a grand time

We recently went for a mini-vacation weekend in Grand Rapids. It’s not a long way from where we live, but we haven’t made the time to head over there in quite a while.

Grand Rapids Public Museum - Lego exhibit

We went in with a goal of visiting several museums and we met that goal! Our first was the Grand Rapids Public Museum, which had a special exhibit of LEGO buildings. There weren’t as many buildings as we’d hoped to see, but the ones in the exhibit were indeed impressive and, as you can see, on a pretty large scale.

why is Troi carrying a purse?

Having been through the standing exhibits in the not too distant past, we just visited a few highlights including their collection of American toys throughout history. This ST:TNG scene is terrific.

Karl is playing pinball. I am helping

In addition to cultural stuff, we also made time to experience a few recommendations from friends, including happy hour at the Pyramid Scheme. It’s a bar and performance venue with a pretty decent collection of pinball machines. Continuing my fangirl appreciation, I did the best on the ST:TNG machine and spent most of my time playing that. After this we walked over to HopCat for a delicious dinner and brews. Best of all, we were seated right away when we arrived and noticed that a large line formed practically moments later, so we super lucked out on that.

Andrea Kowch - Sojourn, 2011

The following day we went to the Grand Rapids Art Museum after an amazing breakfast at Sundance Grill and Bar. They offer Tex-Mex food that was SUPER delicious and the portions were huge. We definitely felt well-fueled for a day of walking around. The Art Museum was showing works from last year’s ArtPrize, which was cool since we didn’t make it over to see anything during last year’s competition. This painting is Sojourn by Andrea Kowch. There’s at least one Margaret Atwood novel in which a woman paints things that this made me think of – I may be thinking of descriptions from more than one story.

Elizabeth Brandt - BodyMap, 2012

The last couple of pieces we came to happened to be the thing I am most interested in: art quilts! This one is BodyMap by Elizabeth Brandt. The vibrant colors she used are really appealing and really highlight her construction. I like that she used different stitch techniques on different sections of the quilt.

Ann Loveless - Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore, 2013

This, Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore by Ann Loveless, was almost the last work we saw, and it was a great finale. It’s really four large pieces, framed and hung in a sequence that creates one visual whole. This was the first place people’s choice grand prize winner in last year’s ArtPrize competition.

Ann Loveless - Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore, 2013

The detail she put into this piece is really impressive.

Ann Loveless - Sleeping Bear Dune Lakeshore, 2013

I love the colors and how well she captures the look of a sunset.

selfie at Frederik Meijer Gardens, Grand Rapids

We also visited Frederik Meijer Gardens for the first time. It was SUPER hot and muggy by the time we left, but we still quite enjoyed walking through the greenhouses and the grounds. There were a ton of weddings happening that day (I’m sure it’s a popular summer wedding spot) and I felt thankful that I wasn’t enduring the humidity in super dressy clothing.

Roxy Paine - Neuron, 2010

The outdoor pieces are really nicely arranged with walking paths and frequent benches that are placed so that you can appreciate whatever piece of sculpture is nearby. We didn’t take time to sit as the humidity was making us feel as though if we stopped, we’d never get started again. This piece, Neuron by Roxy Paine, was one of our favorites. There are lots more pics on my flickr of the various artworks we saw on this trip.

With a well-formed appetite after that exercise, we headed over to Founders for lunch. Sitting in the beer garden, we met some nice folks from downstate with whom we enjoyed our sandwiches and brews. Following that, we visited with some dear friends we haven’t seen in far too long, and of course we were having too much fun to remember to take any photos. We had dinner at Brewery Vivant, which was decadent and delicious – duck nachos! – and then listened to our pal Dan play dueling pianos at the BOB. It was a jam-packed weekend but totally fun and really refreshing. And almost everything was within walking distance of our hotel! We’re such homebodies a lot of the time, so it’s good to be reminded of how refreshing it can be to find some new surroundings every now and then.

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Figure and Flock – complete!

It’s done! It’s done! Hoorah and huzzah!

