People with great talent have always intimidated me a bit. In my own life, I’ve searched for that speck of talent that I could exploit into a great hobby or career. My folks spent hundreds of dollars and years of toting me around to music lessons, hoping that my flying fingers would dazzle accordion lovers worldwide. Mediocre at best. Organ lessons? Even worse. Hundreds of dollars on camera/darkroom equipment produced no evidence of hidden bits of talent. I even took a floorcloth painting class, hoping to find my inner muse. Does this look like talent to you? Uh, probably not. (I called it the Flying Bagel).So, I’m in awe of the talent displayed here in town this week at the American Quilting Society show. Caroline and I visited this group’s show in Phoenix in February, and it was my first experience with textiles on this level. We went again to check out the Grand Rapids show, which was even better. Why?
The highlight of the show is the first US display of the Quilt of Belonging, a massive tapestry (120 feet long, nearly 11 feet high). Canada’s rich cultural heritage is represented by each of the 263 blocks, depicting a country, or one of the Canadian aboriginal groups that comprise Canada today. Designed and/or executed by a person of that heritage, the quilt is a fascinating geography and anthropology lesson. For example, the block from Central African Republic is composed of actual butterfly wings. Caribou hide is the base for the square of the Inuvialuit. Some of my favorite panels from this amazing project are are in the slideshow. Sadly, many of the photos I took were too poor to post.
Other quilts in the show are a mixture of traditional and modern styles. The artistry of these quilters, and sheer volume of fabrics, techniques, and styles is amazing. One last little note. The bike rack outside the arena where the exhibit was held, has a little textile project of its own. Sadly, I parked my bike around the corner, so I didn’t get to use the bike rack koozie.We’re beginning to pack for a two-month camping trip. Back into the wilderness. Hooray!
1200 boats, 1500 rowers. Four days of racing in Grand Rapids on the Grand River. That’s what happened here this past weekend in the USRowing Masters National Championships. What a sight!Having been gone for the past week, the fact that this interesting event was being held in our city over the weekend escaped our notice. What a screwup it would have been to have missed this fabulous scene. Colorful, sleek racing shells with one, two, four, or eight rowers. Superfit men and women of all ages from all over the US and Canada, all with shoulders indicating serious dedication to training. Approximately 140 clubs were represented.Interesting fact: The Detroit Rowing Club is the oldest rowing club in the US, having been established 175 years ago! Go, Motown!
I won’t try to explain this racing to you, since nearly all my knowledge comes from the book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown. If you have a speck of interest in this topic at all, this is a fascinating book. I’m a big fan of the genre of epic struggles, and this was right up my alley.
We caught a glimpse of the action on Saturday, as we passed by the area on our bikes. John and I rode back on Sunday morning to hang out and catch a bit more of the racing. It appears that a USRowing Master is anyone over the age of 27. We watched one race where the participants were 75-80 and 80+. Amazing. Some of the tropies looked as though they had been changing hands for years.There were classifications by number of rowers, age, and weight. There are teams with coxswains (either fore or aft), and teams without. Altogether, there were dozens of races – qualifications and final heats being started every four minutes over a couple of days! It as a super-impressive organizational feat.
The Beer City Regatta seemed to be a huge success. Good weather, facilities, and great beer contributed to the big smiles we saw. Here are a few more random shots – sure wished I had a big camera with a long lens!This wooden shell was the only one of its type that we saw, and it was a beauty! It got admiring glances and caresses from all.Check out the kid reading the Harry Potter book – oblivious to all the commotion going on around him at the table where paddles were being ordered.Saw this object abandoned in a bush as we were leaving the Park.And, guess who else is in town this month? Story Corps!