PIQF 2010 (Long, DSL-clogging)

Considering the Pacific International Quilt Festival occurred over a week ago, I’m late in getting these photos posted. However, perhaps a few people will still enjoy seeing them.

I have a particular fondness for PIQF for a number of reasons: it’s a local show, occurring maybe 2-3 miles from my house. This makes it extraordinarily convenient to wander over, pick up my yearly supply of Bo-Nash, and peruse the work on display. It’s also the first fiber art show I ever attended and the first I entered and was juried into. Believe it or not, prior to attending PIQF, I knew naught of the fiberarts or “art quilt” scene; I erroneously assumed that the non-traditional work I was doing existed in a vacuum. Imagine my pleasure when I learned that there were people who were creating exciting work of their own, people wouldn’t think my work strange and say things like “I wouldn’t want that on my bed!”

Now, oftentimes when I look at others’ photos from PIQF, I feel as though we’ve attended different shows. “Really? Was that there?” I’ll ask myself. Given that there are around 1,000 works in the show, perhaps that isn’t too surprising. Different things naturally catch different people’s eyes. It’s also the case that mental and physical fatigue sets in as one wanders up and down the aisles. I’ll often realize that I’m passing things which are quite remarkable, simply because I’ve turned into a zombie. Time for a rest and a cup of coffee!

Thus, this post contains photos of a few things I admired, but it is by no means a complete catalog of the work on exhibit. As a side note, I’ve linked to artists’ websites where possible. If you know of a link I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments section. If a particular work is yours and you want it removed, please let me know that as well.

Onward to the artwork!

Pamela Allen, Three Women at the Hilton

Pamela Allen’s work is always a delight, always gives me a lift. It’s furnished with her whimsies and thoughts, as well as the bits and pieces she encounters as she goes through life. Styrofoam fruits, forks and knives. I never know what I’m going to see. It works.

I love the way she’s outlined this character’s breasts with spools of thread.

This one has been treated to breast augmentation with bobbins. This isn’t random: the scene is based on a congenial get-together while at a quilt show. All of the characters sew, so it’s fitting that sewing implements have become part of them. The metaphorical made literal, if you will.

Allen is brilliant. I keep thinking that surely Dragonthreads or some other publisher will produce a catalog of her work. When that happens, I’ll be first in line to buy a copy!

Cindy Andes, Heartfelt Thoughts
This is just plain fun; she has quite literally put her heart into it. I’d love to see more work of hers. Unfortunately, I can’t find a website of hers to link to.

Helga Burkart, Colorful Strips
A school I used to attend or work at had large, multi-story pieces of fiberart displayed in one of the stairwells. Maybe it was Stanford, in one of their libraries.

I can just see an abstract like this one, with its glowing jewel-like colors, displayed in a like manner. Something to intrigue, stimulate, and raise people’s spirits. I had that happen fairly frequently during the show, envisioning environments for people’s art and wanting to go market it for them.

Betty Busby, Welcome to the Jungle
This is one of a series of really awful photos I took of impressive work. In real life, her quilt is crisp and rectangular. I hope the photo will at least inspire people to go to her website and look for decent photos!

People were marveling at this work, partly because of the perfect marriage of quilting-induced texture with the imagery. This snake was particularly admired.

Phyllis Cullen, Lovebirds
Onlookers were much taken with this affectionate portrait of Cullen’s parents. I’m fascinated by her use of non-realistic skin tones – yellows, purples, blues – and how these enliven the portrait rather than detracting from it.

Vicki David and Terry Breazeale, Pandora
A lovely exercise in symmetry, pattern, and texture.

Marcia DeCamp, Blocks #5
There weren’t a huge number of abstracts at PIQF. This one, and the work below, made a nice contrast to many of the more literal works.

Jet Trails #6
I admire her use of color. She’s combined hues I would shy away from, and they’ve strengthened each other.

Linda Evans, Garden Party
This sprightly piece enlivened the area it was hung in.

Gloria Loughman
There was an exhibit of Loughman’s work at the festival. It was wonderful. I’m only posting snapshots of a couple of her pieces; better photos of all of her works are available in her books.

