Spotlight: Barn quilts add to outdoor art scene in downtown Springdale

Spotlight: Barn quilts add to outdoor art scene in downtown Springdale

Clio Rom’s roots run deep in the Ozark Mountains. Her grandfather, Roy Rom, was highly regarded as a professor of horticulture at the University of Arkansas and an expert 0n the role of apples in the economy of Northwest Arkansas in the early 20th century.

But his granddaughter has found her own niche in preserving and expanding the history of Northwest Arkansas as coordinator of a new project produced by Arts One Presents. Titled The Springdale Barn Quilt Project, it debuts May 13 with a reception from 4 to 6 p.m. at Engel & Völkers Springdale, 101 W. Johnson Ave., Suite C.

Inspired by the traditional barn quilt movement, The Springdale Barn Quilt Project will add Springdale stops to the Northwest Arkansas Quilt Trail, connecting the trail from Brentwood to Bella Vista while also representing “various cultural traditions and visual styles of intersecting communities in Springdale,” Anne Jackson, executive director of AOP, says in a press release.

According to Southern Living magazine, “a barn quilt takes the concept of a quilt square, just like one you would find on a cloth quilt in your home, and re-creates it on plywood or composite aluminum. The plywood or aluminum square is then displayed on a barn or other structure for passersby to enjoy.”

Rom had seen some in rural Washington County, but she didn’t know what they were — or what to call them. And among a new group of crafter friends, she got her answer: barn quilts. The barn quilt movement can be traced to the early 2000s, when the Ohio Arts Council adapted the idea of painting messages on barns to an artform.

“As soon as you learn what they are, you see them all over; I think they’re across 43 states now,” says Rom. “I just wanted to see all the barn quilts in Northwest Arkansas, so I started plotting them on Google Earth — and I saw that Springdale didn’t have any. And thus the project was born.”

Rom had been working with AOP since January of 2021, and the timing was perfect to kick off a new visual arts project in 2022. Conversations started about how the project could represent local artists and consider the concepts of place, culture and identity in the artform, says Jackson. A committee of six downtown Springdale “stake holders” considered artists’ submissions, and three 8-by-8-foot painted wooden panels — created by four artists — will debut this weekend.

• “Stars Over the Ozarks” — By Carol Bruce, is based on her own history as a traditional quilter and the influences of her grandmothers. It will be installed on the barn at the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.

• “Sweet Home” — A collaboration between Abby Hollis and Bryce Arroyos, refers to historical crazy quilt designs and combines Hollis’ work as a fiber artist and Arroyos’ upcycling of materials into fashions as a self-taught quilter. It will hang on the side of the former First Security Bank building facing Shiloh Square.

• And “La Tusa” — By Azalia Molina, an artist originally from Honduras, combines her fine art practice with the Honduran folk tradition of a dance called “La Tusa.” It will be displayed at the corner of Emma and Holcomb streets.

Works by other artists not selected for the project will also be displayed at the Shiloh Museum in conjunction with “Ozark Home, Beyond the Frame,” a contemporary art and historical exhibition that will be split between The Medium and Shiloh Museum.

“It’s exciting to see more public art in downtown Springdale,” Jackson says. “We have incredible talent in Northwest Arkansas, and we are grateful that our partners in Springdale [are helping] us give artists these opportunities to work and display their craft. Through The Springdale Barn Quilt Project, Arts One Presents hopes to attract more visitors to downtown Springdale and highlight the work of local artists through this open-air exhibition.”

The Springdale Barn Quilt Project is supported by Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, Arkansas Arts Council, and Explore Springdale.


Springdale Barn Quilt Project

Opening Reception

WHAT — Folk music by Anthony Sutton, snacks by Shelby Lynn’s and Con Quesos, and mini barn quilt take-and-make activities for the first 100 guests.

WHEN — 4-6 p.m. May 13

WHERE — Engel & Völkers Springdale, 101 W. Johnson Ave. Suite C

COST — Free


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