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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Quilt National 2013: The Oscars for the Art Quilting World

Quilt National 2013 opening, Dairy Barn, Athens, OH
I have been planning to go to the opening of  Quilt National 2013 for quite some time.  I have had it on my calendar for ages. While I  have been to every Quilt National since I moved to Ohio, I've never been to the opening.  Someone who is not a quilter asked me what it was, and the best I could come up with was that it is the Oscars of the Art Quilting world...only it is held every other year and there are only three judges rather than being judged by all your peers.

The quilts are judged from digital images submitted by the artists, but they are chosen blind.  The jurors are given the name of the work, a detail, dimensions, the artist statement and materials.  No names, although for some artists, their style is so remarkable you would have had to have had your head stuck in a paper bag not to recognize their work.  You cannot have shown the quilt anywhere, an it must not have been published anywhere---online, in blogs or on Facebook.  Even if someone from a guild or something has seen it and taken a photo without the artist knowing and put it up on the web, it can be disqualified.  851 quilts were submitted from artists in 44 states, five Canadian provinces and 16 foreign countries.  Only 85 were chosen.  It is not unusual to try for years to get in. Quilt National is one of the oldest art quilt venues and these rules keep the show fresh and exciting.

I was especially excited to go as I was going to meet Brooke Atherton and Del Thomas there for the first time, even though we have corresponded for quite some time.

This year's show was visually spectacular. I found myself looking intently at each quilt, close up and from a distance, even though close up at the opening was often difficult for the number of people present.  Line, color and form rang out and spoke to you.  I honestly felt that this is the best show Quilt National has put together of the ones I have been able to attend.

In general, I felt the show to be well balanced.  I did not find any quilt that my reaction was "What WERE they THINKING????"  The jurors were Linda Colsh, Judith Content, and Penny McMorris (who does not have a website other than Electric Quilt which she started, but is well known in the quilting field for having hosted and early PBS show on quilting as well as authored several books).  I was interested when someone (Martha Seilman?) suggested that the trends represented included a strong emphasis on neutrals, graphics and the utilization of digital photography in the works.  I don't remember anyone saying it, but I would also add mixed media in the works.  I really was puzzled by the "neutrals" comment because while I recognized the graphic quality of the reaction was the wonderful richness of color and texture in the show.
When I went back and tallied the pieces (as best I could) neutrals DID out number the brightly colored pieces.

Abstracts (both pure abstract and abstract realism) were strongly represented, outnumbering the more realistic works by quite a bit.  However, we don't know what was submitted, and I think this tends to be over emphasized.  Strong pieces, works with great merit, whether they are realistic or abstract are what should be in the show, and that is precisely what I saw.

When I  entered the show, I turned to the right, and I was about 10 quilts shy of the beginning when I ran into Brooke.  She told me that she won an award and was having a hard time keeping still while she took at class at Nancy Crow's Barn.  I had not yet seen her piece, and shortly thereafter, they started announcing the  awards...I had to restrain myself from hollering when they announced that Brooke won Best of Show for "Springfield."
Detail, Brooke Atherrton, "Springfield," Quilt National 2
Brooke Atherton, Detail, "Springfield," Quilt National 2013

Brooke Atherton, detail, "Springfield," Quilt National 2013
I apologize, my photos are few, for one, you are only allowed to take shots at the opening...and I have been having such problems with my hands, that I opted to use my "point and shoot" for fear I would drop my DSLR, and I didn't notice that when I hit the "macro" button, I accidentally turned off the things were blurry and like Brooke's piece here, yellow from the interior lighting,

Brooke is known for using all sorts of bits and pieces as well as for torturing things by burning and melting.  She uses found objects and in this case she used paper maps, text (including something which looks like it is Welsh or at least written in Middle or Old  English ( a college text perhaps?).

Some of her found pieces are trapped under organza, or wrapped in little packages. She stitches things down by both hand and machine.  You'll recognize the metal "sheath" from the top of a wine bottle in the top photo.  Below you can see bamboo, and bits of annular ware, pottery from the late-18th and first half of the 19th century, her pieces seem to be abraded, either showing water damage or that it has passed though fire.  I also found bits of Native American pottery sewn down...a treasure trove for the material culturist.

On her statement, Brooke wrote
 "The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form,  and nothing stands.
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds, they shape themselves and go."

