By Patricia Belyea
LOS ANGELES CA Reading about Luke Haynes’ home on Facebook, I always wondered about its Taj Mah-Haynes nickname. When my Uber ride pulled up to his address, I found myself in front of a palatial edifice that looked like an old power station.
Letting myself in with the door code provided via a text message, I was met by barefooted Luke in the marble foyer. Yes, I learned, the building was originally a power station. Then a brewery. And now a haven for artists with live-in work lofts.
Two years ago Luke, who studied architecture at Cooper Union, transformed his unit into private spaces, open spaces, and vertical spaces—with lots of ladders.
We sat down for Earl Grey tea made creamy with coconut milk and chatted about Luke’s burgeoning quilt career—with cat-friend Gramps keeping a close eye on us.
Luke explained that since his student days, he has been making quilts. His first one, a self-portrait, hung in a bargain-basement Christmas show in 2006. See left. Today Luke is an artist who makes quilts—art objects out of fabric—for display in museums and galleries.
Currently Luke’s working on his 103rd show. It’s a series of fifty 90" square quilts, inspired by the versatility of log cabin quilt block designs, and made with clothes from thrift stores. Titled Log Cabins of Donald Judd, so far Luke has just over 30 tops completed, two quilted and none bound.
I asked Luke how many years he expected it would take to finish this project. “Oh,” Luke responded casually, ”It will be complete by the end of August.”
This answer floored me as there just didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to physically wrap up the work in the next four months. Luke explained that he had a community of sewists to help him—interns, employees, friends, long-arm quilters and additional volunteers.
We discussed how quilts fit into the art world. Luke told me. ”I prefer to say I’m an architect working with fabrics or a designer engaging with the medium of quilting, rather than a textile artist. Quilts are timeless and not rooted in global fashion.”
As an artist, Luke seeks the resources to innovate. In a few years, Luke plans to do something interesting. “Like Christo?” I queried. He nodded in affirmation.
It was time to climb up one of the ladders—to his second studio with his long-arm machine and deep storage area. Not a good place for kids, this floating room was missing the floor beneath his 12' Handi Quilter. In the pictures below, you can see the machine’s legs tied down to 2X6s that cantilever over his work studio!
Once we returned to the ground floor, Luke pulled out some quilts from his "Clothes Portrait" series.
We finished our visit with a short stop in Luke’s design studio. Luke’s piled up bins under his Bernina to create a standing sewing station. Not surprisingly, more found fabrics filled one wall of the room for his high-fiber-needs projects.
In print and visual communications, Luke likes to be referred to as LUKE. His online bio tells us “LUKE is an artist to watch.” I look forward to seeing where Luke takes us with his art, determination and bravado.
To visit Luke’s website +click here.