Usually an artist would
be devastated if connoisseurs walked all over her art. But for Patricia
Dreher, this is a sign of acceptance and appreciation. Dreher, a
trained painter, textile artist and furniture designer, is making her mark
with canvases for the floor.
Dreher made her first floor painting for her own dining room six years
ago, "I couldn't afford a rug and thought I would paint my own," she
explains. The idea of creating these canvases for others evolved from a
visit by Virginia Breier to Dreher's San Francisco home. Breier, who was
planning to open an art gallery in her Pacific Heights home, saw the
potential for these canvases and-commissioned one for her own kitchen.
Dreher, 46, who at the time was supporting herself painting scenery for
the San Francisco Opera, now keeps busy with commissions for floor
canvases. These paintings can take up to six weeks to finish. To get the
fossil stone effect seen in some of these examples, Dreher paints with
acrylics, adds a thin glaze of oil and then spatters the surface with
mineral spirits and alcohol.
These canvas rugs are a 1980s take on early American painted floor
coverings, the "poor man's rug," according to Dreher. Though her
labor-intensive creations cost a healthy $30 per square foot, they are
worth it as far as she and her clients are concerned. "They are unique,
durable - I think they can last up to 20 years if they are re-varnished
every few years," she says.
"These rugs are a perfect combination of my love of painting and
textiles," says Dreher, who studied textile arts while on a Fulbright
fellowship in Sweden. "They include the sensuous directness of paint and
the repeat patterning and love of color in textiles." Dreher prefers to
work on commissions, "I like to work up a design for clients and their