Recent Acquisitions from the TCQC

deVos, Not Even SolomonA Love Affair with Quilts

Recent Acquisitions from the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection

November 1 – January 19, 2014

Del Thomas personifies the kind of art collector that artists love. She adds quilts to the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection for a variety of reasons, but mostly because she develops a little love affair with each new piece. She wants to know everything about the work, what inspired it, what techniques were used, and how the fabric choices were made. She wants to meet the artist, learn about other quilts the artist has made, know what excites the artist about her work and propels her to design quilts. Del is the ideal collector. Meet her at the opening reception for Recent Acquisitions from the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection on November 9th from 5-7 p.m. Admission is $5, and free for members of Visions Art Museum: Contemporary Quilts + Textiles.

As a quilt-maker herself, Del Thomas didn’t decide to be a quilt collector. She fell in love. In 1985 Del bought a quilt at a guild auction because it was love at first sight. A year or so later, she fell in love again, and soon she was falling in love with more and more quilts until she realized this must be what it means to have a collection. The Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection was born.

Today, the collection has 250 quilts. In the beginning, Del was seduced by traditional quilts, but over the years quilters began experimenting and Del became smitten with art quilts. The Collection is nearly all art quilts.

The Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection is really several collections. It comprises the largest single collection of Ruth McDowell’s quilts. The Collection has over 60 twelve-inch square quilts. There is a strong selection of landscape motifs in the Collection especially quilts with trees and birds.

Recent Acquisitions from the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection features 29 quilts by 22 artists including eight quilts by Ruth McDowell. Several of the quilts have won awards at recent quilt shows and the newest quilts to the Collection will be on view for the first time.

Join Del Thomas on December 9th at 2:00 p.m. when she gives a tour of the exhibition and talks about each quilt and how the romance began quilt by quilt. Del generously shares information about her collecting experience and will be available after the talk for questions.

Visions Art Museum: Contemporary Quilts + Textiles is located at 2825 Dewey Road in Liberty Station, San Diego, California. Museum hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $5. Children age 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Visions Art Museum members enjoy year-round complimentary admission.

Rita Summers Takes Grand Prize!

Each year, Blarney Books and Art in Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia hosts a major competition and exhibition of art made from books.  Rita Summers, who was the only Tasmanian entrant this year, submitted Agatha’s Wardrobe, a mixed media artwork incorporating pages from an 1835 publication entitled Agatha’s Husband.

Rita Summers, Agatha's Wardrobe, 2013Rita’s entry, described by the judges as a ‘very subtle and emotional piece’, was awarded the grand prize of $1,500.  Blarney Books and Art have also purchased Rita’s winning entry for their permanent collection.

Art is a way of life for Rita, as can be seen from her original poem, included with her entry: 

art is like breathing to me

life and thoughts impressed on paper, cloth, the air

fleeting sounds and images

captured before they escape forever

Rita explains, ‘I like to push the boundaries in my art to create my own original style.   My qualifications and background focus on visual contemporary art, craft and design, and stitching is my chosen medium.  I often incorporate upcycled materials and found objects.  I like to combine a mix of artistic processes:  stitching, photography, digital manipulation, printmaking, collage, sculpture, painting, drawing and books or text.’

Agatha’s Wardrobe represents the hopes and dreams of a young woman from the 1800’s as she prepares for her wedding:  the shy delight she feels as she chooses her trousseau; the stitching of precious silks and laces for her ‘hope chest’ or ‘glory box’ (probably begun while she was still a child); the anticipation as she tries on her wedding dress; the mystery and uncertainty of love and its passions; the solemnity of the marriage vows.

Love makes us vulnerable to pain, as Agatha discovers.  Rita experienced this with her as she read the book and created this artwork.  She felt Agatha’s pain as she faced loss, betrayal, isolation, and a deep despair which almost drove her to suicide.  Ultimately, love triumphed, but not before it almost destroyed both her and her husband.

There are twelve dresses in the box – a dress for each month of the year.  Each dress has a swing label attached to it; each label features a phrase from the traditional marriage vows.

