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   from the issue of February 10, 2005

Hillestad Gallery exhibiting Walsh quilt collection

The Robert Hillestad Textiles Gallery is exhibiting selections from the art quilt collection of New Jersey businessman John M. Walsh III, one of a handful of collectors interested in acquiring works by living artists in the area of non-traditional quilts. The exhibition runs through March 4.

American Heritage Flea Market,
 "American Heritage Flea Market," 1986, 84.5" x 70" Cotton, cotton blends, silk, acrylic paint, color photocopying; hand appliqued, hand and machine pieced, with hand embroidery and beadwork; embellished with various ornaments; handquilted by Sue Rue, Carlisle, Kentucky.

Guided by the counsel of independent curator and art consultant Penny McMorris, Walsh has supports the vision of some of the foremost makers in the field, assuring that this 'niche' market in the broader quilt and textile art world not be marginalized.

Walsh first became aware of the energy and dynamic activity that characterizes this field during a trip to England in 1990 when he saw a Channel Four television production featuring interviews with contemporary British quilt artists, including Pauline Burbidge and Michele Walker, conducted by American quilt artist and teacher Michael James. James' own work was featured on the program, and Walsh was intrigued.

Walsh began collecting quilts, and by 1992 he was focused solely on the one-of-a-kind creations of these maverick makers. He has built an important holding of significant late 20th and early 21st century objects by direct purchase and has commissioned works.

This reciprocity satisfies Walsh's desire to be pro-active in supporting the development and evolution of the quilt form, and it satisfies the artists with whom he chooses to work in reassuring them up front that their work is valued and understood.

"A Strange Riddle," 2002, 76" x 57" Digitally developed and digitally printed cotton; machine pieced and machine quilted.


Included in the Hillestad Gallery exhibition are works by Terese Agnew, Rachel Brumer, Denise Burge, Lou Cabeen, Kyoung Ae Cho, Lenore Davis, Michael James, Anne Kingsbury, John Lefelhocz, Joan Lintault, Terrie Hancock Mangat, Therese May, Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Velda Newman, Rebecca Shore and Julie John Upshaw. The works represent a wide array of techniques and materials, with found objects, wood elements and painted and printed imagery making appearances in surfaces that challenge conventional notions of quilt art.

Walsh will give a free public lecture, A Collector Grows With His Collection, at 1 p.m. Feb. 27 in Room 11 Home Economics Building. The talk, sponsored in part by the College of Education and Human Science's Department of Textiles, Clothing and Design and the Friends of the Hillestad Textiles Gallery, will be followed by a reception in the gallery. Walsh will also participate in a panel discussion on collecting at 7 p.m. Feb. 25, in the same location, as part of the International Quilt Study Center's second symposium, Collectors, Collecting and Collections. More information about the conference can be found at

The Hillestad Textiles Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and by appointment. For more information, visit the gallery website at or phone 472-2911.



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