A whole lot of tapestry weaving in one place

SJMQT, SCVQA & SJZ Interview with Sit & Sew Radio


Amanda Rawson, SJMQT Manager of Museum Advancement, Martine Yingling, SCVQA Member and Jazz Impressions liaison and Brendan Rawson, Executive Director San Jose Jazz discuss with Stephanie Soebing from Sit and Sew Radio about the current show Jazz Impressions in the Porcella Gallery.  Click the link below for a great listen on how the show developed. SJMQT interview begins 30 minutes into the podcast. Enjoy! 


San Jose Metro: Boldly Subtle

Written by Sheryl Nonnenberg
San Jose Metro, April 2016

The adage "everything old is new again" certainly applies when viewing the current exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles. "Blanket Statements" is a color-saturated display of both historical quilts from the 18th and 19th centuries and the recent work of contemporary fabric designer Kaffe Fassett.

On view until July 3, the 20 new quilts and 15 vintage quilts present a wide range of technique and subject matter – a sort of visual history of this old and venerable medium.

The exhibition was created by the York Quilt Museum and Gallery in England and has been presented at two other venues in the United States.  Items from the York Museum's Heritage Collection include silk coverlets from the early 1700s and hand block-printed cottons from the early 1800s.  Kaffee Fassett, who was born and raised in California but has lived in England since 1964, is highly regarded in the world of textiles as a quilter, knitter, rug-maker and mosaic artist.

Museum curator Nancy Bavor explained that she learned of the exhibition while attending a lecture given by Fassett in Pacific Grove two years ago.

"I have long admired Kaffe's work – knitting, needlepoint, fabric design – and thought his work and this exhibit would appeal to our visitors," she says.

The show pairs an old quilt with one or two of Fassett's quilts, all of them created in response to the vintage piece.  A quick look around the room reveals that the historical quilts are much more somber and subdued in color palette.  This is largely due to the quality of dyes available at the time.  What they lack in color, however, is more than compensated for in the incredibly intricate techniques they display.

One standout is a wonderfully detailed appliqued quilt from around 1860, entitled the "Red Manor House Quilt."  Relying on a basic layout of a large central square (depicting the manor house) surrounded by outlying rows of squares that feature flowers, geese, horses and pinwheels, it is a delightful representation of a 19th-century household.  And because of the uncommon treatment, appliqué, the piece is not only beautiful but rare.

In response, Fassett has created a quilt with a similar square design, but with eye-popping colors that almost require sunglasses to take in.  "He has kept the format and the basic layout, but when executed in his brilliant fabrics, the quilt just glows," Bavor says.  "Really, it glows!"

According to one biographer, Fassett is known as a guru in the world of color and textiles.  Lore has it that he was first influenced by his mother, a frustrated artist who delighted in wearing marvelous patterns.  After settling in Europe, he was introduced to knitting by a fellow traveler on a train.  He took up the hobby and then discovered needlepoint.  Soon, he was designing hand-painted fabric that took the textile world by storm.  A deep love of color and pattern, influenced by travels to Asia, became his trademark.

"Color is the reason I make stuff, so that I can play with color, " he is quoted saying in an interview with Making Magazine.  "It is the first and foremost consideration."

His response to Church Window (1825-75) – a quilt with small, busy prints all arranged in a hexagon – is to combine hexagons with small squares of polka dots, stripes and abstract flower shapes.  Fassett, who was the first living artist to have a one-man show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1988, works with several textile manufacturers to create a range of fabric prints for the patchwork market.  Although he began quilting just 15 years ago, he has achieved a worldwide reputation thanks to his innovative and distinctive designs.  He travels the globe in order to gain new ideas and perspectives on color and pattern, which then find their way into his designs and books.

The museum has also devoted a room to some of Fassett's work in other media, like paintings and drawings. "Having the additional art works shows the breadth and depth of his artistry during a career spanning over fifty years," Bavor says. 

