Quilt show spotlights campgrounds's artist community

Published on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 22:04


PLAINVILLE - The Plainville Campgrounds are hosting a one-woman quilt show by artist Arlene Merker, as well as a photography show Aug. 26 and 27 in an effort to reach out to the community.

The campgrounds, located at 320 Camp St., were once used by the Grand Army of the Republic and later became a religious retreat for the Methodist Church. Today, the tents have been built up into colorful homes, which Merker said are used by many artists and writers during the warm months. The art shows, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days, are intended to show the rest of Plainville what the area has to offer.

Merker, who lives in New York, has been coming to the campgrounds for many years.

“I had five friends here who have since passed away, but I love coming here for the community,” she said. “There are mostly writers here, but there are quite a few painters too.”

Merker has been quilting for 30 years, and she will be displaying 40 of her creations. Merker said all of her quilts are made from good quality cotton with good dye that does not wash out. She frequently works on multiple quilts at a time and recently finished one that she began 10 years ago. She keeps a graph notebook where she plans out her quilts in pen and tapes on small scrap pieces of each fabric that she plans to use.

“I like the rhythm of creating and sewing designs and patterns,” she said. “I love vibrant colors, especially blues and geometric patterns with a lot of contrast that really pop.”

Merker said that she used to travel frequently and was inspired by the geometric patterns she had seen at mosques in Istanbul. This will be her first solo show. In the past, she has shown her works at many larger shows and also creates quilts for family members. She has also made quilts for special causes.

“One quilt that will be in this show I made in memorial of children who died from AIDS at the height of the epidemic,” she said. “I made six quilts for the big quilt that they had in Washington D.C. [called The AIDS Memorial Quilt]. That exhibit traveled all over the country. I have also made quilts for women who had babies while in jail, Quilts of Valor for veterans and quilts for battered women in New York.”

Rich Bartholomew, who is on the board for the campgrounds, said that the 150th anniversary celebration of the campgrounds in 2015 was a “great success” in bringing in the community. He hopes that the art show will also accomplish that goal. Additionally, he plans to have a community tag sale in August and concerts on Labor Day.

“We are here, we are part of the community, and we would like them to know about us,” he said.

“At one time this place was a mystery,” said Merker. “People thought that we were a cult and my mother once thought that it was a colony of midgets because our houses are so small.”

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, , General News, New Britain on Wednesday, 26 July 2017 22:04. Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2017 22:07.