Contemporary Art Quilts at the James J. Hill House

James J. Hill, railway magnate, completed his showcase house in St. Paul, MN in 1891. One reason he built it is to house his very impressive art collection; on a previous tour, a guide told us that the value of the art was worth more than the house — and this is a house of 36,000 square feet. The Minnesota Historical Society owns the house, and offers tours. I visited with a friend, to see this exhibit. We had both toured before, so opted to just see the art exhibit.

This is the entry hallway (we are restricted to the roped off area I’m in for the limited gallery access):

The room to my immediate right is this, where tours start:

And the room we came to see, the Art Room:

Picture this room where the floors are literally packed to the ceiling with art, and sculptures in the center. The bars are original. There’s natural light with the ingenious shade above, and opposite the fireplace is the organ, added later:

On to the quilts! Below are my favorites. The first is Statue of Liberty Commemorative Quilt (1986), made by Carol Wagner of Roseville, MN. It won the Minnesota state prize at a quit show in honor of the Statue of Liberty’s centennial. The background quilting is names of women to remember.

The next is Minnesota Crazy (1988) by Jan Myers-Newbury of Pittsburgh.

This is Motherwort (1986) by Clare Dagerness of Moorehead, MN.

This silk quilt is Twentieth Century Silkie (2000) by Claudia Clark Myers of Duluth, MN.

This unfinished quilt is Mary’s Lake (1935) by Samuel Isaac Myers of Park Rapids, MN. Look at the detail shot!

Here’s Autumn Glow (2002), with fabric by Diane Bartels of Mound, MN, and the quilt by Sue Stein of White Bear Lake, MN.

Rosemary Root of South St. Paul made The Low That Brought the Snow and Cold to Minnesota (1984).

Different Views, Same Situation/Tree Series #9 (1995) is made by Nancy Gipple of Afton, MN.

I’m sorry for the odd angle, but this was the only way I didn’t get excessive reflections and glare; this is Earl Grey’s Quilt (1999) by Erica Spitzter Rasmussen of St. Paul, whom I met and whose work I enjoyed at the American Crafts Council, blog posts here and here. This quilt is Unryu rice paper and Earl Grey tea bags.

And the quilt that drove my visit, Minnesota Inspired (2010), created by Nancy Eha of Stillwater, MN specifically for this exhibition.

And to wrap up, a few detail shots of the Art Room for inspiration — the mosaic around the fireplace and heating system vents.

If you’re interested in seeing more images of the house, the Historical Society has a Flickr set.

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