Tag Archives: Cleveland Museum of Art

Around The Corner

My recent visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Jazz Age exhibit revealed a surprise near the end – a quilt. The exhibit features scads of diamond and platinum jewelry, stylish but uncomfortable looking furniture, impractical coffee and tea sets, flapper dresses, intriguing textiles, and all sorts of room interior designs. However, its sleek styles didn’t find their way into period quilts.

Yet as a portent of the 1930s, Mrs. Shaw’s Prosperity quilt can’t be beat.

Herbert Hoover’s quote “prosperity is just around the corner,” inspired this wonderful humorous quilt created by Fannie B. Shaw between 1930-1932.  It is 72″ x 86″ and is hand appliqued, pieced, and quilted. It’s in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art.

The applique figures depict women, businessmen, baseball players, a farmer, a cowboy, and more peeking around the corner expectantly. Mrs. Shaw even included herself in her hallmark apron.  She used a variation of the attic windows pattern and quilted footprints in the sashing to show movement and the search for jobs.Apparently the farmer behind the plow represents her husband, a Texas farmer.

In the lower right corner, Uncle Sam finally arrives with farm relief, money, and legal beer. Priorities priorities. Mrs. Shaw included the Democrat donkey and the Republican elephant in her blocks, maybe “a plague on both your houses” sentiment or a suggestion that both parties need to work together.

Some contemporary “message” quilts strike me as unduly heavy and shrill. In contrast, the Prosperity Quilt is fun to look at, inventive in its use of the attic windows block, and yet it conveys effectively the widespread distress of the 1930s. You can catch more flies with honey …

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Around Here Week 15

A recent trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art reminded me that I need to visit more often. Admission is free, per the instructions of the museum’s founding benefactor, though parking is another matter entirely. It’s easy to forget how much wealth was in Cleveland at the height of its manufacturing glory, given its current status as the punch line of rust belt city jokes.

The old and new parts of the museum are connected by a glass roof atrium that makes a lovely spot to sit a spell and partake of refreshments. You can get a birds eye view of ground level action from second floor balconies. I happened to catch the sunbeam at just the right moment. It looks like it’s slicing through the benches.

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