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Sidney Gallery opens exhibit featuring homespun art

Pam Heinrich is among several local artists whose work is displayed in the “Art of the Quilter” exhibit at the Sidney Art Gallery. - Courtesy photo
Pam Heinrich is among several local artists whose work is displayed in the “Art of the Quilter” exhibit at the Sidney Art Gallery.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

A series of poppy flowers emerge from different angles in the squares that rest inside black-checkered diamonds.

It is one of the more intricate — and admittedly not complete — quilt patterns that Port Orchard resident Pam Heinrich has designed.

Heinrich’s work, which encompasses quilts ranging from floral to landscapes, was among several artists displayed Saturday in the “Art of the Quilter” reception at the Sidney Art Gallery. The display will run there through Aug. 31. Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

There is a different exhibit each month at the gallery, which Heinrich said is designed to appeal to broad audiences.

She began working with textiles as a 4-year-old when her grandmother and mother taught her cross-stitching, crocheting and knitting.

“I have a big appreciation for people that do that form of artwork,” said Heinrich, who serves as facilities chairwoman for the Sidney Museum & Arts Association, a nonprofit that aims to preserve and promote art. “There’s so many people that do it so well. That’s why we like to give an opportunity to people that do this artwork. There’s a lot of home skills that people have that never are out in the public.”

A nearly lifelong South Kitsap resident, Heinrich’s techniques are as timeless as the 103-year building in which they are displayed. Heinrich eschews sewing machines to compile each piece by hand.

She started the poppy quilt about four months ago and just needs to bind it. Heinrich, who estimates she will invest 120 hours in her latest quilt when it is finished, originally painted the image and then decided to design a quilt from it.

“I’m a person who does every aspect of the process,” she said. “I find the pattern, fabric and the time to cut it up and sew it together.”

It is not a project she has undertaken with the prospect of earning money. Heinrich, 64, is retired after working 25 years for the Social Security Administration and 15 years in private-property management.

Proceeds from the quilt are earmarked to fund a $500 scholarship for a high-school senior who hopes to study art in college. Heinrich eventually hopes to help create a scholarship for art students at Olympic College, as well.

“She brings a lot of energy and commitment to the organization,” Sidney Museum & Arts Association treasurer Chris Stansbery said.

Similar to the images inside of the Sidney Art Gallery, which range from paintings to glass-blown figurines, Heinrich said the scholarship, which is awarded by judges based on a student’s work in January, can be used in a variety of ways that incorporate art.

Some have been deterred from pursuing an art-related field because they feel there are few prospects to make money, which is represented in Vincent van Gogh’s 1888 oil painting “Bedroom in Arles,” that features the simple conditions he lived and worked in. But Heinrich said there are plenty of career possibilities related to art, including modern technology.

“My feeling is computer artwork and graphic design are the fields kids are going into,” she said. “We love to see that — and encourage it.”

It is one of several projects that keeps Heinrich busy. The Sidney Art Museum building was added to the National Register of Historic places last year and Heinrich endeavors to get The Log Cabin Museum, which also is located on Sidney Avenue, the same distinction. Both are run by the Sidney Museum & Arts Association.

She also has painted murals for Make-a-Wish Foundation, including one in 2004 for the late Nathan McKean of Silverdale. Heinrich painted Disney characters and Spider-Man on the walls of the family’s daylight basement as part of a playroom for McKean, who had neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nervous system.

It is just another way Heinrich hopes to contribute to the community she loves.

“When you’re retired, having purpose and a place to share your abilities with others is really important,” she said. “I think it keeps us younger by participating in the community. I’m a strong advocate of that.”

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