After a three-year absence, the Quilt Invitational is back at American Art Company in downtown Tacoma, and the 40 quilts that fill the gallery space are a wide variety from traditional to ground-breaking.
The front gallery is full of geometrics: the vivid Mondriaan-ish shapes of Maria Groat, the more muted earthtone “Windows” by Janet Steadman, and in back some more traditional squares by Timothy Leonard and Melody Crust. Also in front is a new work by Toot Reid: This time her three panels are very different, with one traveling from blue to white to green, another moody in maroon and gold, and the central panel as pale as a Northwest beach in winter. All are tangled with Reid’s signature dangling threads.
In the back gallery there’s a heavy emphasis by artists on unsubtle, acrylic-type colors, and some could use more imagination in structure – Melisse Long’s “Record Rainfall” would be even better without the gray backcloth, just the huge quilted drips hanging from their colored tassels.
But there are many forays into new directions. Nancy Erickson’s “Black Wolf” is exactly that, a black felted animal piped with red and embroidered with white “graffiti” and chalk smudges. The look is tough and vaguely Latino. Barbara Nepom nods to Australian Aboriginal art in her three-paneled “Mimi Spirits,” the figures as tall and skinny as their legends and dotted with patterns in brick-red, black and dusty gold.
In “Willow Wood,” Bonnie Buchnam uses close parallel thread lines to create a terrain and literal curve to her fabric; while Erika Carter’s “Nest” is a delicate square of carefully merging pale browns, golds and pinks, her thin black lines giving a texture as fragile as bird bones. Janet Kurjan, meanwhile, captures the random flash of sunlight in a stormy sky in “Light Ray,” with gold squares bursting out of indigo and purple.
The Quilt Invitational runs through Oct. 1. Hours: 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. third Thursday. Free. 1126 Broadway, Tacoma. 253-272-4327, www.americanartco.com