Thursday, April 29, 2010


Did I tell you that Chinatown is right next to the Philadelphia Convention Center? Always a great addition to any show. And bound to make showing my quilts at Paradise City Arts Festival in Philadelphia even better.

I had forgotten how Chinatown here is a real place--it feels like it should--food, the smells, people on the streets, the outdoor markets with fruits I've never heard of, people talking in Chinese.

This time I ate cheaply--a Chinese buffet with four courses, fried rice and chicken soup for the unbelievable low price of--$6.  The best was the fried bananas--yummy. Needless to say there were a lot of Chinese in that restaurant. Even the TV was broadcasting a station--I believe from Hong Kong--I don't know my cityscapes that well. Interesting perspective on the news--I couldn't understand a word but saw pictures of Gordon Brown, Barack Obama, the French dealing with burkhas and riots in Thailand.  They had pictures identifying the countries--the Eiffel Tower, the British flag. I loved the ads of the multitudes of Chinese people.

Then to the gate. The one here is so ornate and complete. Don't you just love all the textures and colors?

Here is a close-up. Patterns and textures everywhere--but held together by the repetition of color and shape. There are quilt patterns here.

Another building had this wonderful dragon on a pole framing the doorway.


Look at the claws of the dragon--so graceful but powerful.


This was another doorway I loved--contemporary. The door is made of steel--looks very solid--and the surrounding bricks are a glazed red. The whole feature is wonderful and elegant.


Then there was this wonderful mural on the firehouse.


The close-up shows the dragon again with the vent included in the design.

 Don't you love the firey dragon on the fire station. So what do you think? What is your favorite Chinatown?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the shows of Ann Brauer

Ah--home at last. How green it is. The pear trees are blooming--the peach blossoms are pink--ready to open. The forsythia are still bright yellow.  I  have a row of peas up. Though right now I must confess that the best crop is the weeds--why do they always grow so well?

But alas I leave again for another show this week-end. Now normally I wouldn't do a show immediately after the Smithsonian (which was fabulous by the way)--but I love doing the Paradise City Arts Festival shows. Have you ever been to one?  Not only are there wonderful crafts but they also have "fine art"-- paintings, sculpture, photographs. (Don't get me into the discussion between fine art and craft at this hour in the morning--please.) In the middle of the show is an exhibition gallery--this time the show is about Love. My booth is right across from it so you can see my new quilt from a distance.

For me though the best part of the show is that there's work that I can easily afford. I always treat myself to some little wonderful memento--maybe another mug this time? Or a gift for my sister? If you're in the Philly area do check it out-'s at the Convention Center Hall D April 30-May 2. Maybe I'll hang this piece in my booth, what do you think?

Meanwhile I'll have several of my quilts in "A Sense of Place: The Fiber Art of Ann Brauer and Karen Henderson" at the Blue Stone Gallery in Milford, PA through June 6. I don't know if you've ever seen Karen's work--thoughtful woven, manipulated landscapes in hauntingly dreamy colors. The town of Milford itself is quite lovely set in the Delaware River Water Gap--really interesting architecture amid rolling green hills.

Then home--so many orders to fill. All those people who saw the Chronicle piece on Shelburne Falls coming into town.

I can't wait to finally plant my garden--getting up each morning, weeding, finding new things growing. The birds singing. My cats chasing moths and little ants. But more of that later. After all it is supposed to be cold and rainy for the next couple of days.

I do hope to see some of you there. What is your spring like? Do you ever over-schedule for good reasons?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

more National Building Museum

OK--my love affair with this building continues as I learn more about it.

For instance DC can be really hot in the summer and the building was constructed before air conditioning so all windows open. The plan is for cool air to enter at ground level and the hot air to leave at the top of the ceiling. Simple and efficient wouldn't you say.

I love these columns--it turns out they are about 75 feet tall and each one is made from about 70,000 bricks. This is the view from the third floor balcony.  Elegant isn't it?

They are topped with a wonderful elaborate cornice. Don't you just love all of these curves and fronds?

Around the the balcony on the third floor are bowl-like structures with eagles.Need I say more?

Looking down from the balcony you can see the fountain in the central court and the carpet with an oriental design on the floor. My booth is just off from this picture.

Yet despite all of this elaborate ornamentation, there is also a simplicity of shape and structure that I find relaxing. For instance, look at these lovely shapes in the ceiling of a hallway. Aren't they glorious?

Or these arches and more arches going into the rooms that I presume were once offices.

