LS: Art of Quilting Column April 19, 2009

Art quilters tap wellspring of creativity

When the Art Quilt Association of the Western Slope chose a theme for its annual exhibit in Denver, members combined the acronym of their group, AQuA, with the suffix “fer.” Their idea was a play on the word aquifer: “AQuAfer.”

Aquifers are important to those of us who are desert dwellers. These underground water supplies are tapped by humans to quench our thirst and irrigate our crops.

Artists, the quilt group says, are like aquifers because they have deep reservoirs of creativity.

Consequently, what flowed from that theme are 18 pieces of original fiber art that will be on display April 30 through May 3 at Denver National Quilt Festival IV.

Grand Junction watercolor and collage artist Gayle Gerson juried the exhibit, choosing a top five and an honorable mention.

In one of them, the quilter goes a step farther with the word play and literally (or phonetically) interprets the theme with her entry titled “Women in Aqua Fur.”

Being a word person, I got a big kick out of this playful entry by quilter Pat Sprague of Austin — three women wearing aqua-colored coats with collars that resemble fur.

“Women in Aqua Fur” was juror Gerson’s fourth selection.

“The composition has the right combination of cools and warms (fabric colors), with the cools dominating,” Gerson says, adding that she liked Sprague’s play on words as well.

The other selections by Gerson also cleverly reflect the artists’ visions of the aquifer theme.
Susan Strickland of Grand Junction depicts “What Lurks Beneath” an aquifer or perhaps what lurks beneath the imagination.

Underwater plants with a human characteristic gained Strickland a first-choice designation from Gerson.

“What makes this piece wonderful are those eyes and face peering back at us to engage our interest,” she says.

The quilt’s artfulness and texture also are noted in the juror’s critique.

“Rain Drops” by Eldrid Schafer of Clifton, chosen

No. 2, is an example of “a great integration of the photos and needlework,” Gerson says.

Photos of Hawaii were transferred to fabric by Schafer, who says she wanted to showcase the power of water from rain to rushing falls.

Because Schafer achieved a sense of deep space in the background portion, Gerson says, this quilt was made into a postcard that advertises the exhibit in Denver.

Ranking No. 3 in the exhibit is “Galactic Rain” by Jan Warren of Grand Junction. Its vertical lines represent rain that fills aquifers and explodes back from the ground into the galaxy, explains its creator.

Gerson says the quilt features an art deco style, and its muted colors of grays, yellows and pinks appealed to her.

Her fifth choice, “Signs of Life Among the Ruins” by Angela Kenley of Grand Junction, was based on a tour of a Grecian island, where Kenley photographed an old cistern among crumbling buildings. The quilt is Kenley’s interpretation of that experience.

“The combination of the geometric columns in the background and the strong circle design is very well done,” Gerson says.

In addition to the top five, she also gave honorable mention to “Vecchia Ponte Pietra” by Rita Faussone of Grand Junction. Her piece shows an old stone bridge over a stream.

Members of AQuA also voted for their favorite quilt among the 18 presented, settling on “Deep
Waters” by Kathy Schattleitner of Grand Junction.

These quilts will be among 13 special exhibits at the Denver Merchandise Mart, 451 East 58th Ave. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 30 through May 2 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 3.

Admission is $12, $10 for Sunday only.

Learn more about other exhibits, competition entries in a “High Hopes” show, a merchants mall and available classes with national teachers at For information on AQuA, go to

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