Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Incredible quilt art in Owatonna April 9, 2014

The entry to the Owatonna Art Center

The entry to the Owatonna Arts Center, inside the former Minnesota State Public School for Dependent  and Neglected Children, later renamed the Owatonna State School. The City of Owatonna now owns the site, today called West Hills with the OAC located at 435 Garden View Lane.

HE EXPRESSED IT so well, the quilter’s husband waiting outside the Owatonna Arts Center Sunday afternoon for invited guests to arrive from Rochester.

A quilted work of art bursts with color.

A quilted work of art bursts with color.

Quilting, he surmised, has evolved from a homemaker’s craft to a recognized form of art.

The quilter's husband and the quilter view the extensive collection of quilts.

The quilter’s husband and the quilter view the extensive collection of quilts.

He’s so right.

If you appreciate art and quilts, you will want to see "Quilts in Bloom"

If you appreciate art and quilts, you will want to see “Quilts in Bloom”

“Quilts in Bloom,” featuring around 80 quilts stitched by members of the local Piecemakers Quilt Guild, blossoms in the nooks and crannies of gallery space in an exhibit that runs from now until April 27.

Baskets of blossoms and more.

Baskets of blossoms and more.

This show simply blooms with creativity:

A close-up of the traditional Dresden Plate pattern in the foreground with a second quilt in the background.

A close-up of the traditional Dresden Plate pattern in the foreground with a second quilt in the background.

A contrast of modern geometrical to the traditional Sunbonnet Girls.

A contrast of modern geometrical to the traditional Sunbonnet Girls.

This block from the 1930s Sunbonnet Sue pattern features quilting and embroidery.

This block from the 1930s Sunbonnet Sue pattern features quilting and embroidery.

I really liked this pairing of wood sculpture with quilt art. The wood tone compliments the earthy colors of the quilt.

I really like this pairing of wood sculpture with quilt art. The earthy tones in each complement one another.

For $1, you can buy a chance to win "Stars in My Garden."

For $1, you can buy a chance to win “Stars in My Garden.”

A block in a teapot themed quilt.

A block in a teapot themed quilt.

During the open reception, musicians performed in the venue space, where several quilts are displayed.

During the opening reception, musicians performed in the venue space, where several quilts are displayed.

Whimsical art.

Whimsical art.

Touring the exhibit on opening day.

A Faribault quilter and his wife tour the exhibit on opening day.

Floral design at its quilting best.

Floral design at its quilting best.

Quilt art lines a hallway.

Quilt art lines a hallway.

From the playful to geometric, abstract, traditional, whimsical and more, you’ll discover an array of eye-pleasing colors and patterns here.

Artist Lois Doyle created "Mountain Laurel," a quilt she started 25 years ago. She has several quilts in the show. Laurie Spindler machine quilted this quilt.

Artist Lois Doyle created “Mountain Laurel,” a quilt she started 25 years ago. She has several quilts in the show. Laurie Spindler machine quilted this quilt. Even with arthritic hands, Lois still quilts. Remarkable.

The talent of these quilters impresses me. Truly, they deserve the title of artists.

This sign posted at the quilt show says it all.

This sign posted at the quilt show says it all.

FYI: This marks the 10th annual Piecemakers Quilt Guild show, which is held every three years. You can tour “Quilts in Bloom” during gallery hours, from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday. A $3 donation is suggested. Click here for more information.

BONUS PHOTO: 

While at the show, be sure to stop and appreciate this beautiful space connecting the Owatonna Arts Center to the

While at the show, stop to appreciate this beautiful space connecting the Owatonna Arts Center to the Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum. I’d suggest allowing time to tour the museum and nearby cottage. Check hours before coming as they may differ from gallery hours.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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40 Responses to “Incredible quilt art in Owatonna”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    Wow – those are some fancy quilts. It amazes me the time that goes into creating these works of art. I especially like the whimsical art one. It reminds me of the random swatches my grandma would stitch together for me when I was a wee lad. Her quilts contained lots of random patterns. They were also not as colorful or as whimsical; she used more muted tones like brown, orange and green…or should I say avocado.

    • She was probably making a crazy quilt when you talk about random patterns. A great way to use left-over swatches of fabric, but difficult to piece together, I would think.

      My paternal grandma was a quilter, too. She made quilts for all 40-plus grandchildren upon their high school graduations. When I visited her, we would go into her back spare bedroom and sift through the layers of quilt tops stashed atop the bed. And when it was quilting time, the quilting frame would fill her living room. I have many sweet memories of my grandma and her quilts.

      Seems you do, too.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Those stained glass windows are breathtaking, as is Lois’ quilt (and all the others). I agree, the pairing of the wood figure with the quilt is perfect. The “whimsical” quilt, I believe, is a pattern by Sandi Irish. She lives in Eagan and has stayed at my place when she came for a trunk show/event in Spring Grove last Oct. You “nailed it” with this post!!!!!!!!!

  3. Deanna Auge Says:

    Amazing works of art and a must-see, in person.

  4. Beth Ann Says:

    This is officially on my bucket list!!! Mr. Diamond agrees it would be a fun trip so Owatana here we come—in a couple of weeks. 🙂 Lovely lovely lovely. There is something about a quilt,, isn’t there? Love them. But the best ones are ones done by Doreen! 🙂 Thanks, Audrey!

  5. Emily B Says:

    These are incredible. Incredible! Sometimes I think it takes patience and dedication to be a writer, but to be a quilter? They have my admiration, to be sure. Thanks for highlighting this show, Audrey!

  6. I am amazed by good quilters. It requires patience, skill, and artistic flair. Beautiful. The Stars in My Garden quilt is just stunning.

  7. Jackie Says:

    WOW…. I was awestruck at the artistic work in these quilts, so many amazing designs. I love that “Stars in my Garden”, someone will be a very lucky winner!

  8. Clyde of Mankato Says:

    When she was in her 70’s my now-departed quilting mother insured the contents of a closet in her apartment for $250,000 because she had over 200 quilts and quilted hangings stored there. We once owned a house which had a an appraised value about equal to the 38 quilts we owned from her.

  9. AMAZING Artistry – Love the Pops of Color and the Different Patterns!!! Thanks so much for sharing – Happy Hump Day:)

  10. Those are really beautiful; thank you for including so many photos! One of my best friends makes art quilts and I’m lucky to have two of them.

  11. ryanware Says:

    Owatonna is a great town. There is so much there to see. I shot the outside of that building, but never made it inside. Those quilts are wonderful.

    • Owatonna does seem to have a lot going for it. You really need to return to Owatnna and explore. Be sure to visit National Farmers Bank, Louis Sullivan’s “jewel box” with spectacular design and stained glass windows.

  12. Karen Says:

    Audrey, what an amazing photo essay! Your work is stunning. We in the Owatonna Piecemakers quilt group are delighted that you enjoyed our recent show. We have been blessed to be able to share our quilts in the amazing space at the Owatonna Art Center over the past thirty years.

    The core members of our quilt group began as students learning to quilt together in community education classes in the early 1980s. Today our quilters celebrate three decades of fellowship and creativity. Thank you for sharing our art with a larger audience.


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