Monday, October 19, 2015

Mid-Century Monday: Mid-Century Mod quilts at PIQF

I attended the Pacific International Quilt Festival last week, and while it was primarily a shopping trip (first stop: delicious Oakshott cottons from Pinwheels!), I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon an exhibition of “Mid-Century Mod” quilts. Here’re a couple I found most interesting.

Grandpa’s Model Twenty #1 by Jodi Robinson, Enon Valley, PA, awarded Best Interpretation of Mid-Century Theme
The quilter of this first one was inspired by a mid-century modern stereo system owned by her industrial-designer grandfather. Classic mid-century shapes that look cool and graphic.

American Modern by Carol Krueger, Louisville, CO, awarded Judge’s Choice
Lots of detail, including machine embroidery, in this one. It’s inspired by Russel Wright’s American Modern dinnerware, and both the colors and the motifs reflect that.

There was a vast range of interpretations of mid-century modern among the quilts in the exhibit, and it wasn’t until later that I realized what it was that drew me to these two: they both take their cues from modern decorative art and design rather than fine art. Though the call for submissions suggested quilters consider “the work of artists such as Joan Miro, Piet Mondrian, Victor Vasarely, Frank Stella, etc.”—i.e., mostly fine artists—it seems to me that mid-century modernism is really about the design of furniture, architecture, housewares, and graphics more than painting and sculpture. The Wikipedia definition concurs (for what it’s worth, none of the artists cited in the call for submissions are mentioned in the article, nor in its list of “additional mid-century modern architects, artists, and designers”). Modern art isn’t quite the same thing as mid-century design, though of course they’re connected.

But I guess that’s the beauty of exhibitions like this: they allow everybody to offer up their own vision of what a topic means to them, and we get to enjoy the eye candy that results. And there’s no denying that MCM design is fruitful territory!