Riding the ferry to Bainbridge Island

Riding the ferry to Bainbridge Island

My friend Carol and I made a day trip back to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art to see its new exhibits.  The ferry ride is always a welcome transition away from city life, and it is a joy to stroll the streets of Winslow and enjoy the small town ambience.

I love that the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art changes its exhibits so frequently.  Who knew that there is so much local talent to showcase!  The current exhibits, which run through January 5, 2014, feature the works of oil painter Gayle Bard and children’s book illustrator and artist Richard Jesse Watson, as well as new selections from its permanent collection.  Admission is free, and the museum is a short walk up from the ferry terminal.  No need to bring a car.

Gayle Bard: A Singular Vision exhibit

Gayle Bard: A Singular Vision exhibit

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From Richard Jesse Watson: Inner Zoo, Outer Orbit exhibit

From Richard Jesse Watson: Inner Zoo, Outer Orbit exhibit

Richard Jesse Watson, Quilted Angel

Richard Jesse Watson, Quilted Angel

Richard Jesse Watson, Infinity Within

Richard Jesse Watson, Infinity Within

Richard Jesse Watson, Star Gazer

Richard Jesse Watson, Star Gazer

Exhibit sign at the Bellevue Art Museum

I finally went to see the quilt exhibit — Bold Expressions: African-American Quilts from the Collection of Corrine Riley — at the Bellevue Arts Museum (a city across Lake Washington from Seattle).  This is an amazing collection, gathered over three decades.  Most of the quilts were made between 1910 and the 1970s by women from Alabama, Texas, and other southern states.  I thought that the bold, asymmetrical and improvised designs looked quite contemporary.  This exhibit is definitely worth a trip before it closes on October 7th.

African-American quilts on exhibit

I was impressed by the industry of this quilt maker, who sewed thousands of tiny scraps into a stunning quilt.

Quilt from the Bold Expressions Exhibit

Not all of the quilts were boldly colored, but all were lovely and pleasing to look at.

Some of the quilts were tied rather than hand-quilted — reminded me of my first quilting efforts.

Detail of another tied quilt

This quilt was made from worn-out work clothes.

Even patched scraps were too valuable to throw away.

These quilt blocks, made by Corrine Riley from old, collected fabrics, were suitable for framing and for sale in the museum gift shop for $190 each.

You can read more about this exhibit in this Seattle Times article.

Book with quilts from the exhibit

I made a day trip to Bellingham last week to see a quilt exhibit at the Whatcom Museum — American Quilts: The Democratic Art 1780 – 2007.  The exhibit, which runs through October 28, 2012, displays about 30 quilts from Robert Shaw’s book of the same title.  I wasn’t allowed to photograph the quilts in the exhibit, but you can see a few of them at this link.

The exhibit showcased mostly traditional pieced or appliqued quilts, such as the log cabin, grandmother’s flower garden, flying geese, whole cloth, Hawaiian quilts, etc. I was most struck by two things — first, how many of these cherished quilts were labelled “unknown quilter” — prized by collectors, but makers unknown.  And second, the quality of the hand-stitching — so small and regular.  These days, so many quilts are machine-quilted.  I still do hand-quilting, but I don’t take the time to make my lines of quilting so close together.  These quilts must have had five- or ten-times as many quilting stitches as any one of mine.  Impressive!

I very much enjoyed my first visit to the Lightcatcher Museum, one of three buildings that comprise the Whatcom Museum.  Its most striking feature is a curved translucent wall, which creates a radiant and luminous atmosphere in the building.

The Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA

Lightcatcher Museum, the venue for the American Quilts exhibit

Entering the exhibit space

Courtyard in the Lightcatcher Museum

Courtyard bounded by curved, translucent wall

The next time I come I will be sure to eat lunch at the museum cafe.

My day of quilts was just half over.  One of my new friends, Bonnie, arranged for a small group to see some Joan Colvin quilts at the private home of Colvin’s son and daughter-in-law on Samish Island.  Joan created “art” quilts.  She had a painterly eye, using fabric to evoke a Northwest color palette in the scenes she created from Nature:  “What is joyful, what delights me about fabric composition is that colored and textured fabrics have their own symbolism.  Though they may speak in different contexts, they lie in wait for me to find their meaning and voice through juxtaposition.” — from Nature’s Studio by Joan Colvin

Here are the Joan Colvin quilts from her family’s private collection:

This abstract quilt was highly textured.

One of Joan Colvin’s signature Nature quilts

Detail, heron

“Sea Blooms” by Joan Colvin

Detail, free-form machine quilting

Joan Colvin quilt with koi

Joan Colvin quilted wall hanging

Trees were another of Joan Colvin’s motifs

One of Joan’s earlier pieced quilts, hand-quilted

My favorite of all — Joan Colvin’s crab quilt made for her son

Colvin created texture and depth by layering sheer fabrics over cottons, and she embellished this quilt with pearl seeds

Exhibit of my watercolor sketches at the Elisabeth C Miller Library

An exhibit of my watercolor sketches is now on display at the Elisabeth C. Miller Library at the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.  The exhibit, which runs through September 28, is available for viewing during the library’s normal visiting hours.  Please check this link for hours and driving directions.

I spent a delightful couple of hours yesterday morning with a group of six women who drove down from Bow, Washington to see the show.  This is the first time I’ve actually met new friends through my blog, and they are each kindred spirits — some painters, a couple of librarians, some with ties to the Midwest, fellow travelers.   I am touched that they made the effort to see my work and it was a real pleasure to meet them.

Magnificent bouquet from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market.

I was also very honored to see a stunning bouquet from the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market delivered to the Miller Library to celebrate my show.  The bouquet is so beautiful, and it is such a thoughtful gesture of support from my friends at the Market.  The bouquet was quite a showpiece of local, seasonal blooms — I was tickled to see a stem of blackberries tucked in among the flowers and greens!

Display cases show sample blog posts, some photographs, and tools of my trade — watercolor sets and journals.

The framed watercolors are arranged by season — spring, summer, fall and winter.

I invite you all to stop by the Miller Library to see my show.  And to spend some time visiting this wonderful horticultural resource in the city.  Tomorrow’s blog post will take you along the trails of the Union Bay Natural Area adjacent to the Miller Library.  And Friday’s post will introduce you to the Otis Douglas Hyde Herbarium, also part of the Center for Urban Horticulture.  I’ll close here with some photographs from the demonstration gardens.

Datura

This purple trumpet flower is called “the devil’s trumpet,” or datura

Bed of sneezeweed

Sneezeweed, so much variety in one bed

Hostas

Lilies

I loved the range of colors here, too.

A hanging curtain of green

Looking through the curtain

Grape leaves like stained glass