Category Archives: Quilt Shows

Revisiting A Goal

Over the past two years I have made a conscious effort to show my work publicly. While I have focused on national shows, I’ve also entered local shows. Ironically, I’ve had greater success with the latter. Right now the three pieces shown below are in a local juried art show.

“Disco Woks”
“Dark and Deep”
“Let The Mystery Be”

By my calculations my work has had roughly 50 percent success in being selected. I’ve entered quilt, fiber, and all art media shows. For some shows I realized after the fact my work was totally outclassed. I’m looking at you, Excellence in Fibers. For others, once I saw the work selected I decided my work simply didn’t fit what the juror was looking for.

To enter juried (and most other) shows, you need to fill out an application and pay an entry fee. Since selection is based on digital photos, you need to submit photos that do justice to your work. Shows that produce catalogs use the images you submit, so they have to be high quality ones.

As you probably have figured out, the costs begin to add up. Professional photography fees can run $30 to $50 per piece. Entry fees can range from $15 to $50, though often you can submit up to three entries for the higher fee. If your work is selected, you need to pay shipping costs to and from the venue, unless it’s close enough to drive to. Many shows specify you can’t use USPS, a cheaper alternative to UPS and FedEx. Total shipping to and from the last show my work was in came to $55. Recently I saw a call for entry with a $20 handling fee for unpacking and repacking your work.

The cost is worth it if your piece sells or if the show helps increase name recognition for your teaching or work. Since I don’t teach and have made no organized effort to sell my work, the calculus is different for me.

In 2020 I plan to enter fewer shows. That’s partly because some of my work is aging out. Many shows specify work has to have been made in the past three years. Right now that’s 2018, 2019, or 2020. Another reason is that much of what I’m creating right now doesn’t have show potential. I’m trying different materials and creating small pieces. Shows like big work, and often have a minimum size requirement.

I’ll see if my mind gets changed by the SAQA seminar I’ve signed up for called “Your Professional Toolkit.” It will cover exhibiting your art as one of six topics. Stay tuned.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Quilt Shows

Another Set of Judges’ Comments

My quilt “Arches” was juried into this year’s Pacific International Quilt Festival in the modern category. I just got it back (fast turnaround) and opened the judges’ comments. As with many large shows, most of the comments sheet is taken up with specific design and technical aspects that are given a letter grade (from E – excellent to N – Needs Improvement.)

This time my letter scores were higher for my quilt’s technical aspects than design. That was a surprise. Overall, I was scored six Very Goods (three in design and three in workmanship) and three Goods (in design.) I view the Goods as the equivalent of a low to medium B. The Goods were for artistic impression/graphic impact, use of design/pattern in quilt top, and use of color & fabric.

The brief comments were: the shapes are visually very pleasing; more contrast, more dark gray fabric would add contrast; and what would it look like hung vertically?

Here’s “Arches” hung horizontally.

Here it is hung vertically.

What do you think? Horizontal or vertical?

What intrigued me about the comments was their design focus. Either the judges really got the importance of design in original quilts or my design had issues beyond those I knew about. I think more white in the right (or top) part would have helped the contrast. It’s always good to review your work after a break from it and see where it could be improved.

So, kudos to the judges for not focusing on straight edges and the like.

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Filed under Modern Quilting, Quilt Shows

My Quilt Canada Trip

Ever since I stumbled across Quilt Canada on a trip to Nova Scotia I try to visit the annual juried show sponsored by the Canadian Quilters’ Association. Actually I only travel to the shows held in eastern Canada every other year as they are more accessible from Ohio.

Aside from the chance to enjoy sightseeing, why this show? In the past I’ve found the entries to be of high quality, with lots of other exhibits in addition to the juried show. I applaud the separate category for quilts from patterns and books. This year I was disappointed to see some entries that, frankly, looked like they belonged more in a local quilt show in terms of design and workmanship. Of course I did find plenty to admire, as the slide show demonstrates.

Since my photos show the limits of my phone’s camera and the odd angles I had to cope with, please click here for the complete album of accepted entries. I tried to capture details in my photos, and some are of other exhibits and are not part of the juried show. You can see the award winners here. As usual, the judges and I differ in our opinions.

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My Quilt National Pilgrimage

Every odd year the Dairy Barn in Athens, Ohio, hosts the prestigious juried show Quilt National. Since I live in Ohio I try to get to Athens to see it. Last weekend was my chosen time.

I arrived for the show’s opening, which featured short talks many of the artists gave about their work. It made for a crowd, but I loved hearing about the thoughts behind the works. Some artists talked in abstractions; others cried.

How did I think this show compared with previous ones? It seemed solidly in the middle, with a heavy emphasis on abstract work. Craftsmanship quality was good and there was a mix of previously shown artists with new ones. I don’t recall any wildly offbeat pieces or any that I felt didn’t belong there. On the other hand, while I admired many of the works, there were few I had an emotional response to.

