Arts District: Fabric Landscape

– You know, we talk a lot
about composition and color and all kinds of
techniques in visual art. But what else inspires
a great piece of work? – In our next story,
the Colorado landscape and a Western Slope
spa resort become the perfect ingredients
for quilting. – Well, here’s the story
from our Rocky Mountain PBS Grand Junction-based
producer, Dan Garrison. – [Dan] Originally,
master quilt maker Katie Pasquini Masopust put
her annual Alegre Retreat on the map as the happiest of
places to be an art quilter. – Alegre means happy. When I started Alegre Retreat, it was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I had just moved there, and I
lived on Rancho Alegre Road. So it worked for me to call
it Alegre, The Happy Retreat. – [Dan] And its circle of
quilters were also pleased until the day when
Alegre seemed to be one of those good things
that must come to an end. – We did Alegre for
14 years in Santa Fe, and then I stopped it
because the convention center that we ran it in was
stopping to remodel, and I just thought, okay,
this is a good time, 14 years is a long
time to do something. So we stopped for three years. – [Dan] Which turned out
to be just long enough for the retreat to find
its ultimate resort, Gateway Canyons,
built on the success of John Hendricks’
Discovery cable channel and designed with quilts in
mind by his wife, Maureen, a patron and a practitioner
with a passion. – At that time,
Maureen Hendricks was
one of my students, and it was her favorite
retreat to go to. – My kids were 11 and
nine, and I’d never been away from home by myself
without my husband. I just thought I’d died
and gone to heaven. – And she came to
me and she says, “You can’t stop doing this.” And I said, well, I am. – And I said, you know,
if I ever build a resort, would you do Alegre
at my resort? And she went, “Sure,
no problem.” (laughs) – Now, how often does someone
say, when I build my resort. So I was like, sure,
Maureen, you give me a call. – [Maureen] (laughs) So then
I called her, and I said, you know, my resort,
we’re starting a resort. And she went, “Okay.” (laughs) – [Katie] When I first arrived
at Gateway Canyons Resort and realized that this is
where I was gonna be running my little retreat, I
was totally blown away by the beauty of
the surroundings. Every view is exquisite,
and to do a retreat here, I knew that would inspire the
students to great heights. – [Dan] Including some
of the same pinnacles of the quilter’s craft
that Katie’s already reached from her
home-sewn beginnings. – I started quilting
as a teenager. My first quilt was a wedding
present for my sister. It was just squares
and triangles. – [Dan] But she was
already a painter and primed to break free
from the classical patterns, with a little prompting
by Michael James, one of the top talents
in the quilting world. – I took a workshop with
him, and he said to me, “You’re an artist, you know
technically how to make a quilt, “why aren’t you
designing your own work?” And that was my aha moment, and I’ve been doing
that ever since. – [Dan] In her own
classes that transform the time-honored
three-layered bed cover of backing, batting,
and decorative fabric into something infinitely
more multifaceted. – [Katie] Composition
becomes more important in the art quilt. How does your eye travel
through the piece, where’s your focal point,
your values of color. So we use a lot of
the art considerations that a painter or a potter
or anybody would use for the whole
composition and balance. – [Maureen] What’s great
about a quilt is that you hang it on the wall, and
it’s three-dimensional. Something about being
three-dimensional just makes it speak
to you better. That’s how I feel about a quilt. – [Dan] And Maureen’s
feelings are everywhere on display in masterpieces
from the Hendricks collection. – [Maureen] I wanted
to decorate the resort like I decorate my homes. I decorate my homes with quilts. – And I was commissioned to
do two quilts for the resort, and I actually came up
and plein air painted the trident that was then
translated into fabric and hangs in the
lobby and also worked from some of John
Hendricks’ photographs of the palisades and other
formations that are in the area to make a big piece,
a big triptych that hangs over the dining hall. – [Dan] But as
majestic and refined as the fields of fabric become,
there’s still great respect for the quilting custom of
many hands making artwork while stitching up the
unraveled seams of life. – [Katie] So traditional
quilt making ladies would get together in bees,
and they would bring their scraps of fabric and
make quilts for the community. So I was introduced to
quilt making when I took some courses when I was
caring for my mother who had Lou Gehrig’s disease. That’s when I started
making traditional quilts ’cause the quilters
were just so supportive of a young woman
taking care of her mom. When you walk in this
beautiful surrounding, you’re awed by God’s hand, so it seems like ego leaves, and we work together
with each other, we encourage each other,
we make such great friends. – Every woman that has
been here this week has come up to me and
said, thank you so much for putting this on, and
that makes me, I’ll cry, and that makes me
feel really good. The camaraderie of the women
that wanna do this art form, the passion they have
for it like I have for it in a place that’s
conducive to learning, it’s just that kind of
sharing that you don’t get when you just sit in your
studio by yourself, you know. And that’s what this is about.