Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bowers Museum Quilt Exhibit & Events

Last fall I went to the Bowers Museum's exhibit American Quilts: Two Hundred Years of Tradition which runs through March 15, 2009. Maybe I'm just jaded from all the no-money-fun in Washington, D.C., but I felt that the $12 admission price was a bit steep for what it was. Now, granted, I only went for this exhibit and didn't wander into any other galleries. Maybe $12 was a paltry investment for the opportunity to see two quilts Joe Cunningham called, "once in a lifetime quilts" - the indigo whole cloth quilt on the right when you walk in and the broderie perse lone star quilt that's on a wall diagonally facing the entrance. They were both amazing and were definitely things to see in person as photographs, if available, wouldn't do them justice.

I am not trying to talk you out of going to see the exhibit. Rather I would like to suggest one way to make the price of admission a little more worthwhile: go on a day that the Bowers is putting on a companion program. There are nine upcoming quilt-related events at the Bowers including a night of music with that very same Joe Cunningham. All of the programs are free with paid museum admission and to members. I've compiled the museum's descriptions of all of the programs below and added my two cents where I can't help myself (which is pretty much everywhere).

And if you're not in the area, the list contains some information about a few quilt films that you can rent or watch online.

It's All About Quilts!
Sun, Feb 8, 1:30PM

Enter into the delightful, curious, and unique world of quilting at this all-day event. Quilt makers, quilt vendors, quilting guilds, quilting shops, and quilting demonstrations will all be here to share their expertise, impress you with their creativity, increase your knowledge, swap stories, and have some good old fashioned fun.
Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members
My Two Cents: I'm in a quilt guild in Orange County and I haven't heard a peep about this. Makes me wonder who organized this event. I'm not sure what the general public is going to get out of quilt vendors and shops hawking their wares. But if I can doff my cranky pants and don my optimist overalls, I bet quilting demos would be entertaining for the whole family and I bet you could eavesdrop on some quilters walking around the exhibit and get a LOT more information than the signage provides.

Sunday, February 15
12:45 pm-1:15 pm
Join us for some rollicking good tales with quilts at the heart of the matter in the Anderson-Hsu-Tu Gallery. David Whiting and Diana Spirithawk of the South Coast Storytellers make historical folktales come to life when David's animated, humorous style mixes with Diana's intimate characterizations and warmth.
Admission: Free to members and with paid museum admission
My Two Cents: Cranky Pants: I am not entirely convinced that this isn't entirely unrelated to quilts, but because they're telling stories in a room full of quilts they're trying to market it as somehow quilt-related. Optimist Overalls: if you're into storytelling, you can make a day of storytelling, quilts, and all the other stuff the museum has going on.

Film: Quilts in Women's Lives
Tue, Feb 17, 1:30PM

This award-winning film by Pat Ferrero presents a first-person narrative of seven renowned quilt makers who reveal the passion and values behind the continuing tradition of quilting. 28 minutes.
Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members
My Two Cents: There's a lot of information about this film at Cranky Pants: There's also a fourteen and a half minute "clip" of this 28 minute film at Optimist Overalls: You can't rent this film on Netflix.

Sunday, February 22
1:30 pm
Quilt curator Julie Silber, from Northern California, shares slides and real-life examples of some funny quilts from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In some quilts, it's just the images that are humorous; in others, it's the words. Sometimes it's just the idea that is so amusing. American women have always expressed themselves in quilts — their accomplishments, tragedies, loves, losses, adventures, passages, and even their humor. Following the lecture, Silber will do independent quilt appraisals. To reserve space for an appraisal, please call 714.567.3679.
Admission: Free to members and with paid museum admission; lecture only $8
My Two Cents: Julie Silber is, to paraphrase Christian Siriano, kinda a big deal in the quilt world. She's a co-owner of The Quilt Complex, though she's probably better known as the curator of the world renowned Esprit Quilt Collection in San Francisco. If you're serious about quilts, this is the day to go to the Bowers.

Film: The Art of Qulting
Tue, Feb 24, 1:30PM

This film explores the myriad of techniques and artistry reflected in contemporary American quilts, celebrating quilt artists as they transcend classic quilts by taking traditions of the past to create new traditions. 60 minutes.
Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members
My Two Cents: This was a program on PBS in 2007. If you're not into quilts per se but you are into contemporary art, this is the film for you. Very cutting edge stuff, even if it is two years old. Cranky Pants: You can rent this film from Netflix. Optimists Overalls: If you don't have Netflix, it is a whole hour movie, so that's pretty cool?

Film: American Quilts
Tue, Mar 3, 1:30PM

Examining quilts from three perspectives—as historical records, symbols of family and community, and works of art—this film celebrates the artists, quilts, and powerful stories woven into them. 80 minutes. Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members
My Two Cents: I think this is actually America Quilts, which was a program on PBS. If you're more into history and anthropology than art or quilts, this might be the film for you. Cranky Pants: This film is available on Netflix. Optimists Overalls: If you don't have Netflix, it is a whole hour movie, so that's pretty cool?

Film: Hearts and Minds
Thu, Mar 5, 1:30PM

Pat Ferrero’s documentary film explores the intrinsic relationship between 19thcentury quilt makers and the social history they produced in their work. The film conveys the social atmosphere experienced by both the celebrated and average American woman within the context of 19th century events, including industrialization, abolition, the Civil War, westward expansion, and the temperance and suffrage movements. 60 minutes. Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members
My Two Cents: NOT to be confused with the 1974 documentary about the Vietnam War. I can't find a darned thing about this film ANYWHERE which I blame on its title. This also means you're not going to find this on Netflix or, quite possibly anywhere else. And it's a whole whopping 60 minutes. So this might be a worthwhile use of your admission fee.

Lecture: A Musical Quilt Show
Sat, Mar 7, 1:30PM

Through songs and quilts, Joe Cunningham tells the intriguing story of quilter Joseph Henley who lived in 18th century England. This unique, full-of-quilts-and-song show, vows to be unlike anything ever seen. Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members; Lecture only $8
My Two Cents: I can vouch for Joe Cunningham in terms of his storytelling ability, his indefatigable charm (you should have seen him handle the hecklers at our quilt guild lecture - man, those menopausal women can be FEISTY (I can't WAIT to have that as an excuse), and his musical chops. I have never seen his performance of Joe The Quilter, but everyone I have talked to who has said it is too fun to miss. If you like acoustic guitar, folk song, storytelling, you'll love it whether you like quilts or not.

Film: A Century of Quilts
Tue, Mar 10, 1:30PM

This rich and beautifully crafted documentary celebrates the art of quilting by featuring selections from the best 100 quilts of the 20th century and the stories behind their creations.
77 minutes. Admission: Free with paid museum admission and to members
My Two Cents: This was a PBS documentary. You can rent it from Netflix. And, I don't mean to be a party pooper, but it was playing continuously when I went to the quilt exhibit last year, so this might not be a "special event" so much as something they run all the time. OR, if I wanted to be REALLY cynical, I could tell you that one of the five films the Bowers it touting as special events is probably playing continuously in the gallery RIGHT NOW. I suppose if you REALLY want to see one of these films in particularly (the elusive Hearts and Minds springs to mind), then plan to go the day and time they're officially playing it.

The moral of the story: go to one of the live events like Julie Silber's talk or Joe the Quilter's performance or the big quilt show-esque monstrosity that started this list and you might just get one of the films to boot. I've put Julie and Joe on my calendar.

Click here to return to This is My Heart home page

No comments: