YoYos and Half Squares, Contemporary California Quilts

The YoYos and Half Squares, Contemporary California Quilts exhibition at the Oakland Museum, are all quilts from Eli Leon‘s collection. This exhibition highlights the work of Angie Tobias, Arbie Williams, Mattie Pickett, Rosie Lee Tompkins, and Sherry Byrd.

Oakland based collector Eli Leon acquired many of their quilt tops and then turned to a network of local craftswomen including Irene Bankhead, Willia Ette Graham, and others to quilt the tops to backings. Leon’s relationship with these makers is central to the complicated and fascinating story of how these quilts came to be as objects and a collection.

“Looking at these 20 quilts is like entering a different world—one that is asymmetrical and tactile. We hope the exhibition alters your idea of what a quilt can be.” — Carin Adams, Associate Curator of Art and Material Culture

“Highlighting the stunning creations of five quilters from the Oakland-based Eli Leon collection, Yo-Yos & Half Squares: Contemporary California Quilts presents 20 quilts that defy standard expectations, dating from the late 1980s and early 2000s. Featuring complex asymmetrical patterns, unusual materials and an improvisational creation process, these quilts are unique artworks that expand the notions of craft through exuberant artistic expression…. Although the quilts are highly distinct from each other, the exhibition reflects the makers’ individual interests, skills and talents and Eli Leon’s vision and unique story as a collector, beginning in the early 1970s and with a large focus on African-American quilters”.

Enjoy!

Double Strip. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham and Irene Bankhead, quilters. Collection of Eli Leon

Double Strip. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham and Irene Bankhead, quilters. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Double Strip. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham and Irene Bankhead, quilters. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Double Strip. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham and Irene Bankhead, quilters. Collection of Eli Leon

Hit and Miss Strip, Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Hit and Miss Strip, Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Hit and Miss Strip, Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Hit and Miss Strip, Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Checker Board Green and Black. Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer.Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Checker Board Green and Black. Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer.Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Checker Board Green and Black. Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer.Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Checker Board Green and Black. Rosie Lee Tompkins, piecer.Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Texas Star. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Texas Star. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Texas Star. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Texas Star. Mattie Pickett, piecer, Willia Ette Graham, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Double Medallion, Sherry Byrd, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Double Medallion, Sherry Byrd, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Double Medallion, Sherry Byrd, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Double Medallion, Sherry Byrd, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Roman Stripe Variations. Pieced by Sherry Byrd, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Jonnie Wade. Collection of Eli Leon

Roman Stripe Variations. Pieced by Sherry Byrd, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Jonnie Wade. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Roman Stripe Variations. Pieced by Sherry Byrd, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Jonnie Wade.

Roman Stripe Variations. Pieced by Sherry Byrd, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Jonnie Wade. Collection of Eli Leon

Pittsburgh Stealers. Angie Tobias, piecer and quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Pittsburgh Stealers. Angie Tobias, piecer and quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Angie Tobias, piecer and quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Pittsburgh Stealers, Angie Tobias, piecer and quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Half-squares Put-together. Rosie Lee Tompkins, Piecer, Irene Bankhead. Collection of Eli Leon.

Half-squares Put-together. Rosie Lee Tompkins, Piecer, Irene Bankhead. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Half-squares Put-together. Rosie Lee Tompkins, Piecer, Irene Bankhead. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Half-squares Put-together. Rosie Lee Tompkins, Piecer, Irene Bankhead. Collection of Eli Leon

Brass Buttons. Arbie Williams, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Brass Buttons. Arbie Williams, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Brass Buttons. Arbie Williams, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Brass Buttons. Arbie Williams, piecer, Irene Bankhead, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon

Mamaloo. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Johnnie Eade. Collection of Eli Leon

Mamaloo. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Johnnie Eade. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Mamaloo. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Johnnie Eade. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Mamaloo. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham and Johnnie Eade. Collection of Eli Leon

Swing Dinger. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Swing Dinger. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Swing Dinger. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Swing Dinger. Pieced by Arbie Williams, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Four Patch Half Square Strip. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead.

Four Patch Half Square Strip. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead.

Detail of Four Patch Half Square Strip. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead

Four Patch Half Square Strip. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead.

A Memory by Angie Tobias. Collection of Eli Leon.

A Memory by Angie Tobias. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of A Memory. by Angie Tobias. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of A Memory. by Angie Tobias. Collection of Eli Leon.

Black yo-yos on green hanging and 17 Patches. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead.Collection of Eli Leon

Black yo-yos on green hanging and 17 Patches. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead.Collection of Eli Leon.

Wall Piece, pieced by Rosie Lee Timpkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead. Colleciton of Eli Leon

Wall Piece, pieced by Rosie Lee Timpkins, quilted by Irene Bankhead. Colleciton of Eli Leon.

Strip. Pieced by Angie Tobias, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Strip. Pieced by Angie Tobias, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Strip. Pieced by Angie Tobias, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Detail of Strip. Pieced by Angie Tobias, quilted by Willia Ette Graham. Collection of Eli Leon

Chair with Embroidery and Applique. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins. Collection of Eli Leon.

Chair with Embroidery and Applique. Pieced by Rosie Lee Tompkins. Collection of Eli Leon.

Unfinished by Rosie Lee Tompkins, Collection of Eli Leon.

Unfinished by Rosie Lee Tompkins, Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Unfinished by Rosie Lee Tompkins, Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Unfinished by Rosie Lee Tompkins, Collection of Eli Leon.

Benjamin Leon Commemorative Quilt. Eli Leon, designer and piecer, Esther Foss, piecer, Helen Brodfield, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Benjamin Leon Commemorative Quilt. Eli Leon, designer and piecer, Esther Foss, piecer, Helen Brodfield, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Benjamin Leon Commemorative Quilt. Eli Leon, designer and piecer, Esther Foss, piecer, Helen Brodfield, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

Detail of Benjamin Leon Commemorative Quilt. Eli Leon, designer and piecer, Esther Foss, piecer, Helen Brodfield, quilter. Collection of Eli Leon.

3 thoughts on “YoYos and Half Squares, Contemporary California Quilts

  1. A fascinating, and for me, challenging show. I’m still trying to sort out my reactions, and how they will affect my quilting. Thanks for getting good pictures of the quilts – the lighting was pretty difficult. With no exhibit catalog, this is probably the best documentation this show will get.

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      • Carol…you have done an excellent job of capturing the beauty of these wonderful quilts.

        Yes Eli has already documented my two quilts (Double Medallion and Roman Stripe) in his writings. I’m pretty sure the other quilts should probably be covered also in some form or fashion ,as many of those quilters were a part of Eli’s wonderful collection long before me and my family were included in it.

        I am especially impressed with the exceptional closeup details of my own two quilts, , ( Sherry Byrd Quilts). I’ve never seen them featured as beautifully an magnificantly as you have done here on this site. I absolutely fell head over heels in love with the photos and close up details. Great Job!!!

        Would you , PLEASE, grant me permission to use copies of the photos of my two quilts in connection with my portfolio and writings on me and my family in the future. Listed below are links that will allow you to visit my blog to view some posts I have already created about our family history and quilts.

        I would be so very appreciative of any consideration and kindnesses you might extend to me on this matter. No photos I have seen, as of yet, of these two quilts are as beautifully done as the ones you have taken. I truly and sincerely mean this from the bottom of my heart. Thank You.

        Looking forward to hearing from you

        Sincerely,
        Sherry Ann.

        http://quiltstoriesbysherryann.blogspot.com/p/eli-leon-collection-of-titus-family.html

        http://quiltstoriesbysherryann.blogspot.com/p/homegrown-scrapbook-of-memories-and.html

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