"A little stitching madness to hold an elusive memory"

Not only does Brook's piece have flow, texture, and all the other elements of design, but it starts a conversation with the viewer.  Which Springfield?  It could be any one of the 38 places in the U.S. with this moniker, or the ones in the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Ireland or New Zealand (USA holds the largest number).  Why did she choose to include the fragments she did?  Certainly the Tennyson poem really DOES describe the piece....and what does it say about us? How do we relate to the land? What bits of our souls reverberate and intertwine with the land and memory?

You can see more of Brooke's work at , and of course I've written about her pieces several other times here.  Just put a search up for Brooke Atherton in the blog search engine at right and you'll find earlier posts showing her work.  "Springfield" measures 32" h x 97" w.

Deidre Adams, "Tracings III, Quilt National 2013.60" h x 60" w.

I always cringe when people ask me what my favorite piece is....In fact in this show, I prefer NOT to say...I enjoy and appreciate so many pieces for so many different reasons, often the subject matter calls to me, or the message or political statement resonates with me.  I admit, however,  I am a color and texture junkie....and this is really the show for that!  Line, oh, that scrumptious foundation....

However, Deidre Adams piece "Tracings,  III"  grabbed me because it shimmered....glowed...and as Natalya Aiken said "pulsated."  Oh...ok, so it happens to also be in colors that I love's all about texture and surface design.  Deidre's website is here.
Deidre Adams, detail, "Tracings III, Quilt National 2013

One thing about the show which tickled me was that when  I saw several quilts from across the room, I assumed I knew who the artist was because I thought I recognized their style..only to be surprised an found out it was someone else.  Likewise, I was often surprised to see pieces by other artist whose work I knew, but these pieces were a departure from the previous works I saw.

One which didn't fool me was another wonderful piece by Dianne Firth entitled "Storm" the piece I spoke about at Art Quilt Elements at the Wayne Art Center last March.  This one is another fantastic piece where the shadow composes part of the quilt.....Dianne won the McCarthy Memorial award.

You can see the other award winners here.  One of my favorites is the Hillary Fletcher (the first director) "Persistence Pays" Award which is given to the person who tried the most number to tries to get in, and finally was chosen this year.

So many quilts spoke to me, too many to list....well....I could, but your eyes would be bleary. I suggest that you go and see the show if you can and if you can't, at least buy the catalog.  I'll be reviewing that at  a later date.

Quilt National runs roughly from now until September 2, 2013 at the Dairy Barn Art Center,  Dairy Lane, Athens, OH.

I am participating in Nina Marie Sayre's off the wall Fiber Fridays blog tour, take a look at the other blogs here:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 Purple Hearts

Every Memorial Day, I usually get out my uncle Dave's purple heart and take a look. I didn't today because I am having a mental moment and can't remember where I put it for safe keeping.

Yesterday, on the way home from Quilt National in Athens, Ohio, I heard an NPR piece about the backlog that the VA has for returning vets who need help.  You can read the article here.

I haven't liked what I heard about the VA "system" for years.....but I have to say, I was going on the description of a neighbor who used the VA for his health care, and for a friend who was a nurse and who tried to help her father through the system.  This was LONG before Gulf War I, much less Gulf War II and Afghanistan (or is that included?).  I was appalled when my friend said that her father never saw the same doctor twice and would spend the whole day waiting for  his appointment as there wasn't really an appointment....he was assigned a number.  All I could think about was the waiting room from Beetlejuice

Since so much more pressure has been put on the system from returning vets who have injuries, lost limbs, and PTSD, it is so much worse. Vets are committing suicide at a horrific rate.

This is not how we should treat our military.

They are enticed to the best care in the quickest way.  I feel this is just another proof that we got into this war without understanding the costs.  And cost it does.....and funds MUST be raised to take care of this...if the people allowed us to get into this, then we need to provide for those who paid the physical and mental cost.

My uncle paid the supreme cost...these young men and women are living with the constant reminder.

Thus, I would like to ask that you consider giving to the Wounded Warrior Project, a private not-for-profit which is doing its darndest to help our wounded warriors....whether from physical or mental injuries....NOW not waiting....While money is tight for me right now, I am giving today in honor of my father, who suffered from PTSD from World War II, and in memory of  Sgt. David J Broberg who died on Okinawa.  I can't go to Athens, MI right now to lay flowers on Dave's grave, but this is the next best thing.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Healing Hands and the Marianist Environment Education Center

I've been in a mad dash....not surprising, aren't I always?  But this time, I really thought I had it under control...ooopsie!  Every year, I try to participate in a local art show held by the Marianist Environmental Education Center at Gallery St. John, (Bergamo) in Dayton.  They hold a mixed media show which is themed every spring.  They have reclaimed land and are restoring it to its natural state after being used as a gravel quarry  and farmland and being sort of a holding area while I-675 was being made.

