Road to California 2011–part III

So, what caught my eye this year?  While I felt in years past I could make a coherent statement about the content of the show, or perhaps an aspect of quiltmaking, the only comment I might make this year is about how the show was hung.  While many shows do hang like quilts next to like quilts, it’s usually subtle, so that the unique characteristics play against each other.

Whoever has hung Road to California, and by hanging I mean placing quilts next to each other, has gotten in the habit of saying (and I’m imagining this), “Gee, animals.  Let’s put them all together.”  So I’ll walk down an aisle and there are dogs, cats, penguins, tigers–all kinds of animals together.  She/He does the same thing with flowers, people, types of quilts.  Whoever this is needs to learn about habituation, or the gradual adaptation to a stimulus or to the environment, with a decreasing response.  This means in a quilt show, if we see eight flower quilts together, they lose their impact.  The last one we see is more of a Hi-Bye sort of cursory glance, because, oh my goodness, I’ve just seen flowery quilts, what more can I take away from another one?

Of course, I realize I just did that in the last post, by grouping all the travel quilts together.  But might not a flower quilt have more impact if it’s next to a child’s portrait, next to a field of daisies, next to an abstract?

I was struck by how many quilters were working in brights–colors that just jumped off the page.  While I  understand the impulse behind this particular quilt, there seems to be a lack of focus in these pinwheels and flying-geese trails.  I saw more than one quilt that admitted they didn’t plan their quilt, but “just let it happen.”  !!! is my first response, like when the speaker in church gets up to the podium and puts their folded talk into their pocket and says they’re just going to speak from the heart.  The talk, while it may have its high points, usually ends up more muddled than not.  Kind of like this quilt, but then her card mentioned that she used “shear [sic] will power” and it was “way off [her] usual ‘cute’ path” and was a “great mental exercise.”A cautionary tale, both in the creativity as well as spelling department.

Eyeballs?  Or flowers?  Or as one observer noted, Black Holes? Boy, we quilt-show-attendees can be tart-tongued, can’t we?

It wasn’t helped much by the quiltmaker’s card who titled this Flowing On, and wrote:

“Fluidity can move and change what seems solid, like water cutting a path in rock.  I am intrigued with depicting, through fiber art, this interplay between what I call “blocks and flowers”. Within these dynamics I see a metaphor for change, how it can move through easily when not resisted.”

Much clearer now, right?

I do like this quilt, aside from the quilter’s blurb, because of the way it moves from grid to curvilinear shapes, almost as if it were one of those very cool looking hot geysers in Yellowstone, and the orange field surrounding the deep colors was the earth’s crust, like this photo, below, from Mike Levin.

Oranges again in Color Blind, this quilt from Gail Eberle, quilted by Kristi Hawkins (both from Kansas).  Check out the quilting in the shots below.

Okay, you’ll never catch me quilting like this–I can’t!  While last year’s crop of quilts seemed to have too many where the quilting overtook the design, this year’s collection has been relatively harmonious between those two elements, and this is a fine example.

The Fires Within, made and quilted by Christine Rocha of California. She writes that the center reds are symbolic of the hearth of the home, and this was “pieced in an improvisational manner with only a vague vision of what it would like once completed.”  This is not the same thing as not planning (see above).  While I loved the wonky blocks, I really loved how she quilted it (see detail below).

Sheila Frampton-Cooper’s quilt, Life in the City, is a riot of color and shape and was one of my favorites.  While she was one of those professed non-planners (but do they “design” their quilts ?), I think that she is being coy.  Perhaps she did just piece all these pieces and they just sort of worked, but given the skill of how these relate along with their color and form, I daresay she worked extremely hard to plan out how their relationship.  This is one of those quilts where even the smaller elements could stand up by themselves as a small quilt, as show in the detail shots below.  Stellar quilt!

Ditto this quilt by Jacqueline de Jonge.  Here’s the detail, and below is the quilt.

Catch me if you can, quilted (and stunningly so) by Elly Prins.  Both Jacqueline de Jonge and Elly Prins are from the Netherlands.

Maybe dots are on my brain, but I loved this one! Timna Tarr from Massachusetts appliqued these circles onto squares and when she had enough of them, she played with the layout until she had a design that “worked for me,” she writes.  “A wool batt puffs up the circles to give them dimension.”  The title?  O Happy Day.

Maybe she and I could make a swap of some dotty fabrics?

This just proves that you don’t need to be big to make an impact.  It was probably all of 14″ inches along the long side, but Alive, by Mary Kay Price of Oregon, was a lovely composition, a lovely little quilt.

“Really Wild” Flowers, Second Season, made and quilted by Sharon Scholtzhauer.  She’s on a roll, for she had one in last year’s show (and it was just as fabulous).  These have the added dimension of being sculptural, with heavy quilted overlays creating depth.  See details below.

The layering of the blossom is more visible here, as is the quilting.

A white-gloved hostess holds up the quilt to show us the back so we can see the quilting.

Antelope Valley Poppies, made and quilted by Laurie Lile.  Nice how she “broke” the borders on this quilt, letting the delicate blossoms spill out.  Her quilting (below) really enhances the blossoms.

Ann Pigneri made and quilted this mandala-style quilt, titled Hope.  Quilting detail below.

Yeah, okay.  I’m pretty much fainting at this point.  If the piecing didn’t get to me–this quilting is astounding!  Bet she skimps on her ironing the laundry, or maybe she doesn’t sleep?

Midlife Crisis: Hot Flashes, made and quilted by Cathy Farris.

This one and the one above are faculty quilts–made by those who are teaching here at Road.  The Square Within, by Karla Alexander.  This would be a great stash quilt.

Joen Wolfrom used the traditional block Rail Fence to interpret Northern Lights.  This is quilted by Veronica Nurmi (see detail below).  I’m glad to see Joen teaching again–she’s incredibly gifted both as a teacher and a quilter.

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