04 Nov

Thoughts on Houston

As the big quilt show in Houston wraps up, I’ve been doing some post-show ruminating. No, I didn’t attend this year, or last, though I have been twice (2010 and 2011). I am recognizing a kind of love hate reaction to the show.

I love seeing everyone’s photos of the quilts and reporting from the wholesale-only market days. Kathy Mack and Team Pink Chalk always do a great job reporting each year’s trends from Market. This year, I especially enjoyed seeing Market and Festival glimpses from Facebook and Instagram friends, Victoria Findlay-Wolf, Cheryl Sleboda, Judy Coates-Perez, Jamie Fingal, and Kathy Nida who did a thoughtful review on her blog. While not at all like being there, it was definitely fun for the last two weeks to see what all the excitement is about and what quilts and fabrics people were responding to. It’s also worth checking out the big winners on the IQF page here.

I look at the winners each year, and am always in awe of the craftsmanship in these pieces. The style or subject matter is not always my cup of tea, but I can never disregard the passion, skill, and care taken in creating the most oft seen quilts at the show each year. I could get discouraged that my own quilting is not so perfect or that my pieces are not so small, or that my appliqué not so meticulous. However, seeing these quilts tends instead to be a push for me to constantly improve my work. I may not see my work fitting in a venue like IQF Houston, but it keeps me striving to make sure that it’s not for lack of craftsmanship. I love a good traditional bed quilt (especially a scrappy one), and I appreciate good craftsmanship and intent, so for any poo-pooing I may do of predictable subject matter, or styles that have jumped the shark, overall, I am far more inspired by what I see from Houston than not. In fact, I spent all morning warming up my machine quilting skills on a pair of scrap quilts, just to remind myself to be mindful and meticulous (as much as I can be), because when it comes time to quilt that piece with 900-something 2-inch squares, I want to do it and it’s concept justice.

So what’s the hate side of the equation? It’s the part where I see all the fabric designs from Market, and promotions like the video from Cotton and Steel, and lovely young women being entrepreneurial and passionate, and pro-active about what they want to be doing, be it fabric design, pattern design, online shops, teaching, inspiring, whatever. That always makes me feel like a lazy bum. Granted, designing fabrics and sewing patterns is not my thing or my strength; so while I may be jealous that these people are achieving their goals, I don’t actually want to be in their shoes. But what their stories do is make me ask myself where I want to be in five years. What are MY goals? And that question always stumps me. It’s hard, and I never put in the effort to figure it out. My go-to excuse is that I don’t even know where I’ll be living in five years, but in our interconnected, online world, that shouldn’t matter.

I feel like I may have made some baby steps this year. When I left Hawai’i, I told myself that in our new locale I would try to connect more with the local arts community. I wanted to do life drawing again, and I felt like my Army Wife series was just about ready to share. Now, 15 months later, I actually accomplished all these things, and there’s still forward momentum. So, where to take it next? What fabulous, exciting, Houston-worthy, goal do I want to set my sights on? I’m not sure just yet. I’m excited about a new series of work with social commentary, and I want Michelle Obama to see my Army Wife show, and I’d love to sell a piece or two to a serious collector, but are these actual goals that I have control over? That I can shape into something ongoing? I don’t know. But I’ll use the general excitement of what I’m seeing around me to keep pushing me to consider the possibilities.

11 Nov

IQF Houston: Part 3

I’m always on the lookout for quilts and other fiber art in which the figure is treated well. That’s not to say that I want to see photo realism. In fact, I think those are the ones that most often fall short. What I like is the figure rendered well if realistic, and intentionally if abstracted or naïve. I was pleasantly surprised by many  I saw in Houston that I liked this year.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Organic is Good For You! by Bodil Gardner.
From the Good For You Exhibit. I love Bodil’s work — so much character and freedom!

IQF Houston 2011
Another quilt by Bodil Gardner. I forgot to get the name of it. I just love her charming ladies.

IQF Houston, 2011
Woman Waiting I, by Pamela Allen
Along with Bodil Gardner, Pam Allen is one of my perennial favorites. She uses primitive and whimsical forms in a wonderfully intentional way that I love.

IQF Houston, 2011
Tango with a Technopus, by Pam RuBert
Another Pam who renders the figure in a very intentional, and amusing, way.