The education center works hard to teach people how to be kind to the land.

This year's theme is "Touching Earth".  The show will  run from June 5 through June 30, 2013.  You can read more about it here.  

I had intended to make two submittals, but was only able to get one done in time.  This is "Healing Hand Touches the Earth".  I blew up a tracing of my hand, and took a copyright free photo (provided by the U.S. Government. :)  ) and placed it in the palm of the hand.  I then did a foiled healing spiral over the earth.

The concept of the "healing hand" is one which is derived from a Native American design found in pictographs and other artifacts from the southeastern United States.   We don't really know what the hand symbolizes, but Reiki practitioners have taken it for their own and named it the healing hand.  

It is similar to the Hamsa, or the Hand of Fatima, but it is different because this middle eastern hand never carries the spiral.

I took down a boatload of other nature related pieces when I found they were light on entries.  Wouldn't you know, just as I pulled into the parking lot, the clutch pedal refused to come back, that meant a tow to Troy.  I was grateful I was in a safe place and that nothing untoward happened  and that no one was fact, I was able to do some paperwork for the show for Sister Leanne while waiting for the tow truck.

But...I discovered I had accidentally left my bag of sketches for Elizabeth Barton's class over in New Lebanon when I went for stitching day on Thursday....and when I got home from MEEC (after an interesting ride in the tow truck), the chemotherapy hit me hard....and I was in bed for three days sleeping.   I am only now sort of among the living.  And I am woefully behind in Elizabeth's fact, I haven't even posted anything...I hope that I'm not kicked out!

The best laid plans of mice and men.......

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day Weekend

The other day, someone said something to me about May being Breast Cancer Awareness which I responded that it isn't....October is.  The person I was speaking with wondered then, why there was so much emphasis on breast cancer events in May....The reason? Mother's Day.

For years, my daughter, my husband  and I participated in the Susan G. Komen run in New Britain, Connecticut, and then also soon thereafter, the Relay for Life in Meriden, Connecticut.  In 1998, I was sort of the poster child for these events.....someone who could string two sentences together, didn't mind speaking with people, who was young (only 38) and who had an adorable daughter...yep....just the right fodder to pull out the hankies and get people interested.

Those years are long gone.   I don't participate in Komen anymore...I can't run and I can barely walk...and I feel that we should be aware already, and it is time to tackle the harder aspect of finding something that works for all of us who are stage Komen pretty much sweeps us under the rug.

Today, that little girl above is now 20 and is in Barcelona.  Just before this picture was taken, I miscarried twins.....and given the way I have felt all weekend, I don't know how I could have handled a pair of 15 year olds.  I can barely function on my own.  Halaven (eribulin) has knocked my red blood cells so low that I have been doing little other than sleep.

It makes me a little sad as I am having a hard time keeping up with my regular chores and it leaves no energy left for blogging or for quiilting.  Sticking a spade in the soil leaves me heaving for breath.

But I'm still drawing breath, and my tumor markers, the proteins which cancer expresses, are dropping...which is a good thing.  Hopefully, I will be able to get my energy back....

I post this and think how lucky I am to have a daughter, even one with whom I butt heads.  She is a delight.  Hopefully, she will avoid the horrors I have lived through in fighting this disease, but I also know that she will have her own struggles....I know few people who are able to get through their lives without some trauma.

I hope that somehow we will better fund the NIH and provide research into all the horrible diseases and make strides in at least making them more easy to handle and not ones which bankrupt us...I am always embarrassed that so much has been raised for breast cancer while other areas, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancers are stuck and make no progress forward.  And that doesn't even bring into play diseases such as ALS, MS and Parkinson's.....and the myriad others.

So while you are celebrating your mothers, or your motherhood, I suggest that perhaps you donate even just $10 to any of the foundations of your choice...and help families stay together....and thrive...and defeat disease or what other horror someone you know or who is close to you faces...and if you're lucky enough not to know anyone with any problems..just make a donation at random.  Enough little donations will make a huge impact.

If you can't do that...well, then just practice a random act of will come back on your many fold.

Monday, May 6, 2013


This is Angel.  Angel is a 13 year old female (altered) domestic short haired cat we got in 2001. Ostensibly, she is my daughter's cat.  Just like the black one who is a year older than she is.  However, like most family pets, she's my cat.  I'm the one who takes care of her.

