Holding a Member Quilt Showcase

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By Tamara King, Maria Cardenas and Nicole Howe of the Portland MQG

Our 2017 Programs Co-Coordinators, Maria Cardenas and Nicole Howe, had the idea of creating a showcase of our members’ quilts that would take the place of one of our monthly meetings. We didn’t want to put any style restrictions on the show, but we did want to have the show juried by non-quilt artists. We planned the event for October and announced it to our membership in March.

In order to make it a special, festive evening, we wanted to hold the showcase in a venue other than our regular monthly meeting space. Fortunately, Lagunitas Brewing Company has opened a space in Portland where they provide beer and the staffed space for free to non-profit organizations. Because the room is smaller than our regular venue, we had to make it a members-only event and require RSVP.

We put out a call early in the year for anyone with a caterer connection, and one of our members procured a generous food donation from Zupan’s Markets. We’re great believers in asking, because what’s the worst that can happen? Our members and the community come through for us every time.

We set up a showcase page on our website with all of the specifications, and illustrated it with some show and tell quilts from the past few years. We encouraged members to submit up to three quilts (though we made it clear that only one quilt per maker would be shown). We created a schematic for the room to get an idea of how many quilts we could show and what the maximum size should be. We created a form that asked for all of the relevant quilt information, plus a full shot and a close-up photo and opened submissions in July. We reminded our members to submit quilts at meetings, on social media, and via email. We submitted all entries to our jury blind. Having a non-quilt, non-PMQG jury was very important to us -- we got an unbiased result and we were not seen as judging our fellow members.

Earlier in the year, we had partnered with Art Gallery Fabrics to sponsor a Mini Quilt Challenge. We debuted the mini quilts at the showcase and announced the winners. Since our showcase was conceived as a celebration of our members’ work, we did not want it to be seen as a competition, but since the Mini Quilt Challenge was a judged activity, we decided to include a viewers’ choice award, only of the mini quilts, and we used those ballots to randomly determine door prize winners. Art Gallery, many of our local fabric and quilt shops, and several members generously provided door prizes.

We arranged with a pipe and drape company to provide, set up, and take down the pipe and drape, and with a sister guild to borrow their quilt hanging clips. We recruited volunteers to help hang and take down the show, and volunteers with food handler licenses to put out and tend to the refreshments. We created a special showcase playlist. The room was lit for a party, we were surrounded by our members’ beautiful work, and it really was a magical evening. We all agreed that it was well worth the work to put it on and we hope future Boards will make it a PMQG tradition.