My art quilts may be abstract, whimsical or impressionistic. My inspiration comes from the natural world as well as from Mexican and Native American influences. My materials of choice are often found objects and redirected fabrics from the San Francisco Design Center. Art quilts free me to play with color and texture. My technique, Scribble Quilting allows me to create movement on many of my pieces.
I owe some of my inspiration to two artists from Santa Cruz County, California. Meri Vahl, an award winning art quilter has been recognized nationally for her work. As my teacher of the fabric layering technique, she was patient and understanding of her students’ individual strengths, weaknesses and abilities. ellen edith;friend, art quilter, fabric designer and artist extraordinaire made whimsical, colorful personal quilts. Her influence lives on well beyond her life. I have great appreciation for these two local leaders of the art quilt world.
I am proud to be part of an evergrowing group of art quilters. Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) started by Yvonne Porcella, a native of Watsonville, California in 1989. It has grown to an international organization. Art quilters have transformed the three layered quilt into a 21st Century art form. I continue to explore new forms and ways of working with unusual materials on this evolving journey.
I was born and raised in Palo Alto, California. I studied sewing and clothing construction for two years in high school, I continued to sew much of my wardrobe. As a newlywed, I took my first quilting class at a neighborhood fabric store. in Huntington Beach where we were living at the time. After living and traveling in Europe for a year, my husband and I moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1980. I continued to sew clothes and make quilts for my family.I stopped counting bed quilts at 300. After teaching 30 years in Watsonville as a bilingual teacher, I retired.
In 2008, I made my first art quilt, Homage to a Dancer, reflecting my participation in Los Méxicas,the University of California,Santa Cruz ballet folklórico group. I am passionate about using repurposed materials in my art projects. Many of the materials come from the San Francisco Design Center. My most popular pieces reflect the wonder of California’s natural world.
In May of 2016, I opened a studio in the Santa Cruz Art Center, 1001 Center St. Downtown Santa Cruz. I have space to work as well as display my work. Always open on First Fridays, 5-9pm and most other days.
Award Winning Artist
Great Blue Heron at Dusk was the first art quilt entered in an art show in 2010. The following year it won a merit award at the Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont,California.
In 2013, Visions of New Mexico won third place in the Neo Membreno Vessels 2013 Show at the Western New Mexico University Museum in Silver City, New Mexico. In October, 2015, Abrazos del Alma(Hugs from the Heart),a one woman show,inspired by my love of Mexico was showcased at the Pacific International Quilt Festival at the Santa Clara Convention Center. A reprise of this show takes place at the Mountain View Center for the Perfomrming Arts Lobby Gallery, October 3-December 5, 2017. I participated in Open Studios, Santa Cruz County’s premier art tour ,October, 2016.
Green Fish Among the Kelp is included in Sandra Sider’s book, 1000 Inspirations.
Sales– Lone Tree and Apricot in Autumn sold
to Kaiser Permanente for permanent display
in their Scotts Valley, CA facility.
Santa Cruz Art League(SCAL)www.scal.org
Studio Art Quilt Associates(SAQA)www.saqa.com
Pajaro Valley Quilt Association(PVQA) www.pvqa.org
Parliamentarian(2005-2007) President(2007-2009) Secretary(2012-2013)
Contemporary Quilt and Fiber Artist(CQFA) www.cqfa.org
San Jose Quilt Museum sjquiltmuseum.org
Pajaro Valley Arts Council http://pajarovalleyartscouncil.org
New Fiber Group of Santa Cruz County
Good Times Weekly Article by Dave De Give,April,2015
Ann Baldwin May’s quilts are like abstract paintings
Adventurous and prolific, quilter Ann Baldwin May has never met a piece of fabric that didn’t excite her eye. The West Side resident first tried her hand at quilting in 2008. Several one-woman shows, many awards and 300 quilts later, May is still on a roll. Anyone who has ever experienced the tactile pleasure of piecing together and sewing fabric for a quilt knows the seduction of this craft. Working in eclectic genres, from abstract to folkloric, May designs her art quilts by sourcing remnants from fabric stores and recycling outlets and then begins to decide what works with what.
“I started out doing traditional squares, but quickly realized I wanted to do something more artistic,” says May of a recently quilted wall hanging in which green rectangles play against sunny-hued circular shapes. “I added circles, coordinated the colors, and then had fun with thread painting embellishment,” she says. “It’s all experimentation. I just start with color and then add textures.” The results are distinctive and playful.
In her most recent pieces May has moved fearlessly into abstraction. “It’s all machine quilted,” she says, turning over the pieces so I can observe the free-form shapes made by the stitching. May likes to pick up “repurposed materials from FabMo in Mountain View.” Are these wall hangings or are they quilts?, I ask of the roughly 3 by 3 1/2-foot artworks. “Technically they’re quilts,” she explains. “Because they involve three layers plus stitching.” Yet they resemble abstract paintings.
May likes to begin her quilts by assembling the bottom, inner batting, and cover layer, and then arranging the design pieces until she likes the way they look. “Then I lay a piece of Tulle netting over the entire piece, which holds everything together. I pin the layers and then do free motion quilting.” That free motion thing is what makes her work distinctive.
The results are visually exciting, the free stitching creating undulating curves and wavy arpeggios against the set patterns of the fabric. May’s Husqvarna computerized sewing machine lives in a cozy workroom off of her kitchen. “It magically adjusts to the thickness of the fabric.” Does she quilt all the time? I wonder. “If my husband’s out of town,” she says with a grin.
Admitting to having no formal art training, the Palo Alto native got a master’s in teaching Spanish at UC Irvine before moving to Santa Cruz.
Recent retirement from her 30-year bilingual teaching career in Watsonville, triggered May’s productivity. Wondering how she would stay busy, she decided to get serious about her quilts. “I really get inspired by international fabrics,” she confesses, showing me some colorful wall hangings richly appliqued with Mexican beads, jewelry, braid, and antique rebozo insets.
In addition to her “underwater fantasy style” and sculptural Mexican-themed pieces, May is intent on perfecting her abstract designs. “I want to create a recognizable style,” she reveals. “To me this is just so much fun, but I am challenging myself.” She’s challenged her way into a one-woman show at next October’s Pacific International Quilt Festival in the Santa Clara Convention Center.
Giving me a tour of some of her styles, May notes that “people seem drawn to all my styles. That gives me confidence.” She also confesses, pointing to quite a few examples, “I’m into lizards.”
May will show her work at the Pajaro Valley Quilt Association annual show on
Feb. 21-22,2015. “The guild is a great place to meet other quilters. They have over 300 members in this county and all levels of quilters are welcome.” Is it all quilting all the time? “I did take a break at Christmastime.”
The Pajaro Valley Quilt Association show is from 10-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21 and 10-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds. Info at pvqa.org. PHOTO: Quilter Ann Baldwin May departed from traditional squares to experiment with color, texture and outside-of-the-box shapes. CHIP SCHEUER