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A Treasured Landscape in Oregon Becomes a Work of Art

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

Karly Hedrick (l) and Fran Willis (r) admire a quilt in progress. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

To date, the Tale of Two Rivers conservation campaign has generated an original microbrew, an annual cycling event, a paint-a-thon and a movie screening.

Now up: a modern quilting bee.

Fulfilling one aim of the Treasured Landscapes program, the project is strengthening community connections to the outdoors, specifically to two Wild & Scenic-designated Oregon rivers, the Whychus and the Metolius.

A collaboration between the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show, the National Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service, Quilt for Two Rivers brings together 20 leading Pacific Northwest fiber artists who are combining talents on a single work; a 40-foot quilt with Whychus Creek running through each individual segment.

“These are not your grandma’s quilts, they are works of modern art,” notes Ann Richardson, Executive Director of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.  “And this is a unique, inspiring way to tell the story of how salmon and steelhead are making a comeback in these important waterways.”

Jean Wells, founder of this, the world’s largest outdoor quilting festival, named her segment of the quilt “Coming Home,” honoring restoration work that is bringing back native fish to Whychus Creek.  Her project is a family endeavor:

“My son Jason took me to the magical place on Whychus that you mostly see in the piece.  Other elements come from a hike to waterfalls in the upper reach I took with my six-year-old granddaughter, Livy, who took some of the photos I used in conceptualizing the work.  My daughter Valori is going to paint steelhead in the water section of the quilt.  My dream is to see them coming home to Whychus, and having Jason be able to go fishing there.”

Quilters meet to discuss the project. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

Quilters meet to discuss the project. Photo by Maret Pajutee, USFS.

The 17-panel final masterpiece will be sold either as a complete installation or as individual quilts.  A second, smaller quilt (four panels, seven feet long) with the same theme is also in development.  Half the proceeds from sales of the quilts will go to restoration projects on the two rivers, with the other half going to the quilters.  Both quilts will be unveiled June 1, with the large work exhibited at the Sisters quilt show as well as in Portland and Tacoma, Wash.

One goal has already been met: encouraging people from different walks of life to visit outstanding natural areas they may not know about in their own back yards.

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