found/made : titillating :: Okan Arts
found/made : titillating

found/made : titillating


By Patricia Belyea

SAN JOSE CA  The unexpected installations of quilts at Found/Made, the current exhibit at San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, sends a message to visitors: “Hang onto your hats! This is no traditional quilt show.”

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

I visited the exhibit with quilting pal Joe Cunningham on a sunny California day. The Museum’s curator of collections Nancy Bavor kindly gave us an enthusiastic tour. Starting in the outside hallway, a hodgepodge of quilts and flimsies hung—pinned up on a clothes line.

Jammed together, the rowdy collection exuded an air of naive wackiness. Imperfect blocks, mismatched seams, sloppy stitches and a brash polyester number introduced the show’s divergence from the ordinary.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts From Below The Radar by Roderick KirakofeGuest curator Roderick Kirakofe put a spotlight on the disenfranchised era of quilt history—the last half of twentieth century—with his latest book: Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar. Quilts from Roderick’s book as well as from the collections of Julie Silber, Allison Smith and Marjorie Childress peppered the exhibit with their candid beauty.

For the Found/Made show, Roderick hung quilts around corners. Others he let fall into a rumple.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

At the end of one hall, Luke HaynesFlag, 2010, from The American Context series, created a backdrop for Virgie Walton’s Stripes, circa 1950 -1975, artfully rippled on a low pedestal.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Sarah Nishiura’s Untitled #5 , 2009, a quiet subversion of zigs and zags, stretched across one corner of a gallery.
Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Juxtaposed with the quilts, a selection of contemporary artwork talked the same language. Unruly (History Series), 2008-12, by Amy Trachtenberg echoed the improv graphics of “Abstract” Crazy Quilt, circa 1930-1950, by Unnamed Maker.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Roderick paired Joe Cunningham’s Circular Logic, 2007, with “8,” circa 1960 -1970, a quilt attributed to Regina “Reggie” Jarvis or Jervis. Joe made the signature linework on his quilt with bias tape while Reggie machine stitched her octo-numerals.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

Star, variation, circa 1960 – 1980, by Unnamed Maker, takes us to the far-out reaches of our understanding of bed quilts.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

The duo of Whole Cloth “L”, circa 1940 – 1960, by Unnamed Maker and Bed Clothes, 2010, by Luke Haynes, were bound together by their original quilting approaches—the former with its plethora of complementary orange ties on a blue denim field; the later with its orange plastic price tag fasteners shot through old clothes.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum

Bowties? Bandaids? Cigars? Aptly named Bow Tie, variation, circa 1960 – 2000, by Unnamed Maker, (right) and adjacent P #31, P#32, P#334, P#33, P#43, 2009, by Jonathan Parker (left) present appealing compositions while concealing their obtuse backstories.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles

An undercurrent of anarchy lurks in this display of material culture. For instance, Joe Cunningham cut up oil and acrylic paintings for his Bed, after Rauschenberg, 2013, quilt.

Paintings

Piercing social commentaries emanated from Ben Venom’s framed t-shirt art: L to R, Attack!, 2015; I Carry The Flame, 2013; and War Bird West, 2012.

On the floor, Ben’s denim quilt, No More Tears, 2013, referenced hard rocker Ozzy Osbourne’s song not gentle baby shampoo. Above hung Original, circa 1950 – 60, by Unnamed Maker, a cacophony of pockets sewn to a crazy quilt back. In the background, Strip and String, circa 1955 – 1975, by Unnamed Maker, added to the energy of the grouping.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Quilt & Textile Museum

It’s wasn’t hard to see the outright danger in Clay Lohmann’s Ear of the Horse, 2014, with a saber-toothed cat raging across an assemblage of lacy linens and found objects.

Found/Made Exhibit: San Jose Quilt & Textile MuseumThree generous galleries showed more works that thoughtfully explore the comfort and discomfort of quilts—from the found ones with no lofty goals of hanging in the public eye to the ones made by today’s artists.

I’m thrilled I flew to San Jose to see the Found/Made exhibit—just before it closes on November 1! How far would you travel to see an exhibit like this?

To visit San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles +click here

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4 comments to “found/made : titillating”

  1. Brenda says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tour. I wish I could have seen this exhibit in the cloth, so to speak!

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Brenda— Well, I almost didn’t see it as I made arrangements to visit on a Tuesday. That’s a day when the Museum is closed! Good thing Joe is so connected. P.

  2. Candice says:

    I admit it! I was drawn along, start-to-finish, not only by the sheer wackiness (your word!) and humble anonymity that birthed these quilts (well, most of them!) but also by your sparkling commentary — I could just see you & Joe sitting sunny, cafe’ curbside, as you found the precise word for each offering — brash, candid, peppered, disenfranchised, obtuse, cacophony… indeed! What fun! It won’t be long, now……

    • Patricia Belyea says:

      Candice—It was fun to find ways to articulate the impact of these quilts. And it won’t be long until we’re all together at Saint Andrew’s House! P.

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