By Patricia Belyea
LA CONNER WA Beauty of Japan exhibit at La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum (LCQTM) gives visitors the gifts of friendship and inspiration. The collection of exceptional silk quilts were made by women just like us—women determined to transform little bits of fabric into textile treasures. (Okay, our Japanese counterparts have achieved a superstar level of mastery!)
Sachiko Yoshida, a renowned sensei from Tokyo, guest curated the exhibit. For the opening, Sachiko and a handful of her students showed us their creations.
Clockwise, from top left: Michiko Ooubuchi with Cycle of Four Seasons, Toyoko Kaneko with A Multitude of Colors, Kyoko Sueyoshi with Enchanted By Stained Glass and Kuniko Aduchi with The Coming of Spring.
Clockwise, from top left: Reiko Ueno with Peony and Cherry Blossom, Shigeko Satou with Song: Come Spring, Come Quickly, Masako Nishimura with Summer Festival in My Old Town and Sachiko Yoshida with The Moonlight Between the Trees.
The exhibit fills the top two floors of the museum. On the third floor, Sachiko talked about her remarkable installation—The Colors of Japanese Fabric. “While making quilts, I’m left with many small pieces of kimono fabric. I decided to put together the pieces I could not throw away because of their elegant designs and the way they express the colors of Japan.” Panels of hand-stitched kimono silk remnants span 18 feet.
In the adjacent gallery, Path to Edo enchants visitors. Forty mini-quilts of Nihonbashi storefronts, based on an 1805 picture scroll, hang above 14 panels showing lively Edoites from 200 years ago. Made by Sachiko and her students, the storefront quilts first visited LCQTM in 2008.
The Japanese quilts impress in two ways. The main quits are BIG—six foot square or larger, and DETAILED—every block is a complete universe of design and stitchery.
Take a moment to examine this quilt by Toyomi Touma. Look how the blocks evolve as they move from left to right—in both design and color values. Flowers on the border contrast the complex “Cathedral Window” motif. And remember, all the piecing with kimono silks and quilting is done by hand!
The quilts I’ve included here are only a small portion of the exhibit. If you can make it to LCQTM before Beauty of Japan closes, give yourself a few hours to take it all in. Then stroll down to the historic waterfront for lunch or tea and some boutique shopping. It's a delightful one-day girlfriend getaway.
My visit on opening day ended with a reception where the visiting artists entertained us with some sweet songs. There was time to mingle with members and enjoy refreshments with folks who really love quilting.
Beauty of Japan is the tenth biennial Japanese quilt exhibit at La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum. It would not be possible without the generosity of board member Ako Shimozato who volunteers countless hours to coordinate the show, the group visit and the catalog.
This is the first time sensei Miwako Kimura has not been involved with this special exhibit. Without her pioneering efforts of bringing Japanese quilts and quilters to La Conner, this international tradition would not exist today.
In true friendship, many quilters on both sides of the Pacific bring this exhibit to us.
June 22 - October 2, 2016
Guest Curator: Sachiko Yoshida
Show Sponsors: Ako Shimozato of Kimono Blossom and Glenys Baker
Museum Director: Amy Green
Installation Curator: Kathleen Kox
Catalog Designer: SuSan Riedel