Austin’s longest-running quilt show returns Sept. 28-30 with mini quilts, rainbows of color

Quilters and sewing nerds are all around you.

Sometimes, they look like the grandmothers and mothers who might have taught you to sew a long time ago, but increasingly, they look like men and young people and punk rockers and people who also run marathons on the weekend.

I’m one of those quilt fans who looks forward to the annual shows that bring together the country’s best quilters. (You should have seen how excited I was to see the Houston International Quilt Show a few years ago.) Austin has hosted a number of large quilt shows in the past few years, including several Modern Quilt Guild’s international QuiltCon shows, but the Capital of Texas QuiltFest is the longest-running quilt show in Austin.

RELATED: Austin-area quilt bees, shows celebrate traditional, modern quilting

Hosted by the Austin Area Quilt Guild, the show has taken place every other year since 1980, and the event returns to the Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, on Sept. 28-30.

The theme this year is “World of Color,” and you can see the more than 350 quilts on display — and the quilting, fabric and sewing vendor booths, as well as live demonstrations  — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

This year, they also have a special exhibit featuring 46 miniature quilts that are also competing for prizes. Tickets cost $10 online and $10 at the door. Children 12 and under are free.

From a release:

Through the Capital of Texas QuiltFest, AAQG is able to share its mission (preserving the art form and heritage of quilting and promoting excellence and education in quilt-making) with the greater community around us. Through the show, we share our art medium with others and widen their horizons to appreciate quilts in new and unexpected ways.

By displaying these quilts for the public to view and enjoy as well as conducting live demonstrations of various quilting techniques, the AAQG is fostering growth and appreciation of this art form. Visitors will find that quilts aren’t just something made for the bed anymore. They find themselves astonished by the artistry of these quilts. Our members come from diverse cultural backgrounds, and those themes can be seen in their displayed quilts. There is truly something for everyone to appreciate and enjoy at the QuiltFest.

Here are some of the quilts that will be on display this year. You can find out more about the show at

Six reasons to attend this weekend’s International Quilt Festival in Houston

Think quilts are boring?

“Million to One” and “Samuelsaurus Rex” by Susan Carlson, on display at the 2016 Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Think again, arts lovers.

Unless you’ve attended a show like this weekend’s Houston International Quilt Festival, you probably haven’t seen what modern day quilt makers can do with fabric and thread.

This weekend, hundreds of the most amazing quilts you’ve ever seen will be on display at Houston’s quilt show, one of the largest gatherings of its kind in the world. I attended for the first time last year and was blown away by the pieces on display. We met quilters from all over the world who were creating some seriously jaw-dropping pieces of art.

“Crocodylus Smylus” by Susan Carlson was one of the biggest hits at last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Just in case you need an excuse to head to Houston this weekend for the festival, here are six of them:

1) Quilts are amazing. No really. Quilts. Are. Amazing. If you think you have a notion of what a quilt is, this show will redefine whatever that definition is.

“Lone Star Explores Space” by Peter Hayward  Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

2) Quilts are modern art. Modern and contemporary quilts were what hooked me on quilts in the first place, and although this is a show that encompasses many different quilting styles, you’ll find plenty of pieces that belong in the Houston Museum of Fine Art.

“Polychromatic Predilection” by Judy Coates Perez will be on display at this year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

3) Quilts are old. For as long as America has been a country, Americans have been sewing together scrapes of fabric to make quilts. Quilt historians will tell you that you can learn a lot about the country through these pieces of folk art, and the Houston quilt show always has a historical exhibit. This year, one of them is called “Quilts 1650-1850: From ‘Broderie’ to ‘Broderie Perse’.” Last year, we saw giant quilts from the 1800s that made you wonder how people sewed such large pieces by hand.

“I Am the Face of Rescue” by Michelle Jackson Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

4) Quilts are activism. Every quilt show I’ve ever been to has at least one shocker. I’ve seen quilts that say “(Expletive) cancer” and another that was an American flag made out of guns. This year, the Houston Quilt Festival will feature Jeanne Hewell-Chambers’ THE 70,273 PROJECT, which refers to the number of disabled people killed by the Nazi regime.

