May 19 through May 22 I spent in Denver, Colorado on a whirlwind of events making up the latest SAQA Conference. As I have just joined SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) in September of 2010 this was all new to me. I arrived into Denver via the Denver International Airport at around 12:30pm, Denver time. I had arranged for a shuttle trip to get me into the city and it was there that my first adventures began. Two women traveling from Connecticut for the conference were on my flight and on the shuttle with me. I ended up having a wonderful luncheon with them in the hotel tavern, talking about quilts, exhibiting, and SAQA. Thanks to Cathy Smith, Rita Hannafin, and Marianne Williamson for being such wonderful company and ushering me into the fold.
Thursday night's festivities were so much fun. The evening started with "speed dating" SAQA style. 10 or 11 people seated at a large round table took turns passing their business cards and speaking about themselves and their art for 2 minutes each. With three sessions of this we all met at least 30 people. I ended up coming home with a bag full of business cards and have spent the last few days checking out websites, blogs and online galleries. Immediately following the "dating" session was a reception for the SAQA trunk show. 12" x 12" pieces from at least 50 artists were identically matted and mounted on large boards to create a show of incredibly unique and visually exciting "mini" works of art. It was a knock out! My picture above is of people milling about in the foyer where you can see the boards with all the pieces mounted.
Friday was a jam packed day of getting to know people, listening to speakers and going to workshops. The first panel of the day was Deidre Adams, Carol Watkins and Charlotte Ziebarth, all very accomplished Denver artists. I was riveted by their descriptions of their processes, work habits, and the photos of their art. Each of them likes to work with a mid-range size of about 36" x 40", Charlotte saying she was challenged to work in a smaller format for SAQA's trunk show. On average they each produce 10 works, more or less, a year. I really am in awe of each of them and find them to be incredible models of success for someone like myself who is beginning the journey.
My workshops for the day were with Carol Larson and Dr. Monica Dixon. Carol was so informative that I made pages and pages of notes of what to and what not to do when submitting an entry for an exhibition. Monica's workshop was filled with the energy she exudes. I came away wanting some of what she was having. Her workshop was about fueling the creative fire, and I felt very energized to make some changes after her hour session. The keynote speaker at our luncheon was Luana Rubin, owner of E-Quilter.com, one of my favorite haunts for finding the best fabrics. She is leading quite an adventuresome life and I found her talk full of inspiration.
One might think that the day might have ended there. Not on your life. Thanks to Judy Warner who signed me up for a ride out to Golden to see three exhibits. Those of us who flew in and were without rental cars had to get hooked up with a ride. Golden, pictured above is a quaintly western town surrounted by mountains and buttes. I hopped into a car with Del Thomas of California. She had driven out in two days for the conference. We had some fun navigating a navigation system as Del was about as clueless as the rest of us as to where we were going. But she did a marvelous job at getting us there. Our first stop was the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum. What a wonderful show! My favorites were pieces by Lea McComas, Christine Broer and Gay Lasher. They had prepared a great little feast as well, not your usual cheese and crackers. We did a few circles around and finally found the second show, "Sidelines," a powerfully constructed show meant to pull at your emotional strings. Pieces by Annie Helmericks-Louder, Kathy Nida and Regina Benson resonated with me. I ended up buying the show catalog. The last leg of our trip brought us back into Denver to the Ice Cube Gallery. Carol Ann Waugh's one woman show was breathtaking. We even got a tour of her studio which is behind the gallery.
Here are my three car-mates outside the Ice Cube Gallery. It was a wonderful night of fun!
On Saturday, we started all over again with so much information. I thought my head would explode by the end of the day. The first panel of the day was on working 3-D. The panelists were Susan Else, Mary Beth Bellah, Carolyn Crump and Jull Rumoshosky Werner. Carolyn's elephant was amazing and she got a few laughs talking about the challenges of working with large sculptural forms. My workshops for the day were with Gregory Case, learning how to shoot photos well of your work, and with Valarie Poitier, learning how to professionally promote yourself. Valarie is pictured above at the beginning of her session which was a very "hands on" workshop. Nancy Bavor talked that afternoon about archiving your work, something I must admit I have never thought about.
While all this was going on, the best part of the weekend was what was happening within the structure of it. We were all having a great deal of fun learning, but even more so we were making fast friends. I am pictured above with Judy Warner on the left and Jean Judd on the right. I always get home and wish I had taken more pictures. Missing in the snapshots are Dawn Browning and Margaret Blank who are part of the Visioning Project with me.
Thankfully I have at least one photo of the whole visioning crew, including it's creator, Lisa Chipetine, third from the left in the back row. It was so nice talking to all these friends for the first time in person and not through the computer.
After a grueling flight home on Sunday, with a three hour layover in Detroit, I sat down to mull over the experience. I bought three SAQA books, two of which are above, which I find incredibly inspiring. I was lucky for once and came home with one of the door prizes at Saturday's banquet of two lovely pieces of Lunn Batiks. It seems that the security at the airport absconded with my three complimentary pots of fabric paint that were packed in my boarded suitcase. I guess they thought fabric paint is a dangerous substance. But I came away with so much more. I have new friends, a wealth of information, and a jump-start to my ambition to be the artist I strive to be. I can't wait for next year in Pennsylvania.