Whimsy more than welcome after week we’ve had

Top pick among art quilts for “A Bit of Whimsy” exhibit is “I Love Art” by Angela Kenley of Grand Junction. Kenley says she benefits from being a member of the Art Quilt Association by getting encouragement and suggestions from other members whose work she admires. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

“Best Friends” by Susan Strickland of Grand Junction was inspired by a couple and their dog riding in a Jeep on North Avenue. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

Pat Sprague of Austin created “Houseboat” for this exhibit, which will be shown 
Oct. 17–20 at the Pacific International Quilt Festival XXII in Santa Clara, Calif., and March 27–30, 2014, at the inaugural QuiltFest Destination Savannah in Georgia. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

“Computer Angst” is a self-portrait of Angela Kenley, who has a love-hate relationship with today’s technology. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

Kari Harvey of Grand Junction invites viewers to “enjoy the spools” in her flower patch titled “Spooling Around the Garden.” Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

Members of the Art Quilt Association based on the Western Slope chose their favorite among the 21 quilts turned in for “A Bit of Whimsy” exhibit: “Surprised by (Life) Sunflowers” by Laurie Marks of Grand Junction. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel



Juror Laura Wasilowski’s suggestions for viewing the exhibition quilts:

■ Look closely for those hits of color that bring the piece to life.

■ Notice the composition of elements that lead your eye around the piece.

■ Examine the thread work and see how stitching makes the quilt a distinctive art form.

Read about Wasilowski atartfabrik.com.

No denying it, the past week’s bureaucratic brawl on Capitol Hill wiped smiles off the faces of many Americans. Government shut its doors — even closing our own national monument — federal workers went home without pay and the health care overhaul sputtered with online glitches as people worried about who would pay the bill if they got sick. Levity made itself scarce.

That’s why I’m hoping today to offer a bit of relief from all these encumbrances, compliments of the Art Quilt Association (AQuA), based right here on the Western Slope.

This talented group once again has prepared a special exhibit of its work, which will travel to two national venues — Pacific International Quilt Festival XXII in Santa Clara, Calif., this month and QuiltFest Destination Savannah, Ga., in March.

The subject matter is light and playful, thank goodness, and the theme is “A Bit of Whimsy.”

Laura Wasilowski of Elgin, Ill., well-known textile artist of Chicago School of Fusing fame, juried the exhibit, choosing five of the best quilts from 21 pieces that were submitted.

Having made a name for herself with many fanciful creations of her own, Wasilowski says, “I’m all about whimsy. The off-kilter, the slightly skewed, cartoonish image is right up my alley. So it was my pleasure to jury the quilts.”

Her top picks:

1. “I Love Art” by Angela Kenley of Grand Junction.

Her idea came from a child’s coloring book; a little girl in pigtails immerses herself in art, much like Kenley does, by painting one drawing after another in an untidy room full of paints, pencils, tablets and brushes.

Kenley has made art quilts for eight to 10 years and says she really enjoys being a member of the Art Quilt Association, taking classes and trying new techniques.

Her work is catching the experts’ eyes these days, as a second quilt also is among these top five whimsical ones. Before that, Kenley’s “Vintage Grand Junction” quilt depicting A Haggle of Vendors emporium was ranked first among three favorites by her AQuA peers. That exhibit, “Main Street — Grand Junction 2013,” was shown at City Hall this past summer.

In “I Love Art,” Kenley actually colored the two drawings on the wall with crayons, then used a decoupage-type stiffener on them so they resembled paper. The stiffener made them wrinkle, which was not her intent, but the added special effect was a pleasant surprise, she says.

2. “Best Friends” by 
Susan Strickland of Grand Junction.

“I saw a young man and woman driving this old Jeep down North Avenue one day, a black Lab in the back with his ears flapping in the breeze,” says Strickland in her artist statement. She tried to get a picture with her iPhone but couldn’t find it quickly enough in her purse.

Still, the image stayed in her head for two years before Strickland made this quilt.

3. “HouseBoat” by Pat Sprague of Austin.

What could more whimsical than a boat full of houses?

4. “Computer Angst” by Angela Kenley.

This is a self-portrait, she says, and “it describes the distress I often feel when I allow the computer to outsmart my low level of techno skills, resulting in severe anxiety attacks and episodes of hair-raising frustration.”

Lots of narrow fabric strips and small rickrack were stitched down to make the crazy hair that appears to stand on end, and Kenley appliqued her clothing from denim and knit fabric.

5. “Spooling around the Garden” by Kari Harvey of Grand Junction. From her artist statement: “How does your garden grow, come and sit a bit in my flower patch and enjoy the spools!”

Wasilowski points out that everyone enjoys playful images and humorous art, empathizing, laughing and learning through “everyday tales in picture format and fabric medium.” It’s the unexpected that we find refreshing, she says.

And that’s my wish for you — that you’ll find a bit of whimsy and refreshment in this quilt art. Heaven knows, we all could use some levity these days.

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