Have you ever considered the connectionbetween quilting a bedspread and quilting a garden? At the Texasquilt museum in LaGrange Cousins Karey Bresenhan and Nancy O'BryantPuentes are doing just that Working with garden designer Mitsy Van Sant they've united two arts More people have been to our museum than live in LaGrange Can I brag a little more? 10,000 visitors, over 125 tour buses, visitors from all 50 states, and visitorsfrom 37 countries around the world Every continent but Antarctica The museum isanother stitch in Karey and Nancy's history Coming from a family of quilters, they'vewritten books about the art's heritage and founded the International QuiltAssociation and annual festival in Houston I really don't know what itis about quilts, but they they seem to strike a chord in people.
Mamma and made her quilts and Gran had made my daddy's quilts So Mother married with 24 quilts.
And when I came along quilts were just a part of my life there was never a norther that came inthat my mother didn't creep in in the middle night and add another quilt To put on a show all year they opened theTexas Quilt Museum that reunited two historic buildings.
Working with Barry Moore of Gensler Architects He restored the late 1800'sbuildings to their original construction.
The tilesat the entrance announce its first owners At one time it was actually a place where they held funeralsbecause it was a furniture store and it wouldhave the only place that had enough chairs andsofas and things for people to sit Like any museum their displays changethroughout the year Wearing white gloves volunteers gentlyhandle the collections packing them up in in acid-free tissueand archival boxes We don't try to match the quilts tothe building at all The building is wonderful, it'slike a picture frame and we change the pictures all the time A big surprise for many is how they letfamily history slip right out of their hands We get a lot of"Oh my God, what did I do to my family's quilt?" And we've heardevery kind of horror story there is I mean, from dogs having puppies on them to wrapping water heaters with them in thewinter, to using them to move furniture.
I think we're so used toseeing them on the bed that when people started putting them upon the walls for the first time, that was when peoplebegan to recognize them as the fiber art they really are.
As a matter of fact, some modern artists were inspired by quilts there are some Robert Rauschenberg paintingsthat look like log cabin quilts Even when experts don't have specificdates A quilt's fabric and pattern reveals itsbirth date The colors are a really goodindicator Some of the colors are because they changed as the dyes changed.
Plants alsotell stories in the past That's what we wanted.
We wanted agarden that would reflect the era of the buildings and what was beinggrown in Fayette County and Lagrange, inCentral Texas in general During the same general time frame that the museum's buildings were built So that would have been that 1893 toabout 1930 They turned to garden designer Mitzi Van Sant to reflect turn of the century style As a matter of fact Our garden is named "Grandmother's FlowerGarden" which is a really really beloved old depression-era quiltpattern And we didn't slavishly follow thedesign of the quilt pattern in coming up witha design for the garden But we thought it was appropriate tocall it that because so many quilts that were madeduring the depression era were Grandmother's flower gardens or otherfloral quilts, and we think really it was because so many women were lookingfor something bright and cheerful and inspirational during that terrible economic time The garden sits on what was once the town's beloved cozy theater destroyed by fire in 2000.
On Mitzi'sfirst exploration She discovered there was more than grass to remove They had scooped the top off but there was all therubble that was left and the foundation andeverything for the theater So the soil was essentially dead, compacted After Mitzi enriched the site withcompost she planted her four square garden In the center she accented with an oldcemetery fence from one in the family properties.
Sheformalized the beds with boxwood repetition filled with seasonal fragrance and color Many plants, especially perennials, date from the timeperiod We decided take it up as far as 1930 because gardens evolve overtime.
So we could add plants that that came in a little later than the1890s Some plans are modern hybrids or cultivars since the originals are nolonger available Althea, or Rose of Sharon, is a durable old-fashioned shrub, though Mitzi choseequally durable modern cultivars We felt like a gardenwas really important as an adjunct to the museum.
Quilts and gardening have been two alliedinterests of women really almost throughout history.
And alot of women drew inspiration from flowers and plants that they found intheir gardens and put them into their quilts.
They maybe tracedleaves to come up with a quilting design or they actually did ageometric flower or something that they had grown in theirgarden or had inherited So quilts and gardens are kind of naturallinkages An arbor extends across the back ofthe garden for a sun break in summer I have sixteenacres of land in the pines and I was working with them.
I had beencutting down a lot of cedar and stuff to thin and I was going to donate all this woodfrom my land to create the arbor and the weekend before they were going tocome take the wood the fire happened in Bastrop.
And then Iknew I wanted to have a garden around the edge of the fenceso it would be easy for people to just look over Mitzi planned her design for it's intricate backdrop, a mural rendered by graphic designer Duana Gill In its historic downtown location the gardens become a favorite spot forpeople to drop by on their lunch break or after work.
Strolling through thegarden and the museum connects pieces from our past that confirm why quilting and gardening ever endure I think it was a way to build community, to make friends, toexpress yourself There's just no downside to quilts.
People find them comforting, but they also find theminspiring The quilters and gardeners are just hand and glove.
I believe in my heart that what the commonality is is color And the sense of bringing something ofbeauty from nothing.
When you start a garden you have nothing.
When we started thisgarden that we have It was a vacant lot.
And when a quilter starts a quilt its just pieces of fabric.
It's how she puts them together that makes the quilt.
And it's how the gardener decides to plant the plants and what she plants that makes the garden.