I would like to note, though, that sometimes it’s difficult to gauge the size of a work from a photo in a book or on a website. This quilt is on the cover of one of her books, Quilted Symphonies. In real life, it isn’t terribly larger than the book’s cover.

By contrast, this work, Kimberly Mystique, weighs in at 200 cm x 220 cm, or about 79 x 87″. It really has a presence, a quality which is difficult to assess from a photo in a book or on a website. One of the things I take away from her work is her use of contrasts, subtlety and light. The range of blues and yellows in her sky is subtle, even muted.

I attended one of her lectures. She’s every bit as delightful as her work.

Meta MacLean, Cirque 2: Bird’s Eye View
Well, my goodness. What a fascinating work this is, and what a hash my photo has made of it!

Her artist’s statement says in part “With the help of a magnifying glass I hand appliqued my images to my hand painted and shadowed background. My experience as a potter allowed me to make hands and faces from fimo clay.”

Her sculpting experience is apparent in the figures, such as this one. Look at its knowing, almost creepy expression! That isn’t an insult, by the way – I think she’s done an outstanding job of capturing a certain tawdriness that often accompanies glitz.

This figure reminds me of certain fin de si├Ęcle Latrec works. With those long eyelashes and dyed locks, she’s become a caricature of herself. A “woman of easy virtue”, perhaps.

Kathy McNeill, Natural Wonders Yikes. I’m getting seasick. Unfortunately, I think that has more to do with my having the picture tilted than it does with this work’s striking sense of realism.

This work is remarkable for its sense of depth, detail and light. It isn’t uncommon for people to create seascapes or landscapes using novelty prints. Often they’ll use sea prints and snip out the little animals, wad up bits of cheesecloth for seaweed, or what-have-you. The result is often charming, if not overly realistic.

By contrast, this scene has been created purely with the laborious snipping of fifty jillion different types of fabric, a sample of which we can see above.

Terry Grant, Verdant
Wouldn’t it have been nice if I hadn’t chopped off a corner of the picture? I suppose it makes a nice change from merely tilting the camera.

This piece is really satisfying, with the greens and the landscape stretching away before our eyes.

She’s included this barn, which gives us a nice sense of scale.

Here I wax philosophical and perhaps a tad snarky. Sometimes, when I look at my own or other people’s work, I think “why?” As in, “Why did this need to be rendered in textiles?” Would the piece have been better or just as good if rendered as a poster or a fabric collage? Does the person simply enjoy using cloth? Is this a “just because” exercise so the person can prove that a world map/giant copy of the Magna Carta/picture of a fork can be rendered in fabric?

And so forth. That’s particularly the case when I see a 60 x 60″ quilt with maybe five stitches in it, and those five stitches add no sense of texture or depth or decorative nuances. There’s nothing wrong with rendering one’s ideas in fabric, especially if the person enjoys the exercise. However, I think it’s important to remember that they don’t HAVE to be.

With this piece, there is no “why”. It’s the metaphorical made literal, fields made as a quilt, with the stitching creating a palpable sense of depth. It could have been created in some other medium, but it really does benefit from being rendered in fiber. From my viewpoint, that makes it even more satisfactory.

Here’s a bit of a non-sequitur, people taking in SAQA’s No Place to Call Home exhibit. The exhibit is traveling the country, focusing on various artists’ statements or reactions to homelessness.

I had a tongue-biting moment when one passerby caught sight of one of the quilts and cooed something like “Oh Hortense! Come here – isn’t that cute?”

The work in question showed a raggedly-dressed woman sitting on the pavement among drifts of garbage.

Mmmm. Okay. We all have our own experiences of things. Biting tongue.

Chris Kenna, Green Fire
This work is an accomplishment on the order of one of those really complex Buddhist sand paintings. That’s a polite way of saying that I admire it and I’d sooner pull out all of the hairs on my head one at a time than attempt anything like it.

The quilt measures 77 x 76″, and it’s full of individually appliqued pieces like these. Holy cow. She must be made of stern stuff.

Yoshiko Miyamoto, Deep Bali, Drawn into the Gamelan’s Sound
A really striking combination of piecing and painting.

In this view, we can see that the figure is painted. The rays of light in the background are rendered in thread.

Patti Morris, H1N1
Brilliant. She’s taken something serious and potentially deadly, abstracted it, and made it beautiful.


