Saturday, June 29, 2013

Four-Block with "Sporks"

This late 19th century Four-Block quilt is a quirky cousin of the New York Beauty. The wheel designs, later called Rising Sun and other names, include a jaw-dropping number of pieced points. The blocks are set within the same type of pieced sashing you might see in a New York Beauty.

There are four hearts in the center of each wheel. At first, they look like they were pieced in, but they were appliqued. The quilting makes them look more like they were set in.

There are three-pronged motifs in each corner of the blocks. To me, they look like "sporks"- those plastic spoons with fork tines at the tips, like the ones you get at Taco Bell. Possibly the motif is meant to be a botanical element of some sort.

Very quirky. I love it!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Lulu chirping

Lulu loves to sit at the back door chirping at the birds and squirrels. So adorable! Wish I could figure out how to include sound - guess I'll just have to videotape her some time.  

AAQI #14379- "Hair Duty" by Lori DeJarnatt

This lovely little bars quilt was made by Lori DeJarnatt of Madras, Oregon, for the Alzheimer's Art quilt Initiative. It is AAQI #14379, "Hair Duty".

It is the third quilt in my collection made by Lori, and all three quilts are deeply personal statements about caring for a relative who has Alzheimer's- her mother. In her artist statement, she says,

"We make sure my mom gets to the hairdresser every Friday to get her hair set. It makes her feel special and the ladies at the salon are so sweet to her. Whoever takes her that week is on 'hair duty'."

My grandmother made the same weekly journey to the hairdresser, and it was important. It was one of the few things she had left to look forward to each week, and it made her feel good about herself, even when she'd moved to the infirmary.

It's wonderful to have this quilt, and the two others from Lori. Of all the AAQI quilts I've collected, these are among the most personal. The quilts even more special because Lori is a friend, and collecting friends' quilts is what got me started with collecting AAQI quilts.

This year is the last for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, and they are "sprinting to the finish" with the goal of reaching $1M. To learn more about it, visit their web site:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Earth Tone Beauty

Bigham Family Quilt, mid-to-late 19th century
This beautifully made pieced quilt came from Tennessee and descended through the Bigham family of Marshall County. The quilt is 84 & 1/2" x 73" and includes chunky, striped piecing rather than sharp points.

It's a modern looking rendition of the pattern later known as New York Beauty, but is much more similar to the 1931 "Springtime in the Rockies" pattern by Capper's Weekly. But it's not the same pattern.

Capper's Weekly "Springtime in the Rockies" block
The earth tone beauty was sold through Case Antiques, and according to the auction record, the dark brown fabric was originally green and the quilt was made in 1860. The lighter color orangey-brown could have been more red at one point. Could it have been a red, white and green quilt?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Comparing Quilts

Two of the quilts in my "New York Beauty" collection are rare variations that include appliqued vines rather than the traditional pieced sashing typically done with rows of points.

Neither of these quilts came with any family information, but they both share characteristics in common with a group of five quilts documented in Tennessee in the mid-1980s. These five quilts appear in the Quilt Index database.

The earliest dated quilt of the group was made in the 1850 to 1875 period and attributed to Elmira Duncan Pearce of Sullivan County. Pearce was Scottish, and the family name for the quilt was "Rocky Mount Quilt (of Scotland)". According to the record, Pearce had a quilter who lived in the house and made quilts. Four sisters, who were Pearce's granddaughters, had owned the "Rocky Mount Quilt (of Scotland)" and passed it down to a niece who was the current owner at the time of the survey. A caregiver of the niece provided the information to the documenters.

new arrival!
This quilt arrived on my doorstep yesterday was made by an unknown maker in the late 19th century. It was auctioned in 2012 by a California auction house, and there was no information in the listing other than photos and approximate dimensions, 6 feet five inches by five feet three inches.

It is solid red, Shaker gray, and solid white, and includes curvy vines with leaves and flowers or buds made of diamond-shaped pieces. The pieced cornerstone design has a two-color, 10-pointed radiating sunburst. There are also 10 points on each of the four solid red arcs in the block.

The other quilt in my collection that shares similarities was made in the late 19th century by an unknown maker, and was found in Kentucky. It came from Stella Rubin, a quilt dealer in the Washington D.C. area, and had appeared in her advertisement in Antiques and Fine Art Magazine in 2010. The quilt was sold before the magazine hit the newsstands.

