Trigger warning, I’m going to brag on myself. Recently I was gobsmacked to have a work juried into the Fiber Art Network’s Excellence in Quilts show, now at the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, Virginia. “Shattered” is one of 22 works in the show, and it shares wall space with work by many premier art quilters.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Here are seven of the other quilts in the show. You can see all the quilts in FAN’s fall/winter magazine issue or at the museum. I took the pictures below from FAN’s Instagram feed.
My impression is the jurors (Judith Content and Alice Beasley) were aiming for a broad representation of styles and subject matter. If that is so, they succeeded.
Finally, in case you wondered what my work looks like,
As I wrote earlier, I had two quilts accepted to this year’s virtual Houston International Quilt Festival, so I decided I should attend virtually. I bought the cheapskates’ package, which was admission and one free lecture. There were many class offerings and demo groups, but nothing really grabbed me.
How was it, you ask? I spent most of my time at the show looking at quilts, which is standard show behavior for me. Usually I cruise the vendors’ area and make a few purchases from purveyors of thread and unusual fabrics. I steer clear of booths chock-a-block with kitted patterns and novelty fabrics. I found the vendor interface at virtual IQF to be clunky. It took a few clicks to get to what was actually being sold, usually on the vendor’s website. Maybe there were show specials on offer, but I didn’t find them. It seemed to me that there were fewer small niche sellers.
So, let’s talk about the exhibits. I was relieved that the quality of quilts shown didn’t seem to be lower. I don’t know if there were fewer quilts, but at least in some areas very different sculptural quilts were included that might not have made it to an in-person show. I was amused at the judges’ choices for best quilts, especially for art and modern quilts. The quilt below won in the art quilt category. It’s a perfectly fine medallion quilt, and its maker stresses the number of pieces and crystals it has. But, I think it’s in the wrong category, and doesn’t say art quilt to me.
Here are others in the art quilt category that I found more representative of the genre.
Overall, the art quilt entries were heavily weighted to the pictorial – landscapes, portraits, and animals.
Moving on to the modern quilt category, again the judges chose a “safe” quilt for the best of category award. I see this as a contemporary, rather than a modern quilt, at least as defined by the Modern Quilt Guild. “Modern quilters work in different styles and define modern quilting in different ways, but several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work.” (from the Modern Quilt Guild website)
Here are others I found more interesting in this category that I think are closer to the MQG definition of modern.
If you attended IQF this year I’d love to hear your opinion of the show.
This edition of Artistic Endeavors features lots of videos, not surprising in our time of virtual exhibits. Most of the work is fiber, though I’ve ventured into another medium. Warning: this is a picture heavy post.
I wasn’t aware of the work of Leslie Gabrielse, even though it is featured in “Art Quilts Unfolding,” until I came across a video showing an extremely speeded up creation of his art quilt, “Ocean Life.” To make this large (93″ by 48″) piece Gabrielse roughly cut and laid down chunks of diverse fabric, including a man’s shirt, following a cartoon he overlaid on gauze backing and batting. He flipped the cartoon up and down as he worked at a design wall. The pieces were held together with rough hand stitching. His fabric choices seem culled from thrift store bins. No designer fabric is in sight. Then he added details with acrylic paint and stencils. You can see photos of his process at the bottom of this page. (I hope the links work as they weren’t on December 4.)
For a glimpse of interesting work in fiber I suggest the Surface Design Association’s Mandatory Color show. I was taken with Barrie Mason’s “Skin Deep” in thread and wire.
I was amused by “Hedge Your Bets” (by Kim Ritter and Kay Hendricks) in the midst of much Covid-19 related work in the show.
Thanks to Sue Benner, who has a piece in the show, I learned of “Expanded Dimensions,” now on view at the Riffe Center in Columbus, Ohio. The center, with the show’s curator, Tracy Rieger, has made the show available virtually in three forms: a room by room video, a slideshow, and a curator’s tour. I dipped in and out of all of them. Because almost all the pieces are somewhat sculptural, the video and tour help you appreciate how the pieces look in person. For example, Myers’ piece is huge, over 110″ long; and McCavour’s work is thread painted and each bit floats separately, suspended from the ceiling.