Rita Summers, Agatha's Wardrobe, 12 dressesRita added a key to the box lid as both a symbolic and practical embellishment – ‘the key to my heart’; the key which makes precious items secure; the key which keeps things private.

Safety pins and buttons – again, both practical and symbolic.  Hand crocheted lace, vintage (torn) silk, stitching – everything is given a hidden meaning beyond their intrinsic beauty and structure.

Things hinted at and not always explained.  Materials and skills which women have implemented through the ages.

In transforming the original book into something beyond the printed word, Rita hopes that Agatha’s Wardrobe touches the hearts of everyone who sees and absorbs what it has become.

Materials:  mixed media – wood, cardboard, vintage silk, found objects, specialty paper, old book pages, old sheet music, vintage lace, buttons, vintage key, dressmaker pattern tissue, stitch

Rita Summers is co-owner and operator of Gone Rustic Studio & Gallery, situated in Tasmania, Australia.

To find out more about Rita and to see more of her art, you can visit her blog at, or her Facebook page

Kay Laboda Installs a New Exhibit at Visions Art Museum

Kay Laboda has been a volunteer for Visions Art Museum in San Diego, CA, since 2007. Initially she worked with the exhibition hanging crew taking down the current exhibit and hanging the new one. Soon she was asked to be part of the exhibition committee. Her involvement in the process is now complete, from planning to hanging.

The committee, chaired by museum Director Beth Smith and including nine dedicated volunteers, meets once a month to plan the next three years of exhibitions for VAM. The committee has 2013 and 2014 planned and booked. Details for 2015 are being fleshed out now and the process of brainstorming for 2016 has begun. In addition to specific exhibits that will be booked, the committee coordinates a member challenge that will coincide with and compliment each exhibit.

For the past three years Kay’s duties have included designing the exhibits. Kay particularly enjoys the responsibility of placing each quilt. Considering the elements of individual pieces is only the starting point — the next question is, “Will the quilts play together well?” Showing individual pieces along-side art produced by another artist in a harmonious way takes an artist’s eye.

Kay walks us through her recent experience of preparing and hanging a new exhibition, Tracing the Steps: The Diversity of Fiber, new work by 17 artist members of California Fibers. Before the new exhibit is hung, the current exhibit is taken down, the art is returned to the artists and the walls are patched and painted. Now the new exhibit can be hung.

Lisa and Jan unpack a quilt for the exhibit.

Mapping out where the art quilts will be hung. Blue painter’s tape outlines the spaces.

Kay measures the spaces. Each quilt is centered on a space 60″ from the floor.

Hanging one of the art quilts.

Sally on scaffolding adjusting the lights.

Kay leveling three pieces.

Also on exhibit is Insights, a juried exhibition of 12 quilts by the members of the Visions Critique Group.  View the current exhibit here:

I’m Not Crazy Exhibit

Of 128 art quilts submitted by 86 artists Sue Reno had the task of selecting just 20 art quilts for I’m Not Crazy, an exhibit sponsored by Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). The show was juried “blind” — names of artists were not revealed during selection — so Sue found out who was involved along with everyone else. According to curator Kathy Nida, “Together they create a compelling exhibition of work addressing issues of mental illness and the stigma attached to it.”

Karen Musgrave’s art quilt Glimpses of the Dark Angel is one of the 20 pieces selected to travel with the exhibit.

Karen says the call spoke to her immediately:
Mental illness carries with it a stigma; many of us have experience with disorders, temporary or permanent, curable or not, that in the past and in some cultures even today would be labeled as crazy. That stigma can make it difficult to admit its effect on our loved ones or ourselves. Disorders as common as anxiety or depression, or less common, like schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, can have a devastating effect on families and friends, and on ourselves. Negativity towards those who have these disorders often causes many people to keep the diagnosis hidden from friends and family.
What does “crazy” look like?
What does it feel like?
How does the world look through the eyes of someone experiencing a panic attack or depression or other mental disorder?
How does loving or caring for someone with a mental disorder look and feel?
We’re looking for work that covers these experiences: from the eyes of the caregiver, the friend, the family member, and, of course, those who have experienced any of these disorders themselves. Your work can reflect the disorder or the chaos it holds on our lives, it can be humorous, it can be sad, it can be crazy or incredibly calm.

