Category Archives: Quilt Shows

May Sound More Impressive Than It Actually Is

Occasionally I like to send my creations out into the world of quilt shows. Recently I submitted Torii Traces to a national show, and it was accepted. A few days ago I received emails from the show organizer that encourage me to blow my own horn and, not incidentally, do a bit of marketing for the show.

First, the quilt.

Next, the press release I can share with my local media.

Local Quilter Accepted into Pennsylvania National Quilt Competition

NEW HOPE, Pennsylvania – Quilt artist Joanna Mack from Akron, OH has been selected as a finalist in this year’s Quilt Competition at the 2018 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE). The renowned event, produced by Mancuso Show Management, Inc., will be held at the Great Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, September 13-16.

Following acceptance by the competition’s jury, Mack’s quilt, Torii Traces, will be displayed at the show along with other entries from across the U.S. Winners will be selected at the show, and publicized on the show’s website starting Thursday, September 13, 2018. Quilt and textile art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to view Mack’s quilt among the other magnificent quilts exhibited at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, September 13-16, 2018.”

There’s more, but it’s about Mancuso Show Management, not me. I do love the sound of “quilt artist.”

Finally, I received a button to share on my social media. Please don’t ask what it means to be a finalist, as I don’t know. I think it means simply my quilt was juried into the show.

Now, Mancuso Show Management seems to do a good job with its shows. I’ve had no issues whatsoever with them. I just get depressed at all the efforts put into branding everything and everyone on social media. Maybe my brand should be

I’ve link up to Off The Wall Fridays.

 

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Artist As Quiltmaker Show

Last weekend I met up with other Ohio SAQA members in Oberlin, Ohio, to see Artist as Quiltmaker XVIII.  The show, hosted every two years by the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA,) presented a good overview of styles in art quilting.

FAVA’s banner promises it’s not your grandmother’s quilt show and the show delivers. Some of the pieces are exquisitely crafted and would please the most demanding of show judges. Others are more, er, experimental, in nature.

I noticed more use of digital images this year, usually highly edited and blended seamlessly with other elements.

Jill Kerttula’s “Boundless” combines an edited digital photo with various commercial fabrics, couching, slashing, and hand and machine quilting.

Anna Chupa’s “Pieces Petals Leaves and Eaves: Bellevue Park” blends layers of digital house photos with kaleidoscope like repeating images of some architectural features like windows. You could take it as a fireworks display above rows of houses.

Wen Redmond’s “Cormorant’s Perch” melds different interpretations of one photo with different fabrics.

Margaret Abramshe’s “Nan” is based on a photo of the artist’s mother taken in the late 1950s-early 1960s. After manipulation, the photo was digitally printed on whole cloth and painted with various media.

There were several abstract pieces, such as Gerry Spilka’s “Red Jive,” one of the larger pieces at 91 by 49 inches.

I don’t know whether to consider Liz Kuny’s “Troublemaker” as abstract or as an errant strip falling off an ironing board or shelf. As always, Kuny’s workmanship is impeccable.

“Two Quilts” by MJ Daines is just that, separated by about four feet. It took me a while to figure out how to view this work. They are meant to go with each other.

On a more whimsical note, Holly Cole’s “Warthog Memory” (detail) commemorates a troupe of warthogs that cut through the artist’s campsite in Africa. They are drawn on organza and layered over hand dyed fabric. The only quilting I could find was in the ditch stitching around the organza panel.

Susan Fletcher Conaway’s “I Felt A Connection” obviously references a traditional quilt block, but she chose to outline the block with string, raveled threads and strips from tee shirts, for the most part. A few of the diamonds are carefully hand appliqued. Most of the fabrics are cut up old textiles.

Maggie Dillon’s “Poppy Picnic” is based on a vintage image and uses batiks in a fabric collage. The technique appears popular in art quilting circles, and several teachers offer courses.

One final note about the show – the prices the artists placed on their work. They ranged from $450 to $14,000.

If you’re in the area and want to see the show you have until July 29. There’s lots more to see beyond what I’ve shown.

 

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I May Beg To Disagree

Recently I made a list of all the quilt shows and exhibits I’ve entered. It turns out I’ve been in more than I thought. To make my list I had to go through my files, which led me to the judges’ comments sheets I had kept from various shows.

