Thursday, May 28, 2015

Quilt National 3 -- more representational quilts

Yesterday I showed a bunch of photorealistic imagery; now let's go down the spectrum a bit and see quilts with looser realism -- but still no question about what is being depicted.  Today I'll show you some having to do with people; tomorrow, with nature.

Diane Siebels, Head 7 (detail below)

This was a major prizewinner; probably the judges were intrigued, as I was, by the hand stitching that held the multicolored fabrics to the black backing.

Ruth de Vos, The Boundless Energy of Children

Cynthia Friedman, Global Reflections

Kate Gorman, A Keeper of Secrets and Parakeets

Dinah Sargeant, Dog Dreams (detail below)

Susan Shie, The Pie of Life: Page of Wooden Spoons in the Kitchen Tarot

Pam RuBert, London -- Wish You Were Hair

Kristin LaFlamme, 'Murica

Wen Redmond, The Creative Hand

An interesting mix of techniques in this batch of quilts, from piecing to applique to painting.  I'd wait a while before declaring representation dead at Quilt National.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quilt National 2 -- the jurors' bias?

Mere milliseconds after the Quilt National winners were posted online following the show opening Friday night, the SAQA email list started buzzing with discussion of whether representational quilts got their just deserts in the show.  Apparently there's a substantial bunch of people out there who believe that QN is biased against representation and in favor of abstraction.

There were remarks along the lines of "I know my work doesn't fit QN, which is why I haven't tried for a decade to enter" or "Quilt National has never been a venue known for representational work" or "it doesn't look like a venue for realism."  One person wrote "As someone who does representational work, it is incredibly discouraging.... Why would I bother... when I know the type of work I do has an infinitesimal chance of getting in or being recognized."  Another wrote "Quilt National has long been pro-abstract and pro surface design...  I entered twice, both times with what I thought were strong pieces and both time rejected.  I decided long ago that if they aren't in the representational camp... I would stop bothering to enter.  I haven't since."

Many of these posts were made by people who weren't at the show and hadn't seen anything in the show (since QN has the infamous internet virginity rule) except the prizewinners, which were indeed mostly abstract works.  But when I got home from the show and read the emails, I got out my catalog, made a count and came up with 41 out of 86 quilts with varying degrees of representational imagery -- hardly what I would describe as " an infinitesimal chance" of getting in!

Indeed, several of the pieces were in the extreme realism camp, clearly made from photos.  Take a look at these:

Patricia Kennedy-Zafred, Tagged (detail below)

Velda Newman, Clams

Mary Arnold, Grandma Maude

Joan Sowada, Morning Walk

Jayne Bentley Gaskins, Memories

Kathleen Kastles, Legislating Love

Dorte Jensen, The Sunshine Of My Life

I find it hard to think that a show with these pieces in it is biased against representation.  And I'll show you many more representational works in subsequent posts.

Finally, please accept my apologies for the poor photo quality.  The lighting at the Dairy Barn is not well suited to large works of art like quilts; spotlights are focused on the center of the pieces but leave disturbing shadows around the edges.  It was hard even to properly see the work in person, and photography just exacerbated the uneven light.  You really should get a copy of the professionally photographed catalog to see the quilts at their best.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Quilt National 1 -- Best (place) in show

Quilt National '15 had its opening over the past weekend and I am so pleased to report that my quilt "Entropy" was quite the red carpet star.  No, I didn't win best in show, and my quilt wasn't on the cover of the catalog, but I certainly had the best location in the show -- right above the little dais that's the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

Here's a photo of Kathleen Dawson, executive director of Quilt National, standing in front of my quilt to announce the winners.  (Apologies for the hot spot in the pale sections of the third panel; it's difficult to take photos under the spotlights at the Dairy Barn.)

Sometimes the best in show quilt gets the red carpet spot, but not always.  I have been in four QNs and I am flabbergasted to realize that my quilts have been hung in this prime real estate twice!  This time probably it was because mine is the biggest quilt in the show, and a tiny piece would disappear on the large panels above the dais.

Whatever the reason, I am thrilled with the result!

I'll be writing plenty about the show in the weeks to come; hope you will stay tuned.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Photo suite 178 -- love locks

One of my favorite places is the Big Four Bridge, a pedestrian walkway over the Ohio River, which has become a destination for lovers who write their names or initials on a padlock, fasten it to the bridge and then toss the key into the river, metaphorically locking themselves together forever.

Unfortunately the heartless party-poopers at our waterfront agency come around and cut the locks off, apparently worrying that the extra weight will cause the bridge -- built to hold railroad trains -- to collapse.  But not to worry -- I document the locks whenever I see them, so even if the lock itself has gone to the landfill, it lives on in cyberspace.

In honor of my wedding anniversary this weekend, here's a bunch of locks from the bridge -- dedicated to the one I love.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

FNF 5 -- award for political and social commentary

In the very earliest years of Form, Not Function, I helped install the show, and one year after we had been sorting and rearranging and hanging quilts all day I made a comment that I was pleased to see a couple of quilts with a political edge to them.  I had been complaining for years that quilt shows had a dearth of such pieces, instead being full of nice, pretty quilts giving off only positive emotional vibes.

And then I had an aha moment -- if I liked quilts with strong emotions, I could and should do something to encourage artists to make and submit them.  So I asked the museum director if I could donate an award for political and social commentary, and she said of course.  If I'm in town when the show is hung, I'll choose the winner, and if I'm away I'll delegate that task to the juror/judges.

This year I got to do the honors myself.

Judith Plotner, Bronx Elegy (detail below)

I like the gritty character of this quilt, with its raw edges, faded colors, imperfect printing and loose thread ends.  I'm happy I had the chance to give it a prize!