IQF Houston, 2011
Population Explosion (detail) by Laura Fogg.
I took this detail photo for my friend Natalya who has some figures from her life drawing class which she has done on fabric and would like to incorporate into her textile work. I really like the way the stitched details overlap and blend the pieced areas, and compliment the gestural paintings.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Dreaming (detail), by Sonia Bardella
Part of the Text on Textile exhibit. Text AND figures — potential to go so wrong, but this one went pretty right.

IQF Houston, 2011

Solace, By Mary Pal.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Memories of Gombe, by Mary Pal
Honorable Mention. I love Mary Pal’s way with cheesecloth. She knows light light and form, and is so unique in the quilt show world.

IQF Houston, 2011
Just Call Me Jack, by Virginia Greaves
Here’s the usual posterized method of rendering figures in cloth. I thought this one did a good job and made no apologies for being made of fabric (love the obvious florals and checks).

IQF Houston, 2011
Self Portrait, by Joan Sowada.
I thought this one also did a good job and made no apologies for being made of fabric, especially where the plaid background interacts with the figures.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Dixie Dingo Dreaming by Susan Carlson.
Figures don’t need to be human either. Susan Carlson’s work inspired me years ago, and this one just renewed that spark. She does such a wonderful job of rendering form realistically, yet celebrating fabric as well.

Next up,  a small collection of photos that didn’t fit neatly into the plant, Hawaiian, or human categories.

10 Nov

IQF Houston: Part 2

I was going to write a bit about my time volunteering at the SAQA exhibit and what the organization has to offer art quilters at various places in their careers or craft. But, I’ve already forgotten what my big point was. Oh well, that means I can move on to the part most people are interested in: the quilts!

I did not take nearly as many photos this year as least, nor did I make much of an effort to see everything on display. I was having too much fun hanging out in the Twelve by Twelve exhibit! My main impression, especially with the World of Beauty quilts (the main section, eligible for prizes and awards) was that there was a LOT of sparkle. Beads, crystals, metallic thread, Angelina fibers, iridescent paint, the more bling the better.

Beyond the bling, I found looking at my photos, that I was attracted to a lot of plant-related quilts.

IQF Houston, 2011
Lemon Grass, by Cynthia Vogt.
Ahhh, the simplicity. I wish I could think of things like this.

IQF Houston, 2011
Solo Act, by Peg Collins
I liked this one even before I saw my favorite Kaffe Fasset print in it!

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Composition 1, by Miwako Mogami
Big! Big Fruit, big color, big patterns. I like it!

IQF Houston 2011

IQF Houston 2011
An Autumn Breeze, by Akiko Kawata.
Another of the very graphic quilts I am attracted to.

IQF Houston, 2011
Bountiful, by Carol Taylor
Loved the color palette and graphic quality of this (similar to Autumn Breeze above) and was surprised that it was made by the normally bright and geometric Carol Taylor.

IQF Houston, 2011
Salad With Pears, by Gail Segreto
Good For You Exhibit. Big, graphic, and zoomed in!

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
First Snow, by Lauren Strach.
Nice collage of discharged leaf patterns, but then made more special by all the hand and machine stitching.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Eat Your Vegetables by (?!). I am so sorry that I neglected to get the name of the artist of this piece.
Good For You Exhibit. a combo of silk(?) painting, and bead and button embellishment. It’s kinda like the love child of of Susan Shie’s and Pamela Allen’s work — two of my favorites.

IQF Houston 2011
Bugs and Other Things, by Pamela Allen
I love Pam’s work!

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Gossip Garden, by Debra Martinez
Another glittery one. It grew on me the more I looked at it. I like the whimsey and wackiness.

Last year I was drawn to the Hawaiian quilts, and this year the pull was stronger. In the meantime, I’ve also admired the work of Meg Maeda and her students, especially their use of radially dyed fabric. Although it is so amazingly different than either my art quilts or the bed quilts I usually make, Hawaiian quilting is taking it’s hold on me. Who knew it was Borg-like?

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Hawaiian Quilt, by Mi-Jung Kim.
The Hawaiian quilt bug is infecting me. I was drawn to every one I saw — especially those using radially dyed fabric. I live the way the colors can interact where the transitions on the foreground fabric align with the transitions on the background fabric. This is not the most subtle fabric combination (see Meg’s work for that), but the idea is there and the craftsmanship is fantastic.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Halemaumau (detail), by Takashi Kusaka.
No radially dyed fabric here, but I liked the particularly lush border on this one, and absolutely “get” the reference to the ferns and glowing lava around the Halemaumau crater at the top of Kilauea.

