Friday, December 16, 2011

A Year of Exhibits

"Beauty Secrets" at the Benton County Museum was a smashing success!
Today, I received a Christmas letter. It was just like a lot of other letters sent out by friends and families during the holidays. There was a brief summary of how the year went, a few details about each member of the family, and a holiday greeting. This type of letter is a familiar tradition, sometimes taken for granted, but it got me thinking.

I wanted to send a brief reply to say how things had been going, but soon realized summarizing the year in just a few sentences wasn't so easy. So much happened. It was a remarkable year, and I'm so grateful. In many ways, it was a year of exhibits.

Small Wonders exhibit at Latimer Quilt and Textile Center
As the year opened, I was working on the "Small Wonders" exhibit of doll quilts by Andrea Balosky at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center in Tillamook. It was exciting to discover the quilts and do an exhibit, and it was my first curatorial experience. To accompany the exhibit, I produced a 120-page, full-color catalog with pictures of all the quilts and a wonderful artist's statement.

Albert Einstein by Andrea Balosky
I probably could've just transported the quilts, hung them, brought them back and left it at that - but there was something very compelling about the quilts. Each one was a tribute to a person, and as a whole body of work, it was incredibly inspirational. So I felt I had to do a catalog. It was just the right thing to do. I did all the photography and layout, and self-published the whole thing through Blurb. That catalog, by the way, can be found here.

American Legion Auxiliary quilt on display at the High Desert Museum
The middle part of the year was very much occupied with preparations for "Beauty Secrets: 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. It was the first-ever museum exhibit of quilts from my collection. So, I was busy organizing quilts and working on a catalog for that exhibit, but there were other things going on.

Timeless Quilts at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland
One of my quilts was on display in Bend at the High Desert Museum. I was also involved with the Timeless Quilts exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, and later in the year displayed 20 quilts at the Northwest Quilting Expo. And there were a lot of lectures, including the Quilter's Affair at Sisters.

For me, the main event was "Beauty Secrets: 150 Years of History in One Quilt Pattern" at the Benton County Museum in Philomath, Oregon. The exhibit came together in about a year, but it was really the result of 22 years of collecting. It included a timeline of quilts made of the same essential pattern over a 150 year period, and drew record numbers to the Benton County Museum. The catalog is 80 pages, full color, and includes 42 examples of the New York Beauty quilt made between 1850 and today. You can find the catalog here.

Not a bad year's work, but that's only the exhibits. There were also lectures, publications...and lots of collecting going on. A productive year, and if I was to send out a Christmas letter, it would be all about quilts. 


  1. You have upped the quilt exhibits here in Oregon! Thanks Bill!!

  2. Thank you! Getting to all the great quilt shows this year wore me out. There were so many, and I didn't get to see them all. When Mom was visiting, she couldn't believe how many exhibits and events there were.