caryl bryer fallert-gentry: queen of quilts
by Patricia Belyea
PORT TOWNSEND WA When I arrived at Ron and Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry’s home, I was surprised by the mammoth sculpture emerging in the middle of their circular driveway.
Woodcarver Stanley Rill was transforming a 20′ cedar tree stump into an art piece topped with a great blue heron. Originally the tree overwhelmed the whole front of the house. This was the Gentry’s creative solution to the problem.
Once inside, newlyweds Ron and Caryl explained that they both appreciate arts and crafts, and had extensive collections when they met. Both Caryl’s and Ron’s art now fill every nook and cranny of their gorgeous waterfront house.
(For those not familiar with Caryl, she’s on the list of the 30 most influential quilters in the world. Caryl has won Best of Show many times including International Quilt Festival, Houston, TX; American Quilters Society Show, Paducah, KY (3X); and Quilts=Art=Quilts, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY.)
My visit began with Caryl proudly pointing out all the works of her quilting friends. At the top of the stairs, a whimsical quilt of an oversized frog by Ellen Anne Eddy dominated the hallway, flanked by giclée prints by Paula Nadelstern.
Around the corner, Jane Sassaman’s O is for Oliver quilt brightened the entrance to the guest bedroom.
A sublime Japanese panel over the bed, from Ron’s collection, caught my eye. Above the chest of drawers hung a masterpiece quilt by Tarek Fattoh, one of the tentmakers of Cairo in Egypt.
An early quilt made by Caryl covered the bed in the master suite. Helene Davis, a good friend from Paducah, dyed the fabrics in herTotem art quilt (at left) using the Japanese itajime shibori technique.
The formal living room hosted a gallery of Caryl’s work including her iconic phoenix quilt from 2000 that symbolizes new beginnings. Displayed under halide lights with a museum hanging system, the quilts range from early to recent—a retrospective of Caryl’s exceptional quilting career.
We didn’t miss the basement—a huge open space used for photography, storage, and shipping. I noticed Caryl’s shipping tubes covered with checkerboard graphics and learned that the distinctive wrapping makes them hard to lose during shipping.
Caryl saved the best for last—her studio. On one side, Caryl can see across the water to Mount Baker; on the other, her cedar sculpture in progress. Although the room measures half the size of her Paducah studio, it’s perfect for her present quilt projects.
Caryl created a series of 30″ x 30″ quilts for her celebratory exhibition: “Thirty Quilts for Thirty Years.” The show premiered at International Quilt Festival in Houston TX last October and is on tour for the next few years. As quilts sell, Caryl makes additional pieces in her studio.
Just as impressive as Caryl’s art collection, including her own creations, is the obvious devotion between Caryl and Ron. Both widowed, they’ve found each other and built a life together. In spending time with the couple, it was obvious that they both know the preciousness of having a true love, a friend, and a supporter.