Judges’ comments on Phosphenes, above:

First, the sheets offered insight as to what my work was being judged on. Second, they offered clues as to what weight the various criteria were given – design, workmanship, etc.  Here’s a sample of judging criteria used in the shows I’ve entered:

General appearance (10 points); design – top and borders, quilting, use of color; (45 points), workmanship – construction, techniques, finishing of edges (45 points)

Design and use of color, top construction, sashing & borders, quilting, edge treatment, embellishments, backside (no information on whether all are counted equally)

Best features, areas that most need improvement

Design – artistic impression/graphic impact, use of design/pattern in quilt top, use of color & fabric, degree of difficulty, quilting design, innovation/creativity; workmanship – piecing/applique, quilting technique

Appearance & design, construction, quilting, finishing, neatness, special techniques

Design – color, design, border/edge treatment, quilting design, degree of difficulty (50 points); workmanship – clean/straight, piecing and applique, quilting, finishing, backing (50 points)

The weight given to the various criteria is sometimes specified, as with the points systems above. More often, the entrant can only assume each criterion counts the same. Some shows use a scale from excellent to needs improvement. Others simply record comments with no criteria or “grade” given.

Another nuance of quilt show judging is the entry categories offered. The idea behind judging by category is to compare like to like. The categories can be by size (bed, lap, wall), by technique (pieced, appliqued, mixed), or a mixture. Some shows have started to offer an art or innovative quilt category.  A recent regional show ended up with subcategories under art quilts – images, color, abstract, etc.

I appreciate the efforts of quilt show organizers to be inclusive. I’ve been there. However, I still can’t wrap my head around the use of criteria such as backside (backing fabric complements front, seam lines run vertical) for art quilts. Conversely, I find it strange to judge the design of a quilt pattern or kit as that’s predetermined. If a Judy Niemeyer paper pieced pattern gets high marks for design, that is due to the pattern, not the quilt maker. The quilt maker should certainly get credit for color use if she chose the colors, but from there on it’s about workmanship.

Back to those judges’ comments on my work. The critique rated Phosphenes excellent for all aspects of design. Then for workmanship, the quilting technique was marked satisfactory, but the piecing was marked needs improvement because “points in straight blocks should match.” What?  I assume the comment refers to the diagonal pieced lines as I know the corners of the dark blue rectangles meet. I didn’t want or mean for the diagonal lines to meet. I wanted them jagged to convey a disjointed effect. Lesson learned: my meaning didn’t come across to the judges. A puzzling comment on another quilt concerned the back finish on the facing – “keep corners mitred on back binding.” While mitering is one way to join facing edges, many quilters (including big names) use squared off joins.

Overall, I get higher marks for design than technique, but I have to brag on the “very good applique technique” comment on Winter Fields.   Of course, they also wanted more quilting.

Finally, I’ve found that my work I think is great doesn’t win ribbons, while work I think is OK does.

The upshot for me is to stop entering most all-inclusive quilt shows and concentrate on art-focused exhibits and shows. If I want my quilts to be judged as art, then workmanship assessments are beside the point. Certainly any work of art should display good technique, but I don’t think painting awards are based on brush strokes. The art shows often are juried, so inclusion in the show is praise enough.

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Artistic Endeavors – Protest in Art

Art has been used for many ends, including social criticism.  Honore Daumier, George Grosz, Francesco Goya and William Hogarth are a few of the well known artists who addressed their times through their art.  Graphic Witness, a website devoted to social commentary through graphic imagery from about 1900 on, has some lesser known examples.

Council of War – Daumier

Pillars of Society George Grosz

In these politically fraught and divided times even quilters are using their medium for social comment. The protest quilts exhibited at the recent QuiltCon as I understand it, weren’t part of an organized exhibit, but reflected the views of their individual makers. These quilts addressed women’s rights, guns, incarceration, racism, police brutality, and many other flash point issues.

I have mixed feelings about such quilts in that I look for artistic qualities in how the message is conveyed. Some are heartfelt but I don’t think they’re aesthetically pleasing. I am indeed a snob. Here are a few I felt were effective in combining art and message.

Jessica Wohl White America

Liz Havartine She Was Warned

Juli Smith B4U

Karen Maple Black, Brown and White in Orange

Miriam Coffey The F Word

For a more traditional approach to a social commentary quilt, check out what Love Those Hands At Home is making. And bear in mind that not all social commentary quilts are social protests.

Lucinda Ward Honstain The Reconciliation Quilt (1867)

 

 

 

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The 2017 Mutton Hill Quilt Show

The third annual Mutton Hill Quilt Show, organized by the Summit County (Ohio) Historical Society, took place in mid-October. As in the past, I volunteered with quilt intake and judging, and worked the show itself. In between stints at the raffle ticket table I prowled the floor to look at the quilts.

Unlike some shows, Mutton Hill combines a judged show with special regional and national exhibits. This year I viewed the 2017 Hoffman Fabric Challenge, Ohio SAQA’s trunk show, and part of the national SAQA trunk show.  These exhibits give the show an intriguing mix of traditional and art quilting.

Following are some pieces that caught my eye. There’s no rhyme or reason to my selections. I just liked them. They all seem to have purple in them.

