Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Joyce Gross & Her Quilts

The quilting gods were shining on me when I received an invitation to the private reception held in honor of Joyce Gross at the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, California, this past weekend. It's not possible to tell you all that Joyce has contributed to our understanding and flourishing of antique quilt study nationwide, but here are some of the contributions Joyce made when this field was only a thread thick in existence. As an early quilt historian and collector of all things connected, she was editor and publisher of Quilter's Journal, founding member of American Quilt Study Group with Sally Garoutte in Northern California in 1980, a Quilter's Hall of Fame inductee in 1996, an exhibitor of her quilt collections, co-author with Cuesta Benberry and contributor to Uncoverings Journal. Suffice it to say, Joyce is a legend in her own time.

You can imagine her quilt collection would be magnificent, but it is better than that. She owns some of the quilts recognized as among the best 100 quilts of the 20th century and other well-known quilts made by prize-winning quilters from our past. She also collected books, catalogs, ephemera, and wrote reams of research on related topics.

Joyce recently decided that her entire collection would go to the University of Texas at Austin, and within it is The Center for American History and the Winedale Quilt collection.

The reception was held in the evening after the quilt show had closed. Joyce was beaming all evening, her eyes twinkled and her hands were almost never without another hand inside. Each of us in the small group of privileged invitees waited our turn to sit next to Joyce and talk with her personally, face-to-face. Her voice was strong, her eyes smiling; she loved every minute and every person. The feeling was mutual. Her close friends and family were present. It was a love fest.

This event was the highlight of my time there and will be important for the rest of my life. She wore her Quilter's Hall of Fame medal and talked with us about her quilts on display. "Which one do you like best?," she asked, and then told us hers. She was in her element. It was so heartwarming and meaningful.

The women from the U of TX and The Center were so happy to be the recipient of Joyce's years of collecting and study. After sharing our enthusiasm, I am so happy to tell you that they are facilitating an article about Joyce, with photos and descriptions of the quilts in this exhibit and what the future holds since they acquired her collection to be featured on my Website http://www.antiquequiltdating.com/ soon. The Winedale Quilt Collection, of which The Joyce Gross Quilt History Collection is now a part, is a major quilt center in the West, I am so happy to say. Currently part of their collection is in the Alliance's Quilt Index via digital images which spans more than 200 years. Joyce's quilts are to be added as well. Twenty more will be on display at the Houston Quilt Festival this year.

Amy E. Milne from the Alliance for the American Quilt, was there too and is standing in front of Joyce's Penny Tree applique quilt c. 1850.

Finally, but not least, I want to acknowledge and thank the two women that made this opportunity possible on many levels: Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O'Bryant. With the Winedale Center, they held the reception for Joyce. Together the cousins, very smartly, (ok, I'm biased) decided to have their incredible quilt show in our State! (Stay tuned for more blogs on the show and vendors I enjoyed last weekend.)

The women represented in the quilt exhibit that surrounded the reception were Bertha Stenge, Florence Peto, Emma Andres and Pine Hawkes Eisfeller, among others. With permission from the U of TX and The Center, I am able to share these photos with you here. Joyce's quilts were on display for the entire Quilt Festival, for all to enjoy, and were the only antique quilts on exhibit.

Thank you Joyce.


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