Angel was dumped when she was about 6 months old, and pregnant.  She was picked up by a Connecticut rescue group called "Protectors of the Animals."  She was the second cat I got through that group, and Meg picked her out.  She is gorgeous....and she has the softest fur of any adult cat I have ever felt.  A man "fostered" her until she had her kittens and then they placed the kittens and Angel.....then known as "Sunshine" as she has a "sun" on her shoulders....although Meg and I have always thought it looked more like a spider.

Angel is short.  She gives the appearance of being fat, but she weighs 9 pounds, right about where she should.  she has the nickname around here of "Princess Pudge."  She sort of rules the roost and is top kitty.  She's also a talker and if it weren't for her very round head, I would think she's part Siamese.....she certainly ISN'T the Egyptian Mau that they tried to pass her off as.

I had to take her to the vet again every two week occurrence of late.  You see, back in January, I noticed that her eyes were dialated and she was walking into walls....a sign of a number of things which aren't too good for cats, and in Angel's case, she has high blood pressure and renal issues...but it is unclear if the renal issues are caused by the high blood pressure or vice versa.  We've been giving her blood pressure medication, just like humans use, in fact obtained at the human pharmacy ever since....and we've finally been able to get it into the normal range.  So now, rather than weekly, or every two weeks, we get to back it off to every 6 - 8 weeks that I have to take her in to have her blood pressure checked.

It's pretty amusing.  They have a Doppler that is hooked up to a little electrode which is placed on a shaved rear paw.  Then a little blood pressure cuff is wrapped around it and it is inflated.  You can see the little white "band aid" looking thingy which is the cuff, and the pressure do-hikey in the left hand of the tech.

I'm grateful for the reprieve.  Each time I went in to get her blood pressure checked, it is $40.  At this point, since my husband still h as no job after a year, my daughter is in college, and I am sucking down money left and right because of my chemo treatments (we have a $5,000 deductible) we're having a great deal of fun.

But....when you get an animal, you make a commitment to take care of it...just like it is a member of the family.  I've never had a pet with a chronic this is new for me....but I'm not going to let her stroke out because we have an issue at present.  I recognize that this may get a little difficult....but I firmly believe that if I had accepted this responsibility, we need to fulfill that commitment.

I never in a million years would have dreamed that we would be in this situation....I admit, I begin to wonder if it isn't partly discrimination against Hispanics...I have no idea.  But if you would have told me it would take more than 18 months for a mechanical engineer with 30 years experience in medical/aviation industry, who is bilingual, good at sourcing, fixing production issues, has three patents to his name, and is excellent at design and reverse engineering, and who developed a new product line and the production for a local company...I would have told you it was absurd.  Certainly being 52 doesn't my oh my!  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Winner and Wisconsin...well....Racine and Milwaukee my last post....which was quite a while ago really....I hosted a give-away for a package of Mistyfuse ultra-violet.  I noticed that somehow something hiccuped and some people had multiple comments saying the same thing put in at the same time....and some were deleted by the author...but I also noticed that those spaces were "counted" by blogger into the I dutifully wrote down each person who commented's name and put their corresponding number on it.  I then had a random number generator online give me the random number chosen between the two integers ( I just wanted to use that word as it isn't one which I get to use often. :)  ).  The number it chose was 26, which corrresponds to Juanita Yaeger. So....Juanita, email me and I'll put your package in the mail tomorrow!

I've been away since Thursday, which meant that I didn't get much of anything done besides giving away plants from my garden....hence the long silence. I've been in Racine, Wisconsin.  I have only been to Rhinelander before, so this was a new experience.  I  flew into Milwaukee, and was happy to find this used book store in the terminal... WAY COOL even if it is a little expensive.  I was driven to the Marriott in Racine where I was speaking and recording a DVD to be shown to newly diagnosed MBC/advanced cancer patients.  Because Racine (pop. 80,000) doesn't have a taxi service, I was a little limited.  I did get downtown and saw the Racine Art Museum, a small but wonderful place.  Unfortunately, my bag is a teardrop shaped Ameribag which was taken from me and I didn't take my camera out before hand...nor my sketchbook...nor my iPad ahead of, I don't have any pictures of that....nor notes...although I don't know if I could have taken pictures anyway.

But, don't you love the Kewpee Hamburger shop and the great architecture in the two (albeit drizzly) shots above?