Contemporary Embroidery Exhibit

I often find artistic vision in everyday life close to home. Even so, I believe it’s essential to hit the road, dive into the culture of cities near and far, and soak in inspiration . Plus it helps to get away from your own work, and gain a fresh perspective.

Museum exhibits enthrall me, especially those related to art, design and, of course, textiles. So a couple years back, I was thrilled to discover a little gem of a place just down the road in the heart of Sharks country (oops I mean San Jose—my passionate hockey fan persona sometimes can’t help itself).

(Click on images for more detail.)


The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles is a treasure for the fiber arts community and creatives in general, and part of an active, downtown arts neighborhood. Several exhibitions typically coincide in the museum, offering works by local, national and international talent.

Each time I step foot in the space, vibrant color and pattern lure me in, and over to each individual work. I stare, examine and contemplate:

‘Wow, I would have to never thought put those colors together, but it sings.’

‘Such intricate stichwork—must have taken months.’

‘I wonder what pain in her life drove her to create such a moving piece.’

…and so time vanishes.

My recent visit reminded me that contemporary embroidery artists are creating remarkable, and original works!

Enjoy this sampling from ‘A Common Thread’—one of three concurrent exhibitions at SJMQT, ongoing through July 5, 2015. Building on age-old traditions, but with a vibrant, modern energy…this embroidery goes way beyond samplers and tea towels.

A testimony to fearless color is ‘Secret Oceans’ by Amanda Valdez (top)—love the juxtaposition of hot and cool—marvelous.

Ten Thousand French Knots detail  by Jeana Eve Klein
There really are Ten Thousand French Knots in this aptly named work (detail) by Jeana Eve Klein. Just one of several of her triumphant pieces in the show.

1871 detail by Joe Cunningham
As a Bay Area architecture geek, I was drawn to the fantastically detailed quilting in ‘1871’ by Joe Cunningham. Those that know my recent fascination with shingles in my textile work, will understand why my jaw dropped right open.

Here’s the full piece, giant and superb. You must see it in person, but click on this image for more detail.
1871 by Joe Cunningham

Untitled detail by Emily Barletta
‘Untitled,’ a mod herringbone by Emily Barletta, is one of a series of her works on display, that are stitched in brilliant threads onto paper.

Love Letters by Joetta Maue
Lastly, a tug on the heartstrings. One of Joetta Maue’s ‘Love Letters’ series of monochromatic, and touching works.

I hope you’ll make time for a visit to SJMQT—more to see, including two more diverse exhibitions, a gallery of works from local fiber artists, and a fun shop.

Here’s the scoop:

The San Jose Musem of Quilts and Textiles

520 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113

Tel: 408.971.0323

Wednesday to Friday 12pm – 5pm
Saturday and Sunday 11am – 2:00pm; 2:30 – 5:00pm
First Friday of every month (except January and July): Pay what you can 12 – 7pm and free 7pm – 9pm

General: $8.00
Seniors and Students with ID: $6.50
Member and children 12 and under: Free

Don’t only read—chime in below in the comments, with your take on these works, or the Exhibitions. And tell us about the jewels of art and design in your part of the world!

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