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Partnerships, Exhibitions, and Symposiums, Oh My!

By Joan Sextro published in the May 2013 newsletter


With the great success of the first show at the Oakland Scottish Rite Temple, in 1978, the guild sought ways to continue public exhibitions.  Finding a new venue took an interesting path.  Helen Goeriz's husband's brother had gone to high school with Phil Linhares, the curator of the art gallery at Mills College.  Phil showed an avid interest in the concept of a quilt exhibit, so the board took a look at the gallery space and the partnership was formed. 


1982 Exhibit: Quilt: A Tradition of Variations


The result was an almost two-month exhibit at Mills College, between October 9 and November 28, 1982. Visitors were treated to an exhibit of 60 antique and contemporary quilts, entitled, “Quilt: A Tradition of Variations.” Glendora Hutson was a guiding light for this event. A five-Sunday series of speakers was a highlight. The theme of the show focused on seeing how a traditional pattern has been interpreted differently throughout the years. Two raffle quilts were offered: a woolen Amish quilt designed by Lucy Hilty and a quilt entitled Barely Enough, constructed by Jan Inouye, Janet Shore, Marilyn Davis, and Ann Rhode, among others. The fabrics were donated by Marilyn Davis, owner of Patience Corners.  A David Lance Goines poster was commissioned by a group of members for the event. A very elaborate catalog which contained color photos on coated paper was underwritten by the guild.


1984 Symposium: Growth Through Diversity


The exhibit was so successful that we decided to expand the Mills partnership to a symposium format. The first symposium, July 25-29, 1984 was entitled “Growth Through Diversity.” It included five lectures, and participants’ choice of a six-hour workshop, one three-hour workshop, one mini lecture, two fashion shows, a quilters’ home studio tour, quilt exhibit, merchants’ mall and special western barbecue. Famous quilters and quilt lovers from all over the country, as well as from Canada and England, were presenters. In informal travels around the country, co-chairs Anne Ito and Janet Shore had collected ideas about what the guild could offer in order to provide the scope and focus of the event. The participants, who had to be members, lived in Mills College dorms for four days and ate in their cafeteria. Ann Ito brought a group from Japan, who became members of the guild for several years after. More details of the 1984 symposium hereView photos  here.


1988 Symposium: Quilts: Tradition with a Future


Both events had been wildly successful. We decided on another symposium entitled, “Quilts:Tradition with a Future” which took place July 26-30, 1988. It included lectures, fashion shows, twelve-hour workshops, six-hour workshops, member and teacher exhibits, “Cut from the Cloth” clothing exhibit, merchants’ mall, quilters’ studio tour, and a tour of the Esprit collection.  One hundred and fifteen member quilts were exhibited. A Baltimore Album Quilt, made under the supervision of Adele Ingraham was unveiled. It currently resides at the San Jose Quilt Museum and has been displayed at Voices in Cloth. Ann Rhode, using fabrics left over from the Baltimore Album Quilt, designed “Baltimore Rag,” which became the raffle quilt for the event. The roster of 17 teachers read like a who’s who of the quilting world, including some of our distinguished EBHQ members. Folk artist Ed Larson, one of the teachers, was known for creating art from peoples’ storytelling. Ed interviewed Anne and Janet, then designed images for them based on their life stories. Guild members transformed those images into quilts, which they gave to Anne and Janet as thanks for their years of effort. See photos here.


Those were the days.....


The synthesis of local professional collectors, quilters, shop owners, quilt historians and teachers with an enthusiastic group of young, competent women, up for learning anything served to advance the art of quilting, a pursuit which remains to this day in the Bay Area and EBHQ. 
These were joyous, exciting times for the guild members.  

Helen Goeriz, our first president reminisced: "This was also a very exciting time for women." Women were redefining themselves and challenging the traditions with which they had been raised. Helen said that she got her consciousness-raising around the quilt frame. Women, from all walks of life, education, culture, experience, and age, were equalized through the shared experiences they had while sewing together.

While the symposiums had been successful fundraisers for EBHQ, we recognized that they took a lot of effort. When Phil Linhares left Mills College, we decided that the symposium format would be changed to what we now know as Voices in Cloth, which premiered in 1991.

Contributors: Ann Rhode, Mabry Benson, Helen Goeriz, Friendship Knot archives, photo archives.


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