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Six Quilting Sisters

January 28, 2008

Many library visitors have commented on the stunning quilt, “October Weekend,” that has been hanging behind the library desk since the Fall. The quilt’s maker, Barbara Leesley, joined her five cohorts from the “Six Quilting Sisters” to create the show, “Piece of Mind,” currently hanging in the library’s gallery.

The “SQS” comprises Beck Routon, DeDe Harrington, Kathy Bright, Bonnie Konowitz, Cay Hall, and Barb Leesley. Each has her own style and favorite techniques, including paper piecing, appliques, improvisational piecing, and surface design.

I can not speak authoritatively about these terms, and so I will be attending the next “Arts at the Library” presentation this Sunday, Feb. 3, at 3:00 p.m. to find out more. All six quilters will be there. I expect there is little in the world of quilting the group can not address.

The show begins over the water fountain with “Untitled” by Kathy Bright. There are probably more Untitleds than “Madonnas” in the history of art, but I see Kathy’s dilemma. For me, this 12-square piece cycles between sails, windows, and sails seen through windows. I like it.

The show fills both sides of the upstairs room. At the top of the stairs hang two painterly pieces, “Sugar Fix” by Beck Routon and “Feathered Friends” by Bonnie Konowitz. They reminded me of my first visit to the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky. I’ve told this before, but …

When I walked in, I glanced around the first gallery expecting to see quilts, and I noticed they had some paintings, too. I got very close to one “painting” before I realized it was a quilt. Each “brushstroke” was, in fact, a piece of stitched cloth. I was impressed by the “painting,” too, and not just the exquisite technique.

Proceeding to the right, the first piece is “Happy Chaos” by Kathy Bright. The larger crossing pattern in the squares is echoed in the finer pattern in the background. Next is Beck Routon’s “Batik Fantasia,” and in short order we’ve now seen a wide range of quilting art.

I like Routon’s “Sweet 16.” The title sets up the work nicely. There is a sweetness in many of the boxes assymetrically arranged on the quilt — buttons, a cat and flowers, a sunrise, and three-dimensional folded flower shapes that recall those origami-like constructions that girls manipulate, to the rhythm of rhymes, in order to determine if they love someone or not.

There are even a few sweet colors, but the quilt is also mature, dark, rich, and three-dimensional. Sweet 16, indeed. Well, there are sixteen boxes.

Running out of column here … I like DeDe Harrington’s “Little Houses.” It reminded me of Carla Sonheim’s little faces when I first saw them filling the Steam Plant gallery some years ago. Each house is a character.

Konowitz’s “Purple Flutterbyes” is definitely for lovers of purple. I had to look away. But she redeemed herself in my eyes with “Versions of Violet,” beautiful violets, greens, blues, and even a brown or two.

Cay Hall’s “Tisket a Tasket” is Not For Sale, I noticed. But I wouldn’t give it up, either. It has delicately stitched drawings of baskets and flowers. Hopeful to look at during this frozen winter.

Oh, and Barb Leesley’s “Happy Hour” — not grinning red faces in a bar, but rather a painterly still life of Chianti, bread, garlic, onion, pepper, and tomatoes.

I’d love to serve that at the reception Sunday, but we’ll have tea and cookies instead. Join us.

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