We Can Fix This

Anti-gerrymandering art quilt is probably not a phrase that too many people have found occasion to utter, but it’s been on my tongue for the last few months as I worked on this piece.

We Can Fix This - art quilt by Anne Heidemann

I’m happy to say that you can currently see it in person if you can get to Mount Pleasant this month, as it’s part of the Pop Up Show currently happening at the Morey Gallery at Art Reach.

In this year of What-In-The-World-Is-Happening-Here 2017, politics feel super messed up and there are so many people in power doing terrible things that hurt all of us, but especially the most vulnerable among us. How those politicians can live with themselves, I can’t imagine, except that I guess human brains are pretty good at justifying things that are in one’s own self-interest and the generally Old White Dudes in power have a lot of practice. It feels so overwhelming – how do we fix what’s wrong when many of our elected officials are actively undoing the good we’ve been able to achieve in the past? It can be hard to know what to do or where to even start, but I’ve been trying to identify smallish things that I can actively take part in that might help. Working to end gerrymandering is one of those things and this art quilt is an expression of my frustration with the current system and an attempt to bring attention to this problem. As part of the gallery show, it is, if anyone is interested, for sale. If it does sell I’ll be donating half the proceeds to Voters Not Politicians, an anti-gerrymandering group in Michigan. And I fully encourage y’all to donate to this good cause regardless! Michigandalfs (and everyone) deserve better.

Pop up show at @artreachofmidmi - postcard featuring yours truly's piece (top center)! #mtpleasantmi #artquilt #art

You can also check out a process video of me working on this piece:


needlepoint geometry

If you haven’t stopped in to the Art Reach gallery recently, you should make time to see the current exhibit: Needlepoint Geometry by C. Joanne Grabinski.

Needlepoint Geometry exhibit by C. Joanne Grabinski

Her work is detailed and so satisfyingly accurate! She works in a variety of colors and has many varied inspirations ranging from Asian art traditions to the traditional arts of the southwest.

Needlepoint Geometry exhibit by C. Joanne Grabinski

I love the colors in this one! It reminds me of my grandparents’ living room (the frame is the color of the awesome chairs I inherited from them).

Check it out! The exhibit runs through July 18th.


Art Walk Central

We took some time this weekend to walk around and look at some of the art happening and on display for Art Walk Central 2014. There is some NEAT stuff to be experienced.

Let’s start with the Art Walk Central competition. There are a whole bunch of pieces of all different kinds of art on display around town. Most of them are inside businesses on Broadway and Main Streets, but there are also some in the art gallery on campus and in the university library, and a few outdoor pieces downtown as well. Anyone can sign up to vote online or via smartphone!

Art Walk Central 2014 entries

This piece, untitled by Velvet Underwood, is a raw edge fabric collage (on display at Art Reach).

Art Walk Central 2014 entries

I love the detail in the tone-on-tone fabric she used.

Art Walk Central 2014 entries

I would 100% love to hang this piece, untitled by Laura Coffee (also at Art Reach), in our home. Who doesn’t want to see a giant robot stalking downtown Mount Pleasant?

Emiko Screams by Corby Blem

This collage, Emiko Screams by Corby Blem (on display at the University Art Gallery), caught my eye right away, and THEN I realized that (EVEN BETTER!) it’s inspired by the scene of a woman seeing Godzilla for the first time.

August 6, 1945 Revisited (Hiroshima) by Sally Rose

One of my favorite pieces is this one, August 6, 1945 Revisited (Hiroshima) by Sally Rose (also at the UAG). After looking at it for a few moments, I realized that I took a weaving class from this artist my sophomore year in college. I loved that class! I would love to take another class or a workshop from her sometime.

Summer Reading: A Study in Greens by Ann Kowaleski

I was delighted to see a piece by one of my favorite local artists, Ann Kowaleski. Entitled Summer Reading: A Study in Greens, this piece is also at the CMU art gallery. The vibrant colors are so striking, and of course I’m also drawn to the subject matter.

Filed by Kim Kleinhardt

Finally, this is Filed by Kim Kleinhardt (also at UAG). Each section is a file folder, collaged and containing papers from each of her thirty years as an art teacher. You can open each folder (there’s a note encouraging this) to see the contents and read about that year of her life as an art instructor. SO NEAT.

Members of the community were also out and about downtown painting the crosswalks at the intersection of Broadway and Main.

painting the intersection crosswalks

You can see the Mondrian-inspired design in the middle of the intersection, which was completed earlier this month. This weekend, they were painting the crosswalks. The one above will look like a piano keyboard, I think!

