Quilt Art on Display at Loft Gallery

Intricate, colorful art quilts – not your great-grandmother’s bed coverings -will be displayed in the Wheeling Artisan Center’s third-floor Loft Gallery for two weeks this month.

The exhibition of work by artists Luke Haynes, Joe Cunningham, Leslie Tucker Jenison and Erin Wilson opens Thursday, Jan. 16, and continues through Thursday, Jan. 30.

The show is free and open to the public. An opening reception is planned from 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16.

This exhibition is coordinated by the MITCH Collective of Martins Ferry and the Wheeling Artisan Center.

“I am very excited to host this exhibit,” Chris Villamagna, Artisan Center gallery curator, said.

“Siena Baldi of the MITCH Collective approached me with the idea and I think this will be a great exhibit featuring very creative, colorful and nontraditional quilts.”

Arrangements for the art quilt exhibition were sewn up, so to speak, when Baldi contacted Haynes after she saw examples of his work. Baldi recalled that she sent a message to Haynes through his website and asked if he would be interested in a residency with the MITCH Collective, a community arts nonprofit organization in the Ohio Valley. Haynes responded, “I’d love that!”

Haynes explained, “I love to do residencies. It’s so fun to meet new folks and to share what I do with an audience who may be new to quilting or just new to my work and show the ins and outs of what I do.”

Baldi said, “So since then, we have been working hard to bring Luke (Haynes) over from the West Coast to the Ohio Valley. His goal is to have a show in all 50 states, and while he is at the MITCH Collective residency program, he will have shows in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.”

She added, “The idea to turn the Wheeling Artisan Center show into a group show was agreed upon as a way to showcase even more diverse contemporary quilting artists. I have never personally met any of the four artists, but have been communicating with them to get the show set up.”

The four artists (Cunningham, Wilson, Tucker-Jenison and Haynes) “know each other through the quilting circuit and make innovative, expressive and impressively-sized works of art,” Baldi said, adding, “Seeing them all together will be really exciting.”

Baldi added, “Luke (Haynes) has shown work with each of the other three artists independently, but this is the first time all four are being shown together.”

As a companion piece, Haynes is having a solo show, “Portrait Quilts,” at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville “that showcases more of Luke’s range as an artist,” Baldi said.

Haynes, who plans to attend the opening of both shows, said, “I met Siena (Baldi) when she asked me to come work at her arts community center. I haven’t met her in person yet,” he added.

“I know the other participants rather well. I asked them to be in the show,” Haynes said. “They are the best quilt makers in the industry today. I am honored they agreed.”

Haynes’ show at OUE runs from Monday, Jan. 13, through Thursday, Jan. 23. An opening reception in the university gallery begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 (immediately after the reception at the Wheeling Artisan Center).

The OUE art gallery, located in the main campus building at 45425 National Road, is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and from 5-8 p.m. Thursday. Admission is free to the public.

Meanwhile, the Wheeling Artisan Center’s Loft Gallery is open, free of charge, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The center is closed on Sunday.

Baldi, whose background and interests include quilting, thinks people here will be interested in seeing the work of contemporary quilt artists. “There are traditional quilt guilds in the area, but I’d like to scare up interest among young folks,” she remarked.

Haynes commented, “I have been sewing quilts 12 years. It is my sole art form for commerce reasons, but I do a few other things as I am sure do all artists.

“I became involved in this through the overlap of fine arts and architecture,” he explained. “I wanted to be in control of my firm yet create objects.”

Haynes has lived in 14 states and resides currently in Los Angeles. Haynes, who studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York, considers his fabric art to be an architectural method of image creation.

“His works can be classified as quilts since they follow the traditional methods of construction, but they are much more,” officials stated regarding Haynes’ work.

“His concepts and images pull from the annals of historical painting and sculpture but are also allowed to pull from craft and the domestic since the medium is atypical; this allows for pieces that have multi-layers of visual as well as conceptual intrigue.”

Haynes has pieces hanging in the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum and the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He has shown his work across the country and internationally.

Cunningham, who lives in Michigan, began making quilts professionally in 1979, after a 10-year career as a musician. “His early mentors were steeped in the history of traditions of quilts, leading Cunningham to a life of study in quilt history and a love of traditional technique,” a biographical sketch stated. “Over the years, his quilts have evolved into a unique, personal style.”

Cunningham’s quilts are in the permanent collections of museums and in numerous private collections. His 12 books on quilts include the first biography of a living quiltmaker, the first book on men in quilts and essays for museum shows. His column for The Quilt Life, a national magazine, is called “Biased and Edgy.”

He has been seen on an HGTV series, “Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson”; a PBS series, “Sewing with Nancy” and on “The Quilt Show” with Anderson and Ricky Tims. Cunningham lectures on quilts nationwide and teaches regularly at conferences across the country.

Tucker Jenison, who resides in San Antonio, is an award-winning artist who works primarily on the quilted surface. “Surface design using dye and paint are integral components of her work which has been shown internationally and written about and featured in numerous publications,” officials said.

She serves on the board of the Quilt Alliance and belongs to numerous quilt-focused organizations. Tucker Jenison is half of a curating-teaching duo known as Dinner At Eight Artists. She teaches quilt and mixed media workshops nationwide.

Wilson, a working textile artist and quiltmaker in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been sewing from a young age. Her quilts have been exhibited at venues including International Quilt Week Yokohama 2013, the Philadelphia Museum of Art craft show, New England Quilt Museum, the Quilt National at the Dairy Barn, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center and John Michael Kohler Arts Center.

Wilson also served on the fabrication team for Noah’s Ark Gallery at the Skirball Center in Los Angeles, for which she produced numerous textile components of life-sized animal puppets and sculptures under the direction of puppeteer Christopher M. Green.

A professional dancer for nine years, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Julliard School.