It is solid green, brown, orange and white, and includes stylized zig-zag vines with leaves and pomegranates. The three-color pieced cornerstone design has a 12-pointed radiating sunburst. Each of the four arcs in each block includes two rows of points. There are 11 full points and two half points along the outermost curved seam of the arc, and seven full points and two half points on the inner curved seam. The half points bookend each row, and there is a border of points around all four sides.

The vine sashing variation has reappeared in the last 15 years. One quilt called "Last Rose of Indian Summer" by Charlotte Huber was published in Quilters Newsletter in 1998. The four-page article included no historical information about the pattern, just instructions for making Huber's quilt.

Barbara Brackman designed a pattern called "Crown of Thorns", which was published in 2000 by Sunflower Pattern Co-operative of Lawrence, Kansas. The pattern doesn't replicate any one design. It is an interpretation of elements seen in multiple quilts- the ones found in Tennessee.

This screen shot shows another quilt sold at auction in 2012 through Case Antiques. It had come from East Tennessee, Sullivan County. All five quilts on the Quilt Index came from the same vicinity in Tennessee.

Although both of my quilts likely originated in other places, it's interesting to compare them to the ones found in Tennessee. Some of the designs and colors share similarities, but there are also key differences that seem to disconnect them from the eastern Tennessee quilts.

Monday, June 24, 2013

unnamed pattern, later called New York Beauty

Last December, I missed out on this quilt when it came up for auction. I'd put in an absentee bid, but I wasn't at the computer for the auction and the bid fell short. As it turned out, a friend won the auction and we later worked out a trade.

It is an unnamed pattern, later called New York Beauty, and the variants with appliqued vines are uncommon. Since the maker is not known, what the maker called the quilt pattern is also unknown. I've seen fewer than a dozen of these quilts with appliqued vine sashing made before 1900, and this one also looks like it's mid to late 19th century. Came through an auction house in California, but that's all I know. A nice addition to the collection!

grad school and beyond

Farview's Gold Dust, Moorestown, NJ, 1990
Still sorting through old photos, and I found some from graduate school. After graduating from School of Visual Arts in 1988 with a BFA in photography, I went straight in to grad school. It was a special program through NYU at the International Center of Photography. There were some great people, and the technical offerings at ICP were outstanding, so I focused on becoming a better technician.

I was shooting with a Hasselblad 503cx, 120 film, which produced square negatives with better resolution than 35mm. Subject matter was mostly straightforward and classically composed. The square format was a nice change of pace from the 35mm rectangle.

Vermont, 1990
At ICP, I was extremely fortunate to have Chuck Kelton and David Graham as instructors. Both were very influential. There were also some offbeat classes, and surprisingly, those didn't appeal to me as much. One of the required classes was almost like a group therapy session. I went along with it, but didn't buy into it. Still, I had to do an exhibit for my final thesis project- and this time I wasn't going to end up with a bunch of framed photos going into storage afterwards.

I went in a completely different direction, and did an installation. The exhibit was at 80 Washington Square East Galleries, and it included mostly vinyl, plastic, polaroids and water. There was an inflatable vinyl pool full of water with Polaroid self-portraits floating on the surface, and a large wall piece made of rope, plastic Ziploc bags, and pictures of a swimmer in the water. It was only displayed once, and some of it got thrown away, but I still have the wall piece packed into a small box.

It was actually rather lovely, especially the wall piece. It was mounted to the wall with hooks and turnbuckles, and as a result it was hovering an inch or two off the wall. The lighting enhanced the effect. Wish I had better pictures, but these snapshots give a rough idea of how beautiful it was.

When I was done, I was done. I didn't attend graduation, but picked up my degree from a basement office at NYU. After that, I continued to do some "fine art" photography and other artwork for a few years, but things would soon change with the introduction of digital cameras. Since then, I've used photography in most everything I've done. Turns out, my education couldn't have been much finer and couldn't have prepared me any better. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

"These are Roman Stones" - for Fritz Lake

In 1984, Mr. Dillahey's European Studies Class at Peddie took a trip to Italy. It was a close-knit group, which included juniors and seniors. We were chaperoned by Mr. and Mrs. Dillahey and Mr. McCagnan, also known as "Vic". Fritz Lake was one of the juniors, but we were close friends because we lived in the same dorm, Rivenburg. We were "froggies" and Fritz was an affable, well-liked young man.