Here is the schedule of venues (more may be added):

August 16-19, 2012 Exhibit opening:
World Quilt Show–New England X
Radisson Center of New Hampshire, Manchester, NH
September 13-16, 2012 Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza XIX
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, Philadelphia Area, PA
October 11-14, 2012 Pacific International Quilt Festival XXI
Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA
November 8-10, 2012 World Quilt Show — Florida IV
Palm Beach Country Convention Center,
West Palm Beach, FL
February 21-24, 2013 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival XXIV
Hampton Roads Convention Center,
Hampton, VA
February 28-March 3, 2013 The Quilt Fest of New Jersey IX
Garden State Exhibit Center, Somerset, NJ
May 2-5, 2013 Denver National Quilt Festival VIII
Denver Merchandise Mart, Denver, CO
Unfortunately, Karen doesn’t think she’ll be able to attend any of the shows listed. If you have the opportunity to view the exhibit, please contact Karen and share your impressions with her.

Hearts for Christchurch

American Quilter, the magazine of the American Quilter’s Society, featured an article in their May 2012 issue called “Hearts for Christchurch.” The article shares what Evie Harris, of Napier, New Zealand, did in response to the devastating earthquake of February 2011 that killed 182 people and is the costliest natural disaster for New Zealand to date.

Evie created a blog and posted simple instructions asking readers to send hearts, “. . . a small measure of something nice to give in this terrible time.” Thousands of hearts arrived from around the world. When the Canterbury Museum reopened its doors in September 2011, more than four thousand hearts were featured in the exhibit Hearts for Christchurch.

Evie continues to receive hearts on a daily basis. To learn more about the project and the exhibit, visit Evie’s blog here.

Visions Art Museum

I wish I could have been there February 3rd when the museum was buzzing. It was opening night for three new exhibits which will run through April 22 and the announcement of the naming of their large gallery space as the Del Thomas Gallery. Del is an avid collector of art quilts who established the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection in 1985. One of the three exhibits which just opened at Visions Art Museum features 40 twelve-inch square quilts from the TCQC. A return engagement for TCQC is scheduled for the summer of 2013 as New Quilts from the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection and will feature works acquired since a summer 2007 exhibit at the Museum.

The traveling SAQA exhibit Art Meets Science also opened and features Nature’s Fractal, a work by Franki Kohler and Blue Boobs are Best, a work by Sara Kelly. This exhibit explores the unexpected intersections of two seemingly different disciplines, Art and Science. The works focus upon inspiration from scientific theories or phenomena expressed in new or unexpected ways, from the harmonies of randomness to the dynamics produced by scientific imagery.

Also showing are quilts from the Canyon Quilters Guild challenge Magical Mystery Tour: Homage to the Beatles. Read more about Visions by clicking on the link above. I think there is something here for everyone.

But wait, there’s more:  Our own Kay Laboda hung the Art Meets Science exhibit last week. It is truly a small world.

Vivian Aumond-Capone shows at Timberline Gallery

Timberline Gallery

in Oakhurst, California

has just hung their show Totems.

Opening reception is Saturday, January 14th.

Among the artists featured is Vivian Aumond-Capone with her art quilt Birds of Many Colors. This original art quilt used machine applique, hand embroidery, beading and buttons and measures 11 1/2″ x 34 1/2″. It was completed January 2012.                 . Vivian says of the piece: “The Blue Bird signifies happiness within. Enjoy life with a balance of work and play. The birds’ song awakens confidence, internal peace, contentment and fulfillment. Touch the joy and dance in your life.”

The gallery features a special theme exhibit every two months. On continual display are a host of art mediums including fiber weaving, art quilts, watercolor, oil and acrylic paintings, glass, jewelry, gourds, digital art and more.

For more details about the gallery, directions and featured artists for Totems click Timberline Gallery.

