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Jason Olson, Deseret News
"Creatures Great and Small" by Kirsten Barnhill

SPRINGVILLE — Quilts connect.

Just as they are made by connecting bits of fabric and thread, the finished product also connects the quilter to people, places and emotions in myriad ways.

That's the message you get at the 35th annual Quilt Show at the Springville Museum of Art. As you read the label cards by the quilts, you learn that each quilt has a story, and that each story involves connections — to the past, to values, to family, to friends, to creativity.

"It's a great show this year," says Sharon Aposhian Wright, co-chairwoman of the show from the Utah Valley Quilt Guild. "We have so many that are hand-quilted this year, and so many that have taken years to complete."

There are lots more art quilts, adds co-chairwoman Francine Berrett, "maybe because we limited the length. But you really appreciate quilting as an art form. There is beautiful art inside each quilt."

The show features a hundred quilts of all shapes, sizes, styles and colors. If there is any trend, Wright says, it might be toward more hand-applique. "We have a lot of those this year," she says, and you can enjoy every single stitch.

It has also been the easiest show to hang, she adds. "Some times it is challenging to make one quilt look good by another, but this time they all seemed to naturally fall into groups." There is the applique room, the "dark room," the patriotic gallery, the homespun gallery and more.

In walking through those galleries, you see how nicely the quilts reflect those themes. But as you read the labels, you discover even more bonds.

Family is one of the strongest connections. Quilts join generations.

Lisa Dunn's quilt, for example, honors her grandmother's apron, which had useful pockets for carrying the eggs she gathered, bottles to feed baby lambs, a crochet hook and yarn, and was used to wipe away tears and runny noses.

Mary Ann Nelson's "Sunday Morning" features a center-panel copy of a painting done by her father.

Toni Day's "Devin's Tears" will always connect her to her son, who died while she was making it. The 12,322 pieces represent the tears shed over his passing.

Anetta Mower and Megan Christensen have a quilt "Honoring Our Pioneer Ancestors." Helen Butler's "Whig Rose," which took just under four years to complete, is "destined to be a wedding gift for one of my children." Kristine Webb's "Fitzpatrick's Laughing Dragon" was made for her first grandchild.

Judy Dixon's "Mama Says" connects her not only to her mother but also to a group of friends with whom she went on a quilting trip to Jackson Hole, who all talked about "the wise sayings our mothers used to teach us about life."

Lori A. Stevens made a "Rose of Sharon" quilt for her sister using 1950s fabrics from their grandmother's scrap bag. It took her 5 1/2 years to finish. Judie A. Oler's quilt shows off "My Husband's Favorite Things."

But there are other striking connections, as well.

Mary Zimmerman Hutchings connects with her desire for challenge and stimulation in "Eye Play," her first attempt at a kaleidoscope quilt, which features 900 "fussy cut" pieces and took her five years to complete. Peggy Jean Maynes finds a similar challenge in "Blossoms of Friendship." It was her first attempt at needle-turn applique, and the top took her 2 1/2 years to finish.

Karla Coombs connects with her artistic side in a dramatic quilt featuring the pinwheel block. She fell in love with this block but wanted the "pinwheels to be freewheeling" in her quilt. Jalaine Taylor's "Postcards" shows her artistic bent through a "multilayer study of collage."

Blyth R. Larrabee's quilt connects with a love of beauty and nature. It is built around a quote from Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "Earth's crammed with heaven, And every bush afire with God."

Nanette Merrill's "In the Leafy Treetops" uses feedsack prints of the 1930s for her birds, which are outlined with sketch machine embroidery, a new trend. The quilt connects a favorite song of her childhood to her desire to learn new things.

That same desire for new technique led Francine Berrett to do her "Oh My Gosh" quilt that features star blocks tucked among the blocks made of half-inch squares.

Joyce Marder shows her love of whimsy with "Catchickens" as does Marilyn M. Brown with her cats and flowers done in pinks and greens, and Janet Carpenter with her " Rhyme Time Fairies."

Jessika Walker connects to her love of winter with "Let It Snow"; Jennifer Parry shows a preference for fall in "Pumpkin Hill," while Amanda Geertsen chose a "Blissful Spring."

Margaret O. Cooper's "Women Through the Ages" connects her love of quilting with her seven daughters' love of coloring. In Rebecca Johnson's "American Dream," each "symbol represents things I love about this country."

The idea for Jahn P. Curran's "Seascape" came to him while he was scuba diving in the Red Sea. With sealife from some of his favorite diving spots, the quilt links to his love of that sport.

All told, the show is an "amazing display of skill, creativity and beauty," says Natalie Petersen, with the Springville Museum of Art. It's not surprising that this is one of the museum's most popular shows, she adds.

And as you study those common bonds at this year's show, you might also begin to ponder one of the biggest connections of all: quilts connect us with each other. The love of family, country, nature and artistry on display are connections we all can share.

If you go

What: 35th Annual Quilt Show

Where: Springville Museum of Art, 126 E. 400 South, Springville

When: Through Sept. 4; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; until 9 p.m. on Wednesday; 3-6 p.m. on Sunday.

Admission: Free

Also: Trunk shows by selected artists; Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8-9, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

E-mail: [email protected]