Archive | October, 2014

Lorie McCown Lecture in Fredricksburg

Lorie McCownLorie McCown will be speaking at the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center, on Dec. 9th at 9 am in conjunction with the Quilt National 2013 exhibition.  The lecture is part of FAMCC’s breakfast with the curator’s series. Join the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center (FAMCC) for coffee and a light breakfast during its Breakfast with the Curator series.

My Grandmother's Dresses by Lorie McCown

My Grandmother’s Dresses by Lorie McCown

This series is proudly sponsored by Lewis Insurance Associates. Lectures are FREE to the public, but limited space is available. RSVP to Anne Marie Paquette at 540-371-3037, ext. 400, or For more information on additional programming information, please contact the Museum at 540-371-3037 or visit

The mission of the Fredericksburg Area Museum & Cultural Center is to collect, interpret and present the history of the Fredericksburg region and community.




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Dairy Barn Unveils Quilt (R)evolution

by Kathleen Loomis

Quilt (R)evolutions exhibit at the Dairy Barn Art Center

Quilt (R)evolutions exhibit at the Dairy Barn Art Center

I’m just home from Athens, OH where I visited the Dairy Barn for its current show, an exciting collection of work from most of the people who have served as Quilt National jurors over the 35 years of that exhibit.  It was special because the participants were asked to send three pieces: one from their earliest work, one of their work at the time they were jurors, and one of their current work. And most of them actually sent exactly what was requested!

The too-clever title of the show, “quilt (R)evolution” is silly but accurate, because the quilts do clearly mark the evolution of the quilts-as-art genre.  Several of the oldest ones are only a step or two away from traditional — and Ann Johnston’s 1979 piece could have easily been made in 1879.

I’ve been obsessively following Quilt Nationals via catalog since 1983 and in person for at least 20 years (can’t remember exactly which one I first attended) so it’s not a surprise to me that quilts-as-art started so close to its traditional roots and took a few years to escape the conventions.  But it’s fun to be reminded of how the famous names we’re all familiar with started out, and how they got going in their own directions.

California II by Joan Schulze

California II by Joan Schulze

For instance, Joan Schulze started by making a big quilt that was the California winner in the big Good Housekeeping Quilts of America competition in 1976 — I remember that, even though I wasn’t much of a quilter at the time.  After it was photographed for the book (I think I have the book, too) her quilt and others were destroyed in a warehouse fire but after a long period of grieving she decided to remake it.  The design was original, with a batiked landscape in the center, but its wide border is composed of the traditional Road to California blocks (she did shock the viewers by making them in different colors to extend the landscape — blue for the sky, brown for the earth). Subsequently Schulze developed her signature style of using images appropriated from the media in collage-like photo-transferred and screenprinted compositions that remind me of Robert Rauschenberg.

March Study by Nancy Crow, 1979

March Study by Nancy Crow, 1979

Nancy Crow started with huge symmetrical quilts that were meticulously planned and intricately pieced from templates using commercial prints.  Subsequently she found that improvisationally free-cutting shapes from hand-dyed fabrics and building her compositions gradually on the wall was a more satisfying approach.

Heavens Reach by  Katie Pasquini Masopust, 1981

Heavens Reach by Katie Pasquini Masopust, 1981

Katie Pasquini Masopust‘s early quilt was a daring pentagon but executed in impeccably traditional craft from teeny calico prints.  Subsequently she started incorporating easel-painted canvas into her quilt constructions.

Other jurors went in different directions.  Michael James, after years of strip-pieced curves, embraced digital photography cranked out on a huge-format printer.  Yvonne Porcella started by making functional kimonos, then went flat (but kept her signature palette, brights with black-and-white).  Jan Myers-Newbury started by hand-dying solid gradations, then discovered arashi shibori and never looked back.

Practically all of the early pieces were hand-quilted, but as the years progress most of them switched to the machine.  Practically all the early ones were carefully pieced or appliqued with no raw edges, no messy craftsmanship of any kind, but as the years progress we see fusing, raw-edge applique, phototransfer, non-cloth materials and any number of experimental techniques emerge (for instance, Tim Harding’s latest work is “quilted” with staples).

For those of us who have been tuned in to the quilts-as-art movement for a long time, the show is a great walk down memory lane.  Fortunately all the pieces in the show still look fine (although Ann Johnston‘s, used on the bed for decades, has faded dramatically into the muted colors of vintage quilts).  For those of us who aren’t that familiar with the olden days of our little niche of the art world, the show will be an eye-opener: how far we’ve come in such a short time.

