By Zirrus VanDevere, for the Redoubt Reporter
I am certainly not qualified to critique quilt work, but there’s an awful lot of it around town right now and I wanted to get the word out for enthusiasts and appreciators so they don’t miss it. There is a great deal of quilt-making skill present in our community. The impetus may be part creative urge and part long winters.
The Northwood Quilters meet every Thursday at the Christ Lutheran Church in Soldotna and have a large group exhibit up at the Cottonwood Gallery through July. There are many pieces that are kit work or established traditional designs, but there are some rebellious ones splashed here or there to keep the viewer on his or her toes.
The greatest surprise was entirely executed by a man (in a genre that is apparently nearly all women). Jack Ross is an engineer, and in “Reviving Old Ties” he has literally done just that, with old silk ties in various shades and patterns. The play on words is delightful, and the execution seems quite accomplished. Although the strips of ties are patterned predictably, the design of the quilt is quite dynamic due to the variation of placement.
Marie Lee uses a needle-turned hand appliqué technique, and then hand
quilting, on “Oriental Fan,” a sort of stark and boggling design in a square format. Anne-Lillian Schell has created a nice effect using a technique she told me is called “couching” — specialty yarns and fabrics that are added to the top of a piece after the quilting is completed. Jan Wallace can be counted on for out-of-the-box thinking, and Marie Lee has used a “Reflection” technique to make us feel the quake of a volcano.
Through the Seasons Quilting Group meets Monday nights at the Seaman Building in Kenai, though they often take parts of the summer off for reasons obvious to anyone who lives here.
They have a group show at the Funky Monkey through June, and many of the
works have had numerous hands involved. With all of these quilts, I feel a little overwhelmed looking at so many of them at once. I think I would have a better sense of appreciation if I met them over time, on walls or donning beds, each one in its own environment, because there really is some fine sewing going on.
The Kenai Fine Arts Center is known for having a fairly rigorous and long-standing insistence that work shown be original, and the fiber work in the back gallery moves into that arena. The pieces tend to be about something, and are shooting for a higher art realm. Laurie Marta’s work continues to be very serene but also quite intriguing, and her self-dyed fabrics are entrancing.
Ann-Lillian Schell is the only artist to be in all three of these exhibits, I believe, and has been a solid advocate and prolific practitioner of the medium for a long time now.
Interestingly, the one that called to me the most was a more traditionally composed, quiet, mature little work called “Lilac Dream” by Lily Huebsch. There is an inordinate amount of swirly sewing on top, creating a texture that, in conjunction with the sober, hand-dyed colors, is highly appealing to me.
It is especially nice that the artists have provided statements about their work, and often their lives, that can bring even deeper significance to the work they offer us.
Zirrus VanDevere is a local mixed-media artist and owns Art Works. She has bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and education.
Quilting on the Kenai this weekend
The 17th annual Quilting on the Kenai event is Thursday through Saturday, with various activities and exhibitions to keep experienced, novice and all patterns of quilters in between in stitches.
- Viewers Choice Quilt Show — 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Cook Inlet Academy. Come view quilts on display, sign up for door prizes, visit vendor booths, watch demonstrations and participate in workshops. Admission is $8 for one day or $15 for a three-day pass. The featured guest artists are Jan Krentz and Rachel D. Clark. Krentz will hold a “Diamond Landscape” class from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 27 to 29 for $150, and “Love that Lone Star” class on June 30 and July 31 for $100. Clark will hold a “Clothing for the Body and Soul” class from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 27 to 29. For more information or to register, visit http://www.robinplacefabrics.com.
- The annual Treadle Race will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday during the quilt show at Cook Inlet Academy, with a grand prize of a Singer sewing machine from J & H Sewing and Vacuum.
- The Art to Wear Fashion Show will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Soldotna Church of God on Redoubt Avenue. Admission is $8. The grand door prize from the quilt show, a Pfaff Ambition machine from J & H Sewing and Vacuum, will be awarded during the fashion show. The winner must be present to accept the prize.
- The Quilt walk is ongoing from June 10 through the end of the month. Pick up a passport and get it stamped at all 12 locations displaying quilts around town to be eligible for prizes. More information is available at Robin Place Fabrics.
For more information about Quilting on the Kenai, stop by Robin Place Fabrics in Soldotna, call 262-5438 or visit http://www.robinplacefabrics.com.