LS: Art of Quilting Column April 12, 2009

Quilter fashions masterpiece of area landmark

If you’ve never been to Gateway Canyons Resort or haven’t been for awhile, you may want to head that way to see a new piece of scenery that’s cropped up.

It’s a fabric representation of the spectacular red outcroppings of rock surrounding the area, a 45-minute drive southwest of Grand Junction. The 6-foot by 8-foot masterpiece titled “Triton” hangs in the lobby of the Kiva Lodge.

The art quilt’s riotous reds, pinks, oranges, blues, greens and smidgens of yellow may make your heart race with excitement. A partial abstraction of a Gateway landmark, it was made by renowned art quilter, Katie Pasquini Masopust of Santa Fe, N.M.

“Triton” depicts an actual land formation as seen from Gateway developer and Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks’ office window. Masopust says the result is from a smaller, more abstract painting she did first.

“I then made templates from my painting so the quilt looks identical,” she says.

Hendricks and his wife, Maureen, are big fans of Masopust’s work. They’ve also commissioned from her a combination of three panels, called a triptych, to hang in the resort’s education center. It will portray other nearby large land formations, with the center panel featuring the palisades that dominate Gateway’s skyline.

Masopust says it will be a more realistic work except for the bright colors she is using. It’s a work in progress at this time.

She and Maureen Hendricks became friends years ago when Maureen took a quilting class from Masopust, and the Hendrickses soon became her clients. After that, Maureen participated annually in an Alegre Quilting Retreat that Masopust organized in Santa Fe.

“(Maureen) was very disappointed when I stopped doing the retreat,” she says.

But that retreat is being reborn this year at Gateway Canyons Resort. Forty-four students are signed up for six days and five nights of instruction, scheduled for
May 31 through June 5.

The Alegre (Happy in Spanish) Retreat is sold out at this time, but Masopust says it will be a yearly event.

“Maureen has me doing them again under her guidance in Gateway. I am very excited about this collaboration,” she says.

Masopust will be one of two teachers at the 2009 retreat.

The other is Fran Skiles of Oakland Park, Fla.,

Masopust will teach “Transforming the Still Life.” She will guide students through 10 different exercises based on a still life of white objects — vases, flowers, etc.

These will include techniques such as blind contour drawing, negative and positive shapes, painting shadows only and watercolor painting.

Students will spend two days designing, then start sewing.

Masopust is working on a book about her still life technique and the related exercises.

She most recently published “Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter” (C&T Publishing), which offers 10 step-by-step approaches to designing art quilts.

An artist profile of Masopust also recently appeared in the December/January 2009 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine. In it, she details the process of turning her paintings into quilts.

All stages of creating an art quilt are important to Masopust, but she says coming up with an original way of expressing herself is foremost.

“Once the idea is satisfied, the fun of picking fabrics to voice the colors is very exciting,” she says.

And finishing with free-motion machine quilting delights her “because all of the decisions are made and I get to just draw all over the surface.”

“I love making quilts,” Masopust says.

With her skills honed as sharp as needles, she has received many accolades during her career.

Among them are numerous contest awards, serving seven years as president of the national Studio Art Quilt Associates and, in 2005, being honored for her lifetime achievements with the Silver Star Award at the International Quilt Festival.

On top of these, she is a nationally certified judge and regularly observes the latest trends in the industry.

Digital images on fabric seem to be in vogue with art quilters, Masopust says.

“I hope to see it more integrated into the artwork rather than be the whole image,” she says.

“I hope people will keep pushing the envelope and see where the art quilt can go.”

In her own studio, Masopust pushes herself into mixed media by painting acrylics on canvas, then cutting up and reassembling that painting. Finally, she stitches through it until the piece becomes more quilt-like.

“I couldn’t be just a painter,” she says.

And that says a lot for the value of quilting today.

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