Friday, August 17, 2012

Piecemakers Quilt Show 2012, Galesburg, IL

(Above: Diana Cermak's Elements of My Life.)

Last Saturday and Sunday the Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Galesburg, Illinois held its annual quilt show at Carl Sandburg College. I went on Sunday ... and didn't win the raffle quilt (which was absolutely lovely!) I was really looking forward to this event because I haven't been to a quilt show since 2008.

At that time I went to a quilt show in Maine. I was in the midst of another art residency at the MacNamara Foundation. The studio manager, Duncan Slade, pointed out the fact that my Decision Portrait Series pieces were, in fact, ART QUILTS. This was news to me. (Duncan knows art quilts! He and his collaborator wife Gail Fraas have three pieces included in Robert Shaw's The Art Quilt ... the definitive tome documenting the start of the art quilt movement with all the "movers and shakers" who put this exciting medium on the artistic map!) Anyway, quilts were on my mind at the time. I picked up Jeanne Williamson's The Uncommon Quilter at the Atlantic Bookshop in Damariscotta, read about making crayon-on-fabric grave rubbings, and went to a quilt show before making my first "intentional" art quilt.

So ... this show in Galesburg is the only quilt show to which I've ever gone since then. For me, it was important, very important ... because the next quilt show I'm attending is Quilt, Inc.'s big show in Houston next November when forty of my Decision Portraits will be enjoying a solo exhibit!

(Above: Detail from Jean Lohmar's Tequila Sunrise Sunburst Block.)

In a very short period of time, I learned plenty! There were over 250 quilts on display. I was introduced to various categories, vendors, authors, and why four inch sleeves are important for hanging wall sized pieces actually ON pipes that make up the hanging units!

(Above: Detail from Jean Lohmar's Tequila Sunrise Sunburst Block.)

I was treated to a wide array of quilts, styles, techniques, and also met some very nice people. I would have really like meeting Jean Lohmar ... whose award winning quilts totally blew me away. She's EIGHTY-TWO years old and still making quilts, fantastic pieces of great complexity, expert quilting skills, and gorgeous designs. There was no wonder at the blue ribbons and the "Best in Show" titles for her pieces!

(Above: Detail from Jean Lohmar's Hibiscus.)

If I understood the signage correctly, her Tequila Sunrise Sunburst Block won Best of Show this year and her Hibiscus quilt won the same award last year. There was an entire section of "past winners". Unfamiliar with the signage, I found myself reading the full page sheets that were pinned to every entry. Lots of information was there and nice personal notes of interest. I was unaware that quilts weren't necessarily quilted by the maker. Credit was given to the person or company/business that did the quilting and special notes added if it was done on a "long arm" machine. There were, however, several totally hand quilted pieces and this was noted too. I was also amazed to see the pattern designers' names listed and information about workshops attended for various entries. I'm told this is "typical" but such notes were "new" to me! I especially enjoyed the provided sentences that spoke of individual inspiration and/or for which family member a quilt was made.

(Above: Detail from Jean Lohmar's Tequila Sunrise Sunburst Block.)

All these information sheets made the show, the participants, and the quilts seem so personal. It also made me realize how difficult judging such an event must be! So many categories ... so many beautiful quilts.

(Above: Penny Gold's Late March.)

Some of my favorite pieces were by Penny Gold. I just loved the abstraction and the very, very well done minimalism of her Late March quilt. The sign let me know that this was her impression of the Illinois landscape in March ... and I could see it at once! The blue sky, the green earth, and the red barn! I'd seen just such a view on my drive to Bishop Hill the weekend before!

(Above: Penny Gold's Shelter.)

A few feet away hung Penny's Shelter. The strong design pulled me in and the signage let me know that this piece was part of her journey to recover after her son died in a car accident just after graduating from high school. It carried the message found in a psalm: "In the shelter of your wings". I could see the "unremitting blackness" held at bay and the way quilting was part of the maker's road to continuing life. It made me think about art, recovery, healing, and creative expression.

(Above: Piecemaker's Guild Memorial Corner.)

A since of remembering was also part of the larger quilt show. A special area was dedicated to members who'd died during this past year ... including a picture and a quilt and even an electric candle. Very special.

(Above: Mary Edwards' To Remember Phyllis.)

Perhaps that why I found Mary Edwards' To Remember Phyllis such a lovely quilt. A deceased friend's handkerchiefs were fashioned into an art quilt for a family member. Of course, this is very central to my current work in Galesburg ... taking precious pieces of the past and making something new! Love this concept!

(Above: Kaitlin Sickles Romeo and Juliet Wall Hanging.)

Now ... don't think I'm going down a "dark road" or into my known area of interest in "death"! I was also thrilled to see a section for "juniors"! How brilliant to showcase and award ribbons to teenagers just starting out in the quilting world! Quilts as education as well as art! Brilliant!

(Above: One of the vendor areas at the quilt show.)

I didn't officially vote for my "favorite" piece ... mostly because I was still studying all the pieces by the time the calculations were being made for this big announcement. I don't even know who won ... but my vote would have finally gone to Diana Cermak's Elements of My Life. (First image in this blog post.) I simply adored her concept of bringing her chemistry background into her quilting. She teaches at Knox College. The work was well thought-out, perfectly designed, expertly worked, and hand quilted! Way to go!


Wanda said...

Some of these quilts (and quilters!) are just incomprehensible to me. I've only made one quilt and a few little things but I can sort of get the work put into them. I think crazy quilts are one thing but crazy quilters are another! I am not knocking them....I am so in awe of what they do!

Lori Reed said...

How interesting ... I sent your blog link to Penny Gold last week after seeing what you were working on with the canopy. Now I read that you responded to Penny's amazing work at the quilt show! I hope you two get to meet.