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National quilt show bringing art to coulee


Last updated 6/23/2016 at 2:44pm

A major art show, drawn in cloth and stitches, and honoring the National Park Service in its 100th year, will arrive in Coulee Dam just in time for the Fourth of July.

The "Inspired by the National Parks" Quilt Show will be on display in the Lake Roosevelt Elementary School gym July 1-4, with more than 180 art quilts.

Don't think about those warm blankets sewn from scraps that may first spring to mind. These quilts depict something inspirational from the nation's most beautiful places.

Detailed and hailed in a new book by Donna DeSoto, the quilts cover a wide range of styles and depict everything from an overhead view of a blue river through a rocky brown landscape to an intricate forest scene to the earth below a volcano. Some are literal interpretations, some are more impressionistic. None of them look like your grandmother's quilts.

DeSoto's book, "Inspired by National Parks, their Landscapes and Wildlife in Fabric Perspectives," details the choices of the artists who were asked for their top eight ideas on 59 parks.

The 177 quilts in the 272-page book, richly illustrated with photos of them, offer a celebration of the national parks from Acadia in Maine to Haleakala in Hawaii.

The Discover Your Northwest sales outlet at the Bureau of Reclamation's Visitor Center has the book on sale for $34.99.

DeSoto launched the project soon after completing an earlier one in which she asked quilters for pieces inspired by The Beatles. That gave her the network needed to accomplish the big task.

"Other people collect quilts," she said, "I collect quilters."

The show in Coulee Dam will also include five local entries.

The work of quilting artist Elaine W. Evans of Middleburg, Virginia depicts the summer tanagers of Congaree National Park. It is shown on page 75 of "Inspired by National Parks", opposite the quilt, also shown on the cover, of cyprus trees in the same park, by Marjorie Dolling Curia.

Marlene Oddie, who owns KISSed Quilts in Grand Coulee, reconnected with a former quilting partner one day and learned of the project. One of the nationally-renowned quilters selected for the book, Ricki Selva, had spoken at an event Oddie attended.

Oddie became aquainted with DeSoto and the two friended each other on Facebook.

In the spring of 2015, when Oddie and her husband, Duncan, headed to Virginia to a high school reunion, DeSoto saw where they were and contacted Oddie on Facebook to say she lived just 20 minutes away. They had a "fabulous" visit, Oddie said, and the relationship helped book the major exhibit in Coulee Dam before NPS headquarters could secure it for the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area had already gotten the show for the July 4 weekend.

The quilt collection to be on display in LR Elementary's air conditioned gym drew 4,000 visitors at a show last weekend, DeSoto said. It has been appraised at about $74,000.


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