Stitched Together: Visions hosts 5 eye-catching exhibits at Liberty Station in Point Loma/San Diego

In this year’s ‘Interpretations’ biennial, Lea A. McComas from Golden, Colorado, wins the Award for Artistic Ability That Extends The Medium, with her touching and meticulous thread painting ‘Soul Mates,’ representing ‘two souls who have traveled life’s journey together.’
(Maurice Hewitt)

If you haven’t seen Visions yet, now is a fine time to visit that small but delightful Liberty Station museum devoted to contemporary quilts and textiles. Five different exhibits are on display this month, and not only will you enjoy the inventive stitchery, but you’ll also find the gift shop a cool spot to pick up handcrafted holiday gifts.

Interpretations 2019: Several years ago, after more than three decades of juried “Quilt Visions” biennials, Visions introduced “Interpretations,” a second biennial held in odd-numbered years. This year’s theme, Rhapsody, drew almost 250 entries, out of which 29 pieces were chosen. At the Oct. 19 opening, cash prizes were awarded for Color Artistry, Beauty, General Excellence and other categories. When you visit Visions, be sure to submit your own favorite for the “Viewers’ Choice” award.

Stories in Cloth: After a lifetime of sewing and a family history of quilting, along with absorbing careers as a social worker, lawyer and full-time mom, Marty Ornish re-visioned herself as an artist at age 60, once she had a piece accepted into a “Fashion Recycled” show at Visions and started seeing her up-cycled dresses win prizes at wearable art exhibitions.

“I believe in not throwing things away,” she said at the opening of her steampunk-inspired solo show in Visions’ Valya Gallery. “I take things that are past their prime and give them new life.”

At the Oct. 19 opening, fiber artist Marty Ornish poses with a lineup of some of her up-cycled fashions in ‘Stories in Cloth.’
(Maurice Hewitt)

Most of the garments she creates in her La Mesa studio are made from tattered antique quilts, reconstructed into distinctive pieces of art-wear that tell sometimes whimsical, often political stories. She names every piece; each title, strange and suggestive, is part of the work. And she never uses patterns, preferring to drape bits of “ruined” fabric on a dress form and allow herself to be inspired by the materials.

“I made these things because someone had to,” she said at the opening, resplendent in a dress titled “Beatrice Just Nailed Her Interview.”

Jumping Boundaries is a display of multi-colored, freeform fabric abstractions by L.A.-based textile artist Sandra Lauterbach, whose work has been shown around the world. “Thread and fabric are my paints,” she said. “Instead of brushstrokes, I stitch.” Her artworks have been praised for being “full of surprises.” They’re fun to look at, too.

Members’ Challenge is a quarterly invitation to Visions’ member artists to submit their work for show and for sale. This quarter’s theme — Splash of Color — inspired a variety of colorful quilts, all in a compact, 12-inch-square format.

Self-Portraits by Young Quilters: If you saw last year’s super-charming self-portrait quilts made by Dewey Elementary School third-graders with the help of Visions’ volunteer instructor Helen Ashdown and her assistants, you won’t want to miss this year’s display. They’ll be on view from late November through mid-January. Here’s a link to a three-minute video of some of the young quilters at work:

Two fun facts I came across at Visions: 1) Both Marty Ornish and Sandra Lauterbach had careers in law before going on to become full-time professional artists and 2) Most quilters are, not unexpectedly, women. But there are male quilters, too. Two were chosen for Interpretations 2019, and one of them, Dan Olfe, won the Award for Beauty for his gorgeous digitized and quilted image “Color Square #1.”

  • IF YOU GO: Visions Art Museum, 2825 Dewey Road, Suite 100, Liberty Station, is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Four of the five exhibits on view opened Oct. 19 and run through Jan. 5. (619) 546-4872.


Meet Visions’ New Executive Director

Laura Mitchell is a native Californian from Palos Verdes with a Ph.D. in history from Yale, who went on to a post-graduate position at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., which introduced her to the museum world. In 2013, after working with several non-profits, she moved with her two daughters to Hong Kong to be Director of Institutional Advancement at an international school.

Visions’ new Executive Director Laura Mitchell with ‘Eakins Odalisque,’ a quilt by Jack Edson from Hamburg, New York, based on a photo of the late-19th-century artist Thomas Eakins posing (in classic odalisque position) for a friend.
(Maurice Hewitt)

Earlier this year, she returned to the U.S. to be near her mother in Carlsbad, and enroll her 14-year-old in an American high school. She saw Visions’ ad for an executive director online, went for an interview, and immediately won the job. She now lives in Point Loma, and her daughter is at High Tech High International at Liberty Station. (Her 18-year-old is a film student in Massachusetts, at Bard College in Simon’s Rock, where independent minds get a chance to start college while still in high school.)

“My current job is the best job ever,” Mitchell told Point Loma-OB Monthly. “I am surrounded every day with beautiful art and I get to spend time with people who create it. I also work with more than 100 dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers and a superb staff. Together we are taking the museum into a new decade with a commitment to increased diversity and outreach. It’s a dream job!”

Mitchell also loves choral singing (she’s an alto) and writes poetry and fiction. Check out her website at


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