Tuesday, October 25, 2011


I bought a new shower curtain on Saturday.  The one with the PVC.  Not because it was the cheapest, but for the smell.  An olfactory trip back to the most highly anticipated day of my childhood year - Christmas!  The smell of new toys.  Plastic toys.  That just-opened burst of chemical off-gassing.  So many presents!  Big Jim and all his macho man accessories.  Tents, campers, motorcycles, race cars, tree stumps.  Each was individually packaged in its own plastic isolette, ready to serve a supporting role in my ever expanding action-adventure tableau. 
Occasionally my sister would invite me across the hallway to play Barbies.  She’d already be set up in the largest open floor space of her lavender bedroom, between the foot of her bed and the double closets that spanned the north wall.  From the floor, the vertical lines of the closet doors shot up to the ceiling above her Lively Livin’ dream house like two colossal high-rise office buildings or apartments - like the kind where Mary Tyler Moore worked and lived, after she traded her cozy Victorian shag-covered sunken living room for a breathtaking view of greater Minneapolis through the sliding glass doors of her precariously railed balcony.  I was relegated to more of a Sanford and Son kind of operation down on the south side of my sister’s dresser, an awkward and cramped corner near the door with zero curb appeal, about half a block away in 1/16th scale.  The zoning laws were apparently very lax.  
Along with the couple of low-ranking Barbies my sister would send over as loaner girlfriends (wives? hookers?) for my Big Jim and his buddy Big Josh, she’d also provide a meager allocation of home-building materials: doll cases and cardboard.  Though Big Jim and Josh stood several inches shorter than my sister’s dandy, Ken, they were far more work-ready with well-defined, spring-loaded, woodchopping biceps.  While do-nothing Ken was busy playing house with his Barbie beards, Big Jim, Big Josh and I launched a nascent version of Extreme Doll Case Makeover!  Far from throwing together some kind of house-of-cards shanty, we pulled out all the stops and mounted a low slung, multistoried, mid-century modern, Frank Lloyd Wright/Mike Brady-esque cantilevered triumph, which consistently surpassed my sister’s sterile, store-bought house in both originality and style.  
Like the faint aroma of a once new shower curtain, so too did Christmas slowly lose its luster, starting with my sister’s blunt announcement that Santa Claus wasn’t real.  She chose to break her news bulletin at the step between our dining room and a room where I listened to records, though it could hardly be called a “music room.”  Christmas magic faded further with my increased awareness that all things were not equal.  All kids were not opening the kinds of toys that I was.  I first realized this when my Mom ever so earnestly undertook a charity project of sewing homemade doll clothes (at a time when homemade was considered second-rate) for hollow-legged, off-brand, dime store dolls.  Once finished, they were delivered as gifts for kids at the Cheerful Home.  It made me anything but cheerful.  The disparity saddened me to tears, privately shed.  It was my first experience of an inner, wordless ache; and the fact that my Mom hated to sew.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Birthdays are bittersweet. Most holidays are. The awkward silence of family get-togethers; so much of me, unable to attend.
Advent calendars were my favorite part of Christmas. Those little swinging doors, patiently opened one day at a time, marked my jubilant, albeit Protestant progression towards the Nativity. Immaculate birth. Virgin Mary. Joseph getting short shrift for his role in the matter.
In March of 1989, I traveled to Montreal to meet my mother again.  We’d had no contact since our last on February 2, 1968.  I didn’t know I had a younger brother until just a few weeks before my trip. Lying on a trundle bed next to him on the first of my four-night stay, he told me that every year on my birthday, our mother locked herself in her bedroom and murmured sounds of crying would drift through the walls.
The bathroom was the only room in our two-story house with a lock on the door.  It was a legitimately private space where Mom wouldn’t question my absence at age six, or less.  Sequestered on the toilet, pants up, feet dangling and door locked, I attempted to send telepathic messages to my other mother.  Mimicking Disney films where dogs talked, cars flew and little children escaped to Witch Mountain, I was left to wonder whether she ever received them.
There is an evolutionary imperative about our ability to recognize faces. I loved to play records on my family’s green plastic portable stereo. I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Along with the sunshine. There's gotta be a little rain sometimes. I sat there fixated on the album cover, mesmerized by her beautiful face, my trance interrupted only by changing the record. Lynn Anderson.  We had tickets to see her in concert at the Quincy Junior High Auditorium in 1973. I sat there in rapt anticipation to see my dream girl. When it was announced that she was sick and substitute entertainment was trotted out on stage, I was heartbroken. Mom whispered Anderson’s illness was probably a horse show.

