Thursday, September 8, 2016

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase - the inside story

Well-hung (teehee, best quilt show compliment ever).
Totally modern.

These are just some of the wonderful compliments we received at our recent quilt show. Not only was it the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild's first show, it was also the first quilt show in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver area) totally devoted to modern quilts. We all feel very proud.  I've been involved as a volunteer for several traditional shows, but this was my first attempt at leading a show committee into unknown territory! The fact that this show came together in 5 months is nothing short of remarkable and a testament to our determined show committee and trusting guild members. Many lessons were learned and we are already excited about implementing ideas and suggestions to make our next show even better! Plus, we have 2 years to prepare for the next one. Phew!

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
Ellen, by Matthew Wheeler

Much of the KAPOW element of the visual impact of our show had to do with the incredible venue we secured: the historic Pipe Shop Building at the former North Vancouver Shipyards. That's partly why the show happened so quickly, the venue was only available one weekend in 2016 and at the time of booking, the fate of the building was unknown so the management could not allow bookings beyond 2016. The show committee felt it was too perfect to miss out, so we went for it!!  The industrial beams, heritage wooden posts and concrete floor were the perfect backdrop for our modern quilts to shine (in natural light!).

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
Top L-R: Mix Tape by Lysa Mair, MonoGlamatic Clams by Dianne Semark, Round and Round We Go by Terry Aske
Bottom L-R: Noon Window by Gigi Hamer, Spider's Web by Shannon MacLachlan

You can see that we chose a minimalist hanging layout using post and pipe (but no drape) in the centre of the space and tensioned wires with silver binder clips between the wooden posts.  We kept costs down by buying wire and hardware in bulk and having my husband and brother make the wire sections based on measurements we took in advance of the show. The majority of quilt backs were visible, much to the delight of visitors to the show. Having the quilts free in space with air and light all around them was gorgeous. Janet Archibald and Terry Aske did an incredible job planning the layout over many, many hours. They used colour photographs of all of the quilts to determine which ones would look best adjacent to each other considering size, colour and subject matter. This is a massive job that included mapping out the aisles and wires in the space for best traffic flow, labelling all of the quilts and creating a detailed map so that volunteers could hang the show.

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
L-R beginning with Holly Broadland's Rainbow Girl circle on white, Berene Campbell's Rainbow Mashup and  Delhi Dreams by Megan Hanna. 
On the far right is a bit of Andrea Bamberg's Rainbow Coin

Our entire show was something unique in the local quilt show scene, but I think something extra special was our Modern Mini Showcase Wall. The venue happened to have a free-standing white wall at one end that was the perfect surface to display a collection of mini quilts our members made for inclusion in a traditional show in the fall of 2015. Our idea was to create a gallery display for educational purposes - we'd asked members to make minis (less than 80" perimeter) using only solid fabrics, that demonstrated one or more of the MQG design aesthetics of modern quilting (for example: improvisational piecing, alternate grid construction, use of negative space). This vision was realised by the talented Dianne Semark, a guild member who is also a professional graphic designer. It was a revelation for many of our visitors!

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
Here I am hamming it up with someone you've read about from time to time here, my fabulous SIL, by my Quarter Round quilt.

In front of this wall, we set up two long tables covered in solid fabric scraps, card stock and glue sticks. We invited visitors to create their own modern mini "quilts" using those on the wall for inspiration. Volunteers helped out and this activity was an overwhelming success with children and adults alike. One unanticipated outcome was that several people left their creations behind - we taped them up to the beams and they became integral to the display over the weekend. Result!

VMQG modern quilt showcase
Doesn't it look amazing? 

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
Here she is again, having fun with a friend at the activity table!

I'll just share a few more shots with you. If you're interested in seeing photos of all of the 138 quilts on display, check out the amazing photos by Sonja Callaghan in this flickr group

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
I'm rather partial to this little threesome. From L-R:  Selfie by Felicity Ronaghan, my Round Peg, Square Hole  and Fire and Water by Susan Chaffe (one of my favourite quilts made in the very first Temperature Check workshop I taught).

