The Opening Reception for the Scrap Art exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles was on Sunday August 21, 2011. My quilt, Fabric of the Year 2010 is included in the exhibit. I almost didn’t attend the opening reception. The drive is long and I am lazy about leaving my house on Sundays.
However, I kept publicizing the event on FB and Twitter, and when Deborah Corsini emailed me to say there would be an opportunity for the artists to speak about their pieces, I knew I had to go. I am glad I did. It was an exciting experience. I had lots of support from my DH and my quilt friends. They all said how great my quilt was and how great it looked.
There were a lot of people at the opening. People in the know such as Maureen and Terri said this was one of the largest events they had seen in conjunction with an opening of a quilt show.
Lots of quilt glitterati, in addition to Terri Thayer, of course, were there including Lynn Koolish, Nancy Bavor (quilt appraiser), Marie Strait (president of the SJMQT Board) as well as my favorite CQFA glitterati. 😉
Rod Kiracofe, author, collector and former dealer was there. He had loaned several of the best examples of vintage scrap quilts tot he exhibit. Ms. Corsini had him speak about his quilts and he told a funny story about bidding on a variety of quilts including the the 9 patch (in the exhibit) against Julie Silber. I felt like I was in the shadow of greatness, because I have read his work and admired it for a long time. He wrote The American Quilt, a book I pored over when it came out. I bought it at Doubleday Books on Sutter Street back in the dark ages.
I didn’t recognize this quilt as a Nine Patch until Deborah Corsini pointed it out. I didn’t see the Nine Patch. No, I am not a moron, but I was quite distracted and not studying the quilts. Of course, once pointed out to me, I saw it. I love this quilt. It is dated ca. 1925-1950 and was found in Wingo, Kentucky. It is so lively and really different than most Nine Patches. It is an excellent example of why I love blocks: you can do something with a block, your neighbor can also do something and the two will not look the same.
One thing I enjoyed was that collectors had loaned their quilts. Deborah Corsini acknowledged them equally with the artists. I never really thought about the importance of collectors, but as I listened to Deborah and some of the collectors talk I realized all the ways that collectors contribute to the art world. I thought of all the masterworks of all kinds of art that are loaned to museums (big duh moment, let me tell you!) and how the same must be true in the quilt world.
Ms. Stoneman, with backpack, talked about the quilt she had loaned,which was made by her grandmother. She talked about trying to match fabrics from the quilt in photos.
The Ocean Waves quilt was really stunning from afar. For being made around 1890, it was in stunning condition.
It and a few of the other quilts were made from fabric that was not to my taste up close, but all of the quilts were quite stunning from far away.
Of course, the scrap aspect was a factor.
The Trip around the World quilt was my favorite. The sashing/edge of each block was a soft yellow, slightly brighter than butter yellow, but not so jarring as sunshine yellow. I have been thinking of ways to use scraps as I cut triangles for FOTY 2011, over the past few weeks sans machine, and this quilt really spoke to me. The scraps I have would not be large enough for 2″ squares, but they might be large enough for 1.5″ or 1″ squares. The patches in this quilt are all the same in each round, but I might be successful if I used similar values and hues in this block pattern. I might make one block to just try it out.
The quilt next to the door in the back of the photo is the half square triangle quilt in the collection of Sande Stoneman, discussed above.
Everyone in the photo is looking at a Trip Around the World quilt with about 14,000 postage stamp sized pieces. It was a couple of quilts away from another quilt with 17,000 pieces. WOW!
The quilt with 14,000 pieces also has a jagged edge (you know I like those!). It was made by Minnie Kesler Murray, a native of Boones Mill, Virginia. She and her husband lived in San Jose in the 1950s and 1960s. She called this quilt her masterpiece. Her granddaughter is the owner of the quilt and lent it to the museum for this show.
I am really glad that not all of the quilts were made from thousands of tiny pieces. The 36 Patch with Chintz Border is another of my favorites and another that could be made from scraps in similar values.
Again, the background was more yellow than gold and really glowed. It is from the mid 1800s. The great great granddaughter of the maker was in attendance.
The quilt with the red and black piano key border that Ms. Corsini is showing in the picture was made of tiny string pieced silk blocks. She said that the quilt had some condition issues (what old silk quilt doesn’t?), but that the contrast between the tiny blocks and the bright bold border was fabulous. I have to agree. It was scrappy and, perhaps, string pieced and some of the fabrics congregated in areas of the quilt to make flowing dark and light areas.
I am really liking the idea of a piano key border. I was thinking about it before for another quilt. Seeing it on this quilt made me like it even more. I liked the way the maker joined the corners, too. The colors don’t exactly meet, but they look good.
You can really see Granny Burkitt’s Scrap Top (left of the Ocean Waves quilt) better — well, better than some of the other photos!
