Quilt Gallery

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Colors of Shelburne Falls

A couple of weeks ago, en route to New York from Greenfield, Massachusetts, Eva and I took a short detour off Route 2 to Shelburne Falls, a lovely town tucked away along the Deerfield River at the base of the Berkshire Mountains.

The town's most famous attraction is the Bridge of Flowers, originally built in 1908 by the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway to carry heavy freight to nearby mills and to serve as a passenger trolley route. These uses ended up being short-lived. As traffic shifted to trucks and automobiles, business declined significantly and led to the railway declaring bankruptcy in 1927. Instead of allowing the bridge to become a liability, the Shelburne Falls Women's Club raised money to turn it into a garden.  Since 1929 it has given pedestrians a flower-filled way to cross the river and now attracts thousands of visitors each year.

The Bridge of Flowers, Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts

One can stroll across the bridge or stop at one of the benches to enjoy views of the surrounding town and hills. The bridge is open, free of charge, from April through October.

View from the Bridge of Flowers

The non-profit Bridge of Flowers Committee carefully tends to the extensive plantings of trees, shrubs and flowers.  With thousands of specimens, there is sure to be something blooming whenever you visit.

Or you can view the bridge from the adjacent iron road bridge.  When we visited, the water was still enough to give nearly perfect reflections of the bridge's gentle arches and the town's colorful buildings.

The Bridge of Flowers

Downstream of the dam you can see glacially formed pot holes.

Pot Holes

Besides the bridge and the pot holes, Shelburne Falls is home to a number of artists.  We stopped in Ann Brauer's quilt studio on Bridge Street where I was delighted to meet Ann and to see her work up close.  On previous visits to the town I found her studio closed due to heavy damage from Hurricane Irene.  I'm so glad that she has now moved into a terrific new space where she can continue her work.  She has been making contemporary art quilts for over thirty years and turns strips of fabric into wonderful landscapes, some subtle, others vibrant, but all fascinating and full of movement.  Most of all, I am impressed with her use of color!

I bought this small piece for a small side table in my dining room.

Quilted placemat by Ann Brauer

When I got it home I discovered that the colors are a perfect match for the large painting of water (incidentally, purchased at Cape Ann, Massachusetts) that hangs on the dining room wall!  I guess I love those colors!

Painting by Gordon Goetemann, quilt by Ann Brauer

Here is my current work with color: a quilt top in progress, shamelessly copied from a 1930s quilt, Chinese Coins, in Roberta Horton's book "Scrap Quilts: The Art of Making Do."  Only four more strips of "coins" to attach.

Copy (in progress) of "Chinese Coins"

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