By Jan Hersey
If your idea of a quilt is something that belongs in grandma’s attic—think again! The biennial Quilt Show sponsored by Fidalgo Island Quilters, April 11–13, draws an international audience with something of interest for modernists, fashionistas, students, patriots, shopaholics, and, yes, traditional quilt lovers.
A new exhibition venue at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge, just over the bridge onto Fidalgo Island, foregoes the show’s former gymnasium location, highlighting the color and distinctive details of more than 250 quilts with a superior layout and exhibition lighting.
This year’s theme is “E Pluribus Unum.” A reference to the seal of the United States, the phrase means “out of many, one,” originally referencing a single nation emerging out of many states or colonies. More recently, it has come to suggest the country’s blending of many peoples, races, religions, and ethnicities. Likewise, a single quilt is comprised of many blocks or pieces.
The theme is especially front and center in the creative interpretations of red, white, and blue Quilts of Valor (part of national program) and American Hero quilts (a Washington state program) stitched by guild members across the country and presented to every wounded veteran.
Like generations of Pacific Northwest artists before them, quilters draw inspiration from Skagit’s glacier-covered peaks, verdant flats, and ecologically rich shorelines and bays—as well as its pioneer heritage. This year, a special display of 10 art quilts captures the magic of the Skagit River from its source high in the Cascades to its link with the Salish Sea.
And not to be missed is the work of this year’s featured artist, Pat Thompson of Mt. Vernon. A lifelong quilter and instructor, Thompson’s meticulous and imaginative work has been featured locally and nationally through exhibits, books, American Quilter Society, and American Patchwork & Quilting Magazine, among others.
Other show categories include group, appliqué, and art quilts, wearable art, and a new category, modern quilts. Reflecting the interests of both new and younger quilters and seasoned artisans expanding their range, modern quilts push traditional quilt boundaries by incorporating negative space, asymmetrical patterns, and improvisational scale and positioning. Decide for yourself where your allegiances lie.
Heads up, fashionistas—Saturday at 1pm is the Wearable Art Diva Style Show, showcasing creative skill and fashion savvy. Admission is included with general admission, but arrive early for the best viewing. On Sunday at 1pm, guild members will honor retired and active-duty military with the presentation of patriotic quilts made for the Quilts of Valor Foundation and American Hero Quilts programs.
Finally, continue your quilt inspiration a few minutes away in downtown Anacortes, where the guild’s annual Quilt Walk showcases quilts throughout the month of April in shops up and down Commercial Avenue.
With so much to do, why not make a weekend of your Tulip Festival excursion? Anacortes lodging can add a coastal vibe to your Skagit Valley visit. Or simply take a break in downtown Anacortes to recharge with an espresso and amazing pastry or savory at La Crema or a glass of wine and small plate meal at Le Petit Wine Bar. Options abound, too, for a full meal, like the city’s new authentic Italian venue, Ciao Bella.
For more about what’s going on, be sure to visit www.fidalgoislandquilters.com.
Fidalgo Island Quilters Quilt Show, “E Pluribus Unum”
April 11– 13, 10am–5pm each day
Admission $7; children under 12 free
Swinomish Casino, 12885 Casino Drive, Anacortes
Fidalgo Island Quilters Quilt Walk
Maps at Anacortes Visitor Center (9th & Commercial Ave.) and at participating stores