What's New
 

Here's the latest news, the latest additions to the website and the occasional wry comment on the passing parade of art, design and life. Send your own wry comments to rkentwilliams@charter.net.

 

I've been included in a new book put together by Martha Seilman, the executive director of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA). It's called Art Quilts International: Abstract & Geometric, and the publisher (Schiffer) has done a beautiful job. The stylistic range is quite wide, but these are all quilts after my own heart, plumbing the depths of color, line, shape, texture, and meaning. My section includes interview excerpts, pics of six quilts and a photo of me looking a bit younger than I did in the mirror this morning. (That photo is from about 10 years ago.) I'm honored to be a part of this impressive project.

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Wisconsin Public Television has been running a documentary called Treasure Quilts of Wisconsin, which I'm happy to have been included in. And the doc is now available for anyone to watch online (go here). I show up at the 39-minute mark, looking older than I ever expected to be (just turned 60, age on my mind). And my dear old house, which is even older than I am (100 in 2017), also makes an extended appearance. Neither of us gets out much, so this is a rare opportunity to see us together.

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Through August, I have a show at the Whitewater Arts Alliance's Cultural Arts Center, and because they gave me two big rooms to work with, I decided to do a mini-retrospective of my work in the quilting medium. There are 22 quilts in all, as well as two digital prints to show that my quilting impulses have hardly abandoned me in the digital realm. If you're in the area, check it out. If not, here are some installation photographs.

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Godfrey & Kahn, a Wisconsin law firm with branches all over the state, recently commissioned a piece by me for a conference room in their brand-new Milwaukee offices. With its vibrant colors and undulant motion, "Sine of the Times 2" evokes downtown Milwaukee's street life as well as nearby Lake Michigan. And what I'm particularly excited about is that it was printed on brushed aluminum -- a new medium for me. Here's a link to the piece on my website, and here's an in situ pic.

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I'm proud to have been included in a show at San Diego's Visions Art Museum that included work by former jurors of the museum's biennial survey of art quilting. I was a juror a few years back, and that somehow entitled me to show alongside such art-quilt luminaries as Liz Axford, Sue Benner, Judith Content, Patty Hawkins and Jan Myers-Newburry. Let's just say I've been admiring these women's work for longer than some of you have been alive. For my own contribution, I went with the desktop-designed quilts I've been making in the last year or so. I couldn't make it out for the opening, but here are some pics that Liz was kind enough to send: The Jury Is In.

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During the month of March, I'm showing some of my new digital quilts at the Goodman Center, on Madison's east side. These works were designed on my computer using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and the show is called "Out of Whole Cloth" because the quilt tops, though they appear to be pieced, were in fact printed out on single swaths of fabric (then sewn to backing fabrics, which I also designed). Put another way, I did the piecing on my desktop. Here's some in situ pics: Goodman.

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I'm part of a three-person show that just opened at the Overture Center, here in Madison. It's called "im(material)," and I suppose I fall more on the "im" side of that dichotomy. The works I submitted for the show were all made using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and one could make the argument that, although I printed them out on paper, they primarily exist in my pixelated mind -- better yet, my computer's pixelated mind. Anyway, check it out if you're in the area. And if you aren't, here's some pics: im(material).

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After taking a few years off quilting, I'm back with something resembling a vengeance. And I've started doing what I've talked about doing for quite a while: going digital. Like many of my digital prints, these new pieces start with a photograph that I slice, dice and then splice back together using Photoshop. The difference is that I'm now printing these images on fabric, which turns them into textiles. They're whole-cloth quilts, but I've designed them to look like patchwork because I believe the entire digital realm is a kind of patchwork, one piece of code sewn to another. Take a look: Digital

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Swizzle Stix, my new line of quilting fabrics from Northcott, should be hitting the streets in the next few weeks, and I hope that those of you who are quilters will consider giving them a try. As their name suggests, they're the fabric equivalent of a cocktail party -- fun yet chic, friendly yet formal. My goal was to come up with a set of fabrics that, with minimal effort, would render complex, beautiful designs, and I like to think I accomplished that.

The fabrics themselves are fairly simple: diagonal stripes in which every other stripe is black or white but the other set of stripes runs through a color gradient. You can check out the collection at the Northcott website or at the online-shopping website Over the Rainbow. Another possibility: Contact Gayfeather Fabrics, owned and run by my good old friend Virginia Lienhard, here in Madison. She's carrying the whole line, so stop by if you're in the area. Or have her ship you some. Her phone number: 608-294-7436.

I've also designed a number of quilts using the Swizzle Stix fabrics, including a whopping eight variations on a very simple square-based grid pattern, which I think shows just how versatile these fabrics are. You can check out and purchase my quilt patterns here, but I'd also like to see what you come up with. As far as I can tell, the possibilities are endless, so let's hear from you.

