Monday, March 28, 2011

Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts

Wow! The exhibit was fabulous although I have a bit of a stiff neck from looking up at all the quilts.

Joanna S. Rose says she didn't set out to collect quilts. Instead she was a treasure hunter, finding many at flea markets in the 1950s where they sold for $5 or $10 or "were used to wrap purchases." Can you imagine? Of her more than one thousand American quilts, 650 red and white ones are on display at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City through Wednesday, March 30, as an 80th birthday present from her husband. (I got a card, unsigned so I could reuse it, this year.)

The show was not displayed as a typical quilt show, and there was no information on most of the quilts. In a few places, you could call a phone number to hear a recording about a particular quilt, but otherwise no information about the individual quilts was available.

Lots of non-quilters were at the show. I heard one woman on her cell phone telling a friend that she needed to get down here and see this show. "This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen." They were as enthusiastic as the quilters, even buying fabric in the museum shop after I explained to a few what a fat quarter is! Later at another exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum I heard the clerks in that shop talking about how they were selling out of everything at the red and white show!

Pictures were allowed, but the lighting was rather dim even with a flash, the quilts were hung rather high up, and I'm not that good a photographer in the best of conditions. Plus there were so many!

My husband's favorite quilt from the show.
Not sure how you pick just one.
I found one quilt in the same pattern as my Woven Blocks!

Saw several examples of this pattern that is similar to the Woven Blocks.

The piecing and quilting are amazing on this one.

One of my favorites. I'd like to make this.

A few house quilts in the show included a church. 
Most had signatures, which I think means they may have been fundraising quilts.

Loved this one too! Amazing quilting.

This Ocean Waves quilt had amazing quilting too.

Not the greatest photo, but you can see some of the amazing quilting on this one.

Not really a quilt. This is two pieces of white muslin, seamed together to make the fabric wide enough. Then it was covered in red embroidery. There's no backing. There were two examples of this in the show.

I have a piece similar in construction, but without this volume of embroidery. Mine was acquired at a white elephant sale at my grammar school in the late '60s in Maine. I once had it informally appraised at a quilt show and was told the fabric was the width it was because it was hand woven on a loom and that's how wide the loom was. I think I was told the fabric was early 1800s. I'll have to dig it out and show it some time.
Isn't this fabulous? Two sets of owls, and a butterfly
much bigger than the bearded guy next to him.

My husband wants me to make him one of these.
I have the templates somewhere so maybe I will.

This display included my favorite polka dot quilt in the exhibit.
I'd never seen one until this show, and there were at least three on display.


liz said...

Were there quilts hanging on both sides? I mean instead of a quilt back, was another quilt placed behind? Was there a book or catalogue to go with the exhibition? Wow. Fabulous. Thanks for showing what must have been difficult to capture on a camera.

Kathie said...

I am still in awe at what I saw at the show.
it was the most incredible day....isn't it hard to describe it!
ah you are showing some of my favorite quilts too!

Sujata said...

Your pictures are amazing. I can not wait! Wish I lived closer, I would have gone every day of the show! Tomorrow!!!!
Loved the quilts you have picked out to make yourself!