13 August 2013

Boston Modern Quilt Guild in Lowell

Comfort quilt made from blocks donated to the BMQG.
Click on any image to enlarge it.
Thursday, August 8, found me seated at a table with another volunteer, both of us gallery attendants at the Boston Modern Quilt Guild's three-day exhibit at the Appleton Mills Gallery, part of a housing complex full of artists and musicians. The invitational display was part of the Lowell Quilt Festival, and featured about fifty quilts.  Highlights of the show included quilts made by the guild from blocks sent in from all over the country as part of a comfort quilt drive for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing in April.  I believe a BMQG member named Natalie spear-headed this effort, and she and the guild did a fabulous job.

Adaptive reuse of old factory into apartments.

The Appleton Mills complex is an example of the transformation of former industrial buildings into new mixed-use developments in Lowell's ongoing revitalization. The renovated shoe factory made a stunning backdrop for the quilts. 

Atrium, Appleton Mills Gallery.

On the Plus Side, Jane Fitzpatrick.

Jane's quilt above exemplifies many attributes of "modern" quilts - a color palette which generally includes white, off-white or gray, in combination with solid fabrics or geometric prints, and piecing which merges precision with a bit of "wonkiness," as the plus symbols in the quilt above are a bit askew within their squares.

Quilts on display.
PB Complete, pieced by Tina Guthmann, quilted by Krista Ellis.

Many modern quilt designs have roots in traditional approaches, such as the quilt above, pieced with hexagons, a popular shape for quilters since the 18th century. The quilt below, from a pattern by modern quilt icon Denyse Schmidt, is a riff on the double-wedding ring pattern, but, as the name implies, in modern times quilts are for everyone, married or not.  In this quilt the artist used DMC Perle cotton, a beefy thread, so that the quilt stitches are quite prominent against the white background fabric.

Right: Single Girl, Natalie Sabik. Left: Detail.

Mounting a show like this is quite a bit of effort, but viewing their work in a gallery setting gives the makers a communal "pat on the back," and renewed energy as they continue their artistic explorations.