Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Questions for Curators - from TSB Artists

1. What are your final decisions based on? (Statement, Cohesiveness, Color)
J- Good design, how it relates to the statement, and does it go with the exhibit.
L-We consider each entry on its own merit in terms of composition, value, and overall design.  Then, we look at the artist statement, how it relates to the theme, and how it fits into the collective exhibition.
2. How long does the process take? (Start to finish)
J- We were not together in the same room this year, so it took a bit longer - 2 weeks.  Last year, we were together and it took 2 days.
L-This year we set up a private blog to view the entries and comment back and forth to one another.  It took a bit longer, but I think it worked well since we were unable to work directly with one another.
3. How do you and Leslie determine the equal balance of selections?( When you both live in different states). 
J- The exhibit is determined as a whole - the big picture.  And then how pieces relate to one another.  That is what the 4x6 photos are for.
L-I think we answered these questions in #2, but one thing we do is look at which pieces will look good together so the collective body of work flows for the viewers.
4.  Each year you always seem to come up with a theme that appeals to a broad range of interpretations.  How do you do it? 
J-We start brainstorming about the theme as soon as we can, with e-mails and then narrowing it down to a specific few. Having our private blog helps too, because the brainstorming is there, anytime we need to review it. We discuss how it could be interpreted, and do we find inspiration in the theme ourselves.
L-Sometimes we struggle with the theme because we want something that can have both a representational or a more esoteric interpretation.  We have started a list of potential themes and we are frequently discussing this during the times we are together, tossing ideas back and forth.
5.  What is your absolute favorite part of curating an exhibit? (or your top 3 favorite things?).
J-The artists rising to the challenge to make a piece of amazing artwork, to the statements, and then seeing the exhibit hanging at Festival in Long Beach for the first time!
L-I have to agree with Jamie.  I would add that I consider it an honor that the artists are willing to rise to the challenge and submit their work for the exhibitions. 
6.  I'm curious how the two of you find time for your personal work, along with traveling, teaching classes, and promoting us?
J-  This is the first year that this has been a challenge.  With our other projects, TV tapings, curating, teaching, it has been difficult to find time to make a piece for The Space Between.
L-LOL!  Yes!  This year, I think we both have been squeezed a bit!  We have had some amazing opportunities this year:  both of us were asked to contribute work to two books, both to be published in 2012.  We both taped workshop dvds for Interweave, and we are teaching more this year.  I serve on the board of the Alliance for American Quilts, as well.  I really have to protect my studio work time! 
7.  How do you find balance, doing all that you do?  
J- Ha ha - always looking at what is more important - what is the bottom line? What don't I really have to do, what is making me crazy?  Just do it. And alot of post-it-notes and lists all over my studio. I try to leave it in my studio on the weekends, so that helps with balance. I do have a very supportive and understanding husband, which I am quite happy about.
L-Yowza!  Balance?!  Well, Jamie and I are at a point in our lives where are responsibilities with our children are much lighter, since they are all grown and on their own or away at college the majority of the time.  Our spouses are very supportive of what we do.  My dog isn't quite as gracious about my absence, but she is adjusting.  Jamie and I are both really focused people.  We have a great partnership and we bring different strengths to the table.  It just seems to work.
8. Do you have any tips on traveling, from the standpoint of teaching and/or showing your work?
J- Be organized and know what you can do. Share what you have learned.  I think it’s important to get your best work out there in the quilting world, so that your name and style can be recognized by your future students.  Leslie and I always bring a few small pieces to share with our class about what we do, even if the class has nothing to do with quilt making.
L-The work in the studio really should inform everything else.  That is my humble opinion.  I have to keep pushing myself as an artist all the time.  The joke (that isn't really a joke) at Art Cloth Studios is, "Just Do The Work".  Keep making stuff, even when you don't know what to make.  Get in there and do something.  I love to teach, and was a community health educator in my former career as an RN.  I love being able to bring that skill set to this world.
9.  What's your new favorite toy? 
J- 2 Things - Martelli Notions self-healing cutting mat and non-slip ruler and my Havel scissors, rotary cutter, nippers, pinking shears, and I want the GO cutter that Leslie has.
L-I love two new things:  Havel  everything (scissors, rotary cutter, nippers) and my shiny new Go! cutter.  I named mine "Go Gettem!"
10.  How do you market the show to attract sponsors?
J- It all comes down to who you know, and who you feel comfortable with in sending a sponsorship letter to and then following up with them.  We have had great exhibits, amazing artists and artwork, a blog, good exposure, etc - it all comes full circle. I always hope that companies would jump at the chance to sponsor our exhibits.  A girl can dream.
L-Our personal contacts in the quilt world.  As our exhibitions are getting attention from a variety of media and more people are aware of the exhibitions, we hope that we will continue to partner with companies to showcase the artists.
11.  How do you resolve differences or disputes between the co-curators?  Rock, paper, scissors?  