Unfortunately the catalog doesn’t reproduce the artist notes that appear on the walls of the Dairy Barn.  So, for instance, readers will probably think that Wendy Huhn‘s extravaganza of female fairies perched on irons is about the drudgery of housework, when it’s really about a lethal disease that causes too much iron to build up in one’s blood vessels and joints.  (I know how easy it is to leap to that conclusion, because I eavesdropped on two young guys explaining to one another quite solemnly how women’s work is never done, etc, before one of them thought to read the sign.)

The show remains up at the Dairy Barn through November 22 — see it if you can!

Kathleen Loomis retired from a career in journalism and corporate communication and now makes quilts and other forms of art from her home in Louisville KY.  Her work has been accepted into four Quilt Nationals and won the Quilts Japan Prize in QN ’09. Follow her blog at

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Congratulations to Quilt National 2015 Artists.

Dairy_BarnThe Dairy Barn Arts Center announced the preliminary list of Quilt National artists yesterday. Take a moment to congratulate those you know and those you hope to know. We are all eager to see the work these fine artists have produced. There are 85 pieces selected from artists located in 32 states and nine countries. The artwork will be shipped to Athens for final consideration for the show.

Quilt National ’15, the nineteenth international juried competition for new, innovative quilts will be on display May 23 – September 7, 2015 at The Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens, Ohio (USA).

The tough job of choosing the artwork was done by Rosalie Dace, Ann Johnston and Judy Schwender. Read about the judges here.

Quilt TitleFirst NameLast NameLocation
Roadside Constructs 6VirginiaAbramsDE
Tales From a Ghost Town XIIJoanneAlberdaIA
Grandma MaudeMaryArnoldWA
Amarylis SetJillAultMI
Color Form 71GailBaarIL
Summerbeach 2AstridHilger BennettIA
Moonrise StudyBrienneBrownRI
Growing PainsKathyBrownAustralia
Estuary - Anaheim Back BayBonnieBucknamOR
Sky LightElizabethBuschME
Chasms 22BethCarneyNY
Leaf SkeletonMarthaColeCanada
Peering Out of the DarknessShannon M.ConleyOK
Weathering OutCynthiaCorbinWA
Reflection on SpaceRobinCowleyCA
A Coat of Arms for AbbyEllenZak DanforthCO
The Boundless Energy of ChildrenRuthde VosAustralia
Grandmother's Flower Garden IJaneDunnewoldTX
Flock (Red Winged Black Birds)KimEichler-MessmerKS
Imposing The Grid #6PamelaFitzsimonsAustralia
Global ReflectionsCynthia D.FriedmanPA
Rocky TrailRandyFrostNY
Femoral Fracture A FallHelenGeglioIN
A Keeper of Secrets and ParakeetsKateGormanOH
Seasons EndJeanneGrayCO
Autumn AfternoonBarbaraOliver HartmanTX
COSMOS #7ShokoHatanoJapan
HarlequinAna LisaHedstromCA
One Way or AnotherSusannHeymannGermany
Rainy Day Dora Creek #12JudyHooworthAustralia
Colourscape IIngeHueberGermany
The Sunshine of My LifeDorteJensenDenmark
Legislating LoveKathleenKastlesHI
Conflict No. 6 MuggingJudyKirpichMD
SYO #74HarueKonishiJapan
On Her Road toBrigitteKoppGermany
Insomnia, His and HersPaulaKovarikTN
Nocturnus IVJudyLangilleNJ
Hinten VII, OrangeBeatriceLanterSwitzerland
Central Park West Winter VIILindaLevinMA
Spiral DanceJaneLloydNorthern Ireland
he Story Cloth Vol.1-4LorieMcCownVA
CrowdedOlgaNorrisGreat Britain
Cross SectionDianeNunezMI
SOL #1EllenOppenheimerCA
From the Number One TrainJudithPlotnerNY
Open SpacesSandraPoteetCA
Blue VeilKathleenProbstID
Glorious SummerDarenRedmanIN
The Creative HandWenRedmondNH
Roofs of MumbaiJeanRenli JurgensonCA
London-Wish You Were HairPamelaRuBertMO
Movement #71YasukoSaitoJapan
Dog DreamsDinahSargeantCA
Line Dance, Tree Ring Patterns, v. 11Barbara SchneiderIL
Girl in the City With BlueHairKarenSchulzMD
Head 7DianeSeibelsVA
To Agnes Martin with ColorMariaShellAK
The Pie of LifeSusanShieOH
Leaf 2Lou AnnSmithCA
Morning WalkJoanSowadaWY
C5-Red CirconvolutionsCecileTrentiniSwitzerland
Connections #13CarolTriceTX
Ghost Trees #3KarenTunnellGA
Chaos 3KitVincentCanada
Messages from PoseidonCarolWatkinsCO
Red Sun at NightBarbara W.WatlerFL
Fault LineHopeWilmarthTX
Liquid SunsetCharlotteZiebarthCO
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Sacred Stones by Denise Labadie

