Thursday, November 17, 2016

Quilts: What's Old is New Again

In previous blogs I have written about thrift as a part of the creative process when women used scraps from sewing and pieces of fabric salvaged from outworn clothing to design quilts.  I still enjoy designing and making Scrap Quilts, but many quilters today are not interested in using scraps for their quilts.  While most quilts are probably still used on beds, some are intended as works of art, unlikely to ever be used as bedding!

Last week, we drove to Great Bend, Kansas to the Shafer Art Gallery to see the exhibit currently being shown.  "New York Beauty:  New Quilts from an Old Favorite" is the 2016 exhibit sponsored by the National Quilt Museum located in Paducah, KY, supported in part by the Kentucky Arts Council.

These quilts, selected from entries submitted from gifted quilters from all over, are not your grandma's quilt!  They are fabric and thread works of art deserving of display in an art gallery.

The L.E. "Gus" and Eva Shafer Memorial Art Gallery is located in the Fine Arts Building at the Barton County Community College campus.  It is not exactly easy to find on your first visit to the campus, but it is worth the search.  Drive to the southeast corner, and when you see the signs for the Fine Arts building you can find the Gallery tucked back in the northwest corner of the building.  

A donation from Art, Inc., further efforts of the Barton Foundation, and a generous gift from Mrs. Eva Shafer made what is sometimes called the "Gem of the Campus" a reality.  Admission is free and approximately 7,000 visitors find their way to the Shafer Gallery annually.  If you want to be one of those visitors in time to see the incredible quilts, you will need to visit the Shafer Gallery before the exhibit closes December 9, 2016!  The Gallery is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"Do These Stripes Make My Butt Look Big?
Sue Turnquist's quilt at left, with the humorous title, was awarded 1st place in the 2016 competition.  You can see some of the other quilts on display behind me in the photograph above.  The quilt on the left side of the picture was awarded second and depicts Gene Kelly when he first arrived in NYC.  The portrait of his face, created from tiny pieces of fabric, is quite remarkable.

The top five award winners are included in the exhibition, but all of those displayed are amazing.  They represent a variety of themes, both realistic and abstract, in a range of sizes and shapes.  Selecting the award winners would have been a daunting task!

The quilt exhibition is not the only reason to visit the Shafer Gallery, however.  In 1981, Mrs. Faerie Denman donated 507 pieces from the art collected by her and her husband Cedric.  Today, the Gallery's permanent collection contains more than 800 pieces, including the painting by Gary Smith at right and works by Chagall, Matisse, Picasso and Audubon.  Also in the collection are works by Lindsborg's Birger Sandzen.   We enjoyed the bronzes of Great Bend sculptor Gus Shafer (1907-1985), after whom the Gallery is named.  The permanent collection includes the work of another Great Bend native, Charles B. Rogers.

As I have written in other blogs, the early settlers to the prairie were starved for opportunities to enjoy art, and opera houses to accommodate traveling performers were built in many towns.  Isaac Werner treasured books and framed prints, which comprised a significant part of his assets at the estate sale following his death.  How those settlers would have loved the libraries and museums now available to those who live on the prairie where our ancestors settled.

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