Wednesday, June 29, 2011

An Aikido Story for You

I have mentioned a number of times in this blog that I practice and teach the art of aikido. It continues to be an important part of my life. The premise of aikido is to de-escalate conflict situations and the mind/body calmness needed for this applies equally well in physical and non-physical conflict situaitons.

One of the early American practitioners was a man named Terry Dobson. I never had the honor of meeting him. Terry studied in Japan with the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and wrote one of the basic aikido texts on conflict resolution when he returned to the U.S.

He is famous for a story he wrote of his early training days in Japan and a life-changing encounter he had on a train. I found a copy of the story on this blog and hope you will check it out. It is a great reminder of the options we have in life if we take the time to center and consider.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Getting Centered

 Last week, while puttering around in my kitchen, I had the PBS evening news show, NewsHour,  playing. A story came on that caused me to pause and pay attention. It was about a ninth grade English teacher in New York City who created a five week learning experience for her students so they would better understand the plight of the world's refugees.  The teacher, Lauren Fardig, used a curriculum designed by the Morningside Center, an education nonprofit, and began her course just as waves of protests were spreading across the Arab world.

Lauren's students lived in a poor community, burdened by all the social problems of the inner city, and their basic knowledge of the Middle East and other parts of the world was pretty limited.  The students began with some basic research to gain an appreciation that there are over eight million refugees in the world, moved on to some exercises to help them gain an understanding of what it is like to be a refugees and finally learned about some specific refugee families, complete with photos. By the end of the five weeks, students had gained a deeper appreciation of life.

What caught my attention was one of their exercises. They were told to imagine that they were woken up at 2 am and told by their parents that they had to leave in five minutes and to pack up. They could take 10 things and to make a list of what those things might be. Items like IPods, laptops, luggage full of clothes, sneakers, game systems, and  phones showed up on the list.

In an interview with PBS, Lauren explained that then they told, "You guys are trying to drive to a place where it's going to be safe. All of a sudden, the car breaks down. There's other things that you have to carry as well. So, they [your parents] brought some water. They brought some bedding for you guys, some food, things like that." And the children were asked to get rid of five of the things on their list of 10 so that they could help their family carry some of the other things that are really necessary. It started a process of prioritizing for the children about what was really important. Things like brother, sister, Mom started showing up on their lists of five.

I actually had to get out of a vacation condo once, years ago, in the middle of the night, due to a fire. After, I realized, that I had left behind a draft of a book I had been working on. It was irreplaceable and fortunately wasn't damaged by the fire, but I remember being fascinated back then that it never entered my mind to grab it as I was leaving. It wasn't important in a moment of crisis.

Often, because of that experience, I imagine what I might grab from my home if I had to suddenly vacate. Or, if a room or closet is starting to get cluttered, I wonder how important the stuff really is.

I think I will add this refugee exercise to my mental games when I am getting clear on priorities, or feeling a bit lost and need a kick in the pants to remember just how fortunate I am in life!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Stone Hill Quarry Art Park

I have been posting quite a bit about the ARt QuILT ExPERIENce exhibit. One of the galleries where the exhibit is  being shown is at the Stone Hill Quarry Art Park in Cazenovia, NY. The park consists of 104 acres of land with hiking trails and sculpture. It is quite beautiful. The sculpture shows up in the most unexpected places.
Here are a few photos that I took for the pond near the main building.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More on The ArT QuILT ExPERIENce

Here are two art quilts from the exhibits that stood out for their uniqueness.
View from a 747 by Marianne Williamson
 This has to be a whole piece quilt. If you look at the two detail photos, there is intricate stitching with some paint applied after the stitching. It is a most striking piece from across the room.

 The other piece that I wanted to highlight was an almost sheer art piece.

Available Real Estate by Nancy Crasso
You can see the delicate fabric and piecing and the hand stitching on some of the applique flowers in these detail photos.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The ArT QuILT ExPERIENce - More Quilts

Here is some photos on two more quilts in the exhibits.

Mind, Body, and Spirit II by Susan Jackan
I loved the colors in Susan Jackan's work and the piecing detail really interested me. Notice how the circular them is followed through with different fabrics that are not stitched to make a complete circle.

I also noticed that the strips are sometimes pieced into the background and other times run over other strips. It gives a bit of a feeling of weaving.