’Murica” by Kristin La Flamme. This quilt stood out at last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

5) Support Houston after Harvey. Even with the Astros in the World Series, it’s been a tough year for Houston, but that won’t stop thousands of people from around the world from attending this quilt show and spending money in a city that could use the bump in tourism.

Hillary Bas made this quilt that will be on display at the 2017 Houston Quilt Festival. Contributed by the Houston Quilt Festival.

6) Find other fabric arts nerds. Maybe you like to knit or crochet or sew baby clothes. Maybe you’re into batik or tie dye. The market area of the Houston Quilt Festival abounds with fabric and craft vendors, as well as people who specialize in vintage fabrics and quilts, and it’s fun to stroll through the aisles to find the new ways that people are making cool stuff from fabric and thread.

Can’t make it to Houston this weekend? The folks who put on the quilt show also run the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, which is open year round. They rotate the quilts on display several times a year, and every time I’ve been, I find quilts so stunning them stop me in my tracks.

“Twelve Dozen” by Timna Tarr was a highlight of last year’s Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
“The Pearl Hunter” by Elizabeth Budd was featured at the 2016 Houston Quilt Festival. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman



Studio 54klift party for Forklift Danceworks rescheduled for Sept. 22

Ready for a Studio 54-inspired dance party?

Forklift Danceworks is hosting a Studio 54-inspired dance party fundraiser on August 26. Contributed by Forklift Danceworks

Forklift Danceworks, which recently finished the first round of its “My Park, My Pool, My City” performances at Bartholomew Pool, is hosting a fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Gather, 5540 N. Lamar Blvd., that is inspired by the famed NYC club, Studio 54. (Note, this event was postponed in August due to Harvey but now has a new date — Sept. 22.)

RELATED: Listen to Forklift Danceworks’ founder Allison Orr on the “I Love You So Much” podcast

Attendees at last year’s Studio 54klift. Contributed by Forklift Danceworks

Studio 54klift dance party takes place from 8 p.m. to midnight, and it starts with a VIP hour with music by DJ Triple C, appetizers and signature cocktails by Steven Robbins of Half Step.

At 9 p.m., the general admission party starts with MC Tigre Liu, music by DJ Mahaelani, a silent auction and raffle and an open bar with late night snacks. VIP tickets cost $100, and general admission costs $75, and all the money goes to supporting Forklift’s programs, which are free and open to the public. You can buy tickets and find out more here.

A note: The organizers still need a few volunteers for the event, which you can sign up for here.


Think you can name that song? Not faster than Austin’s music memory students

Naming songs on the radio is a fun game for long road trips, but what about classical music from 200 years ago?

Debbie Tannert, seen here with her music memory students from the 2015-2016 season, is the granddaughter of Malcolm Gregory. In 2016, she retired from Mills Elementary after 30 years of teaching music, just like her mother, Mollie Gregory Tower. Photo contributed by Mollie Tower.

That’s the challenge for thousands of elementary and middle school students across Texas who participate in the music memory program. It’s a UIL-approved contest, so every year, the best students compete on teams at an annual citywide event.

The history of these performances — usually from a live orchestra in a public place where community members gather to watch — started 101 years ago in New Jersey and has a long history in Austin.

READ MORE: For 100 years, music memory classes have taught more than listening 

This year’s big AISD music memory contest returns on Saturday at the AISD Performing Arts Center. There are two rounds of the competition, one at 9 a.m. and another at noon. The event is free and open to the public.

After last year’s music memory contest (my son was a first-time competitor), I was so moved by the experience (a live orchestra of high school students! playing for elementary students who can name a song after hearing just three seconds of it!) and story behind the family who revived it after a decades-long absence that I wrote a story about it later that summer.

You’ll be sure that members of Malcolm Gregory’s family will be there to watch his love of music pass on to yet another generation of careful music listeners. Here’s a glimpse into their story:

A book belonging to Malcolm Gregory from 1923 on the Music Memory Contest which he participated in during the early 1920’s copied in Austin, Texas, on Monday, June 6, 2016. Malcolm Gregory first participated in the Austin ISD’s Music Memory Contest in the 1920’s. The family has helped keep that program alive and successful. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN


June 6, 2016- A copy of a circa 1920’s photograph of the Music Memory Contest trophy made in Austin, Texas, on Monday, June 6, 2016. Malcolm Gregory first participated in the Austin ISD’s Music Memory Contest in the 1920’s. The family has helped keep that program alive and successful. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN
June 6, 2016- Debbie Tannert, her daughter, Christina Tannert, Mollie Gregory Tower, and Peggy Gregory Brunner, left to right, pose for a portrait holding a Music Memory Contest trophy dated 1921 in Austin, Texas, on Monday, June 6, 2016. Malcolm Gregory Mollie and Peggy’s father, Debbie’s grandfather and Christina’s great grandfather, first participated in the Austin ISD’s Music Memory Contest in the 1920’s. The family has helped keep that program alive and successful. RODOLFO GONZALEZ / AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN


Mollie Gregory Tower, the daughter of Malcolm Gregory, who first fell in love with music contests as a boy in the 1920s. She now runs a music memory contest that writes curriculum to teach listening skills to young people. This is the list of UIL-chosen material for this year’s music memory contest, which takes place on Saturday at the AISD Performing Arts Center. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Remember the trash truck dance? Forklift Danceworks’ next performance will make a splash

Remember when Austin’s garbage collectors were the star of the city’s hottest dance performance?

In 2009, Forklift Danceworks founder Allison Orr debuted Trash Dance, where more than a dozen trash trucks — and the men and women who operate them — were the stars of a choreographed piece that they performed on the old airport tarmac at Mueller. (That performance was the subject of a documentary by Andrew Garrison that premiered at SXSW in 2012.)

READ: ‘Dance’ explores art of everyday movement 

Last year, Forklift turned their attention to the Goodwill headquarters in East Austin, where Krissie Marty choreographed an immersive performance piece with dozens of Goodwill workers and the thousands of thousands of pounds of unwanted goods they work with every day. (Missed it? It was amazing. I didn’t get to see Trash Dance, but I saw Re Source, and it was incredible.)

Today, Forklift Danceworks announced the next project: My Park, My Pool, My City, a three-year collaboration with the Austin’s Parks & Recreation Aquatics Team that will highlight the importance of neighborhood pools in East Austin.

Each summer, starting in July, Forklift will feature the pool employees and residents in a performance that — judging by the long list of Orr’s previous work — will be unforgettable.

The first one will take place at Windsor Park’s Bartholomew Pool. Tickets aren’t yet available, but Forklift is hosting a Kickstarter through the month of February.

Forklift Danceworks’ upcoming performance won’t look like this video of synchronized pizza divers, but it will most definitely take place at a pool. Gif from

From the release:

My Park, My Pool, My City is a multi-year residency led by Forklift Danceworks in partnership with Austin’s Parks & Recreation (PARD)/ Aquatics Program. Conceived with PARD leadership to address the complex issues confronting Austin’s aquatic systems, this 3-year residency will utilize arts-based engagement and collaborative performances to foster dialogue between pool users, community stakeholders, and PARD staff in three different East Austin neighborhoods.
As PARD begins the rollout of a new Aquatics Master Plan for the City of Austin, the community faces a number of impending challenges including neighborhood resistance, extreme fiscal limitations, and issues of equity in access dictated by transportation. Forklift Danceworks recognizes the magnitude of these challenges as well as the often intense and emotional responses of residents to ideas about changes that might happen in their neighborhoods. On both sides there is a lack of understanding of the others’ perspectives, experiences, and motivations. The arts can take a role in helping to mediate and bridge these divides in understanding.
Harnessing the power of the arts to address these complex local issues, My Park, My Pool, My City will utilize Forklift Danceworks’ community-based creative process to activate existing community networks–of individuals, community organizers, community groups, PARD staff, and municipal leaders–towards the goal of creating shared understanding of, and finding creative solutions to, neighborhood-level concerns and PARD challenges related to the aquatics system.
Each year for three years, project activities will center on one specific East Austin neighborhood. In addition to creating new original performances, we’ll host town hall gatherings, community workshops, documentary film screenings, and—of course—pool parties leading up to and following each show.