Friday, March 26, 2010

On the Road: Art Quilts Exhibition, Morris Museum

Yesterday, I combined a date night with an art exploration date.  Ron went with me to the Art Quilts:  Contemporary Expressions from the Collection of John M. Walsh III exhibit at the Morris Museum in Morristown, NJ.  It was my third trip to the museum related to this show; once we arrived late, and we able to see the exhibit, albeit quickly, thanks to the generosity of an employee; once, I went with my friend Karen to hear Carol Schepps, one of quiltmakers, talk about her art quilt journey, and this time, to photograph the quilts. 
John ("Jack") Walsh is head of Waltron, a NJ-based, international water treatment company, and many of the pieces in this exhibit (close to 40 quilts) have some kind of aquatic imagery.  He has been collecting art quilts since the 1990s, and his curator is Penny McMorris.  Ms. McMorris is, I've read, responsible for coining the term art quilt.    In speaking with a museum employee, I learned Mr. Walsh displays the quilts in his home and business, and has a room set aside for their storage.   

What I loved about the collection was its diversity.  You will recognize many of the artists in the collection:  Velda Newman, Michael James,  BJ Adams, Lucky Shie, Nancy Crow, Jan Myers Newbury; but there are also artists to whom you will be introduced, such as Joy Saville, Kay Kahn, and  Tim Harding.  Ron's comment on one of the pieces was that he didn't think it was a quilt, which I thought was the point of the show.

During the exhibit, the museum hosted artist Carol Schepps, who spoke about her journey as an art quilter.  Carol's quilt Color Squares is featured in the show.  She was a fun and free spirit, who came to art quilts after a career in clothing design.  Her quilts are organic and spontaneous, and she showed us what she is doing now in mixed media.  Her work is frequently displayed at the
 Snyderman Galleries in Philadelphia

Note to my NYC friends:  if you love art quilts, this is worth crossing the river.  The rest of you, having no  fear of crossing rivers, should make the journey as well.  The show runs through April 25.  If you can't make it, continue reading, and you'll find links to photos from the exhibit, and Carol's lecture.  Of course, as you already know, a picture of a quilt can only take you so far.  The show was reviewed by the NYT. 

The museum has a breathtaking glass collection, and an inspiring exhibit of architectural photographs, just  a few feet from the quilts.  There is also a fun exhibit, Snoopy Soars with NASA.  To Ron's chagrin, complete with eye-rolling,  I made myself child size and stuck my head in the space suit. We both enjoyed the exhibit, despite Ron's initial protest that the date "would be fun for one of us."  The museum is free on Thursday evenings, and open until 8 PM on that night.

The photo album for the  Art Quilts exhibit is here.
The photo album from Carol Schepps' lecture is here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

On the Road: Long Island Quilters Society Show

It's show season; over the next few weeks I'll be on the road quite often visiting as many wonderful shows as I can get to.  The second show of the season was a trip to Garden City for the Long Island Quilter's Society Show.  It was a wonderful weekend for a quilt show in the NY area, as the weather was in full spring mode; warm and sunny, a great relief after last weekend's nor'easter.

The quilt with the lanterns is the 2010 Opportunity Quilt, Asian Lanterns.  She is a beauty, and the show's theme, Asian Inspired was visible throughout the show.  One of the things I enjoyed about the show was seeing different versions of the same pattern.  In this way, the viewer is inspired to be adventurous in selecting different colors, different patterns, or perhaps just different values when making a quilt.  As a side note, I had an interesting email exchange with Carol Miller of Quilt University on this very subject, but that's another post.  

Back to the quilt show:  I loved an area that they had created in tribute to their late members.  It was lovingly assembled, tasteful without being morbid.  I saw some of the usual suspects in the vendor market, but quite a few that I had not encountered before.  One of the members directed me to Deb Tucker's booth, and I hope to lure her to NJ for a summer retreat. 

The white glove volunteers were friendly, and perceptive; they were consistently able to point out special features of the quilts in their area.  
I'm active in several area guilds, and I normally run into other members when I'm at a show.  This show was no different, and I wanted to share photos of some of the members I met with their work, and the stories they shared with me about their quilts.

My friend Karen and I had been admiring this quilt for some time when I heard my name called.  My name isn't common, so I know it's always someone who knows me for somewhere, but I didn't recognize the woman calling me.  I made sure she was calling me by pointing to myself and then headed over to her table, where she introduced herself as Joyce, the guild President.  I also met another Empire Quilter member, Arlaine (she is the one who identified me to the others) and Pat, whose quilt I was just admiring.  Before I decided to take photos with each quilter standing in front of their quilt, I photographed Joyce (left), Pat (center) and Arlaine (right) in front of Pat's quilt, Hi-Lily Hi-Lily Hi-Low.  The tiger lily fabric reminded Pat, and her daughter, of flowers used in Pat's wedding bouquet.  Pat is also celebrating an impressive anniversary this year, and this quilt ties into that celebration.  Take it from me, this quilt yells HAPPY!  It certainly made me smile.

 Joyce, the guild president, showed me her Forever Double Wedding Ring.  A double wedding ring quilt pattern is challenging enough, but the icing on the cake is that Joyce hand quilted this piece.  I took a close-up shot of the quilting, too.  A link to the entire album of photos from the show appears at the end of this post.   Joyce told me it took her ten years to finish it.  To her, I offer the analogy:  do you know what they call the person at the very bottom of his class in med school?  Doctor.  Your quilt is finished, and that's the most beautiful word of all to any quilter.

Arlaine's piece, Kaleidoscope Stars, has the things I love about kaleidoscope patterns; they move and flow effortlessly,  guiding your eyes seamlessly over the entire quilt, as if they were one interlocking block.  These quilts are challenging to piece, and while your color  and pattern selection may be forgiven on other projects, they are crucial to the effect of kaleidoscopes. The stars do shine in this quilt;  my photo does not do it justice.

I'd like to thank these three women for taking the time to say hello, letting me drag them over to their quilts for a photo,  and congratulations on a wonderful show.  To see my album from the show, click here.