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My quilted piece Solid Golds is featured in the latest issue of Machine Quilting Unlimited. When they contacted me, they said they're always on the lookout for interesting quilts, but this turns out to be yet another golly-gee-guys-quilt-too assortment. "The Y Factor: Quilts by Men!" the teaser line on the cover says. I suppose it's time to start working on my abs, in case I'm invited to participate in an upcoming Men of Quilting calendar.

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You can now purchase notecards with images of my artwork on them, and quite frankly, why wouldn't you? They're thoroughly professional looking, albeit made with love and care, and they're very reasonably priced. See the current selection by clicking here. And stay turned, because I hope to be adding to the selection very soon. Watch out, Hallmark, here I come.

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My library show got some press from the Wisconsin State Journal. You can see it by clicking here.

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Isthmus, Madison's alternative newspaper (where I spent 20 years as a staff writer), ran a profile of me last week. It's pegged to my show at the Madison Public Library, and except for the part where I appear to be bragging about my score on the law-school admission test, I like it a lot. By "got too high a score," I meant I got a high enough score that I actually had to decide whether to go to law school. This was in my mid-twenties, when I was hoping all my major life decisions would be made for me. Ultimately, I chose to go. Then, three weeks later, I chose to leave -- best (and biggest) decision of my life.

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I have a new show at the Madison Public Library that will be up through Christmas. It features 17 works, including a huge honker on the back wall that draws on a design motif I created for quilting in which arrays of rectangular shapes interweave, not unlike coiling strands of DNA. I call the piece Sine of the Times, alluding to the way that today's sinuous curves tend to be composed mechanically rather than smoothly -- digitally, not analogically.

I'm sharing the space with Keith Nelson, a Milwaukee artist who creates fetching wall sculptures out of the debris he salvages from his own work as a craftsman and from scavenger hunts around the Milwaukee area. In that sense, we're opposites, his Duchampian gesture pretty far removed from my time spent at the keyboard. But Keith arranges his shapes -- mostly squares and rectangles -- into very pleasing compositions that I feel a real affinity for.

Check us out, if you get the chance. Alternatively, here are some pics: Kent Williams: New Work

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I'm honored to say that several of my quilts have been included in the second edition of Joen Wolfrom's Color Play, which just came out in September. Truth be told, I picked up quite a few pointers from the first edition of Color Play, which appeared just when I was looking around for some sort of guidance regarding that great mystery, color, which so many beginning quilters claim to be intimidated by. Through a number of books, Joen has perhaps done more than anyone else to put these fears to rest, and once again she offers an easy-to-read primer that itself is bursting with colors, some of them mine.

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Modern Life, one of the quilts I designed using Northcott's new Shimmer fabric line, has been included in the latest Keepsake Quilting catalog. You can see the online version of my page here: Keepsake. Call it serendipity, but the folks at Keepsake photographed the quilt draped over a brown-leather sofa that's a dead-ringer for the brown-leather sofa in my living room. No wonder I feel right at home there.

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I'm now in the quilt-pattern business. I've hooked up with Northcott, a fabric company based in Toronto, Canada, and designed a pair of quilts using their exciting new collection of fabrics called Artisan Spirit. Specifically, I used the Shimmer line, which is the first group of fabrics from the Artisan Spirit collection to hit the streets. Because the Shimmer line consists of seven hues in nine shades/tints, I feel like it played right into my hands, given that I've often used color gradations in the past.

The two quilts (which can also be made using your own fabric choices) are called Beyond the Rainbow and Modern Life, and you can get a look at them here: Patterns

I'll be designing more patterns very soon, both for the Northcott collection and for other sets of fabrics, so please stay tuned.

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I just sent off a quilted piece that was commissioned by an art consultant for The Venetian Macao, a luxury hotel and casino resort located halfway around the world (and modeled after Las Vegas's own canal-strewn tribute to the Floating City). Not much of a gambler myself, I nevertheless feel that Solid Golds is a nice rejoinder to my last commissioned piece, Lift Your Voices, which was for a Catholic church in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

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I haven't been quilting very much in the last year or so, while delving into the world of digital imagery. But idleness is the devil's playground, so I did manage to complete a few works, three of which are now on the website.

Crazy for the Blue Red White and Yellow is an addition to my flag collection, the title taken from the lyrics to "Don't Put It Down," a satiric plege of allegiance to flag etiquette that's from the rock musical "Hair." Then, there are two additions to the Weave gallery -- Grid Plan, which evokes the chutes-and-ladders chaos of Manhattan's street patterns (as well as the money that propels it), and Only Connect, which I wrote about for the January 2013 issue of "American Quilter." The article's not available online, but write me and I'll send you a photocopy.