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‘Extreme Quilters of California’ opens Friday at Wailoa

Hilo’s Wailoa Art & Cultural Center will host “Art from Cloth — Extreme Quilters of California,” an exhibition of 111 works by 22 Southern California art quilters, from Sept. 6-29. The center is at 200 Piopio St. in Hilo. Admission is free.

The opening reception will be Friday from 5-7 p.m.

Art quilting, sometimes called “fabric art” or “textile art,” is distinguished from traditional quilting by its free form and use of a wide range of techniques. Studio Art Quilt Associates, defines the art quilt as, “A contemporary artwork exploring and expressing aesthetic concerns common to the whole range of visual arts: painting, printmaking, photography, graphic design, assemblage and sculpture, which retains, through materials or technique, a clear relationship to the folk art quilt from which it descends.”

Several of the women showing their work are award-winning artists who exhibit nationally and have been featured in art publications. The show will feature individual artworks as well as a series of “collaboratives,” in which a master image is divided into six parts; each quilter produces one part independently and the pieces are assembled to make one piece.

Extreme Quilters is a group of 25 art quilters mostly based in Southern California who share a passion for contemporary textile art. They meet monthly to show their work and exchange ideas and techniques. The group has an annual exhibition during the first two weeks of October in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

The Wailoa Art and Cultural center gallery is open weekdays from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. except on Wednesdays, when it is open noon -4:30 p.m. The gallery is closed on weekends and state holidays. For more information, contact Codie King at the Wailoa Center, 933-0416, or Rodi Ludlum of the Extreme Quilters at 818 597-9279.

One of the “Extreme Quilters” grew up on Oahu. When Glorianne Veneri was growing up there, she spent a lot of time in local parks and recreation classes with a teacher, Mrs. Kobayashi, who taught arts and crafts using materials supplied by the natural environment. They made jewelry from seed pods and shells, created simple dyes from berries and learned to blow out eggs and paint the empty shells.

Forty-five years later, now living in Southern California, Glorianne Garza has evolved into a textile artist who is still inspired by nature and the lessons she learned from Mrs. Kobayashi. Her complex and richly detailed art quilts will be part of the exhibition.

Wailoa Center director King was Glorianne Veneri Garza’s classmate at Star of the Sea School on Oahu, and invited the group to exhibit.

Garza began learning traditional quilting in the ’80s, starting with an adult education class in Southern California. She started stretching the rules right away, adding a fourth shade to the “light, medium, dark” fabric required in class and trying new techniques on her own.

She enjoys the challenge of practicing small-scale piecing, which results in quilt squares smaller than ¼ inch. In a photograph, her perfectly-formed pieces would look like a regular quilt if not for the thimble showing the very small size.

“Detail is what I love, and when you change the scale it adds interest,” she says, modestly claiming that small piecing is not as difficult as it looks.

Another characteristic of her work is the frequent presence of a spiritual element. “Meditation, yoga, nature, good nutrition, living well … it’s all one,” she says. Her piece called “Om Sweet Om” has a flowing and tranquil quality. Another piece called “Rethink,” showing a Hawaiian beach littered with trash, is a passionate call for the reduction of plastic in the environment.

Her Hawaii roots are also reflected in a piece called “Malama-Ki, Hawaii,” which is a collaboration with five other members of the Extreme Quilters and inspired by a photograph Glorianne took on the Big Island.

A number of collaborative quilts will be on display at the show, in which a master image is divided up into six parts, with each quilter creating their own interpretation in cloth.

Perhaps recalling those childhood dye projects, Garza also loves dying her own fabrics, especially using a Japanese technique called shibori, which requires intricate hand stitching and gathering of fabric to create the designs. These fabrics can form the foundation of a “whole cloth” quilt or be cut up and combined with other fabrics to make a new art piece.

With her mother and brother in Mountain View and a son in Kapoho, the show in Hilo will be a family reunion for Garza as well as another opportunity to share her work.

 

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