For anyone who loves quilts and fine art, the Dunedin Fine Art Center has the perfect exhibition.
A trio of them, to be exact.
Three art quilt exhibits showcase international and local quilting creations that will intrigue and delight both quilters and art aficionados.
What makes this exhibit one not to be missed is the breadth of artistic styles, said the fine arts center's associate executive director, Ken Hannon.
The quilts in these exhibitions aren't works of art to be seen and not touched. Simply slip on one of the gloves provided by the museum to gently feel the fabrics.
The Quilt National
"The Quilt National is probably the foremost art quilt competition in the world," Hannon said. "Every two years, the Dairy Barn Arts Center, which developed this competition in the mid to late 1970s, has a competition for people at the highest level of creating art quilts around the world."
And this year 25 of those award-winning quilts have come to the Dunedin Fine Art Center. The works from across the globe light up the Entel Family Gallery with golds, dark purples, oranges, reds and deep blues.
Threads shimmer. Pictures of landscapes pop. Some quilts present realistic images, while others are abstract. Some require a deeper look to discover messages incorporated into the fabric. With names like City Light, Embodied, Granite Shadows, Oil Spill and 52 Pickup, there is something to interest almost everyone.
While the museum has a history of presenting quilt exhibits, this is its first Quilt National showing.
Masterpieces, small quilts
A second art quilt exhibit originated closer to home.
Members of Innovative Quilters, the museum's resident guild, took up a challenge to interpret art masterpieces. The result is "IQ Masters: An Exhibition of Inspired Quilts."
Members also produced small quilts for auction.
"One of the small quilts pays homage to Alfred Hair, one of the Florida Highwaymen," said Hannon, who pointed to several quilts in the auction. "In an extremely generous gesture, all of these were donated by the quilters to raise money for our educational programs."
Innovative Quilters has been together for eight years but will disband after this exhibition, so this display is a special one.
Beverly Leasure of Dunedin is a founding member of Innovative Quilters. Leasure began as a bed quilter and says quilts are an expression of love because of the time it takes to make one. She still makes bed quilts but is also an artistic quilter.
"Quilting is a pure art form," said Leasure. "It began as a functional art like pottery. I hope when people look at the quilts they realize the amount of time and effort quilters put into them. Even the smallest pieces take a lot of time."
Anyone can see how much time, talent and thought have gone into each one of the art quilts on display. Artists express everything from personal to political thoughts on fabric using all types of media and techniques.
Betty Busby exhibit
"Betty Busby: Unseen" is a collection of art quilts that focus on life at the cellular level.
The New Mexico artist's stunning quilts have won Best in Show two years in a row at the Carnegie Center for Art & History.
Men are quilters, too
This month the Dunedin Fine Art Center will host Joe Cunningham, a former Michigan musician who has been making quilts since 1979. He will present a lecture, a performance and a workshop June 28 and 29.
Originally a traditional quiltmaker, Cunningham became a student of quilting history. His unique quilts hang in permanent museum collections and private collections. Many are made in the style of Joseph Hedley, aka Joe the Quilter, who lived in England from 1750 to 1830. Learning about Hedley inspired Cunningham to become a professional quilter two centuries later.
At 7 p.m. June 28, Cunningham will tell the story of Joe the Quilter's life through songs and illustrate the story using Cunningham's own quilts. Admission is $15.
Then in a workshop from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 29, he will teach how to make a fractured landscape from a series of unique blocks. The workshop is $95 for members, $105 for nonmembers.
The current trio of quilt shows is a big departure for the art center, Hannon said, but one the museum and those who have visited so far are quite happy about.
"We're thrilled with this exhibit," Hannon said. "In the past, we've always had a more traditional art quilt component, but this exhibit leans much more heavily toward the art."