At the end of March for three days ONLY, there was an amazing "happening" in New York City at the Park Avenue Armory: 651 red & white quilts made over the past 300 years all collected by one woman. And, FREE!
Joanna S. Rose was asked by her husband what she wanted for her 80th birthday and she answered, "Something I have never seen before and a gift for the city of New York." You can read more about Mrs. Rose here. This exhibition was the answer to those wishes.
Ok, let's be honest here. I have four kids...the oldest is about to be six and, at the time of this show, the baby was a month old. Sooo, even though I love quilting, I love reading about quilting, I love the history of quilting...I did not know about this show until the weekend it was happening. And I have my wonderful Aunt Mary to thank for alerting me to it because I would have been so upset to have missed it.
Needless to say, it can be tough to come up with a babysitter on short notice. I even tried to bribe some childless friends to come with me...I mean who doesn't want to spend the day with 4 little kids at an exhibition, right? Well, not to be deterred, I did it on my own. Thank God for double strollers and baby slings (and street parking a block away....oh yeah).
I have to say---even though they were the only kids there---this show was totally awesome for them to come to. (Yes, we got LOTS of comments. The most common was, "Are they all yours?" Followed by "Is the baby a girl? Oh good." Followed by, "You are so brave.") It was like an incredible "I Spy". The scale, the installation, the form, the subjects, and the textures were all so incredible that we had a great time walking around and talking about what we saw.
This applique quilt in particular was fun to pick out objects we recognized.
The one in the middle here was one of my favorites.
Henry liked this one:
Being in this football field-sized room filled with hundreds of these just stunning quilts brought up so many things that I love about quilting. The history is so rich in terms of women's work and value, and I am so glad to see that it is finally getting its due. Joanna Rose said that she originally began purchasing these quilts for $5 and $10!! And to me, many of these quilts are as spectacular and simple as any mid-century Abstract painting. The quilting community is so warm and friendly, and that was definitely in the air when we went. I sat on a bench next to some lovely women who had come all the way from Oklahoma just for the show!
Ok, I could go on and on...and maybe at a later date I will, but now...I must pack. Warm weather here we come! If you want to read more, here are a few other blogs that did nice coverage (and with better pics than mine): Barbara Brackman, Manhattan Craft Room, and Pat Sloan.
The installation by Thinc Design deserves its own post...unbelievable.