Le Couturier

Shortly after moving into my [former] studio at Prentiss & Burlington Streets in Iowa City, I started tuning into the pirate radio station broadcasting from the space across the hall. It featured everything from raw urban rap, to stories read by a gentle-voiced young woman. Without enough DJ’s for 24/7 programming, the station often resorted to long stretches of prerecorded sets and large doses of dead air.

I rarely saw any of the other artists, musicians (including Iris Dement - how did I miss her?), or DJ’s that worked in the building. When I did, we exchanged little more than a terse, under-the-breath “hull-oh.” Eventually, I passed a young woman in the hall who offered me a flier advertising her radio show. It revealed she was the storytelling DJ I’d heard. She was authentically funky, far beyond the usual Iowa City fare, softened by her intoxicating smile.

The daily walk from my parking spot to the studio led me under a concrete railroad bridge-cum-unsanctioned gallery of local guerilla art. Much of it was posted with stencils and spray paint, some with wheat paste. There was one particularly engaging image of an upright man, limbs akimbo, titled: “Le Somnambule,” the sleepwalker. I began to notice similar images in increasingly out of the way places (alleys, dumpsters, transformers, etc) throughout Iowa City. I imagined the work was likely conceived by one person and executed under the cover of darkness. The stencils were mostly single images with one-word French descriptors, a kind of visually sophisticated vocabulary flashcard.

When my beloved sleepwalker was suddenly obliterated overnight, by little more than the cappuccino-colored paint that already covered the concrete underpass, I was crushed. I realized the urgency of an earnest search for the source of this ephemeral work.

I inquired around town among friends I suspected might know and be willing to reveal the identity (under promise of strict confidentiality) of this elusive artist. After she was revealed to me, I invited her to meet me at my studio, only to discover that she was the same young storytelling DJ I’d previously met in the hall. I was instantly enamored. She told me more about the stencil work including her public service goal of teaching Iowa City French one word at a time, and how in return, she was sentenced with public service after being arrested for criminal mischief for posting her stencils publicly.

Eventually, our acquaintance translated into an internationally distributed line of fabric for her wide ranging and truly original artistic expressions. I am honored to have supported her in this way. She generously gave me permission to incorporate her publicly posted stencils into a future quilt project, which I hope to do, once I learn to screen print.

This summer began a trend of people using the Home Ec Workshop, co-owned by two friends of mine, as a means to contact me. One of these contacts turned into an important quilt sale. Another, netted a mysterious package that arrived only after being returned to the sender, who initially mailed the package to my first address in Iowa (eight addresses and ten years ago). I was thrilled to open it and find an original stencil made just for me. It was cut out of a peanut butter Captain Crunch cereal box. It features a tuxedo-wearing man sewing a quilt which gracefully cascades off a sewing machine to his feet where the piece is titled “Le Couturier.” The artist included a note written on stationary that she hand-painted, now housed in a special pocket on the back of the framed stencil.

Thank you MG. You are so dear to me!

Click here to see more Iowa City stencils

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Black Dog

Black Dog

Black dog running in white snow,
Turns his head to cross the road.

What does this black dog know?

Winter slows;
Life is pulse and rest.

Frankie Holt's Time & Vision: Vermont/Santa Monica Metro Station

Some photo work of a dear dear friend and fellow Wash U photo major (1990). These images are so good it freaks me out!

Frankie Holt's Time & Vision: Vermont/Santa Monica Metro Station: "The Vermont/Santa Monica metro station in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Designed by Ellerbe Becket Architects. Looki..."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

My goatskin gloves match the yellow tines of my rake (bar code still affixed),
And reduce to two the number of blisters on my tender palms.

I had intended to rake the entire yard,
But can only manage that which is in the shade.

As shadows grow long,
I fall further short of my goal.

Creeping Charlie must love the shade;
There's so much more of it here.

It does not, however, tolerate the herbicide applied unsolicited by my neighbor to the east,
Along our shared fence line.

All around, cicadas sing a siren song;
In the distance, fire trucks theirs.

Heart attack or house fire -
Either way, I'm glad it's not mine.

My neighbor to the west comments wryly on my efforts.
I'm not quite sure how to take it.

