Pieces of the Past: 20 Years of Collecting
June 30 - October 8, 2017
In 1997, long-time quilter and La Conner resident Rita Hupy founded the “La Conner Quilt Museum” on the second floor of the historic 1891 Gaches Mansion. Rita was just one of a growing community of quilters who were seeking a space in which to display the works of local, national, and international quilters. After forming a Board of Directors, the Museum gained nonprofit status and began paying rent to the Town of La Conner for use of the Mansion.
The Skagit Valley Herald declared it was Washington State’s “first museum dedicated to quilts.” Right after opening, Rita organized a weekend quilt show at the mansion, to “test the market;” over 900 people attended.
Rita provided leadership and expertise for 8-1/2 years. In addition to creating a collection, she curated 76 quilt exhibits of work from regional, national and internationally-known quilters, teachers, and fiber artists. The very first exhibit was a display of antique quilts from the collection of Ann Bodle Nash, a local appraiser and avid collector.
Miwako Kimura of Japan guest-curated the first international exhibit at the museum less than one year after it opened. Kimura, director of the Hatsunagi-Kai Quilt Club of Tokyo, helped acquire quilts for the exhibit titled “Japanese Folk Textile Quilts” in summer of 1998. Other exhibits during that first year included “Beautiful British Columbia,” which featured works from the Vancouver B.C. Quilters Guild, and a display from Applique Society members.
Today, the Museum houses a large collection of over 600 quilts and other textiles, dating from about 1840 to present day. The quilts in our collection exemplify tradition and reflect contemporary trends. They illustrate so many changes in colors and dyes, patterns, fabrics, and fashions in quilt history, and tell many meaningful stories about the quiltmakers, their families, and their lives and times.
Although we can’t possibly show all the quilts in our permanent collection in this exhibit, we have selected 60 very special and favorite ones to share with you, including one of the very first quilts accepted by Rita Hupy into the collection—an 1875 Log Cabin folded strip variation called “Courthouse Steps.”
The State of WA(ter)
Studio Art Quilt Association, Northwest
August 2 - October 29, 2017
Although nearly 5,000 square miles of our state are covered in water, the landscapes of the western and eastern regions could hardly be more different. Washington is a state shaped by extremes of water: the cool, rainy West contrasts vividly with the dry, more climatically severe East. Dividing the East from the West is the dramatic Cascade mountain range, itself a setting for a plethora of lakes, rivers, and glaciers.
Quilt artists in the SAQA Washington Region were invited to interpret these extremes of water by representing the character of water in the east or the west, or in the mountainous region between, or illustrate and celebrate contrasts between both regions.
The quilts in this exhibition interpret many themes important to WA and to WATER in WA—recreation, reflection, ecology and environment, conservation, geography and geology, agriculture, fishing and aquaculture, transportation, and history. They explore and visually emphasize exquisite details of the contrasts between east and west in our state and the juxtapositions between natural and constructed landscapes.
The work itself—both representational and abstract—draws upon an amazing and inventive quilt vocabulary of materials and techniques. A wide array of surface design techniques are used, such as photography, painting, dyeing, resist, digital printing, “deconstruction,” beading, embroidery, stitching, layering, and so much more.
We want to thank SAQA and the Washington Region representatives Carolyn Higgins and Lisa Jenni for their enthusiastic support and assistance in all phases of this exhibit.
Exhibit curator: Susan J. Torntore, PhD
August 2 - September 3, 2017
Felting is one of the oldest forms of making fabric, in which layers of wool fleece or fibers are agitated and pressed with detergent and warm water to tightly bond the fibers together. Nuno felting is a technique that bonds loose fiber into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, creating lightweight felt. Felting often combines several layers of fibers to build up color, texture, and/or design elements in the finished fabric. Contemporary felters have taken this art form in new directions, creating intricate flat surfaces and complex three-dimensional forms.
JP Mac Connell
Marilyn Olsen Ilene Sorenson
Many thanks to Kathleen Kok for help organizing this exhibit