There were also artists creating chalk paintings on the sidewalks on Saturday.

chalk art on Broadway

So fun! I feel so lucky to be in a community that places a high value on art – and even more, on art that anyone can participate in. I hope to enter an art quilt in the competition next year.


Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival Quilt Show

Last weekend we went to the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival to check out the syrup, arts and crafts, and quilt show. I had considered entering a quilt myself, but didn’t get to it in time to make the deadline. Next year!

Odd as it seems, despite having lived in the area for close to 15 years in the 90s and 00s, this was my first time attending this festival. We got some syrup, of course, but skipped the really, really, really long lines for the all-you-can-eat pancake and sausage meal.

The quilt show was small but a nice mix of types of quilts by a few different quilters (some quilters had multiple pieces on display). As usual, I was most interested in the original quilts, but those made from commercial patterns were also very nicely made.

Some of the quilts had been made long ago, in some cases by older or now-deceased relatives of the person who entered the quilt in the show.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

This one, which was one of the largest on display (96×68″), was hand-pieced by the owner’s mother, who used fabrics from the owner’s childhood. The dimensional quality of this design is really impressive.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

I liked the nature/fantasy subject of this quilt (62×46″) by Carol Griffin. It is called Flower Belles and I suppose one could see the women as just that, but I thought they seemed to be flower fairies. I’ve been reading the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series by Susan Wittig Albert, which has probably put fairies at the forefront of my mind.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

I’m interested in portraits and depictions of figures in quilts and this was a nice example of a relatively simple approach that is realistic but still fun.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

Another one of my favorites was this dog quilt, titled Moochas Pooches (57×46″).

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

While of course I would’ve liked it even more if it had included a Boston Terrier, this pug was cute enough to almost make up for it.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

The smallest piece (10×8″) on display was this framed fabric art, titled Lake Michigan and made by Carrie Dunn. To make it, she used raw edge applique, a technique that I have been reading a lot about since seeing it used on some of the art quilts in Lenore Crawford’s exhibit at Art Reach in February.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

One of my favorites of the day was this horse wall hanging (36×47.5″), pieced by Carol Griffin. I’m not particularly interested in horses as a subject, but the piecing and construction of the quilt caught my eye.

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

I like the combination of fabrics the artist used, as well as the variety of stitch techniques she used to create the impression of texture and movement.

One thing I found notable was that, with the exception of the tied and vintage or antique quilts, very few of the pieces on display had been quilted by the same person who pieced them. I suppose that most of the folks doing the piecing take their quilt sandwich to a professional machine quilter and pay them to do the machine quilting. I’m not opposed to this on principle, but I definitely feel like, for me, it would take something away from the overall achievement of having completed a quilt. The same is true for using pre-made quilt patterns, as I prefer to make it up myself, or at least make up most of it in the cases where I might use a well-known quilt block design as inspiration. I want to do it all myself! (This is probably why it takes me ages to finish anything.)

Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival quilt show

One of the things that I was excited to see was the chance to participate in a contest in next year’s show! The challenge is called Spring Fling 15. It cost $1 to sign up, which provided a small piece of fabric that should be incorporated into the entry. The finished piece can be any shape and size as long as the perimeter is between 60 and 100″ total. All the entries will be displayed in next year’s festival and awards will be given for the best representation of the theme, best use of color, and best workmanship in piecing and/or applique. I’m excited to plan my piece.


Blood is Thicker Than Ink: Philip Carey exhibit

This weekend we went to see the new exhibit at Art Reach, entitled Blood is Thicker Than Ink: Envelopes & Post-its & Bandages = The Strange Canvases of Philip Carey.

Blood is Thicker than Ink exhibit by Philip Carey63. Dream: “I’m Being Attacked by the 1812 Overture”

Carey does mostly drawings in various formats. The piece above was the largest, most textured work on display. It illustrates a dream the artist had in which he was being attacked by the 1812 Overture (I love this concept!), and he used cut-outs placed at various depths to really bring the idea alive. The way the art extends beyond the canvas helps emphasize the overwhelmingness of the music.

Blood is Thicker than Ink exhibit by Philip Carey

I am enamored with the concept of a Halloween emergency.

