Blanket Responses
by Carl Mellor - Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Schweinfurth’s 33rd annual show demonstrates the unique artistry of quilters.

Auburn’s Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center once again presents Quilts = Art = Quilts, a large selection of quilts, created by 70 artists who come from the United States, Canada, Argentina and other nations. The exhibit offers a diverse menu of styles and subjects. Its portfolio is broad enough to encompass quilts playing subtly with geometric forms, pieces delving into states of mind, figurative and semi-figurative works and, yes, one quilt celebrating the notion of fragments.

The annual show includes works such as Diane Franklin’s “Reflections No. 2,” with its waves of green colors, and Karen Schultz’s “SPP 11,” in which she investigates and contrasts three circles. Maria Shell created “Mark’s Garden,” full of flowers and rows of vegetables.

Julia Graziano demonstrates mastery of design and color in “Where Science and Humanity Meet II.” Striped patterns, flush with striking colors, seem to flow through the quilt.

Elsewhere, three works evoke mood and emotion. Mary Tabar’s “Secret Life” touches on concealment, while Betty Busby fills her quilt, “Secrets,” with blots and currents, done in many variations. She seems to emphasize the power of secrets.

Judy Kirpich has two pieces that communicate a sense of anxiety through crossed and knotted lines.

Judy Kirpich, Anxiety No. 6

Judy Kirpich, Anxiety No. 6

There are works that interpret a setting or a scene. Nelda Warkentin’s “Birch Crossing” portrays a Maine forest at dusk, while Ellie Kreneck’s “The Liano Estacado-Summer Nights & Longhorns” mixes in motifs evoking the Southwest region.

A few works are done in a straight-up figurative style. Jennifer Day’s “Cuban Guitar” portrays two musicians in exquisite detail. She worked with linen, canvas, cotton cloth and 74 colors of thread.

Other artists play with an image but in a different context. In one of her quilts, Shin-Hee Chin repeats the same black-and-white pattern dozens of times. When it’s viewed from a distance, the quilt provides a portrait of Anne Frank.

In “Three Marys: Freedom Riders,” Dawn Williams Boyd recalls the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. She invokes a biblical theme and depicts elements in radically different sizes. Thus, a martyr figure lying on the ground is gigantic, while a bus labeled “Anniston” is tiny. Anniston, Ala., is where hardcore segregationists firebombed a bus carrying civil rights demonstrators.

And Tammy Sutherland’s “Untitled Fragment # 1″ recycles pieces of cloth from various projects. Although it has ragged edges, this isn’t an unfinished piece of work. It’s an interesting piece that focuses on fragments and poses a question: Doesn’t every quilt begin with fragments?

The exhibition certainly has other noteworthy pieces.

Kit Vincent fashioned “Torn Sari” from recycled sari silk, cottons and silks and thread. Look for Marie Jensen’s “Cliffs,” with its mix of red, orange and green; Gerri Spilka’s “Edge No. 1,” in which she explores geometric forms; and Chiaka Dosho’s “Cherry Blossom 7,” a pretty piece that she made from old Japanese kimono cloth and yarn.

Kit Vincent, Megantic

Kit Vincent, Megantic

Finally, Joan Sowada’s “Magic Wall” challenges viewers to interpret it.

That work has six views of a long wall, with trees on its periphery. From one perspective, the wall looms as a citadel, intended to protect those inside from anyone opposing them. Clearly, that’s only one possible interpretation.

Quilts = Art = Quilts, in its 33rd year, not only reinforces the theme inherent in its title but also displays a range of works created by contemporary quilters. Ultimately, the exhibit’s appeal doesn’t depend solely on its survey of quilts. Rather, its success stems largely from the skillful showcasing of individual pieces.

The exhibition runs through Jan. 4 at the Schweinfurth Memorial Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn. The gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays, 1 to 5 p.m. For information, call 255-1553.

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