The evening breeze brings such sweet relief.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Joe Deal, 1947-2010

Watering, Phillips Ranch California, 1983, Joe Deal

Remembering a dear teacher and mentor a year after his passing. Joe's work is on par with the greatest landscape photographers that come to mind. I was thrilled to be able to view an online exhibition of some of his work at the Robert Mann Gallery website. Along with David Hockney, I would site Joe Deal as one of my biggest artistic influences. Deal became dean of the Washington University School of Fine Arts my junior year. He was the crowning jewel and saving grace of my Wash U experience. He once described a large-print photographic portrait series I did my senior year (1989/90) as being like "maps of faces." Being that Deal was one of the pioneers in the New Topographic movement, I guess such an assessment comes as no surprise, but high praise, indeed.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Incomplete, Alanis Morrisette

This is one of my favorite songs of all times...it captures so much of what I feel about my life's journey up to this point. Everyday, I am a little less incomplete.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Iowa City Press-Citizen, July 14, 2011


Why you should know him: Erick Wolfmeyer, 44, is a professional quilter living in Iowa City. The Quincy, Ill., native moved to Iowa City to expand his quilting practice after living out West  and has been here ever since. Wolfmeyer has made more than 70 quilts in his career, each of which takes about six months to create, he said. Wolfmeyer will be hosting a quilt design class at Home Ec. Workshop at noon July 23 and 24.

I got started in quilting when: I was living in California and my then-boyfriend and I went on vacation to see friends in Sisters, Ore. They have a huge outdoor quilt show there. We were there a week after it happened, but it was still in the atmosphere. Our friends just had a baby and I always liked quilts, so I bought my first pattern and (made a baby quilt). After I finished that, I just went crazy.

I sell my quilts: In Kalona at the annual Quilt Show & Sale and at a store in south Amana. But I'm happy to say that I'm doing more direct selling to people.

When I was little, I wanted to be _______ when I grew up: I initially wanted to be an architect. I always say I am a frustrated architect; I have this urge to put things together.

My favorite quilt I've ever made is: That's like asking if I have a favorite child.

I'm inspired by: Almost everything. I'll take drives and look at old buildings and the rust patterns. Architecture, literature, music, current events lately. I feel like a vessel.

Something I never want to do again is: Touch a snake. There's no need to, but I was forced to as a kid (and hated it).

Something I've always wanted to do is: Go to Europe.

If I weren't quilting, I'd be: Having a fabulous social life. Quilting is a very solitary thing.

Words I live by: You don't have to suffer to make art, but making art is worth suffering for.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Magic Patch, July/August 2011

Original article (English) by Linzee Kull McCray:

Erick Wolfmeyer thrives within limitations. Unlike most quilters, he has a modest stash of fabric and uses what he has before buying more. He lives in a small dwelling, just 565 square feet. He’s chosen work that pays his basic bills and little more. He has no television, no pets, no Internet connection at home. For him, quilts are a metaphor for this life.

“I’m piecing it all together, with what I have to work with,” he says.

Yet there is abundance in Erick’s life, too. His quilts are intensively pieced (Turning Point, which ultimately became two quilts, has 4,608 pieces) and his color choices are strong and vibrant. His creations stand in rich visual contrast to the simple weathered barn boards and picket fences against which he chooses to photograph them. And once finished, he doesn’t hold them close; all his quilts are either given as gifts or sold immediately. “They come from inside of me and when I’m done with one, I’m on to the next,” says Erick. “For me, it’s about the process.”

Erick’s quilts walk a line between traditional and modern. Unlike many art quilters, he uses no embellishments—no paint, no sequins, no buttons, no embroidery. Instead, he relies on piecing and quilting to telegraph his message. His quilts could function on a bed just as easily as they can be hung on a wall. But each is inspired by events in both Erick’s life and the wider world, and created with an artist’s eye toward design and color.

His formal training came when he earned a degree in photography from Washington University. But the toxic chemicals associated with developing and processing film made him increasingly uncomfortable. In 1990, he stitched a baby quilt as a gift for friends and was intrigued. Fabric seemed the perfect medium for him to explore. “A quilt is portable and very forgiving, and I love the feel of fabric,” he says. He notes too that there is something meditative and soothing in the rote processes of sewing and cutting fabric.

Perhaps most important for Erick is that quilting connects him with the women in his life. The loss of some of those female relationships plays large in his life and in his art. Given up for adoption when he was seven months old, Erick mourns the lost connections with his biological family. “For most of us, something in life didn’t work out as we’d planned,” he says. “Women lose kids, kids lose their moms. I’m working it out through my quilts.”

Erick’s inspirations range from the mundane to the majestic. When U.S. President Barak Obama was elected, Erick stitched a log cabin quilt with houses in the center of the blocks that faced both right and left. “Though they had different views, they were all part of a single community,” he says of the quilt’s metaphorical message. Packaging on a beer carton inspired Smokehouse Rose and old-fashioned movie tickets sparked the pattern of Chromotopia. He created Rapture in response to the countless news stories surrounding the recent Haitian earthquake and recession. “These quilts are my way of showing up in the world,” Erick says simply.

While traditional quilts inspire Erick (he employs Amish quilters to hand quilt his quilt tops), a keen understanding of color theory sets his work apart from antique quilts. “I love color and texture and I use a lot of visual trickery,” he says. “I’ll take two greens that would clash in clothing and put them side-by-side in a quilt and they vibrate. That tension gives quilts shimmer and life.”

Bringing life to quilts is the focus of Erick’s days. In his tidy home he has fabric for multiple quilts cut and stacked in orderly groups, awaiting stitching. He keeps an ever-growing list of ideas for future quilts and admits that he probably won’t live long enough to complete them all. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. “Quilting is what’s gotten me through and what gives me hope,” he says.

For more information about Erick and his quilts, along with additional photos, visit http://www.ewolfmeyerquilts.com/about.shtml.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

July 26, 2010 - Art Talk interview (scheduled recording session)

I am thrilled to announce that Bruce Carter has invited me to be a guest on his hour-long radio program, Art Talk. Art Talk is broadcast Sundays at 1:00PM on WVIK 90.3FM - Augustana Public Radio, Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. (The program follows another one of my Sunday musts - "On Being" with Krista Tippet).

My interview with Bruce will air Sunday, August 7th at 1:00PM and will thereafter be available for listening at the WVIK website for about a year. Meeting Bruce and taping the interview was so much fun! Thank you Bruce and Dave for making it all happen! Congratulations on 20 years of Art Talk, Bruce! Very impressive!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I love this work. He tells a story with each block - a story that could not be told with just a single image. Amazing...

As of yet untitled...

Above: the inspiration piece: "Sea of Japan in Winter," 1983 by Shizuko Kuroha

I have not yet titled my latest quilt in process (inspired by the Kuroha quilt above). Rather, I've had a series of title possibilities: Arab Spring > Blackout > Revolution > Juneteenth > Portmanteau. Almost done with the top, I'll have to make a final choice soon! I'm leaning strongly towards "Revolution."

This piece began when I bought a quilt book at a used book store here in Iowa City. So focused on the images, I didn't pay much attention to the written content. I later realized it was the catalog for the premiere exhibit at the
International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. (I visited the IQSC for the first time summer 2010). Of all the quilts featured, I was particularly drawn to (see above) "Sea of Japan in Winter," 1983, by Shizuko Kuroha (this link will take you to IQSC database search page for more detailed info).

I planned to make my own iteration with some of the Japanese daiwabo fabrics in my collection, but wasn't quite sure of the exact angle to cut the pieces for the block construction. Later, a co-worker gave me a book that chronicled quilt blocks from the 1930's. There I stumbled upon the block design; it was called Arabic Lattice. The name seemed particularly timely with events in the Middle East this spring, 2011. More quilt sychronicity.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Class @ Home Ec Workshop JUL 23 & 24, 2011

 Composition with Theme & Variation

Join me 12-4pm on Saturday July 23 & Sunday July 24 for a quilt design class at Home Ec Workshop. Together we'll explore working from a basic block idea, then making that block your own either through color choices and/or design modifications. There are no expectations of finished projects, rather this class is meant to provide a healthy start to a project of your own design, increasing comfort levels with breaking away from patterns and making meaningful color choices. Selection from Home Ec's marvelous array of fabric is encouraged, but also ok to bring a variety of small cuts of fabric from your home stash as well. This is about play and exploration to see where it leads you...

This class was really enjoyable - thanks to my great students - Amber, Gerri, Kirsten and Nancy! They all produced totally original ideas based on an inspiration. It was so exciting to see how each student's project was a reflection of her own individuailty.

This is a post from one of my four students in my Home Ec Workshop class on July 23 & 24. I love Kirsten's post, especially her photography! Good work, Kirsten!!

Kirsten's Creations: Quilt Inspiration: "I've been wanting to post about an inspiring experience I had a couple weekends ago. I took a class at Home Ec Workshop with Erik Wolfmeye..."

Men & the Art of Quilting, by Joe Cunningham, Fall 2010

The Quilt Life, August 2010

Architectural Digest, June 2006

American Bungalow, Spring 2001

Monday, June 6, 2011

July 11, 2011 - St. Louis Star Quilt Guild, St. Louis, MO

7:00PM - "The Road Home" presentation with Q&A session/trunk show
First Unity Church of St. Louis, 4753 Butler Hill Road, St. Louis, Missouri

Honourably to Imagine Your Self

John O'Donohue is one of my new favorite writers. Sadly, he is no longer with us, but his beautiful, thought-provoking work lives on. Here is a piece from his book Beauty I find very meaningful, particularly in my relationship with quilting.

But beauty interrupts restrictions in every place and thing. - Stephen David Ross

This is one of the sacred duties of imagination: honourably to imagine your self. The shortest distance in the world is the one between you and yourself. The space in question is tiny. Yet what goes on in this little space determines nearly everything about the kind of person you are and about the kind of life you are living. Normally, the priority in our culture is to function and do what is expected of us. So many people feel deep dissatisfaction and an acute longing for a more real life, a life that allows their souls to come to expression and to awaken; a life where they could discover a different resonance, one which echoes their heartfelt dreams and longing. For their short while on earth, most people long to have the fullest life they can. No-one wants to remain a prisoner in an unlived life. This was the intention of Jesus: 'I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.' Of the many callings in the world, the invitation to the adventure of an awakened and full life is the most exhilarating. This is the dream of every heart. Yet most of us are lost or caught in forms of life that exile us from the life we dream of. Most people long to step onto the path of creative change that would awaken their lives to beauty and passion, deepen their contentment and allow their lives to make a difference.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May 27, 2011 - Home Ec Workshop, Iowa City, IA

7:00PM - "The Road Home" presentation with Q&A session/trunk show
Home Ec Workshop, 207 N. Linn Street, Iowa City, IA

photo courtesy of Randy Wolfmeyer

Thanks to all who attended! Another full house! Special surprise guest - my cousin Randy Wolfmeyer (Platteville, Wisconsin). Was also thrilled to meet Patti Zwick, celebrated Iowa City quilter and fellow former Quincy, Illinois resident. Also met the parents of one of my favorite (formerly local) artists, Meera Gessner. I was very honored when another audience member showed me the quilt her late daughter made, stitched together and quilted with dental floss. An all-around wonderful night - only wish I'd had more time to visit personally with everyone.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 3, 2011 - Hannibal Piecemakers, Hannibal, MO

7:00PM - "The Road Home" (debut!) presentation with Q&A session/trunk show 
Park United Methodist Churh, 2335 Palmyra Rd, Hannibal, MO

With my cousin, Susan Scholz holding a quilt I made as a wedding gift for my neice, Jeny Fausset. The fabric is all hand-dyed and printed in West Branch, Iowa by artist Susan Shinnick. Native Iowa flora and fauna are featured in the designs. Shinnick mostly makes women's clothing with the fabric. The hand-quilting was done by one of the last remaining Amana (Iowa) quilters, Caroline Trumpold. Traditional Amana quilting uses embroidery thread, and quilts are typically whole cloth (no piecing, other than perhaps one or two seams to bind panels of the same fabric into one).

photos courtesy of Ellen O'Bryan

I was honored for the Hannibal, Missouri Piecemakers Quilt Guild to be my first official launch site for "The Road Home". About 70 members were in attendance, including extra special guests: Hallye Bone (St. Louis, MO), Susan Scholz (Quincy, IL), and her mother/my aunt Alice Lee Solter (LaGrange, MO).

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March 2011, Men & the Art of Quilting; Quilters Guild of Dallas, Dallas, Texas

Quilt: Sink

Exhibit: Quilters Guild of Dallas, Dallas Texas; Men & the Art of Quilting Special Exhibit

Saturday, January 1, 2011

THE GALLERY: 2010-2011

2010 - 2011
(Click on image to view larger.)

Portmanteau (aka Revolution)
93 x 93

90 x 90

Forget Me Not
88 x 88

87 x 87

Smokehaus Rose
90 x 90

Lincoln Log Cabin
93 x 93

“It is this belief in a power larger than myself and other than myself which allows me to venture into the unknown and even the unknowable.”

- Maya Angelou