Staying Humble by Marilyn Edwards

Sherman Double Wedding Ring (heirloom)

Blue Pineapple by Marie Petric

Bewitched! by Elizabeth Bauman

Pantheon di Hoffman by Susan Garrity

Spring in San Luis Porte by Wendy Lewis

New York Fashion Week by Pamela Katz

The last group of photos are part of the national SAQA trunk show. They measure 7.5 by 10 inches.

Eucalyptus Metallicus

Super Moon

Rissagabba and the Moon

Elegance

Winter Meadow

Hold Near and Dear

You can see all the SAQA trunk show pieces here.

 

 

 

 

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“With These Hands” Exhibit

On the way to my Sue Benner workshop my travel companion and I stopped at the Ross Art Museum in Delaware, Ohio, to take in the With These Hands art quilt exhibit. Actually, I made the stop a condition of doing the driving, as I have a piece in the exhibit. I hadn’t realized the quality of the company my quilt was keeping until I got there.

The exhibit was organized in conjunction with the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS), which is held each June in Columbus, Ohio. The works shown are a good cross section of art quilt approaches and techniques, though a bit light on the Nancy Crow style solids, which are plentiful at this year’s Quilt National exhibit. The Ross Museum exhibit is up until June 30, so if you’re driving I-71 through central Ohio or near Columbus, consider stopping by. I can find no online photos of the whole exhibit.

One approach I saw on several quilts was segmentation, either with separate strips or with panels sewn together after much of the work was done. Here are some examples.

Frauke Palmer made ten narrow panels connected only at the top.

Wen Redmond tied 21 panels together after creating variations of the same photo.

In “shell river” Lee Thomson created four panels separately, then hand sewed them together and added the button river.

Other quilts emphasized surface design.

Dominie Nash used crocheted pieces to print from in “Grandfather’s Garden.” Various shibori dyeing techniques are featured in Sharon Weltner’s “The Gateway to Night Time Vision.”

Some stood out for their color.

Trance by Kathleen Kastles grabs your eye from the entrance to the exhibit. Those blues and the narrow shape make it dramatic.Lots of little pieces of fabric make up the “rocks” in Beth Porter Johnson’s “Rhythms Within III.” Four Story Walk-up by Linda Strowbridge also uses small bit piecing.

Theresa Rearden used wonky half square triangles set in curves in “Off The Grid.” The detail of the ribbon overlay and the quilting shows below. There are also lots of french knots.Sandra Ciolino’s quilting in “Voluta #6 Solista” is exquisitely controlled.Finally, here’s my The Language of Pink Elephants, punching well above its weight.

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Random Bits From My Inbox

You know those websites or articles you come across and think, people might be interested in that? Here are the ones I’ve been saving up.

First, I came across this article directed initially at textile artists, though it speaks to all kinds of artists. I recognize my own tendency toward being a technique junkie. The lesson here is learn to do a few things very well in a way that serves your art. I’ve been sharing this one with the groups I belong to. Thanks to Ellen Luckett Baker for bringing this to my attention.

Ellen also drew my attention to the website for Sewn Together, an exhibition of Alabama quilts. I enjoy the site’s pairing of vintage and more contemporary quilts, and the historical perspective on the quilts shown. I’m sure it was great to visit the exhibition, but the archival information adds so much. You can learn about the work of the Alabama Department of Archives and History, which co-sponsored the exhibition. There’s even a curated Spotify playlist of Alabama musicians who represent a wide variety of musical styles from the period when the quilts were made.

Next, I came across a series of YouTube videos put together by Craftsy called The Midnight Quilt Show. Angela Walters is the refreshingly breezy host of these videos that show her putting together some fairly basic quilt patterns. Angela’s essential tools include popcorn, chocolate, and wine. The mistakes stay in. You may recognize some of them. I did find my heretofore hidden inner quilt police coming out when Angela didn’t press before sewing. Ditto her use of a ruler that was way too short. But it sure beats those deathly earnest quilting shows that are guaranteed insomnia cures.

For visual candy here’s a collection of spiral staircase photography by Nancy Da Campo, all in Barcelona. The We and The Color website is a great resource for striking photography.

If you’re interested in printing your own fabric or purchasing fabric custom designed by others, then check out the new Spoonflower digital catalog. Lots of ideas there for creating wallpaper, clothing, baby items, and home dec.

Finally, here’s a slide show of the SAQA Two by Twenty exhibit now touring with the Original Sewing & Quilting Expo. I recently represented SAQA at the Cleveland, Ohio, stop of the expo. (That means I chatted with viewers about the show and promoted the organization.) It was great to see how much even very traditional quilters enjoyed the work displayed. Some may have gotten the push to venture into original work. Really, folks, it doesn’t matter if you can’t draw.

Here’s one of my favorites from the exhibit, Everglades by Deda Maldonado.

 

 

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