I just had to tell you all about my all-to-brief trip to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. I was invited to give my artist talk, Confessions of a Subversive Stitcher, on the closing weekend of Art Cloth Network’s Anything Goes show. My fellow ACN member Connie Tiegel picked me up at the airport–and brought cake for the reception! I had never been to the museum, and I was so eager to see how it compares to some of the other quilt museums I have been to.
The first thing I noticed was the space. The galleries are incredible! There are multiple large galleries with great lighting, and tall, tall ceilings. They highlighted another show, THE CALIFORNIA ART QUILT REVOLUTION: FROM THE SUMMER OF LOVE TO THE NEW MILLENNIUM. That show included work from Kathleen Sharp, who currently resides in my hometown, Tucson. The show was an eye opener for me. Did you know, for instance, that subversive stitchers were quilting with dryer lint back in the 70s and 80s? I did not know that!
I was able to tag along on a tour the Curator of Collections Nancy Bavor gave of the ‘back room.’ We saw lots of acid-free boxes neatly labeled with accession numbers and such and learned the rare circumstances under which a piece can be de-accessioned. There was an area where all incoming textiles were quarantined for 2 weeks before being unpacked. Why? Bugs! Nancy looks for any evidence of insects that could infest the rest of the collection before they can do any damage. Who knew? Nancy is also a quilt historian, and was kind enough to compliment me on my knowledge of quilt history. It’s an important part of my talk, so I was relieved to hear it.
The Executive Director, Joan Phillips, is delightful. She is so enthusiastic about the museum’s greater focus on art quilts, including political works. The museum has big plans and is growing, it now has its second artist-in-residence, Cristina Velazquez. I met her was able to see some of her knitted work. Check her out on Instragram here.