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Hundreds of quilts: as wall art, table coverings and, yes, bed coverings

LOCKPORT – Quilts aren’t just for beds anymore. Stitch artists showing off their work at this year’s Kenan Center quilt show reveal a new focus on quilts as a painterly art – with caricature portraits, stained glass window trompe l’oeil and even some offbeat chicken humor.

While the 260 quilts on display range from a 120-inch king size to a foot square, most are too small for a bed and just right for a wall hanging, said Jan Jordan, co-chairwoman of “For the Love of Quilts,” the exhibit at the Kenan Arena at 195 Beattie Ave. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Sunday.

“Everybody seems to be going smaller,” she said. “Art quilts are getting very big ... Quilt shows are almost like art shows.”

Jordan spoke by phone as she walked the arena describing quilts that caught her eye. One had three older women – “Three Fairy Godmothers” – dressed up with jewels and hairdos. Flowers bordered in black gave one quilt the look of stained glass. Another of lily pads and flowers on a pond was put together after the quilter made the design from a photograph.

“She transposed it by projector on the wall and then made a quilt identical to the photo,” said Jordan of the artist.

A quilt entitled “What’s for Dinner” features panels of chickens acting out definitions of various chicken dishes: for fried chicken, a chicken sits in the sun. “Chicken Caesar” shows a chicken standing, Caesar-like, on a pedestal.

“Most of them aren’t for sale,” Jordan said of the quilts. “They’re just for people to appreciate.”

The Kenan Quilters Guild has been organizing quilt shows for about 25 years. What started out as an annual event grew so big and complex to organize that it is now held every two years.

Jordan, a pharmacist, has not yet made one big enough for a bed, but she finishes about four small ones a year. “It relaxes me,” she said. “I just love the colors.”