Sunday, April 13, 2014

Report on the visit of Bethany Garner and Susan Johnson to the ranch of Karey Bresenhan, President, QUILTS INC. - a gift to SAQA and we were the lucky recipients!

Have you ever seen 100+ yr. old LIVE and POST OAK Trees??? They are all over the ranch in Texas and precious!
As a SAQA member, and one of your Regional Representatives, the past month has been filled with wonder and creativity. This report is to share some of the news of an amazing adventure to Texas March 7-16th, and the the beautiful La Grange ranch home of Karey Patterson Bresenhan, President, Quilts Inc., in La Grange, Texas for a 10 day Artist Residency, accompanied by Everton, ON Artist friend and SAQA member, Susan Johnson.

The Artist Residency was made possible through the very generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bresenhan to the Studio Art Quilt Associates in support of their Membership initiative in 2012/13. The opportunity was made available to a member who wholeheartedly supported the SAQA Membership Program in 2012/13. As an active Professional Member of SAQA, I have had the pleasure of serving for the past two years as your Co-Regional Representative for Central Canada. Needless to say, I was blessed to have been able to accept this study residency as an opportunity to represent SAQA with YOUR support as new members joining our Central Canada group. As a result, I was able to rest, plan, grow and hone my own art study and skills during ten days in Texas. It was wonderful to be able to share the opportunity with friend and mentor, Susan Johnson.

What a wonderful rest I had after a January back injury... with the warmth of spring and the true beauty of this special place and the Texas people we met along the way. And, to have the  opportunity to explore new techniques and do some fabric painting using all new brands and types of paints I chose to experiment with in the Creativity Center. Experimentation is a wonderful tool, and even though I was nursing an injury which limited my mobility and "standing" time, the joy of the time in Texas had a profound affect on my design play. Susan was most successful, with a large project for a new Show underway and she made some great progress using her long experience with painting fabrics to create some stunning new work.

Outside the Creativity Centre where "art happened" for 10 wonderful days
A bit of art underway at Bethany's tables... sans the surprise "plasticized" fabric that mysteriously appeared

Inside the Creativity Centre - so much room to create new work

Needless to say, the adventure in the studio space was a fun-filled challenge each day, as the large patio doors opened to let in the breathtaking beauty of the ranch  - the blue skies and green grass out of doors was as much of a pull after a long, hard winter in Canada as the space and paints, markers and fabric inside.We were made very comfortable in a beautiful Guest House that provided a safe haven for rest and planning, great food (Susan is a stellar chef) and lots of time for comparing notes on our next days projects. We chatted, stayed up late and were up early to enjoy the long and fruitful days of fabric play, exploration of the ranch property including seeing armadillo (albeit squashed on the road), road runners, many bird species and herds of the ranch's white tailed deer. There was a lovely pond on the property that offered us visiting herons, many species of fish if we were lucky and turtles that are ranch residents all year.

The days were filled with laughter, planning, a few trials and errors and many success stories that lead to all new work after returning home. One thing I learned was to go with a plan, and to use materials you are familiar with and LOVE when you have ten days to create. Experimentation is meant for the privacy of your home studio. I did love what happened at Susan's tables however, which is a testament to her many long years as a professional textile artist. She was a great inspiration for me and I will long remember her support and encouragement along the way.

Table filled with amazing painted fabric art underway by Susan Johnson


The gardens were beautiful at the Quilt Museum, even as early as we were in Texas
The SAQA "People and Portraits" exhibition curated by Martha Seilman, SAQA Executive Director, was hung in the Museum while we were in La Grange (Mary Pal had TWO pieces in the exhibition!)  along with two additional galleries of beautiful contemporary and heritage quilts chosen for display by Sandra Sider, Museum Curator and former SAQA President. The Museum staff were amazing and the many visitors we met on our visits to the Museum agree that this Museum is a precious gift  and a treasure in Texas for all who visit. We met amazing staff members like Carol Montgomery who loves her role as a staff member at the Museum, and the fun of working with Mrs. Bresenhan and the team at the Houston Market and International Quilt Festival over many years. Carol lives at the ranch when away from her home which is several hours from La Grange, and is a blessing and joy to all who meet her.

We had wonderful tours around the ranch on a "mule" (four wheeled, gas powered) and walked the property several days exploring the wonderful bridges over what were the river gorges built by Mr. Bresenhan (Texas has had a severe drought and the riverbeds were equally as beautiful dry and exposed), the amazing deer feeding system, and watching carefully to make sure we did not run across the copperheads and rattle snakes that are common in the area. We enjoyed the green grass and thunderstorms and  NO SNOW ... and lots of room to wander without coats and boots.

Along the Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX
After the stay at the "Franch", our travels took us to San Antonio as well, and we had a wonderful dinner with Jane Dunnewold and Leslie Tucker Jennison, renowned Texas Fibre Artists and Instructors at the Houston Quilt Show and across the US. Great time for catching up with Jane and having the opportunity to see her new Studio in San Antonio. We (slowly for me) strolled the famous "RIVERWALK" that runs all around San Antonio's downtown on St. Patrick's Day when the river runs green as a part of the celebration. The weather was beautiful and so was the entire trip... we even made time for a visit to the Alamo!

So many thanks to Karey and Maurice Bresenhan for establishing the amazing gift of the Artist Residency Program at their ranch in support of the very lucky invited artist recipients. Their Creativity Center is made available to groups and Guilds in the area for retreats and learning opportunities throughout each year. And special thanks to Lucy Carr, Quilts Inc. Administrative Assistant who provided us so many tips before and during the trip; to Dora, our lovely Guest House housekeeper/hostess; to JR, the Ranch Manager who met our every need in the Creativity Center and to each of the staff at The Texas Quilt Museum for warmly welcoming us to Texas and La Grange. Many heartfelt thanks to my friend Susan Johnson and her husband Quentin for making the trip possible and for the amazing flight accommodation. The trip of a life time for sure...

SAQA offers similar benefits to each of you as members - you just have to take advantage of the opportunities to participate in support of your Association. Share the valuable membership benefits with your friends and take advantage of the all new recruitment program in support of  SAQA. Needless to say, SAQA is an important part of my creative life... as are all of you.

Hoping to see each of you soon at a Regional Meeting, as your work appears in the 2014 SAQA Portfolio; or as a participant in FIBRE CONTENT later this year here in Ontario - a wonderful fall 2014 Exhibition at the Burlington Art Centre in September (Call for Entry is up for you at the Fibre Content website) and as you enter the many amazing SAQA Exhibition 'Calls to Entry' with YOUR beautiful work. Be active - participate and by all means, ask your friends and colleagues to join us!

Bethany Garner
SAQA Central Canada Co-Representative