Amazing quilts on exhibit as Steamboat Art Museum reopens |

Amazing quilts on exhibit as Steamboat Art Museum reopens

The “100th Anniversary” quilt, created by Jackie Grimaldi and Madeleine Vail, is being featured at the Steamboat Art Museum’s “Art of the Quilt” exhibition. The piece was quilted for the Routt County Fair’s 100th anniversary in 2014.
Courtesy photo

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Art Museum is opening up Friday with one of its more unusual but fascinating exhibitions. Museum fans are sure to be stunned when they walk through the newest exhibit, “The Art of the Quilt.”

“Wow,” said local art fan Joy Swanson who got a sneak preview of the quilt show with husband, Denny. “It was hard to believe that some of these quilts, particularly in the front room, weren’t paintings.”

In fact, Joy said her husband kept going back to the work of internationally known quilter Denise Labadie from Lafayette, who let the museum borrow her quilts of Ireland’s famous Celtic megalithic stones. The artist even hand-painted the fabric used in her stunning quilt work.

“My husband kept saying it feels like you’re walking past real rocks,” Joy said.

But what’s particularly fascinating about this summer’s special show is how it also delves into the history of quilting, particularly in rural communities like Hayden and Oak Creek during the first half of the 20th century.

Museum goers will be treated to a vignette written by long-time Oak Creek resident Noreen Moore, who tells about her experience with a group of Hayden quilters as they talk their way through rural life and tragedies while they sit sewing their quilts together. 

Of course, a quilt exhibit in Steamboat Springs wouldn’t be complete without the work of David Taylor, a computer graphic artist who became obsessed with quilting during his years living in Steamboat. The internationally recognized fiber artist may reside in New Hampshire now, but his work can be seen, not only in the quilting exhibit at the museum, but also on the walls of local residents.

“I am so lucky to have an early original David Taylor quilt,” said Holly Rogers, a quilter herself and longtime Steamboat resident. “If you have never seen his work, you should not miss this exhibit because seeing them in person will really amaze. It’s hard to believe all this is done with fabric and thread.”

In fact, Taylor’s original mentor, local quilter Madeleine Vail, will also be one of the featured artists. Her quilts, many of them made with local fiber artist Jackie Grimaldi, are stunning in color and design.

Vail and Grimaldi did one particularly gorgeous piece with designer Jenny Haskins called “Silk, Satin and Lace,” which looks like it belongs on an ornate bed of a princess bride.

Steamboat Art Museum Executive Director Betse Grassby said quilting has come a long way over time but will always be a way of telling stories about our communities.

In fact, as Joy and Denny Swanson left the museum, they couldn’t help but be touched by all the history behind the older quilts featured in the exhibit.

“I came away feeling a wonderful connection, and that’s so important these days — to see how those people had connected through quilting and how it still brings people together,” Joy said.

The Art of the Quilt exhibit opens to the public from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the museum’s downtown location at 801 Lincoln Ave. Public health rules will apply at the museum, including wearing masks and social distancing. Families are especially encouraged to bring their children, as much of the exhibit is especially colorful and whimsical as well as being fun and educational.

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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