General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2007-08 > 2007-10-25: National Prize-Winning Theme Quilts in Art Gallery

National Prize-Winning Theme Quilts at Mendocino College

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By Zack Sampsel
The Ukiah Daily Journal
Thursday, October 25, 2007

Surrounded by a sea of highly-artistic quilts adorning the walls at the Mendocino College Art Gallery, Deanna Apfel, member of the Mendocino Quilt Artists Guild, sums up her thoughts on the display rather succinctly. “These aren’t bed quilts by any means,” she said. At the newest display in the Mendocino College Art Gallery, it’s an explosion of the rainbow as national prize-winning theme quilts from the Mendocino Quilt Artists Guild are on display beginning today.

“National Prize-Winning Theme Quilts” is an exhibit of works by 11 Mendocino County quilters from the Mendocino Quilt Artists Guild. The exhibit opens today with a special reception, which is open to the public, taking place between 4 and 6 p.m. in the gallery. The opening reception also coincides with opening night of the play “Temptation” in the nearby theater.

Like handwoven storybooks made from cotton, polyester, ribbon, silk and thread, these art quilts embellish the walls in dramatic fashion. Each of the colorful pieces is eye-catching with a world-within-a-world feeling as the layers and patterns come together to form detailed visuals representing themes such as: “A girl and her book,” where members of the guild recreated book covers with appropriate titles and art, or “It takes time,” an open-ended theme allowing the quilters to explore what time means to them.

“These are pieces of art,” Gallery Director Paula Gray said Wednesday. “Traditionally quilts are very functional, but these are works of art intended for the wall. What’s different about this show is that it’s a retrospective of all national prize-winning quilts.”

Just as Gray explained, all of the pieces on display were previously entered into a national contest, “The Ultimate Guild Challenge,” which was sponsored by the American Quilters Society. Deanna Apfel, a member of the guild for 12 years, explained Wednesday that each year the guild comes up
with its own theme for the contest. Apfel added that the theme helps to unify the look of the quilts, which are judged as a group.

“It helps us to work together,” Apfel explained. “When working with a theme that becomes the inspiration. From there, as a team we work together and make suggestions for each other.”

The Mendocino Quilt Artists Guild has been entering quilts into the contest for the past five years, and won the Best in Contest award in 2004 for the group’s dancethemed quilts. With national interest in artistic quilt making increasing, Gray thought it was the perfect time to honor these local artists while also opening the doors for students to see art through a different medium.

“I just feel like it’s such a talented local group,” Gray explained. “I thought it would be nice to honor these quilters so that everybody can see these works all at once.

“One of my goals is to provide the students with the experience of seeing works in varying forms and techniques. We want to show everyone that Mendocino County artists are comparable to national artists. This show is local artists from a national scene.”

For decades, quilt making has been a part of American history, but it’s the modern vision and techniques of the artists that have propelled this art form into the spotlight and off the mattress. With a large group of members all pushing each other creatively, Apfel and Vicky Cook, a quilter for
the past eight years whose work is also on display, said they’ve seen the quality of their work increase exponentially.

“I’m really happy with all these quilts on display,” Cook said, as her eyes gazed over the fabric-covered walls of the gallery. “Some of the quilts I made were just so awful in the beginning. What’s really helped me is to be part of this group. No way did I ever imagine winning a prize. It’s great to be with this group.”

But even with 20 years of quilt-making experience between Apfel and Cook, the two couldn’t begin to guess the time they put into their quilts.

“I think if I kept track of how long I’d worked on these quilts I’d cry,” Cook exclaimed. “When you’re working, you’re just in another dimension. Time flies when I’m working.”

Walking into the gallery, Leila Kazimi’s “Time in a bottle” uses wine bottles and clock faces to weave an interesting metaphor about the relationship of the two. Not only is Kazimi one of the quilters whose work is on display, but she also teaches the Art of Quilting class offered at the college from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Speaking on behalf of all the artists whose work is on display, Apfel looked over the colorful gallery as a smile slowly crept over her face, “To see these quilts hanging in this gallery is truly an honor.” Other quilters with creations on display at the gallery include: Laura Fogg, Ann Horton, Susan Kerr, Betty Lacy, Dede Ledford, Mary Ann Michelsen, Joyce Paterson and Marilyn Simpson.

The opening reception for the public will be from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the gallery. The display will run through Dec. 13. Some of the quilts are priced for sale.

The Art Gallery is located on the Mendocino College Ukiah Campus, Center for the Visual and Performing Arts building 5000, 1000 Hensley Creek Road at the north end of Ukiah.

For more information, contact the Mendocino College Art Gallery at 468-3207. Art Gallery Hours are Tuesday- Thursday, 12:30-3:30 p.m., and by appointment.

Zack Sampsel can be reached at

Created: October 31, 2007 @ 09:35 AM
Last Modified: October 31, 2007 @ 09:40 AM


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