The quilt makers of old joined together to pass the time, while creating functional objects that were aesthetically pleasing.  Fassett has taken that collaborative spirit and, with his spectacular color and design sense, created objects of art that are a joy to behold.

San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles -- from Traditional to Cutting-Edge

Quilts and textures, ranging from traditional to cutting-edge have been a part of the American fabric since colonial days, and the quilt remains synonymous with the pioneer women who crafted beautiful works out of necessity and as one of their few luxuries of time for creative expression.


Join Correspondent, Tom Wilmer, for a conversation with Nancy Bavore, the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Amanda Rawson, Manager of Museum Advancement, and Joan Phillips. Executive Director.

In honor of the quilt and related fabrics and textures, the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles celebrates its 39th year as America’s first museum to focus specifically on quilts and textiles as an art form. Today there are sister quilt art centers around the country, including the University of Nebraska Lincoln’sInternational Quilt Study Center and Museum, but the San Jose museum remains as a premier American venue. The San Jose, California Quilt Museum showcases incredibly engaging works of art that appeal to Millennials and grandparents alike. This is a not to be missed destination in downtown San Jose to discover the preservation, promotion, and evolution of fiber art, and the distinctive world of quilters.

San Jose Metro: Stitched Up

Written by Gary Singh
San Jose Metro, July 2015

SIXTY YEARS AGO, artist Robert Rauschenberg blurred the line between visual art and the common comforter. In a piece, aptly titled Bed, he took a quilt and a bedsheet, stuck it on a frame and painted on it. Once attached to a wall in a gallery, the work became one of his most heralded projects.

Right now, in a new show at the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, “Found/Made,” one can see
Joe Cunningham’s response. Bed, after Rauschenberg (2013), is a quilt made from appropriated canvas paintings, all machine-pieced, appliqued and quilted together. Standing back from the work, one wouldn’t even know the material is canvas.

“Found/Made” features works that either push the boundaries of traditional quiltmaking or question the medium altogether. Incorporating scraps of old Levi’s, oil paint, leather and torn up rock shirts, these textiles will surely change the way some people think about quilts.

The show includes works by local quilt artist Therese May. One in particular, Therese (1970), could call itself a retro, split-selfie. Created from recycled thrift-store fabrics and other materials, the quilt’s fragmented presentation conjures the 1970s split-personality film, Sybil. May shows the viewer a cadaver-esqe cross-section glimpse of her face—reminiscent of the Body Human documentary series from the same era. Call it a suburban San Jose thrift store, retro B-film, exposé of the divided self.

For those who keep used laundry all over the bed, [The American Context #2] Bed Clothes (2010), by Luke Haynes will certainly inspire. Composed of old shirts, pants and shorts quilted together into a bedspread of sorts, the quilt hugs the bottom corner of the wall, up and down, as if covering a dingy old futon.

And then there’s the work of Ben Venom. Who’d imagine quilts with Harley Davidson imagery, skeletons, or recycled Shepard Fairey “Obey” shirts? About a third of the show seems dedicated to such influence. Venom’s War Bird West, for example, is an eagle’s head made from heavy metal t-shirts on a black background. Viewers will immediately feel inclined to examine the work up close and see if they can identify any of the bands. “Hail Satan” appears prominently.

Just as the many scraps of assorted cloth come together to form a quilt, so too do the multitude of quilts on display in “Found/Made” comprise a larger narrative: The collage method of acquiring found objects that so often emerges in painting, sculpture and installation should not discount quilting. The works in the show more than prove that. 

American Quilter Magazine: Transformation: Art from Within

September 2015

Transformations are usually made silently, but are witnessed by the fruits they bare. Four years ago The Elmwood Correctional Complex began a trans- formation of its own. Sponsored by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy (CIC) in Milptas, California, The Art and Spirit program, is designed to provide inmates with an opportunity “to connect with the Spirit through the creative arts.”