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Category Archive: Art

Nov 17

Quilts on beds and barns

“We Americans have adopted quilts as a symbol of what we value about
ourselves and our national history.” –From “Speaking of Quilts” by Laurel Horton

The brightly colored leaves of fall are mostly gone now on deciduous trees in Missouri, but some color remains in surprising places—on barns.

For me, it is always a pleasant surprise to drive down a rural Missouri road and unexpectedly spot a ‘barn quilt’.

If one follows an historic central Missouri trail once blazed by Daniel Boone’s sons, the Boonslick Trail, one can find an array of colorful quilt art on barns, each with spectacular patterns of color and design.

In case you have not heard of barn quilts, they are colorful, large wooden blocks that are designed, painted and hung on the sides of barns, an art trend started in Ohio and Tennessee.

I wish I had a barn because I would indeed adorn it with a barn quilt. Perhaps, a shed would do instead? At any rate, I am a new fan of barn quilts.

When I spot a barn quilt, it instantly evokes memories of my youth when we youngsters snuggled under a quilt or comforter and memories of how those quilts were made.

Quilts, as I am sure you well know, are quite time-consuming and labor intensive. They are composed of three layers of fiber that include a woven cloth top, which is a combination of colorful pieces sewn together, and a layer of cotton batting with a woven fabric backing that is often one solid color or a pattern.

These days if you don’t have time to quilt, it is nice to know that barn quilts do not require much effort. They only require that busy passersby simply pause, admire and revel in their bright colors and intricate designs.

And dear readers, there is no time like the present to take a drive in search of local barn quilts, our Missouri roadside masterpieces. You will find several in an area known as the Boonslick Trail that runs through Howard, Cooper and Saline Counties. It takes you on a scenic byway that was once a major corridor for pioneers traveling west.

Look for these barn quilts to get you started on your expedition:

–The first barn quilt on the Boonslick Trail is called the “Missouri Star.” Find this quilt at Exit 111 off Interstate 70 at the Missouri River Valley Steam Engine grounds southeast corner, in Cooper County.

–Located on Highway 240 about 5 miles south of Fayette, Missouri in Howard County, is the barn quilt pattern called “Electric Fan.”

–Called the “Bear Paw,” this barn quilt can be seen, on the east side, about a mile south of Fayette, Missouri, at 1090 Highway 240 in Howard County.

–The pattern called “Country Farm” is located west of Arrow Rock on Highway 41 toward Marshall. At Hardemann turn right (north) on Highway D. See the barn quilt after two miles on the right at 22264 Highway D-Hardemann.

–Called the “Farmer’s Daughter” because, for the last 3 generations the farm has been inherited by daughters in the family, this popular barn art can be seen at 29117 Hwy. 290, three miles east of Marshall.

I am sorry to tell you that there is one problem with barn quilt art that needs mention. Unfortunately, barns themselves are gradually disappearing from our rural landscape.
The Columbia Missourian explains that barns are nostalgic remnants of another time but are sadly dying out: “These buildings are valuable and wonderful and precious. We can’t let them die,” said Margot McMillen, a Westminster College English instructor. “An awful number of barns have disappeared, or are just falling apart.” An effort to preserve barns by adding barn art remains a work in progress in Missouri.

Barn art organizers, according to The Missourian, hope to some day match the ambitions of Tennessee, home to an 81-quilt driving tour in the Appalachian region; or Ohio, Iowa and Kentucky, which each boast more than 250 barn quilts.

Before winter sets in, I hope you take a barn quilt tour of central Missouri and enjoy the colorful autumnal glory as Nathaniel Hawthorn, novelist of the 1800s, once reminded us to do. He wrote, “I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.”

Me either. Take your camera, it’s a great photo op.

May 13

Tee-shirts tell all

The slogan on her tee-shirt declared, “High Maintenance”.

The fifty-something woman was standing in line at department store when I first saw her. She was wearing a hot-pink tee that had sparkles and rhinestones surrounding the “High Maintenance” slogan printed on the front.

I noticed her right away, and in a millisecond, I decided I liked her and that she must have a great sense of humor, or she really meant what the shirt said.

Well, it takes one to know one– the part about the great sense of humor, I mean.

Anyway, I thought this was a perfect way to let people get to know you immediately—just have your character traits printed on your shirt.

Could save single guys lots of time when they are trying to figure out the opposite sex.

Hmmm, is she high maintenance, a flirt, bossy? Hmmm.

Could help each of us get right to the heart of things with someone unfamiliar, no matter who we are.

No mistaken first impressions.

For the baby boomer generation, we find it difficult enough to just remember names and faces and why we came into a store in the first place. Character trait tee-shirts could help us sort out our first impressions while we are hunting for our keys and wondering where we left our checkbook.

Sales people, bank tellers, clerks, mechanics, nurses, or teachers could all get in the “stranger identification” act.

Wouldn’t that make life infinitely easier? Just imagine, you would know instantly whether you had a grump or a bore on your hands.

Shirt slogans could give bar tenders and fast food workers needed information when they meet customers; such as: “I really am 21” or “I am not 65 so do not even think about offering me the senior discount at McDonald’s”.

How about these tee-shirt slogans when finances are the issue: “I need a cash advance”; “I am pretending to have lots of money, but I am really living paycheck to paycheck”; “I have a boatload of money, can’t you tell”; “I never worry about money because I have plastic”; “I am constantly worried about money, health, the government, my bladder (actually, I just like to worry)”; “Grumpy Loan Officer (don’t even ask)”; or, “One good thing about having money (and by the way I have lots of it) is that it keeps my kids in touch”.

We could tell people other important things they need to know about us: “In bed by 9”; “Night Owl”; “Never go to the movies”; “I love to go to the movies”; “Once in awhile I may drink a bit too much”; “I tell long, windy stories; feel free to yawn because I won’t notice”; or “Lousy Tipper”.

“Love Cats”; “Love Dogs”; “Love Horses”; “Hate all Pets”; “ I am a magnet for all suckers wanting a favor or a handout (just look sad and I’ll give you everything I have)”;  “I don’t do housework or cook”; “Can you cook”; “Out of estrogen, but have a gun”; “Religious about golf”; “Religious and also like golf”; “Opinionated but not too particular except about my opinions”; “I’m no lawyer but I love to give advice anyway”;  “Very particular but not dogmatic in the slightest except about certain things”; “Neat Freak”; “A Complete Slob”; “Hiding wrinkles and sags with expensive skin care products”; “Veteran of minor cosmetic surgery”;  “I can’t remember what I had for breakfast”; “Tad sanctimonious but not preachy”; or “That’s it—I’m calling my Mother!”

On second thought, maybe that’s more than we want to know.