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Thread: mrs rose and her 651 quilts from the NY Times

  1. #1
    Senior Member Hosta's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    North Ridgeville, Ohio
    Finally, Mrs. Rose (and the Public) Can See All Her Quilts

    The first thing that Joanna S. Rose said was, “I’m not a collector.”

    It was an interesting way to begin a conversation about 651 red-and-white quilts that she has — what? — amassed since the late 1950s.

    “We used to say I’m an accumulator,” said Mrs. Rose, who was the longtime chairwoman of Partisan Review magazine, “but I’m a treasure hunter. A collector is always bettering what he has. I only have accumulations of things.”

    Six hundred fifty-one quilts: If laid end to end down Park Avenue, they would go from the Park Avenue Armory, between East 66th and East 67th Streets, to at least the old New York Central building at East 46th Street, and probably on into Grand Central Terminal. (They are not all the same length, so this kind of back-of-the-envelope calculation can go only so far.)

    It turns out that Mrs. Rose has never seen them all at once. But now she will, and so will lots of other people. From Friday through Wednesday, all 651 will be displayed, not stretched down the avenue but inside the armory. The exhibition — note that word — is coordinated by the American Folk Art Museum.

    Clearly, Mrs. Rose had a hand in the preparations, from interviewing design firms that could hang the quilts in the armory to writing part of the full-color brochure. Only once in the brochure is there a mention of “Mrs. Rose’s collection,” and not in the part she wrote.

    The brochure refers to only 650 quilts. No. 651 made it into the exhibition when Mrs. Rose looked at the design for the display and said, “You’re missing a quilt.” She was thinking of a favorite that bears the Lord’s Prayer. There was a search. It turned up in a closet.

    And it was Mrs. Rose who suggested the title of the exhibition: “Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts.” She said the inspiration was a line from Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”:

    Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
    Her infinite variety …

    So the quilts’ appeal is that they have retained their “infinite variety.” They have not turned “stale” with age.

    The armory display was a birthday present for, and from, Mrs. Rose, who turned 80 several months ago. “My husband asked me what I wanted,” she said, referring to her husband, Daniel, the chairman of Rose Associates, a real estate development company. “I told him, two things: something I had never seen before, and a gift for New York City. I thought, one thing I’ve never seen is these quilts all at once.”

    Mrs. Rose said she had no idea she had so many. “Someone asked, and I said, ‘Maybe 70,’ ” she said. “Somebody took pictures of them, and I was shocked to realize how many there were.”

    The armory was the only place she could think of that could hold them all — specifically, the 55,000-square-foot drill hall, the eight-story home to antiques shows, art fairs and birthday galas for the likes of Brooke Astor when she was alive. Mrs. Rose’s family arranged a donation so that admission would be free for the six days of the exhibition.

    When Mrs. Rose began buying quilts, they were selling for $5 or $10 apiece: “They were undervalued,” she said. “Gradually, quilts that cost me $5 or $10 went up to $15 or $20 and then $50. When they got to $150, you had to think twice.”

    Before long, each purchase was a test of her visual memory. “I’d see a quilt and I’d think, ‘I don’t have that pattern,’ ” she said. She did not have a computerized index, or even photographs, and the quilts were stowed in a big cedar closet most of the time.

    “I never checked to see if I had a pattern before I bought a quilt,” she said.

    A couple of minutes later, an e-mail arrived with an offer of a quilt for sale.

    She looked at the photograph and gave the word: yes. The accumulating continues.

    to see pics go to Park Ave Armory.com

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Martinsburg, WV
    WOW.......That is all's I can say. WOW!!!!!!!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Candy Apple Quilts's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    I can't begin to imagine where I would keep 651 quilts! That's amazing!

  4. #4
    Super Member quiltmaker's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    In Hiding
    Hosta, thank you for an amazing story!

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Don't you love Mrs. Rose and her amazing accumulation of red and white quilts. Thank you for sharing these anecdotes.

  6. #6
    Senior Member sassyg's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Stone Mountain Ga
    That's amzing, thanks for sharing. :)

  7. #7
    Super Member patchsamkim's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Fox Valley Wisconsin
    I sure would love to be able to go and see her quilts in person...incredible collection!!!

  8. #8
    Super Member dakotamaid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    South central Nebraska, US
    Can someone give me a link. I can't seem to get it to come with www.parkavearmory.com

    For those having trouble here is the link:


    Guess I missed the March 24th preview!

  9. #9
    Super Member cctx.'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Corpus Christi, Texas (that's me!)
    Blog Entries
    Amazing story, it will be a landmark in History some day.
    Thank you for sharing the document.

  10. #10
    Super Member
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    Jun 2010
    New to Manchester New Hampshire
    Interesting to say the least. After the article I wonder how many people contacted her about acquiring some more.

  11. #11
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    western NY formerly MN, FL, NC, SC
    Blog Entries
    See what's so fascinating about quilting!! You can do an infinite number of different quilts from the same two colors. Love it!!!

  12. #12
    Super Member tomilu's Avatar
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    Oct 2010
    Wichita, KS
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    Wish there was a slideshow of them all.

  13. #13
    Super Member redquilter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Long Island, NY
    I'm going to the exhibit on Mon. Can't wait. If photography is allowed, I'll take some pics to show you.

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