Auburn | The Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center certainly doesn’t rest on its reputation when it comes to fiber arts. Instead, Executive Director Donna Lamb and her team continue to earn praise by evolving the contemporary "Quilts=Art=Quilts" exhibit, now in its 35th year.
A newly renovated upstairs gallery, The Davis Family Gallery, opened during Friday's preview with “Traditions Made Modern: Double Wedding Ring Quilts by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.” Lamb said the new gallery space enabled the museum to add an in-depth look at one particular traditional style of quilt.
“Victoria’s work reflects a trend in quilting where we are seeing a resurgence of people making bed quilts using traditional patterns for inspiration but with bold, modern fabrics,” Lamb said.
Lamb recognized longtime benefactors and new gallery’s namesake, Sally and Lloyd Davis. The couple has donated $50,000 over the years from the Davis Family Trust.
Sally, who is a fiber artist, connected with the Schweinfurth through “Quilting By the Lake.”
“We were floored and very humbled when Donna suggested this,” she said. “I love the fact that fiber art is recognized at the Schweinfurth.”
This year jurors were Linda Colsh, Mary Anne Jordan and Cynthia Corbin (the prize juror). They reviewed 290 quilts by 177 artists settling on 76 quilts by 68 artists from the United States, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Taiwan. Participating artists include nine central New York quilters: Linda Chow, of Skaneateles; Randall Cook, of Rochester; Noel Keith, of Manlius; Pamela Kirsch, of Cazenovia; Beverly Kondolf, of Victor; Pat Pauly, of Rochester; Cheri Sheridan, of Cortland; Ruth White, of Ithaca; and Mary Wieser, of Victor.
Cook, a software project manager, began quilting after working around the clock during a chaotic two-year period at the end of the 20th century on Y2K software fixes. A math major who had always taken a practical approach to life, he found himself with free time when his obsessive workload abruptly ended. He went out and purchased a how-to-book on quilting, a sewing machine and some fabric. This started him on a journey into discovering and expressing his creative side.
Cook said the Schweinfurth show is interesting because it is in a gallery space versus the typical quilt show. This means the work is treated more like art then craft. Consider that he is also showing right now at the International Quilt Association Show in Houston, which features 1,000 quilters.
Ann Feitelson, of Montague, Ma., has two pieces of works in the show. She started with knitting and sewing with her mother as a child. In 1971, the pair attended the Whitney Museum’s “Abstract Design in American Quilts,” which made a big impression on Ann. She was an art major who went on to get a master of fine arts, then teach painting at Syracuse University.
She said she stopped trying to reach for the painter’s life and went back to the work she did with her mother, basically leaving fine art for folk art.
Schwienfurth program director Deirdre Aureden said there are many programs, workshops and lectures planned around this exhibit, which goes through the end of the year.