The thing I find particularly thrilling about the American Quilts Exhibition Store is that because quilts are such a living medium, a part of everyday lives, they often inspire very personal dialogues as visitors pass into the exhibition store. Every day we meet visitors who are eager to share their sewing stories—they admire the works in the exhibition in a profound way because of a shared experience with those artists. We learn about still-vibrant family traditions of sewing, memories of people’s mothers hand-stitching their clothing when they were children, the various techniques seamstresses develop over time, and the agony and the ecstasy of piecing those wee slippery scraps of fine fabric together.
Since quilts do maintain such a strong living tradition, the American Quilts exhibition store provides us with a wonderful opportunity to develop relationships with many local artists whose works are featured in the shop. The three large gorgeous quilts on the walls that meet so much admiration as visitors walk into the store are made by a local quilter from Shorewood, Bruce Seeds. Bruce is such a great fit for the Museum, not only because he’s trained as an architect, but because he is also a very interactive artist—architecture and interaction being very highly valued here at the Museum!
A few weeks ago, Bruce made a presentation to the Museum’s docents, complete with a sample quilt the docents could touch and “ooh” and “aah” over (it is so very satisfying when you are able to touch at the museum, isn’t it?) and a short film illustrating his technique and the many tiny decisions that go into each of those fabulous mosaic patterns. Bruce is going to come back again so the public can do some “oohing” and “aahing” on July 24, along with local quilt expert Maggi Gordon, who has many intimate ties to the Milwaukee Art Museum, and local basket weaver Dianne Gleixner. Dianne is an instructor and pattern maker and I am so looking forward to watching her expert hands create those beautiful baskets right in front of me!