Craftsmanship turns to creativity

Dun Aengus by Denise Labadie, 71H x 63W Inishowen (Aran Islands), Co. Galway, Ireland, Quilt National 2007 People's Choice Award Quilt National 2007 McCarthy Memorial Award for Craftsmanship

Dun Aengus by Denise Labadie, 71H x 63W
Inishowen (Aran Islands), Co. Galway, Ireland, Quilt National 2007 People’s Choice Award, Quilt National 2007 McCarthy Memorial Award for Craftsmanship

I make contemporary art quilts about non-contemporary objects – megalithic stones and ruins.

I started off as a professional seamstress making custom women’s and children’s clothing. Not all that challenging after a time ­– the work was more focused on extreme craftsmanship than creativity. It certainly helped pay the bills. But it didn’t ever satisfy my lifelong desire to move into art.

This desire to become an artist is still difficult to explain – per Goodbye Again (John Denver): “other voices beckon me,” “there’s just something that’s inside of me,” “it’s anyone who’ll listen to me sing.”

My many years as a seamstress, starting in 4H, gave me a love of working with fabric, it was a natural transition that my art be fabric-based. It’s what I wanted. It also let me focus on my images and messaging instead of having to worry about the actual mechanics and nuances of production. This very early and continuing focus on sewing technique resulted in a 2007 Quilt National McCarthy Memorial Award for Craftsmanship.

Irish Stone Fort Ruin by Denise Labadie, 48H x 40W, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Irish Stone Fort Ruin by Denise Labadie, 48H x 40W, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Art quilt inspirations

Those “other voices that beckon me” are those of (primarily Celtic) prehistoric stone monoliths – dolmens, standing stones and circles, and the like – or more recent monastic ruins, plus their landscapes.

The stones are both immensely powerful and profoundly peaceful; they communicate age, belonging, permanency, the fervor of their creators. When around the stones, I feel an intense presence, a strength and timelessness not found elsewhere. And art quilts seem to be the perfect medium to communicate these many messages and emotions.

 My greatest reward is the often deeply emotional reactions people have to my quilts. This to me is the essence of art.

I had no prior background in art. Knowing that I needed art-specific training, I developed and followed a deliberate plan to acquire this necessary knowledge. I attended design and art classes, primarily drawing and painting, along with classes in color, composition, and perspective (shadowing and perspective having always been my biggest artistic challenges). I also took classes in quilt making. I continue to take additional classes as needed.

Realism vs. Abstraction

Although my stones are as realistic as possible, my landscapes and skies are deliberately abstract – this to provide needed context and a sense of place, while ensuring that the stones remain the focal point. Staying with the abstract also is more reflective of the intimacy, softness of light, and “near horizon” of the Irish landscape.

I also focus on anything that helps create texture, including the use of my own fabrics and the couching of yarns, silks, and the like. My favorite techniques include fabric painting and the aggressive use of stripping (for my landscapes, and sometimes skies). Both of these techniques create unique blending of color and texture not otherwise achievable. And the finished product looks like Ireland!

"Monastic Ruin at Glendalough" by Denise Labadie, 78H x 60W, Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Monastic Ruin at Glendalough by Denise Labadie, 78H x 60W,
Glendalough, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Achieving success

My biggest achievements include winning two Quilt National awards (including People’s Choice in 2007), and being successfully represented for the past five years by a top fine art gallery (which is not otherwise focused on quilting or fiber art) on Martha’s Vineyard.

Finally, my mentors – first and foremost, above all others, has been my design group, including Patty Hawkins and Judith Trager as key long-time participants and influences. To me, honest and embraced criticism by artists from diverse media is a key element for artistic growth.

I’m not yet done with the quilting of my stonescapes – through my stones, I’ll continue to convey deeply emotional images of a human past largely forgotten.

Denise Labadie

Denise Labadie

Denise is a contemporary art quilter, teacher, and lecturer. Her works are interpreted visions of either megalithic Celtic stone circles or standing stones, or more recent monastic ruins. She is currently represented by the Shaw Cramer Gallery on Martha’s Vineyard; her work can also be seen on her web site ( She lives outside of Boulder, Colorado, and focuses on her quilting full-time.

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