Lots of: piecing, solid colors, parallel line quilting.

A bit of: experiments with quilt shapes (one was like a gathered curtain, another was separate tubes of bound cloth,) social statements (women’s rights and the wall,) use of digital design.

Little of: representational art, photographs, multi-media (i.e., over painting), dense showy quilting, unconventional materials.

Following are photos I took that are clear enough to publish. There were many other works I wanted to capture, but crowds made that difficult.

“Agitation” by Helen Geglio is made of old shirts found in an attic. Geglio said they still smelled of bleach. She noted how laborious laundry used to be and said a woman invented permanent press.
Margaret Black’s “Curb Appeal 17” is large and shows how black and white can anchor a piece.
Anna Brown’s “Ebb and Flow” represents kelp. The bits of lime green sure catch the eye.
Susan Callahan’s “Stove Top” is based on photographs printed on fabric and then painted. It turns out she’s a chef.
Carson Converse’s piece is subtle and represents the antithesis of her day job.
Chris Edmonds’ “Grasslands: Winter Approaches” is the piece most likely to be praised by my husband.
Eleanor McCain had the largest piece, all mounted on a very long rod. She demonstrated how you can easily shift which part shows..
“Backyard” is taken from Barbara Oliver Hartman’s rear yard. She named the tree on the right Ginger.
Detail from Jill Kerttula’s “Gingko Street” that shows how she augments her photos with fabrics and stitches. The shadow at the bottom is my hand. Her take on QN is here.
Margarita Korioth carefully planned her work on her computer, and created fabric from newspapers in 3 languages that represent her background.
Cecile Trentini’s “Shadow Alchemy” is made of cyanotypes of a wildly diverse group of objects.
Isabell Wiessler’s “Horizonte VI” is based on a photo, but made more abstract with paint and stitch.
Here is Anne Wu talking about her “Shi Sha Square on Square.” There’s lots of bling in each square and there are lots of squares.

I was glad I had the chance to see some rock stars of the quilting world – Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Betty Busby, Jean Wells Keenan, Eleanor McCain, Sheila Frampton Cooper, to name a few. I even had lunch with two of the artists. Unfortunately, I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked with the pieces themselves. For one of the show juror’s takes and lots more photos, check out Judy Kirpich’s post. You can see the award winners here.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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May Sound More Impressive Than It Actually Is

Occasionally I like to send my creations out into the world of quilt shows. Recently I submitted Torii Traces to a national show, and it was accepted. A few days ago I received emails from the show organizer that encourage me to blow my own horn and, not incidentally, do a bit of marketing for the show.

First, the quilt.

Next, the press release I can share with my local media.

Local Quilter Accepted into Pennsylvania National Quilt Competition

NEW HOPE, Pennsylvania – Quilt artist Joanna Mack from Akron, OH has been selected as a finalist in this year’s Quilt Competition at the 2018 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE). The renowned event, produced by Mancuso Show Management, Inc., will be held at the Great Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, PA, September 13-16.

Following acceptance by the competition’s jury, Mack’s quilt, Torii Traces, will be displayed at the show along with other entries from across the U.S. Winners will be selected at the show, and publicized on the show’s website starting Thursday, September 13, 2018. Quilt and textile art enthusiasts will have the opportunity to view Mack’s quilt among the other magnificent quilts exhibited at the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, September 13-16, 2018.”

There’s more, but it’s about Mancuso Show Management, not me. I do love the sound of “quilt artist.”

Finally, I received a button to share on my social media. Please don’t ask what it means to be a finalist, as I don’t know. I think it means simply my quilt was juried into the show.

Now, Mancuso Show Management seems to do a good job with its shows. I’ve had no issues whatsoever with them. I just get depressed at all the efforts put into branding everything and everyone on social media. Maybe my brand should be

I’ve link up to Off The Wall Fridays.

 

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Artist As Quiltmaker Show

Last weekend I met up with other Ohio SAQA members in Oberlin, Ohio, to see Artist as Quiltmaker XVIII.  The show, hosted every two years by the Firelands Association for the Visual Arts (FAVA,) presented a good overview of styles in art quilting.

FAVA’s banner promises it’s not your grandmother’s quilt show and the show delivers. Some of the pieces are exquisitely crafted and would please the most demanding of show judges. Others are more, er, experimental, in nature.

I noticed more use of digital images this year, usually highly edited and blended seamlessly with other elements.

Jill Kerttula’s “Boundless” combines an edited digital photo with various commercial fabrics, couching, slashing, and hand and machine quilting.

Anna Chupa’s “Pieces Petals Leaves and Eaves: Bellevue Park” blends layers of digital house photos with kaleidoscope like repeating images of some architectural features like windows. You could take it as a fireworks display above rows of houses.

Wen Redmond’s “Cormorant’s Perch” melds different interpretations of one photo with different fabrics.