 Isn't it wonderful when a building can keep showing you more and more about itself and make you observe your surroundings with greater care? I also do love the fact that it was built with a budget in mind. The architect was trying to meet the needs of the widows and pensioners from the Civil War--for instance I just learned that the reason the steps are so short and wide was to make it easier for the pensioners to climb them. The steps were also built so they could be hosed down when needed.

So much to see and I haven't taken any pictures of the outside. What do you think?

an ode to the National Building Museum

Some buildings are just so fabulous it is a treat to be in them day after day. The secrets of their design unfold as you study them and live with them. The National Building Museum where the Smithsonian Craft Show is being held is one such location.  Just look at the large fountain in the central courtyard which is only a couple of booths up from my location.

The arches stretch up to a magnificent ceiling with more arches, light and windows that open to provide air circulation.

Isn't that view truly awe inspiring? Here is a view from another angle.

Look at the detail and gracefulness in these windows.

And this is the hallway around the outside of the great room. I quickly walk around the outside of the show when I need more coffee.

Even the base of the columns have ornate terra cotta designs echoes throughout the building. The columns themselves are made of bricks covered with plaster made to look like marble. I just read that more than 15,000,000 bricks were used to make this building.

Another of my favorite details are the terra cotta steps slightly worn and softened with age. Aren't they glorious and so human with their patterns.

And here is a shot of my booth against its back drop. What more could I ask for?

Maybe today I will take pictures of the light streaming in from the windows--there are about ten minutes every day when my booth seems aglow. There are also views from the balcony. So much more to explore.

Can you believe it was build at a cost of less than $900,000 between 1881-1889 for the Office of the Pension. There is much more information at

Have you ever been here? Seen it on TV--once you know what it looks like--many famous events are held here from Hillary's concession speech to President and Mrs Obama's first dance at the Inauguration. Heads of state meet here. There is even an exhibit on Parking Garages. Do you have a favorite buildig?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

John Gerrard at the Hirshorn

Today after setting up for the craft show, we went to the Hirshorn Museum in Washington DC --I do love this museum, so simple and elegant. Lots of wonderful work. Frank Stella, Sol Lewitt, James Turrell, Rothko. But I thought the most amazing exhibit was by John Gerrard--an Irish born artist I had not previously heard of.

He manipulated still photos into a panoramic movie showing landscapes and the passing of time in three separate movies--one of an oil derrick, one of a pig farm in Oklahoma and also a dust storm in Colorado that seemed to roll in and give the terror and immensity--is that a word--of the prairie and the force of nature in total silence. Sitting and watching the movies and the different but slow progressions against a prairie landscape was absolutely amazing. The colors were so subtle.

Oh I do see quilts from these images. Have you seen any great shows in museums recently?

If you happen to be in DC before May 31,  I strongly recommend this exhibit--you do need to sit through the movie to see the changes.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Driving down to Washington DC today so we can set up for the Smithsonian. Very excited and more than a little nervous--will they like my new work? Did I make the right colors? What did I forget?

I didn't have time to make another large prairie sky so I made this mid-size piece.

What do you think?  If you are in the area, do stop by. The show is in the National Building Museum in Washington DC April 22-25. Tickets are discounted through Tuesday.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

hills and shadows--TA DA!!!!

I love getting the images of my quilts taken--the first time I get to see a big piece in its entirety. And my photography John Polak is great. Here are the images--the curves are indeed there. What a relief--no pun intended. Yes this quilt is hanging straight!!!  Now to decide which way to hang it.

 Or this way.

So many design possibilities.  I can't wait until I get a chance to make another one. What do you think?

Friday, April 16, 2010


Here is a link to the recent piece done by Chronicle on Boston Channel 5 and aired on Wednesday April 14. What a great job they did editing it down to a five minute piece. (I hadn't realized what a Midwestern accent I have.)

Thank you Channel 5.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


OK--I must confess--I wasn't even going to write about the first rejection. Who wants to read a self-serving, whiny blog post. Such things happen. The first rejection was for a really good craft show that I've gotten rejected from before. Frequently. I know there are other quilt makers whose work is just as good who apply. Probably the jurors just didn't like my work. Different styles for different people. If I want to make unique work then there will be those who don't particularly like it.

Besides I looked at the slides I submitted--I can see why I submitted them and also why someone who didn't know my work or even decorative fiber could fail to see how wonderful they were.
Here's one of the pieces I submitted. I love this piece. It's sold. But I can see why some one might not like the particular colors or know how hard they are to achieve. No problem. This show is much better done every other year. And I didn't think the set of quilts held together as well as it could have.