IQF Houston, 2011

IQF Houston, 2011
Lei Lani (detail), by Mineko Momose.
Another Hawaiian quilt with radially dyed fabrics. I’m hooked. Small radials form the hawaiian applique on separate blocks — yet another application for it.

IQF Houston, 2011
Feathers Aglow, by Judith Thompson.
I was drawn to this one because I thought, from afar, that it might fit into the Hawaiian-ish with radially dyed fabric category I’ve been attracted to. Upon closer look, it was carefully chosen and placed commercial fabrics, but I still love the clean, graphic, quality of this.

IQF Houston, 2011

Next up will be quilts with figures — a pet peeve of mine. I was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few that I thought were outstanding.

08 Nov

IQF Houston: Part 1

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and the International Quilt Festival in Houston is no exception. Like last year, I’ll break down my experience into several posts.

First, the most important and bestest reason to go this year: to see the Twelve by Twelve exhibit and to meet eight of the other eleven twelves, many of whom I’d never met in person!

Our exhibit area was two bracket shaped “walls” of drapes facing each other to form somewhat of a room. Flanking each side of the entrance were informational signs and our boldest Colorplay sets. It invited people in perfectly.

Twelve by Twelve Special Exhibit at IQF Houston

The big sign explained the project and credited our sponsor, The Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection as without Del’s support and enthusiasm the exhibit probably wouldn’t have happened. The other side plugged our book, which was a much bigger hit than we anticipated.

Twelve by Twelve Special Exhibit at IQF Houston

In fact, the whole experience was more than we anticipated. I expected people to walk through and say that it was nice, but I was blown away by how many people said it was the best exhibit in the whole show! Inside the exhibit were all the Theme series quilts and two tables for us to sit at and sign books or rest our feet. For the most part though, we were up and chatting with all the viewers. The more we told our story, the better people liked the work.

Twelve by Twelve Special Exhibit at IQF Houston

There was a steady stream of people all day every day, admiring our work. Amazing.

Twelve by Twelve Special Exhibit at IQF Houston

One outer wall showing Colorplay quilts.

Twelve by Twelve Special Exhibit at IQF Houston

We all took turns signing books at the Quilting Books Unlimited booth. Cathy Neri is so enthusiastic about our book and it was great teamwork to share book sales with her.

IQF Houston 2011

In our “off” hours we had the best time hanging out together, be it at dinner in a restaurant, in the hotel bar/breakfast room/lounge, or in one of our rooms.

9 of 12 Twelve by Twelve members meet in Houston
Dinner our first night: Karen, Terri (almost hidden), Nikki, Diane, Brenda, Terry, Deborah, and Gerrie. It’s worthwhile to click on everyone’s links and see their photos and commentary as well. I ended up not getting any pictures of myself, or more importantly, the paper stand-ins of the three Twelves who couldn’t be present that Gerrie made and we took with us most everywhere we went.

9 of 12 Twelve by Twelve members meet in Houston
Dinner our third night: Deborah, Diane, Terri, Karen (behind the wine), Brenda, Gerrie (behind Terry), Terry, and Nikki.

9 of 12 Twelve by Twelve members meet in Houston

Deep in discussion in the lounge: Diane, Nikki, and Gerrie

We exchanged gifts one night and Nikki made us each journals with hand painted paper and beaded spines. Not sure what prompted Deborah to rub the beads on her cheek but it was pretty funny when we all followed suit.

9 of 12 Twelve by Twelve members meet in Houston

Diane, Terri, and Deborah

Technology ruled and kept us (mostly) in touch with each other, those buying our books, and the outside world.

9 of 12 Twelve by Twelve members meet in Houston

Brenda and Diane reading lovely comments on Facebook, and keeping track of expenses on the iPad.

Compared to last year when I made sure to see every exhibit and walk each vendor row, this time I was perfectly content to stay in out Twelve by Twelve area and get to know my old friends a bit better and to interact with our surprisingly enthusiastic viewers. I have some quilt photos and purchases that I’ll share in the next posts, but really, the best part of the experience was hanging with the Twelves! I miss my sisters (and Quilt Mom) already.