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

I’m so happy that I finally finished it! I had so much fun and learned so much while putting this project together and I’m anxious to move on to the next one. Figure and Flock turned out to be 32×43.5″.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

Learning how to use the free motion quilting foot was quite fun and I know I’ll use it a lot in the future. I’m so pleased with the texture of her hair. I also love the dragonfly-inspired fabric I used for her eyes.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

I love the way these thread-painted birds came out. The look of thread painting is so pleasing, especially on a bird where it can mimic the texture of feathers. I wanted the birds to appear to be disturbing the air around them, so I did some free motion quilting around each one. My goal was also to have the birds appear slightly menacing and I think that the button and bead combination I used for their eyes helped this come through. Birds have often been used as symbols in paintings and other works of art, and I drew on that here. Sparrows are sometimes used to represent the souls of the deceased and robins symbolize change and new growth, both of which I was thinking of here.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

I’m quite pleased with the way the quilting worked out, too. I did free-hand grass-esque shapes in the grass and radiating curved lines in the sky. To me it feels effective in conveying the difference between the two areas.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

In the interest of adding more dimension to the piece, I also added some thread-painted birds that I sewed separately and then fussy-cut. They’re a little rougher around the edges, purposely, to carry on that subtle sense that all is not quite right with them.

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

I’m still very pleased with my Dresden Plate-inspired dress, too. The sections radiate out from the figure’s heart, where a bird also lives. In designing this figure, I was inspired by Blythe and I feel like my interpretation of her came out effectively. You can tell (if you’re familiar with Blythe) that it’s her, but it’s not so literal as to scream, “I’m a doll!”

Figure and Flock -  art quilt by Anne Heidemann

I chose a wood-grain-esque fabric for the binding (it’s not the same fabric as I used for her hair – you can tell the difference better up close), which I finished by invisible stitch on the back. I thought that the wood grain look seemed apropos to frame on a piece of art. I also added a channel so that it’s easy to display (that channel is in the same fabric as the quilt back, which is lilac with tiny white polka dots). I used only fabrics that were in my stash to make this quilt, with the exception of the bird fabric which I purposely selected and purchased with this intention. In case you wondered, I didn’t even make a dent in the stash! I probably need to do some really big projects in order to achieve that. 🙂

I haven’t figured out yet what my next project will be, but I think that I will rely more on piecing than on applique for that one (though of course I always change things around a lot during the process of making a project, so we shall see). Another art quilt is for sure on the docket, though I may opt for something smaller this time. Having made a lot of very-small-scale doll clothes, I’m interested in the applications for very-small-scale in quilting. In the future I’d also really like to make a useful quilt for our bedroom, though I will probably wait for that until we find our next house, so I can use the room as inspiration.

Now I need to find some quilt shows in which to enter Figure and Flock. I just missed the deadline for the big one happening in Grand Rapids later this year, which is a bummer, but I’m sure there are other shows out there.

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ArtPrize 2011

Last weekend we went to Grand Rapids and checked out a little bit of ArtPrize. There are SO MANY exhibits that we could only see a tiny portion, but what we saw, we liked. These are a few of my favorites.

This one was set up outside the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

ArtPrize 2011

All of these sunflowers are made from recycled plastic bottles. It has that awesome effect you get when you put a ton of the same thing all together in one place.

ArtPrize 2011

ArtPrize 2011

This one was the piece that had the most lasting impact on me.

ArtPrize 2011

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Anne, why is your favorite a bunch of giant dead birds?”

ArtPrize 2011

Well, the answer is in a more careful look, as well as helped by the explanation that went along with the piece. The birds are constructed from scraps of tires collected from along I-94 in Michigan. The artist felt a connection between the environmental impact that the auto industry and our reliance on vehicles has on the state of Michigan, along with the effects we’re now feeling from the collapse of that industry. Plus, dead birds! They’re just creepy in a cool way.

ArtPrize 2011

Finally, this is the third one that I was able to snap.

ArtPrize 2011

These creatures are SO CREEPY. You have (A) human-esque faces on animal bodies, (B) twirly fantasy-type horns that you can just tell are magical, and (C) the uncomfortable feeling of not being able to manipulate things that comes with a lack of digits. All that adds up to a win in my book.

ArtPrize 2011

If you’re able to check out any bit of ArtPrize, I highly recommend it!

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