces in a harmonious display. The artwork from handweaver Nancy Kronenberg and the painter Lewka Z. Cims justify such proximity in the current show at the Gleason Public Library. The show runs through December 31.

Kronenberg, a Wolf Rock Road resident, will share her expertise about weaving looms on Thursday, November 18 at the library. She uses video to illustrate her discussion on the weaving process. Kronenberg explained that the size and weight of her looms at home made bringing them to the library prohibitive. She uses samples and books to illustrate her talks.

If you could not attend Kronenberg’s lecture, but would like to meet her and satisfy your questions about weaving in person or would like to meet landscape painter Cims, you can attend a free reception for both artists from 1 to 2:30 p.m., on Saturday, November 20.

Turning mathematical precision into art

Nancy Kronenberg at a loom in her home. (Courtesy photo)

Kronenberg is the daughter of Ph.D. physicists. Although she was interested in art as a kid, Kronenberg grew up excelling in mathematics in high school. She went to Cornell, where she studied physics. Without a Ph.D. she found the job market restrictive, and decided instead to try computer science where jobs were readily available. She pioneered as a woman programmer in a male-dominated field.

In 1969, a friend took a class on weaving and rented a small floor loom at her home. Kronenberg was intrigued, and her friend gave her a small peg-frame loom on which to weave pillowcases. “I got bored with that,” said Kronenberg, and she bought a 48-inch weaving-width floor loom. Her interest in weaving grew.

Kronenberg initially weaved as a hobbyist, with breaks forced by her demanding career. She didn’t have time for formal weaving courses and considers herself largely self-taught. She moved to Carlisle in 1974, and sold her first piece - a gauzy blue shawl - after receiving a blue-ribbon award for a similar piece in a town art show. The late Mary Ludlum Davis of East Street approached her at the show, saying she wanted to purchase a piece exactly like it for her daughter-in-law. Kronenberg knew she wouldn’t be able to reproduce it exactly, as she had purchased the yarn years before, but she promised to produce something similar. She smiled, “My first sale was a commission.”

Kronenberg retired from corporate work in 2001, and today freelances as a web-site designer and focuses on her weaving. You can see samples of her work at her Rosepath Weaving website ( “I’m not a big volume person,” said Kronenberg, “Your body cannot handle it. It’s a very physical occupation.”

The exhibit at the library contains Kronenberg’s first patterned double-weave work, a piece that she said was quite challenging to produce, but a style that she hopes to continue in the future. PC-based technology has revolutionized weaving for hobbyists, but Kronenberg only does hand-weaving. The use of color defines her pieces, and she focuses on hue, saturation and luminance in her weaves. As an artist, she is proud that the Plymouth Plantation recently chose her work for a display at the museum site. She weaves in the style of the early colonists using 1-ply yarn and works very carefully to avoid breakage.

“Many contemporary weavers are women although the size of the loom does make the art more accessible to the larger male physique. Nonetheless, she has noticed that there are very few men in the field.

“I have found when women weave, it’s ‘cloth,’ and when men weave, it’s art,’” concluded Kronenberg. “Men are taken more seriously as artists.” That hasn’t stopped the pioneering Kronenberg from taking on the challenge.

Landscapes bring nature indoors

Local landscape artist Cims has 25 framed works currently on display and for sale at the Gleason. He has competed in numerous juried exhibitions in the state since 2004, winning a first prize at the Hudson Arts Alliance in the fall of 2007, and an honorable mention at the Westford Region Art show that same year. The artist has had solo shows in Littleton, Westford and his home town, Groton.

Cims has experimented with traditional and abstract presentations of nature. He paints outdoors, but primarily works in his Groton studio from photographs. He started as a photographer, and captures forest scenes locally on the town’s acres of conservation land, with a special attention to how light affects landscape. His primary teacher, Maris Platais, lives in Carlisle, and Cims first met him six years ago at a class in Lexington. Cims has taken photos in Carlisle as a basis for his artwork, primarily in the yard behind the Platais home.

Cims grew up in the Midwest where he “always loved art.” He came East to study piano at the Berklee College of Music. After graduation, he changed careers. Attracted by the number of jobs in high technology, he took programming courses. He worked at several companies as a Java programmer. In the meantime, he satisfied his artistic side by taking photographs as a hobby. Encouraged by a friend, he took a few courses in photography, sold some of his work and won a few contests. Subsequently, he took other art courses, and has focused on painting in the past few years with the support of his wife. He currently works about 30 to 40 hours a week - either in his studio painting or outside taking photographs.

“I try not to copy exactly what I see,” he said, “in fact I never do.” He combines dark and light shades, and colors that often do not translate precisely to reality. He called working as an artist a “spiritual process” and one of “communicating with your paintbrush.” He lets inspiration guide him in depicting a scene. As a result, he finds “no painting is ever the same.” ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito