Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lulu Hears a Squirrel

Look how wide Lulu's eyes got when she heard the squirrel outside. She hunkered down, ready to pounce, and as she galloped toward the back door with her funny, hunched squirrel tail, I subverted her effort to climb the screen door...again. Afterwards, knowing she'd given it her best effort, she preened on the sofa.

Exhibit in San Jose, July 31-October 27, 2013

My exhibit, "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts" is now scheduled for July 31st to October 27th, 2013, at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles in San Jose, California. Originally, the exhibit was scheduled to end on October 14th, but it has been extended so it will coincide with another event at the museum. There will be around 35 to 40 quilts, made between 1850 and 2011, mapping the history of the quilt pattern. Here are just a few of the quilts that will be part of the exhibit.

Three of the quilts, including the last two pictured here, are now on display at the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas, as part of "Off the Wall, Maverick Quilts" curated by Julie Silber and Jean Demeter of The Quilt Complex. More details to follow about the exhibit in San Jose. I'm really excited about it. All of the gallery spaces will be devoted to my exhibit, so I basically get to fill the whole museum with quilts. 

She's a Lulu!

Last year, my friend Tonya Ricucci got a pair of kittens, and one of them, Annabelle, is notoriously mischievous. Whenever Tonya posts pictures of Annabelle on Facebook, that cat's been up to something, and I'm guilty of teasing Tonya about her lovable little juvenile delinquent. Now, I can sympathize with her.

What can I say about Little Lulu? Today, I caught her climbing the bookshelves, and soon after I chased her down, she was up on the island in the kitchen. No idea how she got up there, it's a big leap. She'd been prowling around the kitchen all morning. I thought it was because she wanted me to make her favorite food - bacon.

That's the other funny thing about Lulu. A few days ago, we discovered she's absolutely mad about bacon. Just the aroma of bacon cooking is enough to send Lulu into a tailspin. She runs around the kitchen in a panic, desperately meowing at me, "I want BACONNNNN!!" She's had a few nibbles of the divine food, but no more. I know bacon probably isn't good for cats. Still, she makes me want to cook up a whole plate full for her. Don't worry, I won't do it! No matter how much she begs.

Every time I turn around, Lulu is in a new place, and it's usually where I don't expect a cat to be. She has no shame! If there's a place to be explored, she explores it. I have to chase her down from many of the places she likes to go.

What a little devil! She keeps me on my toes. During the day, whenever I hear a crash or a thud, it gets me out of my seat to investigate what Lulu's gotten herself into. I know I should reprimand my incorrigible kitty, but it's not easy to look at her sweet little face and tell her no.

I simply adore my crazy kitty. Can you tell? She may not be the most well-behaved, and maybe I shouldn't laugh or praise her when she's gotten herself into trouble. As long as she's safe, I'm OK looking the other way. One thing's for sure. She's a Lulu!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

La colcha el loco

Is it the blazing Arizona sun, or is it a UFO hovering over Roswell, New Mexico? "La colcha el loco" isn't really proper Spanish, but that's how I think of this stupendous 1970s double-knit polyester crazy quilt. It came from Marjorie Childress in New Mexico, and she thinks it could be from Arizona because of the presence of saguaro cactus.

Once again, we see double-knit polyester and raw-edge applique in a 1970s quilt. Interestingly, raw-edge applique is a "thing" today, but is mostly done with fusible fabric.

I don't know who or what "K" was meant to represent, but I like to think of it as the K in OK.

"Everything K?"

Pure Genius

A genius is a person who is exceptionally intelligent, creative, or insightful. We sometimes hear the term genius associated with IQ tests, but I'm thinking more about the creative and insightful characteristics when viewing this wildly expressive, improvisational quilt. In my opinion, it's pure genius.

Of course, genius is a very subjective term in discussions about art, particularly abstract or non-objective art. There are many people who find this quilt baffling. In certain ways, so do I. The quilt challenges me, and urges me to make sense of it. That's how it draws me in. It seems much more closely related to abstract expressionist painting than quiltmaking. With such an unfamiliar design, you could even call it strange. But I feel it's strange in a good way.

The quilt came from Marjorie Childress in New Mexico. It just arrived yesterday, along with a second quilt. More about that later. I believe this quilt was made around the 1970s. Some of the materials seem earlier, but the combination of colors and some of the trims suggest 70s. It has some unusual attributes, too. The quilt is mostly wools, it has a large section of embroidered flowers, and shapes are outlined in applied bias tape and rickrack. Reminds me of a favorite Pat Sloan quote, "Rickrack. It's not tacky anymore."

So, tell me what you think. Is this quilt the craziest thing you've ever seen? Or is it pure genius?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Willow Tree Quilt Included in Celebration of Life

January has been a very difficult month, and the last two weeks were most difficult. Stan Uffner, father of my dear friend, Sarah Uffner, passed away after unexpectedly suffering a heart attack when leaving work at Intel on Monday, the 14th. I spent most of the week in the hospital with family and friends, hoping for a miracle, and then we learned there wasn't going to be a chance for a meaningful recovery. Stan was taken off life support, and he passed away on Friday, the 18th, just around midnight. I drove over to the hospital one last time to give hugs and offer a few words to help comfort Sarah, her brother, Damon, and our friend Kevin.

The memorial service was on Saturday. It was actually a celebration of life more than a memorial service, and was held at Jenkins Estate, in the stables, the same location as the annual Mother's Day Barefoot Quilt Festival. Sarah had mentioned she'd been there with her dad during the quilt show, and I thought it would be fitting to bring The Willow Tree Quilt to display. To read more about the quilt, click here.

Stan Uffner
The celebration was lovely. There were stories and memories from friends and colleagues, and there was music, including a final song by Cat Stevens, performed by a local musician who was a friend of Stan's. I had put the quilt up on a stand in an alcove downstairs near the coat rack. There were tables close by, and cubbies filled with family photos and other mementos. There was a printed description of the quilt, and a tribute to Stan, which read,

"Stan Uffner certainly would have approved of the group gathered here today to celebrate his life. I think he would’ve enjoyed this quilt, too.

Last week, his daughter, Sarah, and I were talking about being at Jenkins Estate. Sarah had happy memories of visiting Jenkins with the family, and they often went to see the annual quilt show. Here is where they wanted to be today.

Stan wasn’t necessarily into quilts, but he was really into everything. His wonderful sense of curiosity led us – Stan, Sarah, Mason, Damon and I – to many antique shows at the Expo Center. I look back on those times fondly. He took his time and savored everything he saw, and it said a lot about him.

When Sarah and I were talking about today’s celebration of his life, I asked if I could display this quilt as a tribute to Stan, and I thank her for saying yes. It’s just a small thing, but something unique I can offer. Stan appreciated the unique qualities in each and every individual.

Even though the quilt could be seen as a mourning quilt, I’m sure that’s not how Stan would see it. He would recognize the willow as a hopeful symbol, not a sad one. He wouldn’t want us to cry. He would want us to smile and laugh. That was Stan’s whole approach to life. He was warm, happy-go-lucky, quick to flash his winning smile, and eternally optimistic."

During the ceremony, I stood up, said who I was, talked a little about how I knew the family, and told everyone about the quilt. I hadn't planned on getting up and saying anything, but it seemed like people were a little shy at first. I had to help get the ball rolling. And roll it did. Sarah got up and offered some inspirational words, "Be present," she said. I really admired her for having the strength to speak, and she spoke most eloquently.

Later, during the reception, I noticed people looking at the quilt. It was nice to offer something unique to the celebration, and I was happy it could be a quilt. Stan was a unique man with diverse interests. He would've loved it. Rest in Peace, Stan, we hardly knew ye.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Off the Wall: Maverick Quilts at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

Two of my three NY Beauties in the exhibition
Three of my New York Beauty quilts are part of a new exhibition, Off the Wall: Maverick Quilts, currently on display at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas. The exhibition, curated by Julie Silber and Jean Demter of the Quilt Complex, is on display until March 31st. The idea behind the exhibit is to display traditional examples of classic quilt patterns side-by-side with improvisational interpretations. Photos courtesy of The Quilt Complex. For more details, click here.

Improvisational Nine-Patch featured on the poster
Star Quilt, maverick style! 
During installation
Hanging the quilts
Exhibit floor plan, pre-installation 
The other of my three New York Beauties
A fourth New York Beauty, from The Quilt Complex (right) 
Jean Demeter steams one of my quilts to help flatten it - glad she did that!
Julie greets the crowd at the opening. 
Julie and Jean, job well done!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Life with Lulu

Life with Lulu is good. She's gorgeous, and she's wild! This week she knocked over my laptop, a full trash can, and she tried to climb the screen door, and almost got away with stealing a Hershey's Kiss from the candy bowl. Looks like I've got a little terror on my hands.

I wouldn't have it any other way. Such a great kitty, so playful, loves to speak, loves when I pet her, and loves curling up with me when I sleep.

During the day she makes appearances, running around, speaking, and jumping up and down all over the place. Then she disappears. It's like she's playing hide and seek. Sneaky kitty! I love life with Lulu.