But the second show--now that one has my hackles up.  Argh!!! Sure there's a new director who may not love my work as much as previous directors.  I've no clue who was on the jury--or what slides may have come just before mine. But I know they don't get many quilt makers applying.  I've been on that jury. I know how great my work looks at the show--it can be seen from a great distance and draws people in. Indeed my two person show at the Blue Stone Gallery in Milford, PA  is a direct result of that craft fair.

Now maybe it was luck of the draw. Maybe the jury was tired. Or had just seen four absolutely spectacular sets of slides and mine seemed a bit off to them. Life isn't always fair though wouldn't it be great if it was (and of course if I got to define what was fair--right?)  And I do know that I'm wait-listed and the wait list moves. But still....

Probably I should've used more care in selecting my slides. I admit I have a nasty habit of  choosing images that I like assuming others will also like them rather than choosing work that I know others will like--there is a difference.  Indeed--I do still like this quilt and I think the white dashes tell a story. But I can see now why someone might not like it. Again it does have a happy home so we needn't worry about the quilt.

 But guess what? This quilt will not be used for jury slides again. Ever!!!

And in the end I know that it'll all work out. After all I am doing the Smithsonian Craft Show next week and who knows what will come of that. And this may give me the chance to make some new work and  try a couple of shows I haven't done before--there is a lot to be said for something different. Maybe I can even enter a couple of quilt shows that I never have time for.

Thanks for listening. What do you think? Know of any great shows to do that are still accepting applications? How do you deal with that thud of rejection?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

thoughts on forsythia and quilts

As I drive home I've been thinking about color. Why do I use certain colors in certain ways? This week it's the forsythia. The gold that glints through the woods as I drive up to our house. The long rows of bushy yellow that separate neighbors.  Overgrown. Untidy. A statement of space, defining it--but not controlling it. The small plants tentatively marking the edge of the woods. The ones pruned into glowing orbs along the roadside. Green or brown most of the year but for just this week brilliant yellow.

Why do I long for forsythia at this time of year? That pure color as I wait for green grass and  trees. Such exuberance.  An explosion of sunshine after a long winter. I want to plant them everywhere scattering color for next year. But what is it about this spark of yellow?

It can't be childhood memories--my mom was the only person I know who couldn't get her forsythia to bloom. Of course she pruned it in August--every year--no wonder. Or maybe it was her constant struggle that taught me to appreciate it?  I remember year after year she would gaze at the small bush planted just outside my bedroom window as it put one--maybe two small meager flowers. Next year--always next year.

Yellow is a hard color to find in fabric stores. Some years the yellows are harsh or green or childlike. Some years there are no golds.  Always a color to search for.

But why do I need to use yellow in the center of my quilts so often? I can't imagine making a yellow quilt--although there are those who do--and do a great job. Not me. I like my yellow contained and bright--like the yellow in "fields of september".  The color palette carefully created just for this quilt.

Or in long rows almost separating the sky and the earth. So soft and misty in  "november dawn." Then echoed in the sky.

Soon the forsythia will finish to be supplanted by azaleas and rhodies. Tulips and peonies. I will move on to new thoughts and colors. New yellows. And you--how are you affected by colors and memories of colors and the seasons?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

color--mauve, Massamont and spring

It's spring and one might think that a quilt maker's fantasies would turn to the bright yellow of daffodils and forsythia, the fresh green of new grass, the purple of crocuses or even the blue of April skies. But instead this quilt maker is fascinated by mauves and taupes, dirt browns and sage. The colors of rain and earth and grey grey days.

One person called these the colors of rain. Perhaps. I know I recently visited my local fabric store--The Textile Co in Greenfield, worth the drive from any place in western New England. I was going to get some wonderful bright blues, perhaps a cheerful fuschia or rust brown and instead I fell in love--head over heels--with a collection of these colors--and I NEVER shop by collection.

Now I have purchased many of these colors before--it is not just a passing fantasy--I'd even bought a couple of the fabrics--but this time I had to work with them. Almost compulsively. 

First a small piece to explore the potential. Look at the subtle warmth in this piece-- views from the desert.Doesn't it capture the feeling of desert in New Mexico. So many wonderful fabrics that create the effect.

And there is the piece. The complexity and richness in colors of the rain--a quilt so new it hasn't been sewn together yet--as you may well know, this is NOT my favorite part of making a quilt. But I had to create the colors.

So the question in why?  Is it because spring teaches us to look closely at the newly unfolding woodland to see lovely little flowers that seam to spring almost from nowhere.

