Monday, February 15, 2016

Meeting Yvonne Porcella

I don't go into "Fan Boy" mode very often, but I sure did in 2013, when Yvonne Porcella came to my exhibition of "New York Beauty" quilts at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. It was September 8th, 2013, and I was giving a tour of the exhibition "Collecting New York Beauty Quilts" for supporters and friends of the museum.

Yvonne and I were Facebook friends, and I knew she was battling cancer. I hoped she would make it to the event, and was overjoyed when she walked in the front door. I gave her a big hug, thanked her for coming and told her how much I admired her.

She also signed my book. I was probably a foot taller than Yvonne, but I looked up to her.

My mother and sister attended the gathering at the museum. One of Yvonne's quilts was on display in a space leading to the main gallery.

My sister, a breast cancer survivor, spent a lot of time talking to Yvonne at the museum before the supporter's dinner in the garden at Nancy Bavor's home. I sat between Mom and Yvonne at dinner, and Joe Cunningham was at our table, with guitar. Roderick Kiracofe was also there. Joe serenaded us, then I shared a badly damaged New York Beauty quilt, talking about the importance of quilt preservation and museums like the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

It was a banner day, and Yvonne was with us the whole time. When the evening was winding down, she announced it was time for her to go, and we walked her down the hill to her car. That was the last time I saw Yvonne Porcella in person. I may have stolen another hug after making sure she reached her car.

We kept in touch on Facebook, and exchanged greetings recently. She put her health battles out there, but they did not define her. She sometimes poked fun at her own situation, and saw color everywhere-- even in the transfusion line. Yvonne's optimism never wavered. She fought hard with such courage, dignity and faith; and she left us with an incredibly vibrant, important body of work.

In December, 2014, I won a quilt made by Yvonne in a Quilt Alliance benefit auction. The quilt was called "The Best" and afterwards I discovered I had outbid Victoria Findlay Wolfe for the quilt in the final moments of the auction. Sorry, Victoria! Here is a link to the blog I posted at the time. The quilt is radiant, just like Yvonne. She used silks, and loved mixing silks with cottons.

Yvonne loved the color red, and probably would've appreciated the humor in passing away just before Valentine's Day. An announcement on Facebook opened the floodgates, and messages have been streaming in from around the world.

There have been many wonderful tributes. Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims of The Quilt Show celebrated Yvonne's life by offering the 2010 Quilt Legend episode for free. Click here to see the video. I watched the video, and it was wonderful to reflect on my own experience meeting Yvonne Porcella while having a virtual visit at her home. Rest in peace, dear, sweet Yvonne!


  1. Beautiful tribute, Bill. I know you feel a terrible loss, and I pray comfort for you and all Yvonne's friends and family. Peace be with you.