Margaret Abramshe’s “Nan” is based on a photo of the artist’s mother taken in the late 1950s-early 1960s. After manipulation, the photo was digitally printed on whole cloth and painted with various media.

There were several abstract pieces, such as Gerry Spilka’s “Red Jive,” one of the larger pieces at 91 by 49 inches.

I don’t know whether to consider Liz Kuny’s “Troublemaker” as abstract or as an errant strip falling off an ironing board or shelf. As always, Kuny’s workmanship is impeccable.

“Two Quilts” by MJ Daines is just that, separated by about four feet. It took me a while to figure out how to view this work. They are meant to go with each other.

On a more whimsical note, Holly Cole’s “Warthog Memory” (detail) commemorates a troupe of warthogs that cut through the artist’s campsite in Africa. They are drawn on organza and layered over hand dyed fabric. The only quilting I could find was in the ditch stitching around the organza panel.

Susan Fletcher Conaway’s “I Felt A Connection” obviously references a traditional quilt block, but she chose to outline the block with string, raveled threads and strips from tee shirts, for the most part. A few of the diamonds are carefully hand appliqued. Most of the fabrics are cut up old textiles.

Maggie Dillon’s “Poppy Picnic” is based on a vintage image and uses batiks in a fabric collage. The technique appears popular in art quilting circles, and several teachers offer courses.

One final note about the show – the prices the artists placed on their work. They ranged from $450 to $14,000.

If you’re in the area and want to see the show you have until July 29. There’s lots more to see beyond what I’ve shown.

 

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I May Beg To Disagree

Recently I made a list of all the quilt shows and exhibits I’ve entered. It turns out I’ve been in more than I thought. To make my list I had to go through my files, which led me to the judges’ comments sheets I had kept from various shows.

Judges’ comments on Phosphenes, above:

First, the sheets offered insight as to what my work was being judged on. Second, they offered clues as to what weight the various criteria were given – design, workmanship, etc.  Here’s a sample of judging criteria used in the shows I’ve entered:

General appearance (10 points); design – top and borders, quilting, use of color; (45 points), workmanship – construction, techniques, finishing of edges (45 points)

Design and use of color, top construction, sashing & borders, quilting, edge treatment, embellishments, backside (no information on whether all are counted equally)

Best features, areas that most need improvement

Design – artistic impression/graphic impact, use of design/pattern in quilt top, use of color & fabric, degree of difficulty, quilting design, innovation/creativity; workmanship – piecing/applique, quilting technique

Appearance & design, construction, quilting, finishing, neatness, special techniques

Design – color, design, border/edge treatment, quilting design, degree of difficulty (50 points); workmanship – clean/straight, piecing and applique, quilting, finishing, backing (50 points)

The weight given to the various criteria is sometimes specified, as with the points systems above. More often, the entrant can only assume each criterion counts the same. Some shows use a scale from excellent to needs improvement. Others simply record comments with no criteria or “grade” given.

Another nuance of quilt show judging is the entry categories offered. The idea behind judging by category is to compare like to like. The categories can be by size (bed, lap, wall), by technique (pieced, appliqued, mixed), or a mixture. Some shows have started to offer an art or innovative quilt category.  A recent regional show ended up with subcategories under art quilts – images, color, abstract, etc.

I appreciate the efforts of quilt show organizers to be inclusive. I’ve been there. However, I still can’t wrap my head around the use of criteria such as backside (backing fabric complements front, seam lines run vertical) for art quilts. Conversely, I find it strange to judge the design of a quilt pattern or kit as that’s predetermined. If a Judy Niemeyer paper pieced pattern gets high marks for design, that is due to the pattern, not the quilt maker. The quilt maker should certainly get credit for color use if she chose the colors, but from there on it’s about workmanship.

Back to those judges’ comments on my work. The critique rated Phosphenes excellent for all aspects of design. Then for workmanship, the quilting technique was marked satisfactory, but the piecing was marked needs improvement because “points in straight blocks should match.” What?  I assume the comment refers to the diagonal pieced lines as I know the corners of the dark blue rectangles meet. I didn’t want or mean for the diagonal lines to meet. I wanted them jagged to convey a disjointed effect. Lesson learned: my meaning didn’t come across to the judges. A puzzling comment on another quilt concerned the back finish on the facing – “keep corners mitred on back binding.” While mitering is one way to join facing edges, many quilters (including big names) use squared off joins.

Overall, I get higher marks for design than technique, but I have to brag on the “very good applique technique” comment on Winter Fields.   Of course, they also wanted more quilting.

Finally, I’ve found that my work I think is great doesn’t win ribbons, while work I think is OK does.

The upshot for me is to stop entering most all-inclusive quilt shows and concentrate on art-focused exhibits and shows. If I want my quilts to be judged as art, then workmanship assessments are beside the point. Certainly any work of art should display good technique, but I don’t think painting awards are based on brush strokes. The art shows often are juried, so inclusion in the show is praise enough.

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