Flash back to Montreal, 1971: Little Richard and his band are in town for a concert. A young Swedish-born weaver and big-time fan loans him a photo-realist tapestry she wove of him a couple years earlier. He's never heard of tapestry, but thinks this thing -- which he calls "a knitting" -- is so cool he hangs it on stage during the performance.
His next stop is supposed to be the Johnny Carson show, so weaver Helena Hernmarck loans him the tapestry which he promises to show on television. He rolls it up and stuffs it in the trunk of a car. The Carson appearance falls through and the tapestry disappears.
Hernmarck goes on to international fame for reviving the once moribund art of tapestry. Her Pop-style, photo-realist weavings are commissioned by major corporations and hang in museum collections around the world. But she never forgets Little Richard and the tapestry that took a walk.
"I loved his music and was planning to do a whole series of music tapestries -- Elvis, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, all of them," Hernmarck said recently in Minneapolis where a survey of her nature-themed tapestries is on view at the American Swedish Institute, 2600 Park Av. through Oct. 14. "But after that I got a big commission from Weyerhaeuser corporation and from then on I was doing stuff for money, so I never got back to the musicians. Little Richard was it."
She wrote to fan magazines and contacted Richards' manager, one Bumps Blackwell, she said. But no tapestry ever turned up. Anyone with word of it should contact her at Helena Hernmarck Tapestries in Ridgefield, Ct. 1-203-438-9220 or www.hernmarck.com.