Blood is Thicker than Ink exhibit by Philip Carey52. Dream: December 23, 2013

Seeing so many dreams illustrated (you really have to see the whole exhibit to truly get the feel) reinforces the strangeness of dreams. The old conceit of everyone finding anyone else’s dreams boring is turned around here, because the illustrations are so engaging. You look at one and you want to see all the rest to find out what other weird things he experienced.

Blood is Thicker than Ink exhibit by Philip Carey45. Dream: August 24, 2012

For a number of reasons, this absolutely feels like something I would dream myself (librarians, I know you feel me). That’s the other thing about these dream illustrations: not only are you curious to find out what else happened, you find snippets of things and concepts that seem so familiar, they could have come from your own subconscious.

Blood is Thicker than Ink exhibit by Philip Carey


Wiggling Along Through Wiggleville

Carey also has a huge number of illustrated envelopes in this exhibit. He and a friend carried on a lengthy correspondence and he made each piece he sent into mail art.

Blood is Thicker than Ink exhibit by Philip CareyBring a Few Jackets and some Long Underware

Each envelope is quite detailed and he works the addresses into the pictures in fun ways. This really made me reminiscent for the days when I had penpals! (How I wish I’d kept in touch with them all.) I remember one friend from camp with whom I exchanged letters for probably a year or so, and each time one of us wrote, we included the same sticker, about which we made tons of very mature jokes (it was a rocket ship with a little puff of air underneath – this being middle school or so, we knew full well it was a fart and addressed it as such). Good times!

Carey also included some artwork that is made from and with the bandages he used during his dialysis treatments. The wounds on the bandages form eyes and the artwork is really well done. I didn’t take any photos of those pieces, though, as they seemed too personal and intimate.

This is an exhibit at which a person could spend hours and/or visit multiple times, finding new things each time. I recommend it!


Lenore Crawford’s Fabric Art

One of the neatest places in Mount Pleasant is Art Reach. It’s a community arts organization that offers a gift shop, gallery space, outreach to schools, scholarships, and regular programs featuring visual art, poetry, music, and pretty much any kind of art you can think of. When we lived here before, they had a relatively small space in the church next to the library, but while we were gone they were able to move to retail and gallery space right downtown on Broadway.

I noticed that they were having an exhibition in the Morey Family Gallery this month called Fabric Art by a local(ish – she’s based in Midland) artist named Lenore Crawford. She combines quilting with fabric painting and a technique called thread painting (also known as thread drawing, according to the intarwebs) to create these beautiful art quilts.

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

Dogwood Blossoms II (31×40″)

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

You can see the very fine detail of her work. She uses a lot of applique technique to achieve the layered look that is reminiscent of the layers and texture you see in an oil painting.

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

I noticed here that she is using a variety of sewing techniques or styles in any one quilt – here we have a great contrast between the straight or barely curved lined of the leaves and petals of the flower and the swirls of the background quilting. Of course the floral motif of this one appeals to the gardener in me.


Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

Grand Poppy (37×43″)

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

I love the combination of media Crawford used in this quilt, as well as the amazing color palette she utilized. The poppy itself is stunning, but the background behind the poppy really drew my attention. The colors range all over the place and yet never detract from the central focus of the main blossom. The variation of colors and stitches she used for the petals really capture the delicate, beautiful texture of a poppy blossom.

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

These beads are lovely – their luster really doesn’t show up well in this photo. What a neat way to represent the anthers of a poppy flower. I also wanted to show another of the stitch techniques she’s used, this time a varied zigzag stitch.


Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

Winter Sky (29×23″)

This one drew my attention immediately. The stark silhouette of the tree combined with the so-familiar colors of a sunset in progress really rings true. Of course I managed not to get any other photos of the detail of this piece, but that doesn’t reflect how I responded to it (perhaps I neglected the camera because I was so engaged with the quilt).

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

The Garden Parasol, Frederick Frieseke (42.5×56.75″)

Fabric art by Lenore Crawford

This was the first quilt I saw upon entering the gallery, and I noticed right away that there was a lot of painting within the quilting. It is based on a painting by an American impressionist painter who lived most of his life in France (impressionism and France are two of Crawford’s primary sources of inspiration). If you compare the two, you can see that the quilt is not just a direct copy/interpretation of the original painting, but adds some variation in shape and color choice as well as content. The background scene in the quilt is quite different from the painting (I think I prefer the quilt, actually), and the colors appear more vibrant and intense in the quilt.

I was so happy that I found out about this exhibit. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning. I also found out that the Art Reach shop takes submissions for consignment by local artists (by jury), so that’s something I may work toward in the future myself.