Yet another online fiber show that just started is Excellence in Fibers VI at the New Bedford Art Museum. The website helpfully presents accepted work by type – installation, sculptural, vessels, wall and floor, and wearables. Here are some works that struck me; many involve lighting.
You can also take a virtual tour of the Quilts=Art=Quilts exhibit at the Schweinfurth Art Center. This annual exhibit features work by many prominent art quilters. I will warn you that the tour swoops around and I found it a bit difficult to control. The list of artists juried into this show contains many familiar names, and I thought little of the work broke new ground. My reaction may be a result of how hard I found it to look at the work head-on in the video tour.
In another medium, because I love her photographs, I’m linking to Dorothea Lange’s digital archive at the Oakland Museum of California.
Finally, if you’re a SAQA member I recommend Jane Dunnewold’s recent critique session available as a video. The way she expresses comments and thoughts on the work of three artists is masterful. She draws the artists into the process and makes it plain that it’s their artistic vision that counts, whether or not anyone else shares it.
First, I hope your Thanksgiving, if you celebrate that holiday, was as good as can be expected in this miserable year. It certainly helped me double down on my carbohydrate intake. Second, though I try to keep this blog bragging free, I’m making an exception for two items.
As I told you earlier this year, one of my quilts was selected as the cover for an issue of a local arts and culture magazine called “The Devil Strip.” That name means something to Akron residents. A few months ago the magazine’s staff contacted me to see if I was willing to have my quilt featured in a postcard set they planned to sell. Well, of course. It’s one of five covers available until the end of this month at thedevilstrip.bigcartel.com.
While I haven’t entered my work in many shows this year, I decided to enter this year’s virtual International Quilt Festival. So, two of my pieces were accepted as part of the In My Mind exhibit.
I have no idea how many quilts were entered in this supposedly juried category. I guess I’ll have to attend (virtually) to find out. I understand awards will be determined by attendees’ votes.
For ten bucks you can get a pass for the show. Most lectures and classes are extra. From December 3 to 5 you can get interactive content – classes, vendors, special exhibits, live connect to exhibitors and fellow festival attendees, games, and more during show hours, and a special live lecture by Jenny Lyon, a wonderful free motion quilting teacher. You then have 3 months to continue to view the quilts, experience Open Studios™ (product demos), and shop the vendor mall.
I decided it was probably the only and the cheapest way I’d ever attend the Houston show. Plus, I will have no quilt shipping nightmares. I realize it’s like a virtual museum tour, but it beats nothing at all.
Pre-Covid 19 I had entered work in two art shows – the SAQA regional Circles and Cycles exhibit and Artists of Rubber City JuriedRegional Art Exhibition, an Akron-based all media show. Both shows accepted some of my work and both will open for viewing in real life starting this month.
While art shows haven’t been at the top of my concerns lately and I doubt I’ll enter any more this year, it’s always nice to have folks other than family and friends (and you of course) see what I make.
Here are my two pieces in Circles and Cycles.
The Circles and Cycles show was open to SAQA members in Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan; and it will be up at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts in Findley, Ohio, beginning July 20 through the end of August. You can see all the works in the show at the link above.
The Center is scheduled to be open weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. Masked visitors are restricted to no more than 10 at a time, and it’s always a good idea to call first. Since performances at the Center have been cancelled or postponed I don’t know how much traffic the exhibit will get. The Center’s parking lot will have food trucks on Wednesdays from 11 am to 2 pm, and the Hancock County farmers’ market on Thursdays from 4 to 6 pm.
To my surprise, the juror selected my “Mean Streets” for the Artists of Rubber City show. I had also entered “If The Shoe Fits,” and thought that would be the preferred choice, but I was wrong. My husband is always careful to say that Streets involved much skill and labor but its subject matter isn’t going to be a viewer favorite. Go figure.
The Artists of Rubber City show runs from July 10 through August 8. You need a free, timed ticket to view the show, being held at Summit ArtSpace in downtown Akron, Ohio.
If you’re more in the mood for a virtual show, check out SAQA’s On The Edge. It’s not your usual art quilt show.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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