Piece by Piece - Page 4

Eichler owner Joan Schulze—50 years of superb storytelling in the art of fiber and collage
'See...No...' quilt, from 1999.

A neighbor, seeing Joan's artistic bent, invited her to take classes at the Palo Alto Art Club. "And I said, no, I can't. I've got four children," Schulze says. "But while she was at the Palo Alto Art Club being instructed, I was using my sewing machine and making these picture rabbits and things for children and putting them up on the wall."

Encouraged, though, Schulze joined a group called the Peninsula Stitching Group, "because I thought that sounded interesting."

"These were very serious people," she says. "They had shows at the San Jose Museum. They put on other shows at galleries and so forth."

Schulze, with camera and tripod, photographs one of her quilts in her two-level San Francisco live-work studio.

"I declared myself an artist in 1970. My youngest child at that time was two years old. And I said, 'I'm an artist. I'm going to work from now on.' I just felt that in the Eichler home, that we had plenty of light, big windows, the grid floor, the beautiful terracotta. I mean, I would use that to its advantage."

Not every talented artist makes a go of it. Schulze's imagination, her technical skills and inventiveness, have helped. So have her personality and drive. "If there's something I want to do, I'll keep working at it until I make it happen," she says.

Consider how Schulze got her first one-person show, when she was "just getting my feet wet, learning how to talk to [museum and gallery] directors."

'Empty Vessel,' a pieced two-sided transparent hanging, from 2018.

It was 1974, and Schulze cold-called the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara.

"I said, 'I live in Sunnyvale, I have some artwork. Can I make an appointment to come and show them to you?'" The answer, to the artist's surprise, was 'yes.'

"So I arranged babysitting for the kids, loaded the car, went to the museum, put my stuff out because they were in between shows...I didn't think that it was going to go anywhere."

"[The curator] said, 'I could give you a show in six months.'

"I had no idea how unusual this was."

'Gateway Scroll 2,' one of Schulze's 'Gateway Scrolls' quilts, from 1999.


• To inquire about Joan Schulze's art or to arrange a studio visit, contact the artist through her website: joan-of-arts.com

Photography: courtesy Joan Schulze, Dave Weinstein

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