VMQG modern quilt showcase
Here's a shot of one of the three fabulous Viewer's Choice ribbons made by guild member Berene Campbell, pinned on a winning quilt made by Paul Krampitz called 1001 Knights

VMQG Modern Quilt Showcase 2016
That's my Light Of May quilt just in front of the 3 people and to the left of it is Janet Archibald's Shadow Box 

Not including all of the children under 12 who entered the show for free, we had 754 visitors. If we include all of the guild member volunteers and kids, there were definitely over 800 people who came over two days. We're thrilled, considering it is our first show and it took place on an August weekend. Our venue is not in the city, but it is located adjacent to a very convenient Seabus that travels between downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver every 15 minutes. Many of our visitors actually made the effort to take public transit and travelled on the boat for the very first time. So cool.

There's so much more I could share, but I think I'll stop here. My life has been pretty saturated with quilt show stuff for the past few months (including the 33 hours I spent at the venue over the show weekend along with Terry, Janet and Felicity). It is time for me to move on and get back to sewing.

ETA: I've been asked about the quilts that appeared in the show and how we 'chose' them. Well, none of us on the committee were interested in jurying the work of our fellow members, nor was our show judged. We discussed the space and estimated how many quilts we could hang compared to the number of members we have (about 120). We decided to guarantee every member that their 1st choice quilt would have a place in our show and encouraged them to enter a quilt that they felt would best exemplify the modern aesthetic and help us introduce modern quilting to the community at large. In the end, we had enough space to hang all entrant's 1st and 2nd choice quilts! There wasn't enough room for all 3rd choice ones, so we stopped there. Quilts on the modern mini wall were "free" and not included in the choices for general display. The bottom line: we trusted our membership and our collective desire to put on a truly modern quilt show. Nailed it!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of our show and some of the behind the scenes planning details!


Tamie said...

From what I can see you all did an amazing job. You are correct, the venue was perfect. Thank you for sharing for those of us too far away to attend.

Unknown said...

Wow wow and wow......
A stunning show in a great looking venue. Kudos for pulling it off at such short notice.
Thanks for letting us have a peek at what we missed!!

felicity said...

I'm delighted that we were able to showcase our members' amazing work in such a fantastic space. The show committee worked incredibly hard and put in many, many hours to make it all come together so beautifully. This show absolutely would not have happened without your leadership, Krista. I am so happy to have been able to ride your coattails. Result!

karen said...


amy dame said...

We are so lucky to have you all, but especially you Krista, with your amazing show coordinating skills! It was an amazing show, and I'm excited for the next one! (You might be rested up by 2018!)

amy dame said...

We are so lucky to have you all, but especially you Krista, with your amazing show coordinating skills! It was an amazing show, and I'm excited for the next one! (You might be rested up by 2018!)

Leanne said...

This show was a fantastic achievement for your guild and you and your committee! I sure wish i could have been there.

Debbie said...

So glad you did this write-up. I really wanted to make the trip up and it just didn't work out so I'm glad to hear and see about it. What a tremendous success!

Jenny - the lilac cat said...

This has been a wonderful inspiration to quilters and Modern Guilt Guilds all over. What I loved seeing the flickr images in addition to yours is that you made it accessible to any quilter of any standard. And you have some seriously talented quilters in your corner of the world!

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

What a fantastic effort, and such a great showcase for Modern Quilting. Your guild should feel proud, let alone the specialness of being well hung. ;)

ChristaQuilts said...

Wow! What an amazing looking show. I hope your guild will be able to continue hosting them :-)

Anonymous said...

This show epitomized the best of the Modern Quilt movement IMHO: wonderful planning and display, an open participation by all your guild members and those quilts!! So impressed. So proud of you. Wish I had been closer to see it in person. Hillary

Sandi said...

It was a lovely showcase and I enjoyed the ability to see the backs of the quilts along with the peek through of no draperies. I hope more shows go this route in the future.

Thanks to you, Felicity and several other people for providing me with the missing names of the creators of the quilts I shared on my blog.

I look forward to your next showcase. You all should take a bow for this one.

OPQuilt said...

It was lovely to read about your quilt show and how you set it up (I loved seeing the pictures on IG as the weekend progressed). I would say, from all that I've read, that it was a huge success--congratulations!


stamperwithdayjob said...

Those were pretty amazing quilts! Thank you for sharing.

Unknown said...

Hey Krista -I wish I could have been there, it looks like an incredibly inspiring show. Way to go!!!