Quiet Desperation

Tale of innovative artwork follows fascinating thread


When someone mentions “quilt,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Your aunt? Your grandmother? Your grandmother’s aunt?

Me? I think of the young woman who cleans my teeth.

Lindsay Thompson is a dental hygienist at Highlands Ranch Smiles on University Boulevard.

She has been cleaning my teeth four times a year for a long time, and we have taken that frequency to get to know each other better.

One day she said, “I quilt.”

I was speechless. It wasn’t because I couldn’t think of anything to say. I couldn’t talk because Lindsay’s ultrasonic scaler was in my mouth.

When she said she quilts, I remembered what I already knew about the subject, and I realized it wasn’t much.

There’s a quilting scene in “Witness,” the film that stars Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis.

There’s the quilt my mother and father bought for me when they lived in Tennessee for a couple of years. They would see beautiful examples hanging on clotheslines in rural backyards, with a handwritten “For Sale” sign nearby.

There’s Clare Quilty, a character in an infamous Vladimir Nabokov novel.

After that, all I had were stereotypes.

Now, thanks to Lindsay, that has changed.

As she began to tell me how she became a quilter, I heard her say things that were very familiar to me, and to all artists and artisans.

There is a progression from an interest to an inquiry to a venture to an adventure, and each step brings you closer to something unexpectedly meaningful and fulfilling.

Just don’t let your children grow up to be art majors, says Forbes magazine.

When Lindsay was on a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, with her mother-in-law (a longtime quilter), she bought a quilt kit and used it to make a quilt for her newborn son’s crib.

And that’s how it began.

Now, six years later, Lindsay is the president of the Front Range Modern Quilt Guilt. The key word there is “modern.”

Quilts, historically, were considered bedding. Now they are often thought of as works of art, and are displayed on walls, like paintings. Like my paintings.

And that gave me an idea.

I asked Lindsay if she would be interested in collaborating. She said yes.

We met at a local restaurant and I gave her a very large piece of unstretched, unprimed canvas, marked off with a large area for her to quilt, and said, “Do something.”

When she showed me what she had done, I was stunned — and I think she was too.

Lindsay included one traditional quilting element she called an “Ohio Star,” but everything else was as creatively placed as swatches of color in a Kandinsky painting.

I then had the canvas stretched at Meininger, and I painted into the areas opposite hers, using colors that either matched or complemented her vivid palette.

What happened next? I entered our collaboration, titled “Ohio Star,” in the Lone Tree Arts Center’s annual juried Art Expo, and it was accepted.

Lindsay attended the opening, and basked in the approval of her friends who were there.

Art has provided me with some incomparable moments. Collaborating with Lindsay Thompson was one of them.

The crib quilt was created on a trusty 1947 sewing machine. Lindsay now has a top-of-the-line 2019 Bernina.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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