Monday, December 31, 2012

Passing of Joyce Gross, 1996 Honoree

Joyce Gross –editor, publisher, researcher, founder and writer of Quilter’s Journal– was the 1996 Quilters Hall of Fame Inductee.  It seems fitting that we should let Cuesta Benberry– her comrade in arms when it came to quilt research– say a few words about Joyce at her passing December 24th. Theirs was a friendship that probably has no peer in the late 20th century quilt revival.

Below is the tribute Cuesta Benberry delivered when she introduced Joyce as the Keynote Speaker at the fall 1995 AQSG  Seminar held in Paducah, KY. Cuesta's introduction appeared as an article in The Quilters Hall of Fame newsletter Spring 1996.

Information about the location and date of the planned memorial is at the end of this post.

(photo by Karen B. Alexander)
 (above) Panelists Joyce Gross, Cuesta Benberry (1983 TQHF Inductee) and Barbara Brackman (2001 TQHF Inductee) at the July 2004 Grand Opening of The Quilters Hall of Fame in Marion, Indiana.

Cuesta wrote of Joyce in 1995:

You've probably read in various quilt magazines that "the legendary Joyce Gross" is to be a featured speaker at the 16th annual seminar of the American Quilt Study Group. Is the term "legendary Joyce Gross" simply a complimentary or flattering designation, or is it, indeed, based on factual evidence? What makes a person a legend? Among the numerous attributes that characterize a legend, two of the most significant ones are longevity and the performance of a unique feat, or a series of extraordinary achievements in a particular field of endeavor. As to longevity, one rarely hears of an overnight legend.

Approximately 25 years ago Joyce Gross began the long journey that results in her present position of prominence in today's quilt world. In the early 1970's Joyce and a small group of friends in Marin County, California (including the late Sally Garoutte the 1994 QHF Honoree), formed an organization: the Mill Valley Quilt Authority. Although the title was a humorous, a sort of tongue-in-cheek adaptation of the famous Tennessee Valley authority name, these women were not playful dilettantes. Instead they were the cutting edge of the burgeoning nationwide quilt movement of that time. In fact, their "Patch in Time" quilt exhibition held in 1973 is today regarded as a landmark event on the West Coast. Joyce assembled an array of noteworthy quilts, such as The Matterhorn, the Hardman quilt, Rose Kretsinger's quilts, Charlotte Jane Whitehill's quilts that many persons had never heard of. A whole series of "Patch in Time" exhibitions followed. Joyce later had special affairs honoring Berthe Stenge (QHF 1980 Honoree) and a memorable one celebrating the works of Pine Eisefeller that was graced by the presence of this outstanding quilt maker.

During those years Joyce participated in a weekly radio broadcast entitled “California Weekend” over Station KGO, San Francisco, in which she reported on various quilt activities in the bay area and in the quilt world at large.

In 1977, when Joyce became editor and publisher of Quilters Journal, she determined that her magazine would be unlike any other quilt periodical then being published. She wanted the contents to be solely devoted to quilt history, and to reflect the findings contained from quilt research conducted by herself and other scholars equally involved in this phase of quilt work.

When in 1979, under the sponsorship by Santa Rosa Quilt Guild, Joyce organized the first national quilt contest ever held on the West coast, she demonstrated two of her strong points: Joyce is an innovative thinker and an initiator of unique quilt projects. Quilt entries from all over the United States were submitted for this contest, as well as for a second one she organized in 1982.

When Sally Garoutte conceived the idea of holding the first quilt research seminar that later developed into the American Quilt Study Group, she solicited the opinions and input from a very few of her close friends whose judgment she valued. Joyce was one of those friends. She supported and cooperated fully with Sally to bring the proposal to fruition. And so Joyce was not only a charter member of AQSG, but she should also be considered a founder, along with Sally.

Since 1983, Joyce has held the highly successful annual week-long “Quilt Retreat-California Style” at Point Bonita. One can tell just how successful this event is, for each year there is a waiting list of people hoping that someone who has already signed on to attend will drop out and her place can be filled from the waiting list.

When the California state quilt documentation effort began, Joyce promoted the idea, and this was another example of her penchant for initiating projects that frequently have lasting value.

In 1993, she spearheaded another project when a small, group of women assembled at her home and studio in Petaluma.  All of the women had accumulated huge amounts of quilt archival materials. Foremost on their agenda was to devise a plan to make the quilt information in their collections easily accessible. Archival collections have limited value when uncatalogued. Joyce had already begun to index her own collection, and has thousand and thousands of catalogue cards in her files. From this meeting the Quilt Archivists Club was formed.

Most recently [1995] it was announced that Joyce is the 1996 nominee to the Quilters hall of Fame. She will be inducted in July 1996 in Marion, Indiana.

