Dear Liza,

Yesterday I took the #20 bus into town, then the yellow Max train north until the end of the line. There, near (but not near enough to see) the joining of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, is the Portland Expo Center. It is a huge convention center surrounded by a huge parking lot. It felt very much like California, where every building has its requisite slab of asphalt.

Inside, there were hundreds of quilts, and hundreds of people who make, love, and even sell them. I was amazed at the level of workmanship…every corner met exactly, every seam lay flat, every stitch was tiny.


Many of the quilts were traditional motifs like Log Cabin and Texas Star, executed in traditional fabrics. Perfect, but to me, they shared the flaw of a Flemish painting: perfection of technique over …ooomph.

I value ooomph.

For example, there is a whole new (to me) school of applique, where the edges of appliqued fabric aren’t turned under, but very closely machine sewn. This gives the piece an easy, watercolored feel that is delightfully informal. Not exactly high art, but fun and energetic.

Each color on each dog is layered on and sewn…oomph

What I hadn’t expected was the degree of artistry. Not just great precision, but having something to say and saying it. A point of view, a political statement, a cry for love or peace or justice…these aren’t common in quilts. But here they were.

I found the most beautiful, sad political statement of all. This quilt of death dancing with his bride, money falling o of her gown, and this quote:

“Only when the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted, will we realize we can’t eat money and we can’t drink oil”.

Only when…. quilt

Then there were some with both oomph and joy and precision….. which I will share at the bottom of this post.


Grandma Judy

Oomph and precision
Ooomph and precision
Political chuckle

Author: Judy

I am a new transplant to Portland from Salinas, a small city in Central California. This is a blog about my new city.

One thought on “Quilts!”

  1. Portland seems awesome, and you’re making the most of it. Are you certain that you can return to Salinas, even for a bit? But, we will always have the Aquarium…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: