Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Joe Cunningham, Quilter and Artist-in-Residence at the De Young

Bend in the River. Joe Cunningham. Now property of the De Young.

  I've always liked quilts and even helped make a few when I visited my grandmother. My participation was limited to cutting out blocks of fabric as my stitches were nowhere near her standards. I enjoyed playing around with the fabric and listening to the ladies from her quilting group as they stitched away, needles flashing and tongues clacking as they destroyed the reputation of somebody else in the tiny Oregon lumber town where she lived. Of course, at the next meeting, it would be somebody else's turn to be the topic of gossip but the cakes and pies were always good. I especially remember the coconut pie which I will always associate with the Wedding Ring quilt pattern. It's funny how the memory works!

This months' artist-in-residence at the De Young probably doesn't continue the gossip portion of the quilting bee (we certainly won't be served coconut pie, alas) but his quilting skills are right up there with the best in the tradition. He invites visitors of all ages to experiment with their own quilt making ideas, as well as learn quilting techniques such as hand-quilting stitch and quilting on a frame.
Joe Cunningham began making quilts professionally in 1979, after a ten-year career as a musician in Michigan. His early mentors were steeped in the history and traditions of quilts, leading Cunningham to a life of study in quilt history and a love of traditional technique. Over the years his work has evolved into a unique personal style both original and shaped by the tradition. Throughout Cunningham’s career, he has written eight books on quiltmaking, including an essay on the current exhibit on Amish Quilts. He has made appearances on the HGTV series Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson, as well as The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson. Cunningham performs a musical quilt show titled Joe the Quilter for guilds and theaters nationwide.

Cunningham explains, “I enjoy interacting with the public and explaining to them the history of quilts and the process of quiltmaking. It is rewarding to have people join me at the frame to learn how to quilt. I am an ambassador from the quilt world.”

De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:30 am–5:15 pm
Friday: 9:30 am–8:45 pm. Closed on Monday
Joe Cunningham's web site: www.joethequilter.com. 
More on cloth and textiles at the always well-written and insightful Venetian Red:

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