Member Monday with Sue Reno

By any measure I’ve had a great year, and I am both humbled and immensely grateful for all the opportunities that have come my way, and for all the people in my life who make it possible for me to be living the dream.  Here’s a partial survey of where  to see my work right now, starting with the newly published book The Studio Quilt, No. 6: State of the Art  by Sandra Sider.
The Studio Art Quilt Vol.6My Groundhog and Green Bean was selected for inclusion.
SueReno_GroundhogAndGreenBeanAlso recently released is Portfolio 18,  the latest edition from SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) documenting the art quilt movement. Portfolio 18 contains 241 full-color plates of SAQA Professional Artist Members’ works, with geographical and genre indexes.  I’ve had work in the last several volumes and am pleased to be a part of this one as well.  It’s available in the SAQA Bookstore.

Portfolio18-coverThis next publication came as a happy surprise.  International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene 2011 is an annual special edition magazine, a collaboration between Quilting Arts Magazine and Quilts, Inc., with feature articles, projects, and beautiful photography celebrating the best in contemporary quilting. I was thrilled to discover that this year’s edition features my Watt & Shand #6, representing the special exhibit Tactile Architecture.
The Quilt Scene _Watt & Shand #6In exhibit news, The Art of Fiber opened at the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton, VA last week, and I’m hearing a lot of good buzz online about it.  It includes two of my Watt & Shand works, #4 and #9.
The Art of Fiber_Workhouse ArtsAlso just opened is Art Quilts XVI: Something to Say at the Chandler Center for the Arts in AZ.  This is a highly regarded show, and I’m thrilled that Watt & Shand #3 is a part of it:
And last but definitely not least in my embarrassment of exhibit riches is Craft Forms at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA. Watt & Shand #8 is a part of this international exhibit featuring fine crafts in all media.

SueReno_WattShand8See more of Sue’s work here.

Suzanna Bond Lands Viewer’s Choice Award

The call: “Ugly Fabric Challenge” at Calico House in Placentia, California.
The rule: Use 1/2 yard of a green fabric with circles and any amount of three other fabrics provided in a kit.
Suzanna learned about the challenge with only one month to meet the entry deadline of August 31, 2011. She dashed to her studio and pulled out a photo taken while visiting a home in the slums of Nairobi during the summer of 2010. “I wanted to do this piece and the fabric challenge egged me on,” says Suzanna. She pulled out some of her own hand-dyed fabrics, other treasures in her stash, the kit and got to work.
The result:  One Mother, 24″ x 42″
Suzanna used ink, Sharpie Marker and thread to create the faces.
“For me the piece portrays the dignity and beauty of these women in the worst of conditions. She really had that huge bright green wrap on her head.  This child is the focus of her life and her whole future,” says Suzanna.
The Viewer’s Choice Award gave her $100 which she spent on thread.
Congratulations Suzanna!
See more of Suzanna’s work here.

The Palm Challenge – Janet Hartje

Janet Hartje is a member of the Rosie Quilters, formed in 2009 this small group of fiber artists meet monthly at the library coffee shop in Roseville, Minnesota. The library was the most central location for the eight-member group who live in the Twin Cities area. Good friendships and support for a diverse fiber art journey is the primary benefit of the group. Members of the group originally met through Minnesota Contemporary Quilters.

Early in 2011 the group decided upon their first challenge. Each member brought a photograph for consideration, one was selected, a 4-month deadline was set and seven members participated. Janet Hartje read about a call for local artists in Woodbury’s (approximately 16 miles southeast of Roseville) city newsletter. City officials were eager to feature month-long exhibits at Woodbury’s City Hall. Janet took photographs of a few of the completed quilts to show the exhibits curator — the exhibit was scheduled for November on the spot!

Here’s the photograph each member used as their inspiration:

And here are the quilts on exhibit. The artists (from left to right) are Nancy Wick, Zannah Martin, Stephanie Forsyth, Janet Hartje and Janet Hovde.

The artists below are (from left to right) Kathy Tuominen and Melissa Nellis.

Janet admits, “It’s a little addicting, the high you get from seeing your work hanging in a public space! We would like to find more venues to exhibit our work.” She’ll be scouting out new possibilites and the Rosie Quilters will definitely be challenging themselves again.

The quilts are being exhibited for the month of November at Woodbury City Hall. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by.