Saturday, September 12, 2009

Quilt Expo Underwhelms

First, let me start off by saying that I would be indistinguishable in a crowd of middle aged women wearing capri pants, sensible shoes, misshapen but comfortable tee-shirts and carrying a bag the size of a small Midwestern town. Which is exactly where I found myself at this year's Quilt Expo.

But for all the trouble I've gone to to develop my Quilt Expo Camouflage, I guess I forgot one key element. An overriding interest in traditional quilting. That's not to say I don't appreciate it. Row after row of lovingly constructed, beautifully executed quilts graced this year's quilt exhibit, a large display inexplicably walled off in the very center of the room, and set up so that you are forced to zig zag back and forth, dodging camera shots and docents. You are given a slip of paper at the beginning to vote for your favorite, but make your decision carefully. Should you decide to go back and see an earlier quilt again it's similar to a salmon spawn.

Some of the details were breath taking. The minute stitches. The carefully pieced intricate patterns. The time consuming and almost unimaginable attention to detail was enough to make even my jaded attention span pause. There was one quilt where the beauty of the pattern was entirely created by incredibly dense quilting of deep orange thread on a lighter orange fabric. Stunning. But I wanted more.

I wanted art. To be fair, I'll amend that to I wanted MORE art. There were some beautifully artistic pieces but most of it was simply perfectly executed traditional quilting. Nice but hardly art.

Maybe it was the booths surrounding the show, more than the show itself. Yards and yards of fabric. More sample quilts. But it's all been done before. I've seen it before. There wasn't anything that I saw that I thought was truely innovative. And that's the problem.

I love quilts. They are both warm and extravagantly time consuming. They can be beautiful and fascinating. But they seem to have reached their limit. There doesn't seem to be anything new going on with the quilting world, other than technical advances that make it easier to make your traditional quilt.

And that's okay, it's just not for me.

And, as a side note. $5.50 for PARKING? Are you kidding Alliant Energy Center? Really?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Head Cold and a Mad Men Marathon...

Sitting in the television room, watching a mini Mad Men marathon and fighting off a vicious head cold leads to places I probably wouldn't normally go. I began to wonder, watching the women characters all struggling with their own places, what kind of person I would be, or would have been, had I grown up in the forties and been an adult in the sixties.

Would I be the same as I am now? That seems unlikely. I am as much a product of my time as anyone. So if not, who would I be? Would I be pushing the envelope like Peggy, trying to use her brains and creativity despite an unswerving wall of indifference from the men around her? Or would I try to resign myself to being a good wife, whatever that means, like Joan Holloway, all the while knowing that I was better than that. Or would I be one of those multitude of women in the steno pool, just trying to pay bills and find a husband. Pretty sure I wouldn't be Betty. She's just plain too crazy for me.

Deep down I don't think I'm the steno pool sort, but then again, times were different then. Women had few choices. Those lives of quiet desperation were part of what lead to the sixties and the Women's Movement. I have a sneaking suspicion I'd be a Joan. Damn good at what I do and letting it kill me that men got the sweet end of the deal just because they could pee standing up.

I know that Mad Men is a television show. It's a drama, with character development suited to making interesting story lines, not a documentary about a time now gone. But the question remains relevant. What kind of person are you? What motivates you? What makes you either part of the norm, or makes you break out of it? And women still have issues to resolve.

We're all a lot more PC now. We don't say and do certain things in the work place. We, as women, expect that we can do just about anything we please, if we are willing to put in the effort.

No matter what sex you are, using your creative mind is hard. It requires effort above and beyond the simple matter of day to day existence. It requires time and effort, energy and enthusiasm, courage and encouragement. It requires being impractical in many ways, because the payoff for creativity is often the most elusive, sometimes never arriving at all. Whereas, the payoff for practical skills like organization and attention to detail, while undervalued, are rewarded with regular pay and your own chair. And impracticality doesn't feed the babies. It doesn't pay the electric bill. And women generally find it hard not to be practical.