Kathy Nida, Here
A really visceral portrayal of breast cancer.

A closeup showing the marauding snakes, a creepy and clever touch.

Kathy Nida, One Paycheck.
This was part of SAQA’s “No Place to Call Home” exhibit.

I haven’t queried Kathy about it, but I’m getting some undertones of prostitution here, as though selling her body is the last option this lady has left. If so, that unfortunately wouldn’t be unusual.

Sylvia Pippen, Sealife Sashiko Sampler
Thank you, Sylvia Pippen, for this demonstration that sashiko can be sophisticated and designerly. No doubt I’m displaying my ignorance, but I’d only ever seen sashiko used in a purely decorative fashion.

A closeup of one of the figures.

Jan Reed, Sea Section
I fell in love with this abstraction of nature.

Not only is her shading subtle and stitching masterful, but her use of beads is organic, enhancing the work. I have a personal bias against beads, so that’s a major admission on my part.

Lyn Sandberg, Saint or Sinner
Oh, okay. I admire the beads and other embellishments in this work, too.

It’s so exuberant, and so different than anything I could ever imagine creating. I enjoy that.

Marianne Williamson, Life is Like Swimming Upstream
Williamson was well represented at the show. I lost count of the number of her pieces I saw, but there were many. Her style is really distinctive.

Judging by the density of this stitching, she must keep the thread and sewing machine companies in business by herself.

Suanne Summers, Goddess of Introspection
Alas, I was unable to find a website of hers to link to.

Is anyone else getting a fun Marlo Thomas/That Girl vibe? Almost forty years have passed, so this character should get along even better in life (assuming she doesn’t have a chiding boyfriend like Don on her back constantly).

Amy Witherow, Teapot Jazz 2
An abstraction of a teapot, drawn with curved rectangles. I would have loved to have seen a grouping of similarly rendered works by this person. My brain just doesn’t work this way, but it’s enjoyable seeing the product of others’ brains.

12 Responses to “PIQF 2010 (Long, DSL-clogging)”

  1. THANK YOU!! Loved your tour through this show. Almost makes me wish I’d gone to the Queensland Quilters show this weekend, but I couldn’t have been as polite about the quilts I didn’t like, LOL!

  2. Cynthia Johnson says:

    One of the most interesting reviews of a quilt exhibition that I have read. Your very accurate and sometimes, pithy remarks were enlightening. Too often, a review is based on ‘It is so beautiful’, comments that do little to enhance the knowledge of the item being viewed. Thank you.

    PS….Glad to see you writing on your blog more.
    PSS…And congratulations on your acceptance to QN

  3. Jazz says:

    Wow, those are amazing ! Thanks for sharing.

  4. kathy n says:

    cool…you reminded me that I still haven’t posted my pictures from July from Long Beach. Oops.

  5. Vivien Zepf says:

    Thanks for posting the pictures and the commentary, Tanya. Much appreciated and enjoyed!

  6. Holly Knott says:

    Thanks for posting these! Jan Reed’s “Sea Section” is amazing as are so many of the others!

  7. norma says:

    Thank you, thank you! That was really a treat. You picked some amazing work and I appreciated your thoughtful comments.

  8. Betty Busby says:

    always like it when people admire my snake :D

    thanks for your pithy and insightful comments!

  9. Thank you for posting the pictures and your comments. Fabulous work!

  10. Maggie Jarman says:

    On a million-shades-of-grey November day about as far from the Pacific as one get, it has been an exhilarating experience to peruse your photographs. Thank you so much for taking the time to make this gallery. A friend from our group (Dulwich Quilters) sent me the link. We have just had our once-every-two-years show; your images have informed three of the ideas I was planning for the next one.

  11. […] can read more about the Green Fire quilt on Tanya Brown’s Blog. detail of Millefiori, by Chris […]

  12. Hi Tanya,
    I was searching for Chris Kenna’s Green Fire quilt and it lead me to your blog. I enjoyed reading your post about last year’s PIQF. I’ve included a link to the blog as part of my latest post. I’ve “borrowed” your photo close up – I hope that’s OK. If not let me know and I’ll take it down.
    I can’t wait to have time to read your other posts!
    Alethea