I have recited some of Joyce’s accomplishments in order to answer one question. How did Joyce Gross come to be termed a legendary quilt figure? Just as the TV commercial states, “She did it the old fashioned way. SHE EARNED IT!!!”  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Read what Xenia Cord – folklorist, quilt historian and Past President of the American Quilt Study Group – wrote about the above quilt "Gross Stuff" that was made to honor Joyce Gross in 1998. The quilt was inspired by a very unusual donation Joyce made to the AQSG Seminar Auction in 1997 and the accompanying very humorous letter Joyce sent along with that donation.  The quilt honors Joyce's passion for collecting quilt ephemera, which she simply referred to as "stuff", and is re-auctioned every year to honor Joyce and to raise funds for AQSG at the same time. Click here to read the story.

The  photo below was taken in 2005 in Houston, Texas at the International Quilt Festival at which Joyce Gross was honored by a special exhibit of selected quilts from her collection.

Joyce Gross in center wearing her Quilters Hall of Fame Honoree medallion with her daughter Vicki kneeling next to her. Back row: Karen Alexander (Pres of The Quilters Hall of Fame 2005-2008), Yvonne Porcella, Karey Bresenhan, and Nancy O'Bryant Puentes.
(photo taken on Karen Alexander's camera)

A Tribute to Joyce from Karey Bresenhan:

The world of quilt history has lost one of its most influential figures—Joyce Gross. Joyce died on Christmas Eve, very peacefully, after a day of seeing family, friends, and even her beloved dog. There will be a memorial service for her on January 27 at Point Bonita, California, where she ran seminars for many years. Joyce’s lifelong dedication to 
a painstaking, labor-intensive quilt research project resulted in rooms full of boxes of her notes, all cross-indexed, along with the original printed documentation: more than 1000 quilt books, vast assortments of periodicals ranging back to the early 20th century, ephemera of all kinds, including rare fabric samples. She had a library of original documents that would be almost impossible to assemble today. Luckily the Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas was able to acquire this incredible body of historical reference materials, along with an important part of her quilt collection which included examples by such important quiltmakers as Bertha Stenge, Pine Eisfeller, Florence Peto, and Dr. Jeannette Throckmorton. She was a major force in early quilt research and documentation.

Karey Bresenhan
Director Emeritus, International Quilt Festival—Houston, Cincinnati, Long Beach, Chicago
Co-founder, Texas Quilt Museum

Joyce Gross and Yvonne Porcella at Houston International Quilt Festival 2005 
(photo by Karen B. Alexander)

Joyce Gross with The Garden by Pine Hawkes Eisfeller (1938)
taken at the International Quilt Festival Oct 2005.
This quilt now resides at the
 Briscoe Center for American History
at the University of Texas Austin.
(photo by Karen B. Alexander)

To see other stories about Joyce Gross, click on any of the following links, especially the first one -- the video interview done by the Alliance for American Quilts.

(1) video interview done by the Alliance for American Quilts

(2) The Quilt Show

(3) University of Texas Press Release about the Joyce Gross collection

(4) News article about the Joyce Gross collection

Joyce at the Grand Opening of the restored historic Marie Webster House
as the new headquarters of The Quilters Hall of Fame in 2004. From L-R seated 
in the front row are TQHF Inductees: Donna Wilder, Jean Ray Laury, Karey Bresenhan, 
Jinny Avery, Joyce Gross and Cuesta Benberry.
(photo by Robert Johnson)

More to come. Meanwhile, please add your memories and tributes, too, in honor of one of the most important figures as well as unforgettable characters of the late 20th century quilt revival.

Karen B. Alexander
Past President of The Quilters Hall of Fame

Joyce's memorial will NOT be held at Point Bonita, as originally planned. Instead it will be at the Embassy Suites in San Rafael, California on January 27 at 2 pm. (Same time and date, different location.)  The hotel is holding a block of rooms at a discounted rate ($109) for those of you who are staying the night before or after.  Call the hotel directly at 415 499 9222 and use the code JGM.

In lieu of flowers, Joyce requested memorial contributions be made to maintain her quilt collection.  

Contributions can be made to: 

"The University of Texas at Austin ˆ Joyce Gross Fund"
ATT: Ramona Kelly
Briscoe Center for American History
2300 Red River Street, Stop D1100
SRH, Unit 2, Ste.2.109
Austin, TX 78712-1426

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Passing of Virginia Avery

Virginia Avery 
Sept 29, 1912 -  Sept 6, 2012

Teacher, Jazz pianist
Inducted in 2006 at The Quilters Hall of fame Celebration
Marion, Indiana
by TQHF Research Associate Karen B. Alexander
(All photos by Karen B. Alexander unless otherwise noted.)

Virginia Avery at her Induction jazz jam session-Marion, Indiana
It is with sadness that I update the biography of a dear friend for Virginia Avery passed away this morning, Thursday, September 6, 2012, three weeks shy of her 100th birthday. With but a very few changes, here is what I wrote about Jinny, as her friends and students called her, when she was inducted into The Quilters Hall of Fame in July 2006 in Marion, Indiana.

The following photos of the traditional New Orleans Second Line dance says so much about who Jinny Avery was and 
how she inspired others to celebrate life. 

                              photos of dancing by Sue Jones of Virginia

Born Virginia Cox September 29, 1912 in Greenwood, Indiana, Virginia Avery graduated from DePauw University with a degree in English Composition and went to work at Indianapolis News. She would soon marry, move to New York and raise four children. In New York she pursued both her love of fabrics and clothing as well as her love of jazz. This talented renaissance woman showed a very early interest in what would become a life-long passion - materials and fabrics, colors and movement. "We are all surrounded by designs every day of our lives," is her answer to where her inspiration came from. "We just have to learn to open our eyes and see."

Totally self-taught in clothing construction, Avery made her first dress at age 12 not realizing one was supposed to use a pattern. In the early 60s, Avery approached two fabric shops and landed herself two clothing-construction teaching jobs. Around that same time she realized quilting was beginning to make a comeback. Although she had never made a quilt, she thought of them as simply another form of sewing. It never occurred to her that she couldn't teach quilting just because she had never made one yet. With some family quilts as a guide, and a couple of magazine articles, she gave herself a crash course and planned a series of lessons.

August 21-27, 1976, Avery attended the Finger Lakes Bicentennial Quilt Conference in Ithaca, New York, the first quilt conference of the new "quilt renaissance". It became a turning point for her career. Not only were quilts the major topic, but patchwork clothes were very much in evidence, giving her the confidence to begin teaching clothing classes along with quilting classes. 

Music was another great love of Avery's. As an accomplished jazz pianist, Avery played with the King Street Stompers for more than fifty years. This lively dedicated group of musicians once had the honor of playing on the Today Show and played for the United Nation's Delegates, as well as many other events. 

Her traffic-stopping art clothing outfits that she is so well-known for are: "Don't Shoot the Piano Player She's Doing the Best She Can," on the cover of Wonderful Wearables, A Celebration of Creative Clothing "(Collector Books, 1991); Midriff Lilies, which is the reverse side of "Don't Shoot the Piano Player She's Doing the Best She Can;" and Purple Passion on the cover of Quilts to Wear (Scribner, 1982). Her outfit for Fairfield Fashion Show's 10th anniversary was "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," a garment titled with an old jazz tune.

Avery 2006 Exhibit
"Virginia Avery: A Flair for Life"
photograph by Amanda Little of Marion, Indiana

In her forty-plus years in the wearable art and quilt world Virginia Avery amassed a considerable body of celebrated work, as well as a reputation as a teacher for inspiring and motivating her students in a self-affirming, creative learning environment, richly deserving being named one of the 1000 most influential women of the 1990s by Mirabella magazine; selected as the 3rd recipient of the 1996 Silver Star Award for Lifetime Achievement by the International Quilt Festival. She richly earned her selection as the 36th Honoree in The Quilters Hall of Fame in 2006. 

At her induction Jinny was once again in top form walking the public through the retrospective "Virginia Avery: A Flair for Life." In addition she performed in a lively jazz jam session at the Community School of the Arts the night of July 15th. Her official induction took place Saturday, July 16, 2006, in Marion, Indiana amidst heart-felt testimonies, as well as tears and laughter, among her many friends and 17 family members present. 

Click here to see a video interview of Jinny Avery at the Quilt Alliance website.

Click here to see my personal tribute to Jinny Avery on my personal Quilt History Reports blog, as well as more photos of Jinny's art clothing.

TQHF 1998 Inductee Yvonne Porcella presenting
Jinny Avery with "portrait of Jinny"
Porcella made as a gift for Avery's induction.

In December 2007 The Quilt Show, produced by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims, released their interview of Virginia Avery filmed in Avery's New York home. Click here to learn more about this interview.

Never had so many Honorees been present at one Induction as we had when Virginia Avery was inducted in 2006. One previous Inductee said she had so much fun she wanted to do her induction over again and do it just like Jinny's.

                                               photo by Sue Jones of Virginia

L-R: Yvonne Porcella (1998 Inductee), Donna Wilder (1990 Inductee), Bets Ramsey (2005 Inductee),  Jinny Avery (2006 Inductee), Karen Alexander (then President of TQHF), Hazel Carter (Founder of TQHF), Georgia Bonesteel (2003 Inductee) and Rosalind Webster Perry, granddaughter of Marie D. Webster. (Marie D. Webster, in whose restored historic home TQHF is headquartered, was inducted in 1991.)

