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Saturday, August 25, 2012

AQS Quilt Show, Grand Rapids, Michigan 2012

On Thursday, I took a little trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to see the American Quilters Society's Show.  This is the first year they have been there.  I have been to Paducah, Kentucky to see their major show, but I never have been to any of the "satellite" shows they have across the country.

I really didn't know what to expect.  I thought that it would be about the same size as the National Quilters Association show in Columbus (it was) and that it would have a lot of traditional quilts (it did) in the "open" category (meaning not invitational exhibitions).  I also thought that there would probably be quite a few vendors as quilters seem to spend money no matter what the economy brings, indeed, I counted 55 vendor's booths.

The show included several invitational shows, the Stitch Like an Egyptian show which was organized by Jenny Bowker and first showed in England being the major draw for me.  However, the Alliance for American Quilts had their "Home is Where the Quilt Is" exhibition, along with Japanese Color and Form: New Works by Fifty Japanese Artists, The Magical World of Mary Buvia, New Quilts from Old:  Baskets (the semi-finalists), 2013 Pilgrim/Roy Invitational Challenge; AQS Authors Exhibition, Alzheimer's Illustrated:  From Heart Break to Hope, Spontaneity in Medallion Quilts curated by Gwen Marston, and the Ultimate Guild Challenges.

While wandering through the exhibition, I wondered if I wasn't getting just a tad jaded.  While I really enjoy traditional quilts, it seemed to me like the major effort in the current mode of quilting is to make intricate applique quilts in bright colors, and put as many sparkly crystals on them as you could....this is a trend I have seen elsewhere as well.  Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mind crystals, as long as they serve a design purpose.  I rarely use them myself.  But it seems that since about 2005 or so, quilters have a competition to see just how many sparkles they can add...even if it doesn't really add to the quilt.  Or is it that the quilt is boring without the crystals?  I looked at the Pilgrim and Roy exhibition, hoping that a modern quilt would be there to rival some of my favorite antique quilts.....I wasn't terribly taken with them over all, but instead I was drawn to the special exhibits...especially the Ultimate Guild Challenges.  Why? These quilts were more individualized.  They showed the hand and mind of the quilter.  Some had a lot of the quilter's personality...and it wasn't just about what trend they could follow, or who could execute someone else's design with the highest technical precision.  While I appreciate craftsmanship, for me, this isn't the be-all and end-all of a quilt.  To be sure, the quilt police were out in force.

I really liked JoAnn Hoffman's "When Life Gives you Scraps" which was in the Alliance for American Quilter's exhibition.  Her rendition of the tree branches was superb as was the black bird....the nest was dimensional and this was done in the specified format, 19.5" to the apex of the house, and 12" high until the "roof" and 15" wide.  The quilts will be auctioned starting November 12, 2012 and ending December 10, 2012.  You can see all of the quilts here.


The show had a pretty good mix, when you added in the special exhibitions.  It was clean, the DeVos center was wonderful and easy to get around, as is Grand Rapids.   All of the vendors and the people at the door were thrilled with the show, and it was only Thursday when I went in.  Evidently, the opening day had the highest attendance of any of the AQS satellite shows, which was remarkable for a first year show.

Of the individual entries, I think I liked this one best for an abstract.  It is Jennifer Emry's "Organic Log Cabin #4. "  I love the motion and the colors she used in this quilt...Obviously, I can't be too far off as it won an award.

I will be talking about other aspects of the show over the next several days....I'm STILL recuperating....I am sadly finding that walking around with my chemo side effects isn't easy...

The show continues through Sunday...and if you get a chance, go.  I think you'll be happy you did.

8 comments:

Lisa Chin said...

I have seen the crystal/bead trend here in the west as well and it isn't always pretty. Sadly it seems many put them on just for the sake of putting them on not because the design is enhanced or improved by them.

I look forward to seeing what else you saw.

Lisa Chin said...

I have seen the crystal/bead trend here in the west as well and it isn't always pretty. Sadly it seems many put them on just for the sake of putting them on not because the design is enhanced or improved by them.

I look forward to seeing what else you saw.

Sherrie Spangler said...

I just went to the APWQ show in Tacoma and noticed the same trends, with the addition of really dense machine quilting. Thanks for your "tour." Hope you feel better soon.

Kathy said...

I was able to spend a couple of days at the show and was captivated by the methods of the tentmakers. Best part of the show for me. I loved the challenge quilts for their individuality within their various parameters and my eyes glanced right over the traditional quilts. The crystal craze doesn't thrill me, but it seems there is more thought put in before applying most beaded areas...maybe because I am a beader! Very good show overall, but Lisa, I think we DO get jaded if there is not a lot of uniqueness visible in any show. Thanks for sharing.

Madeline said...

Thank you so much for posting the pictures and your observations from the show. You stated well what I have been feeling about the traditional quilts--sometimes I feel like I have seen all of them before, and the heavy use of crystals usually doesn't improve the quilts I have seen. I admire your efforts despite the toll chemo is taking on you. Your blog is one of my favorites.

Ruth Powers said...

Hey Lisa - They rejected my entry this year, I'll be interested in your take on the Art category.

Lisa Broberg Quintana said...

I noticed in the brochure that AQS doesn't give permission to post photos, unless you contact them (other shows as long as you cite the show it is OK)...so I've pulled the photos pending permission to post.

Antonija said...

Thanks for your observations. I was at the show on Friday with The Hubs (who was totally overwhelmed!) Our group--the Milwaukee Art Quilter's Group, that won 3rd place in the Ultimate Guild Challenge. It was very fun to see all the entries in that particular competition.
The crystal/bead trend doesn't bother me, as long as it's appropriate. I've used them here and there.
If you even get to the Quilt Expo in Madison, WI, let me know. I'll show you around.
--Toni in Milwaukee