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In Stitches: Who knew quilts could be so Freudian?

Blanket Statements


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IN ITS patchwork downtown heart, San Jose harbors the oldest quilt museum in the United States. The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles celebrates its 25th anniversary starting Nov. 16, and one quilt selected from each year of its acquisitions will be showcased.

In the museum's press release dated Aug. 19, 2002, Biter could not help but laugh at an inadvertent typographic error that even the most kindhearted soul would have to share with the public at large. The press release contained--not once, but twice--the following sentence describing the Quilt Museum's history: "The museum was founded in 1977 as the first museum in the nation to focus on the guilt."

Upon reading this, Biter hazily recalled a quote from Milton's Paradise Lost: "Satan had no answer, but stood struck with guilt of his own sin."

Since "g" is nowhere near "q" on the computer keyboard, Biter wondered what possible Freudian slip this typo might represent or what possible Jungian analysis might be necessary. Is the museum feeling guilty for some reason? Does it feel ignored? Does it fear death? What is going on in its personal and collective unconscious? Could it be abaissement du niveau mental, French psychologist Pierre Janet's term, elaborated by Jung, for a lowering of attention or consciousness often observed just before creative work or during those incubation periods when the unconscious prepares a new stage of growth? Or maybe the "q" key just didn't work that day.

In any event, we just had to ask Victoria Kirby, who runs the museum's public relations firm. She replied, "The museum is guilty of nothing except helping to promote the quilt revival and the birth of the contemporary quilt movement in this country during the past 25 years! Also, through its exhibits, the museum has demonstrated that quilts are works of art as well as craft."

This is true. The Museum of Quilts & Textiles has been around for a quarter of a century now (in a few different locations), although many people in San Jose don't even know what it is, which is sad, because it's one of only three museums of its kind in the country. And after 25 years, many people still don't take the museum seriously.

On Oct. 17--the third Thursday of the month, when local galleries remain open through the evening in order to incite gallery walks and the likes thereof--Two Fish Design booked local musicians in certain galleries to help arouse the public's interest. As crazy as it sounds, acoustic guitarist Ike Cosse, armed with harmonica and tambourine, played the blues in Paseo de San Antonio in front of the Quilt Museum, and a sanctimonious neighbor called the cops to stop his performance. No, we're not making this up--an acoustic guitarist performing at a quilt museum (can you imagine a less provoking situation?) was shut down in San Jose, Calif.

Biter found this to be quite a double whammy. Our tax dollars are paying for this musician to be out there--because it's part of the Redevelopment Agency's effort to enliven downtown--and at the same time, our tax dollars are paying for the police to come shut him down. Who is the guilty party here? The Quilt Museum? The guitarist? The self-righteous wannabe-suburban neighbor who called the fuzz? Maybe San Jose really does need a guilt museum.

All guilt aside, the museum is kicking off its 25th anniversary celebration with its ninth annual fundraising auction on Nov. 9, from 6:30pm to 10pm and, as Biter writes this, the public may see the items for auction on display at the museum. Items for auction include the work of well-known contemporary textile artists, quilt makers and fiber artists from across the country. The auction will also offer a large assortment of books, dolls, wearable art, holiday gifts, objets d'art and children's items, as well as get-away weekend packages, quilt software, CDs and gift certificates from local merchants. A Meet-the-Artists Auction Preview Party also takes place Friday (Nov. 1), 6pm-8pm, at 110 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose. Biter's verdict? Not guilty.

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From the October 31-November 6, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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