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Coast-to-coast “Don’t Miss” Exhibits, Part 2: Quilt National 2011 in San Jose (CA)

In my last post, I told you about next week’s exhibit of spectacular vintage Amish quilts at the Lancaster (PA) Quilt and Textile Museum. In Part 2 of our virtual tour, we travel to the other side of the country for a completely different visual–and inspirational–treat.

Our destination is the San Jose (CA) Museum of Quilts & Textiles, where the quilts currently on display represent the cutting edge of the medium today. From now through April 29, the SJMQ&T is featuring 46 outstanding works from the most recent (2011) version of the prestigious biennial show, Quilt National.

Con Brio (With Spirit), Katie Pasquini Masopust, Santa Fe, NM, 64" x 64", 2010. One of the quilts currently on display at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles.

The Dairy Barn Art Center, Athens, OH, the traditional debut venue for Quilt National

Since its inception in 1979, Quilt National has been recognized for fostering and celebrating “artistic innovation and diversity in the contemporary quilt world.” The exhibit debuts in odd-numbered years at The Dairy Barn Arts Center, in Athens, OH, where it remains throughout the summer. Following this initial run, the show is divided into three touring exhibits and begins a two-year tour of galleries and museums around the country. This is the first time since 2006 that any part of Quilt National has been on view at the San Jose venue. The current exhibit encompasses two parts (A and B) of the 2011 traveling show.

Color x 3, Bonnie J. Smith, San Jose, CA, 48 1/2" x 50", 2010

Competition for inclusion in this acclaimed juried show is fierce. Three jurors are charged with winnowing down 1000+ international submissions to the 85 works that comprise the final selections. Quilt National 2011 includes work produced by quilters from 24 states and six foreign countries: the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany, and France. Almost half of the artists are first-time exhibitors.

Sunsplash, Fenella Davies, Bath, UK, 47" x 65", 2010. One of the works by international artists included in the San Jose exhibit.

On Sunday, March 18, from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m., the museum will present a special program, “Insights into Quilt National ’11,” with quilt artist Nelda Warkentin. Ms. Warkentin, one of the jurors for the 2011 show, will share observations about the jury process, the exhibit, and her own work. The presentation will include a gallery walk.

Lingering Image, Japan, Patty Hawkins, Estes Park, CO, 44" x 46", 2010

Recently, my blogging sister, Christie, and I took a road trip to see the touring quilts in San Jose. We were blown away by the variety, the quality, and the sheer inventiveness of the work. The artists altered and manipulated the surface of fabric in almost every way imaginable: it was dyed, discharged, painted, stenciled, silkscreened, inkjet printed, digitally processed, and more. In addition to cotton, materials included silk, tulle and other sheers, felt, canvas, plastic grocery bags, velvet, recycled bedsheets, blanket binding, corregated cardboard, and other non-traditional “ingredients.” We were surprised by the amount of hand stitching, which included lots of embroidery and straight-line, big-stitch quilting.

Cross My Heart, Judy Martin, Ontario, Canada, 33" x 35", 2010

If a springtime journey to San Jose is not in your stars, the beautiful, hardcover catalog of the complete 2011 Quilt National show is a delightful alternative. Quilt National 2011: The Best of Contemporary Quilts, published by Lark Crafts, features large photos of each of the 85 quilts; descriptions and artist statements; an intro by Kathleen Dawson, Quilt National Director; informative essays by the three jurors; and more.

You guessed it! Lark has generously offered a giveaway copy to one of our readers! Just  leave a comment below by midnight (PDT), March 21, and you’ll be entered into the drawing for this terrific giveaway. Have you ever attended Quilt National? Have you entered? Thought about entering? What are your thoughts about the impact of this exhibit on quilting in general? As always, we love to hear from you! I’ll announce the winner in my March 23 post.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour. Special thanks to Deborah Corsini, Museum Curator at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles for providing the quilt photos and for her assistance with this post.

Viewers enjoy the quilts at a previous EBHQ show. Photo by Jane Herlihy.

One final “heads up.” If you’re in the SF Bay area next weekend (March 17 – 18), be sure to put the East Bay Heritage Quilt Show, Voices in Cloth 2012, on your schedule. It’s at a lovely new venue, The Craneway Pavillion on the Richmond waterfront. There’ll be over 200 quilts on display, vendors, special exhibits, demonstrations, and more.

That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!

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