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New York Beauty Quilts at San José Quilt Museum

New York Beauty Quilts at San José Quilt Museum

By Janelle Cahoon, Quiltcentric

Approximately 30 stunning New York Beauty quilts are on display in a new exhibition at the San José Museum of Quilts and Textiles, Collecting New York Beauty Quilts:  Bill Volckening’s Passion, running from now through Oct. 27, 2013.  If you have the chance to attend, you should – these quilts are the kind of masterpieces we very rarely get to see in person.

Freelance photographer Bill Volckening of Portland, Oregon is the owner of these magnificent quilts.  He has been collecting examples of New York Beauty quilts for the last 24 years, and this exhibition includes a selection of his quilts made between 1850 and 2012, including examples from every decade during that period, along with collected patterns and ephemera.

I had the opportunity to ask Bill why he was so drawn to this particular pattern and he replied, “The beauty, complexity and graphic quality was what initially caught my eye, but later I realized it was a rare design and the history was fascinating.  Once I started to learn about the history, I noticed the quilts were beginning to reveal the timeline and the history.  From that point forward, I set out to assemble a collection that would illustrate the history.”

Bill Volckening’s Facebook page is here  and on it he has a photo gallery of many of these quilts that “friends” can see.

The Museum website  says, “The exhibit traces the life story of this quilt block and a collector’s singular pursuit, passion and research of quilts made with the graphic and decorative pattern.”

Beyond that, this is the kind of exhibition that awes and inspires. The New York Beauty has always been a pattern attempted only by the most expert and confident quilters, and the quilts displayed here represent truly dazzling examples.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see them!


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