The restored Marie D. Webster House in Marion,Indiana,
 headquarters of The Quilters Hall of Fame

PS: It was pure joy to have the opportunity to hear and see Jinny play the piano with a Dixieland-style band, including my husband Gary on clarinet, at her Induction into The Quilters Hall of Fame in July 2006. Gary, a jazz musician all his life, admired her talent so much and enjoyed exchanging emails with her occasionally.  He told me after the jam session that Jinny was clearly the best musician on the stand that day!  

Gary is also a jazz and classical DJ on our local radio station.  Today he just played the New World Symphony at 2:15 (Pacific Time) on his classical program, and then played a solo jazz piano version of “Going Home” (from that symphony), dedicated to Jinny. Later he played music from Jinny’s 2011 album, “It’s OK” (recorded when she was 98 !) during the first 30 minutes of his jazz program, from 3:00 to 3:30 Pacific time. He will also honor her on his radio program on Sept 28 at 3pm PST, the day before her birthday since he is not on the radio on August 29th.

Please feel free to leave a comment here on the TQHF blog to honor Jinny. The family is aware of it and will check it from time to time.

Jinny, we salute you, grand lady that you were and are!

Karen Alexander

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Eleanor Burns Block Challenge Entries

The salute to our 2012 Inductee Eleanor Burns continues. Each block entered in the contest has been inspired by one of Eleanor Burns patterns.

Here are the latest entries. If you don't see the label following a block, we'll add names next week, plus more photos next week:

Grape Juice 
by Adelia Houghland


All Day All Nigh
by Dale Drake

Orion's  Star Cubed 
by Ingrid Wirebjer

Eleanor's Star 
by Jo Savino

by Jocelyn Smith of Indiana

by Joyce Hostettler of Indiana

Day and Night 
by Kathy Boxell

Flowering Flying Geese 
by Kathy Boxell of Indiana

A Peony for Eleanor
 by Linda Simms

A quilt in a day---and into the night  
by Lisa Cart

by Marguerite Cox of Indiana

Summer Bouquet 
by Marianne Cunningham

Patriotic Star 
by by Neva Grant

Mexican Star 
by Nora Dean

Tales of First Ladies
 by Teresa Varnes & Amie Potter

Monday, May 7, 2012

"A Salute to Eleanor Burns" Contest Entries Begin to Arrive!

Click HERE for CONTEST Entry Form 

The first contest entry to arrive was made by Mary Zaelocki. Remember, this is only 24" square!

Each entry will be carefully labeled with the name of the quilt maker
and the name of the Eleanor Burns pattern she chose to use for her entry.

Help Keep the Doors of The Quilters Hall of Fame Open

Hope your fingers are busy stitching an entry for The Quilters Hall of Fame's salute to Eleanor Burns who will be inducted during Celebration 2012 in July in Marion, Indiana! (Click here for Registration information.)

You have until June 30 to get your entry in and it doesn't have to be very large -- only 24"x24" (61cm x 61cm). In 2009 the Baltimore Applique Society made and auctioned over 50 small quilts to help keep the doors of The Quilters Hall of Fame/Marie Webster House open raising almost $6,000 for TQHF. You can see all of those entries from 2009 by clicking here to go to the BAS website.  The 2009 effort was the 2nd time the BAS had made quilts as a fund raiser for TQHF. Their first gift of a fund raising quilt was in 2000 when they reproduced two copies of Marie Webster's Wayside Roses pattern.

We greatly appreciate every entry donated to our Fund Raising efforts. Some will be auctioned. Some will be set aside for the Gift Shop.

If you haven't yet seen the rules, here they are.

Quilt Contest “A Salute to Eleanor Burns”

1.  All quilts must use at least one block from an Eleanor Burns pattern or book. The     pattern or book used must be identified on the entry form and the quilt label.

2.  Quilts may be pieced, appliquéd, or mixed media. The quilt may be hand or machine quilted. All the work must be done by the person named on the entry form.

3.  Each quilt must measure 24" x 24", and include a 4" hanging sleeve and fabric label with name, title of quilt, Eleanor Burns pattern or book inspiration, and date.

4.  All entries will become the property of TQHF. Quilts will be on display at the McCulloch School during Hall of Fame Celebration July 19-22, 2012. They will be offered for sale at Celebration 2012.

5.  Quilts will be judged, and prizes will be awarded as follows:

 First place                          $100.00 

Second and third place         $ 50.00 each

Viewers Choice will be decided by penny votes at Celebration 2012.

Finished quilt and $10.00 entry fee (check made payable to TQHF) must be received by June 30, 2012.         

Send entry to: Sharon Pinka, 6323 Possum Run Rd, Bellville, OH 44813.

Click HERE for CONTEST Entry Form