Finally, I was so captivated by the wholeness of the piece that I only noticed when I was writing up this description that it is actually four rectangles pieced together - and two are the inverse of the other.

The second piece that I wanted to share is by Jennifer Hearn of South Africa.
Autumn Bluster by Jennifer Hearn
 Here is a close-up of the center strip - it is actually looks like a needlepoint or counted cross stitch design. As you can see, Jennifer has appliqued flowers and leaves throughout the piece.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The ArT QuILT ExPERIENce - The Quilts

When I read the Call for Entry for the ArT QuILT ExPERIENce, the size limitations were frustrating. The minimum size for any one side was 36". I quickly realized that I often work in smaller dimensions. However, seeing the show hung, I can appreciate the call for larger size quilts. It created a wonderful array that filled the two galleries perfectly.

I was captivated by the quality of the quilts and the detail work in many. Here are two of the many that captured by attention. I hope to share more in the coming weeks and really encourage you to visit the show if you can.

Orchid Blossoms I by Andrea Brokenshire
This quilt was 36" x 47.5" and every inch was stunning. I loved the texture that Andrea created with her stitching lines.
  I was equally fascinated by her background work. If you check out the two photos below, you realize that the background was not fused together. As I was discussing this observation with a friend at the show, a passerby said that she thought Andrea used water soluble stabilizer to hold the pieces while stitching.

Another quilt that I was in awe of was by Caren Betlinski of Rushville, NY.
Imagine #4 – In My Mother's Garden by Caren Betlinski
 This quilt was 34" x 40.5" and heavily thread painted. You can see some of the detail in the following photos. I love the feeling of depth that Caren creates with her selection of threads.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I spent Sunday in Cazenovia, NY for the opening of the ArT QuILT ExPERIENce exhibit. The 64 juried quilts were displayed in two venues, so there were two artists' receptions to attend, in addition to a lecture by the head juror, Jonathan Holstein. It was quite a day!

I was fortunate enough to have one of my quilts selected for showing. I am new enough to this sort of experience that this was the first time I had a quilt listed in a catalog. I was quite delighted, to say the least. And, quite honestly, I was in awe of the other quilts in the exhibit. In the coming days, I will be sharing some of my many, many photos from the venues and lecture. For now, let me share some information on where to find the two venues, and three other opportunities to view art quilts in the neighboring area. If you are able to visit and wish to try and catch all five venues, the suggestion was made that you visit on Tuesday - Saturday, when all are open.

The two galleries where the ArT QuILT ExPERIENce can be seen are:

Stone Quarry Hill Art Park
3883 Stone Quarry Road, Cazenovia, NY
John & Virginia Winner Memorial Gallery
Hours: Tue-Sun 12PM-5PM
Admission: Free

Cazenovia College - Art Gallery Reisman Hall
6 Sullivan Street, Cazenovia, NY
Hours: Tue-Sun 12PM-5PM
Admission: Free

In addition, Cazenovia Public Library, located at 100 Albany St (RT 20), Cazenovia, NY 13035,
is hosting two exhibits:

  • * Quilt Ephemera & Paraphernalia curated by Jonathan Holstein
  • * Eleven .... 11 Art Quilts: Rochester Area Fiber Artists (RAFA) 
The hours for the Cazenovia Public Library are Mon-Fri 9AM-9PM Sat 10AM-5PMand admission is free.
You will also find exhibits at:

  • The New Woodstock Free Library, 2106 Main St, New Woodstock, NY. The team of wonderful women who comprise the ArT QuILT ExPERIENce have a showing of their works entitled Art Quilts Today.  Hours: Mon-Fri 1PM-5PM Sat 10AM-1PM Admission: Free
  •  Lorenzo State Historical House, 17 Rippleton Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035. A display of American whitework spreads including a candlewicking spread made in Cazenovia in 1822. Hours: Wed-Sun 10AM-4:30PM Admission: $5.00
 I really thought that the ArT QuILT ExPERIENCE was an exceptional show. It will be open until July 31 so I hope you can manage a trip to upstate New York!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Western New York Regional SAQA Meeting

I was able to attend a great meeting of our Western NY SAQA group on Saturday. There were 30 of us in attendance! It has been quite a while since a regional meeting so the main agenda was getting to know each other. After lunch at the Gatehouse Restaurant, we all walked over to see two special exhibits that are currently showing in Rochester -- it has been quite a month for fiber art here!

Getting ready for lunch
After lunch, we gathered at the Booksmart Studio Gallery to view the Parallax exhibit - an invitational exhibit curated by Pat Pauly that is on view until June 25.

The gallery is a beautiful place to exhibit, as you can see from these photos.
Here are close-ups of just a few of the pieces on exhibit.
Fools and Followers, 2010 - Sylvia Einstein

Metamorphosis - Linda Bachman

Parallax Pattern - Sandra Townsend Donabed

Evidence - Terry Jarrard-Dimond
Afterwards, we also toured the Fibers Art International at the Memorial Art Gallery which is showing until July 3. Sorry, no photos allowed there.

Hope you have a chance to visit both exhibits.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Advice and Acknowlegements

I have mentioned more than once the impact that Dena Crain has had on my development as a quilt artist. I have had the delight of studying with Dena both through Quilt University and in person. This morning I found a post on Dena's blog entitled, Ten Steps to a Better Quilt. She covers many of the pitfalls that we as quilters could avoid with a  little more conscious behavior. Tips range from washing all fabric to considering our batting to checking thread tension. Whether pro or beginner, I suspect you will find the list helpful. I know I did.

I also noted that registration has opened for Dena's Goodbye to the Grid class at Quilt University. This is a design class for art quilters. And, having taken it over a year ago, I can assure you that if you sign up and participate fully, you will get more than your money's worth. Dena has an uncanny way of getting you to stretch and stretch and stretch some more.

Final Exhibit of No Place to Call Home

SAQA has had a traveling exhibit, No Place to Call Home, for the past year. The last place that it could be viewed was at our local Genesee Valley Quilt Guild bi-annual show. Here are a few photos of that last exhibit. I wasn't able to get photos of all 21 quilts but here are some of them. The exhibit was extremely well received in Rochester and I was honored to have my quilt, Homeless, as part of the exhibit. Much thanks to Kathleen McCabe who curated the exhibit and all who made the exhibit possible.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Genesee Valley Quilt Club Show

Our quilt guild's show took place this past weekend with over 1000 quilts on display. Needless to say, it was impressive!
Just before opening - a partial glimpse of display area

As I walked through the many aisles, I was overwhelmed with the artistry of our members. It must have been a difficult task for the judges to make their decisions. Chris Wickert won Best of Show and her quilt was outstanding. But, really, everyone was a winner.

Sampling the Silk Road - Christine Wickert
Here are a few of the quilts that caught my eye. Hopefully, I have gotten names and titles correct.
Pinacle of Success - Pat Berardi

Dressed Up Dresden - Lynn Blumenau

Evening Star - Carol Spreter

Fabrege - Norma Snyder

Himalayan Flowers - Sally Acomb

Nature's Inspiration - Marcia Eygabroat

Patchwork Safari - Dorothy Caswell
 I will post some more photos later this week.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Words of Inspiration

I have been practicing the art of aikido for more than 25 years. It is an integral part of my life and has definitely shaped who I am. The founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, sought to find a martial art that respected life and followed basic principles that honored and encouraged harmony in the universe.

I have had a miniature book, The Art of Peace, by my bedside for as long as I remember. It contains thoughts of Ueshiba, translated by John Stevens.

Here are two quotes that I find inspiring:

Your heart is full of fertile seeds, waiting to sprout. Just as a lotus flower springs from the mire to bloom splendidly, the interaction of the comic breath causes the flower of the spirit to bloom and bear fruit in this world.

Do not fail to learn from the pure voice of an ever-flowing mountain stream splashing over the rocks.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Moving Forward

Have I mentioned I have a wonderful husband? He patiently shares our family room with my sewing table, ironing board, and cutting table. After my return from my last trip, he observed that it might be possible to rearrange some of my sewing paraphernalia to get more light. I rearranged the furniture a bit last weekend and here is the result.

The cutting table and ironing board fold up when not in use which actually improves the flow of husbands, repair men, and pets around my little oasis when I am not using it.

Note that I have one of my portable design walls in this last photo. I am finally back to stitching! Here is a closer view of how my crystal quilt is evolving. The border(s) are not yet added. Next I will be working on decorative stitching.