Or maybe it's the benevolence of Massamont the mountain that looks down on my studio every day and gives me a daily blessing. I must confess I spend more time than I should looking at the hints of red and green on the twigs as spring progresses up the hill. Look at the reds against the roof.

I don't know--do you find yourself compelled to colors in the same way? Do you have a theory? Can you believe that is the view from my sewing machine? What do you think?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


So have you ever tried to get a particular look--really struggled with it--and then realized that you did in fact succeed without even knowing it.

For those who have been following my struggles making this big quilt, you will know I was trying to get the effect of curved hills. I played lots of games with piecing and color shadings to get the overall look until I was ready to just admit that the colors of the quilt were great and that it was time to move on.

Silly me!!!

 Looking at the close-up snapshot of the quilt I posted yesterday I realized I did get the feeling of motion and curves that I was seeking. The quilt in the picture is hanging almost flat--the movement and folds is due to the piecing--not to how it is hanging.

Now I can't wait to get the piece to my photographer to get its official portrait so I can learn what I did and how to take it to the next step. Let me raise my cup of coffee as a toast.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

joy and fun

Recently I've been thinking about the difference between joy and fun--not only because it's finally spring and I'm ready to have FUN but also because I do need to finish the big quilt--I have to sew the Velcro on to hang it. Boring--but it does make a nice presentation. Then clean it up --check for odd threads, the once over. And that's also not fun--just picky (sorry for that pun.)

Sure I baste the Velcro onto strips of fabric before sewing them onto the quilt--but it's hand sewing--and a lot of it. UGH!!! And I've already done a lot of hand sewing finishing the back of the quilt. Do I complain too much? When I finish, I'll have an empty design board--a bit scary. So that's why it's not done yet. Today though it won't be fun.

Now I'm not thinking of the fun that we all need. Niche on their Facebook page recently reminded us  that we all need to have real fun every day--smell the roses, live each day like it's your last. Choose your cliche--I couldn't agree more. (Do check out their post.!/NICHEmag?ref=nf)

Indeed the least productive person I know claims she works from 8 in the morning to 10 at night--no wonder she never has enough time. She is always harried--no time for fun. Not me--I'm a 9 to 5 type of gal. I like my fun too.

So let me explain a bit about the difference between joy and fun. I think of my dad--a farmer. I'm sure plowing the fields day after day was not fun. I tried it. Indeed I tried to make it "fun" by steering off to the side and then pulling back. I was young then. Needless to say, he didn't think this was fun--or funny. For him there was joy in seeing the corn in true straight lines. The subtle differences in the fields. The completion of the harvest. And yes, he did have real fun-- taking my sister and me fishing on the river--ugly catfish that tasted of the river bottom--but what a day.

So today I'll crank up the radio--hopefully Diane Rehm will have an interesting guest or two--and get the quilt done--now that'll be true joy.  Showing a complete body of work--true joy. Knowing that I can now make another new quilt--joy. And tonight--after work I'll weed my day lilies while my tuxedo cat watches oh so patiently. True fun. And later the joy of blooms.

So what do you think--do you deal with the difference between joy and fun? What is joy for you?

Monday, April 5, 2010

upcoming shows of Ann Brauer

Wow--all of a sudden it's spring. Daffodils, forsythia, the chorus of peepers. This year it happened so quickly--one day there was snow on the ground and brown--the next day the grass was green and I was planting my peas.

I've been so busy I barely have time to observe the changes except in the small wonderful ways--the door to my studio is now open, I can hear the rush of the river. On the way to the post office I can walk across the Bridge of Flowers in beautiful Shelburne Falls.

Later this month I am honored to be doing the Smithsonian Craft Show at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC April 22-25. This is one of the premier shows in the country--over 1300 applicants for 125 spaces. Needless to say I was surprised and excited to get in and have been working non-stop to get ready. If you are in the area, check it out.

Then I will be in a lovely two woman show--A Sense of Place--at the Blue Stone Gallery in Milford, PA April 30-June 6. I am looking forward to seeing the work of Karen Henderson who has some wonderful subtle takes on landscapes. Check it out

For those in the Boston area,  watch for this quilt on Channel 5's Chronicle--they came out to western Massachusetts to film Josh Simpson and other artists in Shelburne Falls. They even stopped by my studio. This was a favorite piece--see if it is included. I'm not sure when it'll be aired yet--I'll try to let you know.

Then I have the Paradise City Arts Festival at the PA Convention Center in Philadelphia--but more on that later.