Mr. Dillahey was the main tour guide, and he was absolutely superb. Toward the beginning of the tour, he said, "These are Roman stones" when pointing to Roman ruins. A few of us, including Fritz, found that amusing and it became our catchphrase for the whole trip to Italy. At random moments, any one of us would enthusiastically bellow out, "These are Roman stones!" Fritz found that especially funny.

We would be walking down a narrow alley to an ordinary looking doorway, and Mr. Dillahey would open the door to reveal an extraordinarily beautiful, hidden basilica. That's the kind of tour it was. Whenever we wanted to make Fritz laugh, all we had to do was say, "These are Roman stones!" and we would all dissolve into laughter. Fritz was in Latin class, but I'm not sure if he easily kept up with Pope John Paul II when we attended Sunday mass during the Holy Year of Redemption.

I was very sad to learn Fritz passed away recently. It was sudden, very unexpected, and he left behind a beautiful family. He was planning to take his daughter to Italy, to relive some of the things we experienced together in 1984. When I came across these pictures, I realized they had taken on a whole new level of significance. These were just a few of the incredible things I witnessed with Fritz by my side. So, for Fritz, "These are Roman Stones!"

more photos from Peddie 1983-1984

Photogram, in the style of Man Ray, 1983
Most of these pictures were taken in Photography 1 class with Noah Hotchkiss and Katy Graham at Peddie in 1983. My friend and classmate Judy Cunningham was in the class and was such an excellent photographer, she always inspired me to do my best. We had a wonderful class and amazing teachers, and there were a few darkrooms around campus. We could be found in small rooms, very dimly lit with orange safe lamps, with our hands in trays of chemicals- and we were happy as could be!

Center Campus at Night, Peddie School, Hightstown, NJ, 1983
View from F.A.'s Back Porch, Rivenburg Dormitory, Peddie School, NJ, 1983
Main Street, Hightstown, NJ, 1983
Swim Team Road Trip, Jocelyn Williams, Dina Hulsizer, Jay Huguley, 1983
Katy Graham and her daughter, 1984

Printmaking at SVA / NYC

"High Above the Planet" 1987 - 30" x 40" was the largest size print I made
After two years of RISD, I went to New York in 1986 and finished my undergraduate studies at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), class of 1988. In addition to a lot of photography, much of which was shot as transparency, I also did some printmaking.

"Lava Ocean" 1988
The monoprint was my favorite, and I made each unique print using acrylics applied to plexiglas. I had to move quickly or else it would dry, and I used a spray bottle with water to keep things fluid. Sometimes I finished them with more applied acrylic.

"Lava Islands" 1988
"Pond" 1988 
"Lava Rock" 1988
It's fun to dig through the old portfolios. Lots of ideas in there, and plenty of color. The monoprints are some of the most colorful works I made.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The RISD Years

Nina Zitani, cyanotype done in Paul Krot's winter session class
Found some more old drawings, collages and photos, and several were from 1984 Freshman Foundation at Rhode Island School of Design. As soon as we arrived, our drawing instructor Victor Lara told us to go to the Nature Lab and return the following day with a drawing of bones.

This pencil drawing with the skull and bones was done overnight, and I recall Victor wanting me to loosen up. By the end of the semester, I did.

The feet drawings were done a little later, and we were working in charcoal and pastels rather than pencil. It was an overnight assignment, and the one on the right was the second and more loose of the two. I got bonus points for the smudgy footprints to the upper left.

I never got to finish this drawing, but it's still one of my favorites. We were supposed to be studying planes.

Freshman Foundation also included Two-Dimensional Design, and our instructor was Gerry Immonen. He, too, was brilliant. The two collages with leaves are among the only things I saved.

Providence, RI, 1985, silver print, infrared film
My focus was really on photography, and I loved all the alternative processes. During winter session, I took a class called Antique and Alternate Processes with Paul Krot. We learned how to do cyanotypes, Van Dyke Brown, platinum, palladium. gum bichromate, and a variety of other fun things. Around the same time, infrared photography was a thing. I enjoyed black and white infrared landscapes, as well as night photography.

Providence, RI, 1985, silver print, infrared film
Moorestown, NJ, 1984, silver print
"The Jonhsons' Laundry" Moorestown, NJ, 1984, silver print
The last image was juried in to several shows, won awards, and was published. Our neighbors, the Johnsons, left their laundry out all night around Christmas time in 1984, and I crept into their yard around midnight with camera and tripod. It was foggy, and the foreground was slightly out of focus, giving it a glowing effect. The combination of elements, especially the cross-shaped clothesline support, made it a memorable image.