I was amazed at how large some of the vintage quilts were. I thought FOTY 2010 was a monster, but it is a baby quilt in sized compared to Granny Burkitt’s Scrap Top and the Ocean Waves quilt. Looking at both of them makes me want to start sewing light and dark half square triangles together. No, I don’t have an idea in mind, but if I come up with 1,000 half square triangles, I am sure I can do something with them!
Charlotte Kruk spoke about her strapless evening dress, Sugar, which is made out of sugar packets she collected over the course of 2 years. You can see it in the String Diamonds picture right behind Rod Kiracofe. Charlotte had another jacket and skirt piece in the foyer. I really liked the shape of her wearable sculptures. Charlotte is the creator of “Traje de Luces,” “The Reign of the M&M”, a kind of toreador outfit I saw at PIQF some years ago.
Just after she spoke Roderick Kiracofe talked about his String Diamonds quilt (found in Alabama, made ca. 1930-1960). I felt a kinship with this quilt, having just made a diamond quilt. One of the interesting aspects of this quilt was the back. It was made from sugar sacks from Cuba! Not only was the Cuban angle surprising, but the location of that particular quilt near the evening dress (Sugar, 1998) was well planned and a pleasant surprise.
One of the things I liked about attending this event was somewhat less formal than just going to a museum. The artists and owners of the quilts were allowed to show the backs without white gloves.
A few artists had more than one piece included in the exhibit and Barbara Wisnoski was one of them. She is a Canadian artist from Montreal. Barbara came all the way from Montreal to be at the show, which I thought was wonderful and made me glad I had made the hour drive down to the South Bay!
She makes pieces using strip piecing, but she will cut strips, sew them together, cut those strips apart over and over. The effect of this technique is a lot of little pieces, almost shredded looking. She strives for a landscape look – actually she said that she makes landscape quilts.
The quilt by Ruth Tabancay is made from Republic of Tea teabags, which she as well as friends and colleagues use and then save. The teabags in this piece are painted with gouache (lighter colors) and acrylic (darker colors) paint. She started painting the teabags so she could get the colors she wanted. The shapes are reminiscent of Grandmother’s Flower Garden. No Two Alike is inspired by the six-fold symmetry of snowflakes.
I really love the Lone Star string quilt by Karin Lusnak. I have seen something like it, or perhaps this quilt, elsewhere and admired it.
The quilt is made entirely of string pieced diamonds, which are, in turn, made into larger diamonds. The photo does not do this quilt justice because it just glows and Lusnak has really captured the color of the sky when it turns from the blue of the day to purple-indigo of night. The aspect of this quilt that puzzles and amazes me is that she uses a variety of colors in each of the diamonds. The center diamonds that make up the Lone Star were not limited to gold tones. The same is true for the sky. I think this is an excellent example of the ‘weight’ of color. The artist has used more blues in each diamond for the sky even though other colors were included. This method adds a lot of interest.
I read an article recently about quilts with snakes in them. This quilt immediately jumped out at me as being from that vein.
I was fascinated by the green pieces and how they form a continuous line, except for some of the border pieces. In examining the making of this quilt, I think the maker would have had to be very open to serendipity or have made the blocks as she set the quilt.
I really never ceased to be amazed at how inspired I can be from looking at vintage and antique quilts. I would love to talk to their makers! Still, I look at these quilts and my mind starts spinning with new ideas. These quilts show, in a way, that the discussion of classifying quilts into traditional, art or modern is not easy. These vintage quilts are hanging on the wall. Does this make them art? Will they still be art when they are taken off the wall and put on the bed?
Julie corralled me and got a picture of me with my quilt. I looked at my quilt on the wall and thought that it looked out of place, but I told the monkey voices in my head to STFU and listened to my quilt board of directors who told me how proud they were of me and how great the quilt looked. Adrianne told me that my quilt was next to a quilt by Jacquie of Tall Grass Prairie Studio.
I have to admit that I was slightly terrified when I saw my quilt on the wall, seriously hung in a gallery. I couldn’t really comprehend what was happening, which I know sounds really strange. I just had no idea what I was I was doing when I submitted the piece for the show. I knew what I was doing mechanically, but I didn’t realize the ramifications, which were that my quilt would be on the wall of a real gallery for two months. I am really thrilled to have a lot of people see my piece. REALLY. THRILLED.
Here are members of CQFA and what I like to call members of my personal quilt board of directors. All the members of my QBoD weren’t there, but these are people who talked to me about the layout, spurred me on and kept me going. I was really excited to have them there. From left to right: Jaye, Dolores, Terri, Maureen and Julie.
I know the photos are not top quality, but the lighting was really difficult to deal with. I hope you can, at least, get the flavor of the event.