Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Vacation Trip - Quilts!

I know, I know. You thought I'd never get to the quilt show, even though it was the carrot my hostess dangled for coming that particular weekend. I considered joining this organization when I first moved back to Idaho, but at that time, they did not include Idaho in their definition of the Pacific Northwest. Harrumph - Idaho has always had this problem. Newly reorganized, now APWQ expanded region covers 18 states and provinces west of the Rockies, and I am now eligible to join. Perhaps I will before the next quilt show.

Ferns in Living Color by Margie Davidson
24 " x 36"

I've been out of the quilt show loop since leaving the Midwest, and based on what I've been seeing in magazines of late, I was feeling a bit ho-hum about the show. Too much over the top just for the sake of over the top, weak design, art quilts that are more about throwing every technique in the book at a piece rather than thoughtful editing and that basic: strong design. I was pleasantly surprised and energized by what I saw, and took a ton of pictures for future reference. Not everyone, I've learned, agrees with me that this was a balanced show of overall high quality but I stand by that assessment. The juried and judged portion represented traditional, pictorial, innovative and art quilts, and there were many special exhibits to savor as well. The quilt above is from the traveling exhibit Living Color; click here to see the rest of that exhibit. I salute the organizers who did a fine job putting on a well-rounded exhibit reminiscent of AQS in Paducah.

Lunch at the Koi Diner by Judy Irish
(detail) 40" x 47"

As I sorted through the many photos, I realized that I photograph quilts for different reasons. Sometimes I'm drawn to something specific in the quilt, not needing or perhaps even liking the entire quilt. My intent is not to copy what I see within my own work, but more studying what is working well as part of my learning process. With this one, it was the Koi, rendered entirely in colorful thread on the black background, a very effective approach.

Autumn Beauty by Barbara Shapel
(detail) 56" x 59"

And in this one, it was the quilting detail of the feathers and the background quilting that I wanted to remember. Oh, and that magnificent rendering of red maple.

Cottonwood Calendar by Cynthia St Charles
(detail) 34" x 26.5"

This quilt had many of these squares, each with its own collection of embellishments. Some were so unusual, others so commonplace, the attraction for me being in how they were attached.

Red Will Make It Better by Sonia Grasvik
(detail) 33" x 47"

I was impressed by the variety of quilting motifs, especially the use of garnet stitch, effectively mingled.

Hallelujah by Sherry Rogers-Harrison
(detail) 57" x 55"

Other detail shots are merely out of awe for the artist's mastery of something I can so appreciate but would not attempt in my own work - not my style or not my expertise. This was a triumph of trapunto, paint, pigment, inking and quilting. No wonder she named it "Hallelujah".

Sinuosity by Patricia Howell
50" x 70"

I also record quilts in their entirety when the impact of the whole can stand on its own. Again, sometimes it is a matter of study, figuring out why it is working or appealing to me. I like the flow and balance of this, and of course, these are a bit "my" colors as well. Balance in my own designs is something I'm constantly struggling with.

Wind Dance by Mary Goodson
47" x 28.5"
Paint & Thread

This one also struck me as an effective composition, and of special interest because of my fascination with windmills. I've been mulling how to work them into my own work, so it is interesting to see how others are doing it. I'm also about to embark on a series based on this same sort of rolling farmland. I will be approaching mine quite differently, but it is instructional to see someone else's interpretation. This is part of the special exhibit "Knotted, Dyed, Tied and Stitched" by the Columbia FiberArts Guild.

History & Tradition by Judy Eselius & Myrna Fichen
46" x 60"

And then there are the pictorial quilts that left me so impressed with their realistic renderings, defying the fact they are two-dimensional works. I could believe I was standing on a bridge looking up this canal.

Natural Wonders by Kathy McNeil
60" x 63"

This large seascape took my breath away. Closer inspection revealed not only stuffed appliqued starfish and shells but real shells attached as well.

Montezuma Castle by Jo Ann Blade
81" x 49"

Not as large, but equally effective in giving a sense of actually being there. The curved perspective and color scheme were of particular interest for me. This uses a special construction technique of Janet Fogg's plus paint sticks to add 3D effects.

Old Machinery Left to Rust by Emilie Belak
30" x 25"

Yet another that made me feel I could reach into it, and surprising fabric choice/color palette.

The Mountain Is Out by Crane Johnson
54.5" x 34.5"
Photo Transfer & Machine Quilting

And look! There are my colorful shipping containers, cranes and Mt. Rainier! This was such a beautiful thing considering the subject matter - docks and machinery CAN work, especially when their shape mimics that of the mountain.

Upper Klamath Lake-Klamath Basin Vistas by Joanne Baeth & friends

Perhaps the most impressive quilts in the show were the three multiple panel landscapes in the APWQ Members Special Exhibit. These were a collective effort between Quilt artists from Oregon and California, recreating photographs by Jeremy Franklin. Each was heavily embellished to create a very realistic look. Unfortunately for me, the hall these hung in had dim lighting and it was next to impossible to get good shots, but I hope this gives you an idea of their magnificence.

Lollapalooza by Sherry Rogers-Harrison
72" x 72"

Finally, let me share a more traditional quilt that knocked my socks off. The quilting alone would have wowed me, but this is another one using an inking technique. An original design requiring over 800 hours to complete.

Be sure to click on any picture for larger, more detailed views. I've provided links to the artists blogs or websites where available, so please go visit them to view more of their art. And if you'd like to see more quilts from the show, Del Thomas has posted on her blog better pictures than I came away with. Start with this post and work back through older posts to see them all.

As I said, my reaction to the show was not what I expected, and I am so glad that Sherrie prodded me into coming over for it. The art & pictorial quilts in particular elicited two responses from me: 1) a need to go home and cry, because they really were better work than much of what I've been doing of late, and 2) the desire to go home and get back to work, step it up a notch. What I saw confirmed two things I've been sensing of late about where my work should go: I need to work larger and I need to incorporate more stitch. (Oh, and also incorporate more surface design like discharge and resist.) I've been working so small as of late that with a few exceptions, none of my current work would have met the minimum size requirement for the small quilt category, let alone the large quilt. Part of the impact of the pictorial and art quilts, I realized, was their size. The other part often was the heavy stitching, in those tightly spaced parallel lines that I love. I'll still be working on my smaller designs that look so good framed, but my mind is percolating as to how I can take these ideas that I've worked more as studies, and turn them into the larger art quilts I used to make.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They are truly amazing quilts. Very different styles but such a high quality of workmanship and design. Beautiful. I can identify with your reactions; first of all wanting to cry and then wanting to step it up a notch. I've often had those feelings, even though I'm reasonably confident about where I'm going these days! Working big means more impact - definitely and helps no end in galleries etc.