Friday, November 18, 2011

Portland Modern Quilt Guild - A Fun Group!

Night Flight, 1982, by Andrea Leong Scadden, aka Andrea Balosky
Yesterday I visited the Portland Modern Quilt Guild at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland for an evening talk about masterpiece quilts. The room was packed, and what a fun group! There was lots of laughter, great questions, and the usual wide eyes, craned necks and audible gasps (I love those). The talk was an adaptation of my "Masterpiece Theatre" lecture, tailored to the guild.

Cross Roads, c. 1870, Texas
It was a whirlwind tour of my journey as a collector, and how my idea of a masterpiece quilt evolved over the years. The story started with the type of quilts that collectors were buying in the 1980s when I started collecting - "best" quilts - which are easily recognized by their wonderful design, great construction, and dense quilting.
Album with Lyre, 1850, Mary Couchman Small, West Virginia
From there, we went to Alabama when I showed Lucy Mingo's Bible Story quilt, made in 1979. Seeing the Gee's Bend exhibit in New York was a real turning point for me. I realized the definition of a masterpiece quilt was much more broad than my preconceived idea of the "best" quilt.

Bible Story by Lucy Mingo, Gee's Bend, Alabama, 1979
It was a big jump, but that's kind of how it happened for me. The first quilt exhibit I ever saw was Applique Quilts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The second quilt exhibit I saw was The Quilts of Gee's Bend. It was a lot to digest in a short time, but my art history background was a good foundation for understanding various styles of artistic expression. I loved the Gee's Bend quilts from the moment I first laid eyes on them!

Blue Skies and Green Tangent, 2011, by Andrea Balosky
I showed nine quilts in 45 minutes! Crazy, I know, but four were grouped together when I spoke about Andrea Balosky. Everyone seemed to have fun...I know I did! Thank you to the Portland Modern Quilt Guild for inviting me speak. I hope to return to the guild in the future to speak about more great quilts! To check out the Portland Modern Quilt Guild, click here.


  1. I loved your presentation so much - thank you!! Hope you'll come back, maybe we could even persuade you to join our guild. We'll even show you how to thread a needle. :o)

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. The room was just bursting at the seams with energy and enthusiasm. I'm not sure if there's any hope that I'll ever be able to thread a needle, but I'll definitely come back and share more quilts if I'm invited. :)

  3. I'm so glad you posted a photo of Night Flight - it just takes my breath away (despite, um, not being crazy about the mauve). Thank you - I really enjoyed your presentation.

  4. I just love that green tangent from Andrea oh its lucky are you to own a few of her quilts....
    of course the Album with the Lyre is one quilt I have just loved, would love to reproduce/make a quilt inspired by that quilt, I have become fond of album quilts with a folk art feel . Amazing basket blocks , love that princess feather block and I love....
    you get the idea, one of my favorite quilts you own thanks for sharing it again

  5. Thank you!

    I share your feelings about mauve, but somehow it works as a sublime representation of dusk in Night Flight. I love it when an artist can do something that challenges me to rethink my position, and Andrea's work routinely does that for me.

  6. Oh, that album! It is a stunner. I left it up after the talk was over, so people could get close and see the stitches. Everyone seems to learn something from that quilt. It leaves no doubt about its status as a masterpiece, which makes it a great starting point for a conversation about what a masterpiece quilt can be.

  7. Thanks for coming ~ it was so fun to see such old quilts in great care. Crossroads was my favorite!!