Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

August 22, 2006 > The fabric of our society

The fabric of our society

by Steve Warga

Some might say, "It's just a quilt;" and they would be wrong. Many of the quilts on display at this year's Mission San Jose Outdoor Quilt Show express far more than a pretty bed cover composed of colorful bits of cloth sewn together. Recognizing this, Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce has encouraged quilt themes this year consistent with Fremont's 50th anniversary celebration.

This show, their third, takes place Saturday, August 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the historic Mission San Jose district of Fremont. Quilts will be displayed along sidewalks and at various locations in and around the Mission and Washington Boulevards intersection. Among those stores displaying quilts are, Village Treasures, Flower Pavilion, Color Me Mine and Mission Coffee. Organizers expect about 150 quilts from all over the world to be on display.

Quilting actually traces its origins all the way back to ancient Egypt around 3400 B.C. when the earliest applications first appeared in the form of garments. This was long before anyone conceived of today's artistic bed covers. There's even evidence of early Muslim warriors crafting clothing of heavy, tightly stitched cloth as body armor. The quaint notion of frontier women gathered in log cabins around large fireplaces, patiently stitching lovely squares of cloth into snuggly warm heirloom quilts may not be entirely accurate. It was only when textile mills began producing affordable clothing in the 19th century that frontier families were freed from the labor of sewing "britches" and such. Only in more centuries did women find time for intricate, decorative quilting.

Even more recently, quilts have been employed to tell the story of various aspects of American and world cultures, including as memorials to soldiers killed in various wars, the Great Depression, America's bicentennial, and in support of social themes and movements. The essential concept of joining pieces of cloth into a whole has never changed though. At the Mission San Jose show, many quilts will tell stories by their creators. For instance, the Widows Afghan Quilt communicates the feelings of women oppressed in that society; another by local students celebrates Fremont's 50th birthday.

Quilt artist, Sandy Jorgenson will display several of her works that she describes as "simple but strong." One features a garden theme with backing of seed pods, while another, created for her husband, Tony - both she and Tony are dog lovers - displays a variety of canines. Other quilt works will represent both male and female artists of all ages including the work a 6 year-old enthusiast. Jorgenson says that everyone has their own reasons for embracing this art form, but notes its therapeutic effects of concentration and the unlimited and unique design possibilities. For most artists she says the attraction to and participation in the art will continue, "as long as they can hold a needle and thread."

Nationally renowned artist, Sylvia Sutherland, will be featured at this year's show. A resident of Northern California since 1980, Sutherland crafts contemporary quilts that appear similar to paintings on canvas. She studied and worked in many mediums before discovering quilt art. She states, "I can't remember a time when I did not want to create art." The furious pace of life as an Air Force wife and mother with frequent relocations limited her time for art endeavors, but even a mid-life reentry into a single lifestyle and subsequent remarriage "could not quash the inner art bug that kept inspiring my spirit." With retirement, fabric art called to her and, as she says, "The discovery of contemporary art quilts told me, 'This is it!' - a quest to pursue and enjoy for the rest of my life."

Once again, the Outdoor Quilt Show will feature the non-quilt artwork of local resident and art teacher, Donna Sanson. There will also be a variety of quilt-oriented vendors and live music. Three "opportunity quilts" will be part of a drawing open to all. Show sponsors include, Mission Coffee Roasting, The UPS Store, Village Treasures, Whiffle Tree Quilts, and Collective Discovery Website Design.

The Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce invites everyone to enjoy the show and visit the many businesses in the area. Don't forget to pick up a "Shop, Dine and Discover" Passport at participating businesses to win great prizes.

Applications and other information may be found at, or by calling Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce at (510) 873-7701.

Volunteers are still needed to help with setup and cleanup. If you can help, please call Connie at (510) 623-2800.

Mission San Jose Outdoor Quilt Show
Saturday, August 26
10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Mission Blvd. between Washington Blvd. & Pine St., Fremont

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