J- Very diplomatically.  Compromises can be made one to another. Variety is the spice of life!
L-Some people are surprised to hear this, but I think it is really good that we often do not agree on the pieces to be selected.   We will both argue, sometimes passionately, for certain pieces to be included.  It comes down to evaluating the pieces for their strengths, and then we often compromise over several quilts.
12.  What is the best thing and what is the worst thing about being a curator?
J- Having a stunning exhibit.  Sending rejection letters.
L-I feel honored to be able to see all these amazing works of art.  It is an absolute thrill to see the selected quilts hanging in a show!  As Jamie said, declining someone's work is an unpleasant task. 
13. Do you think it is helpful to have a consistent size for all the pieces in an exhibition. If so, why? 
J-The same size gives the exhibit a unified look.  Easier to store in my studio.  It is easier to hang, because they are all the same size, and instead of looking how uneven pieces hang together, you can concentrate your efforts on how the color and design hangs together.
L-Since our themes allow so much room for interpretation the uniform size provides a stunning visual cohesiveness to the collective group.  We must stack the quilts and roll them into a gigantic 'burrito" for shipping and storage between shows.  Having one size makes this much, much easier.
14.  What was your reason for wanting to curate? 
J-I have curated many exhibits and have always found it both a challenge and quite fun to put together a show with the work of many talented artists, with different styles, color palettes, design elements and achieve a knock out exhibit.  When I found out that IQF was coming to Long Beach in 2008, I put together an exhibit, "Everything Under the Sun" which showcased group quilts all about Long Beach.  Asking Leslie to join me in curating Edges in 2009 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
L-I have curated numerous exhibitions in a small gallery I was involved with here in San Antonio.  Jamie and I co-curated an online exhibition, and she invited me to co-curate Edges.  The rest is history!
15.  I'd love to know how your would express your goals/mission/intentions in curating the exhibit. And how you feel you have achieved it.
J-I defer to what Leslie says below -
L-The goals are (hopefully!) outlined in our call for entry with each exhibition.  The mission is always the same:  we ask artists to interpret a theme in the form of a quilted construction that is specifically created for  the exhibition.  Once that process as culminated in the submission of the finished quilt, we have the opportunity to explore what the artist has decided to create.  If the art reflects the theme, has good composition, use of color, value, and perhaps even texture, and we can understand the meaning of the piece through a well-articulated artist statement, we feel we have achieved our purpose as curator/jurors. 


  1. Great photo and interview! Raising my glass to the two of you for all that you are and all that you do!

  2. Thanks for the insight on curating. I know it's a LOT of work. (Love the adorable picture of the two of you, too!)

  3. I think that as a reward for all your work, Jamie should receive the super-duper cutter she covets, and Leslie should receive that Williams Sonoma knife. And if I were Bill Gates, I would make that happen! Thank you both.

  4. Great answers. Some of those questions had occurred to me too. What a cool idea to share a blog!
    Isn't technology great!
    Take care you guys!


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