By Constance Lewallen
At Paulson Bott Press, instinct, and even passion, directs the selection of artists. This is how the press came to work with the women from the Gee’s Bend, Alabama, quilt collective. A quilting center since before the Civil War, Gee’s Bend is known for colorful, quasi-geometric designs that, although based on historical American and African examples, appeal to a modern art sensibility. The highly successful multi-museum tour of Gee’s Bend quilts organized in 2002 by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, brought international fame to this small, rural community. Pam Paulson happened to see that exhibition when it was presented in New York at the Whitney Museum of American Art and fell in love. When she showed the catalog to her father, he suggested the press invite the quilters to make prints. Long story short, Pam and Renee Bott were able to interest two generations of quilters --Mary Lee Bendolph, whom Pam calls “ the heart and soul of the Gees Bend quilters,” and her daughter-in-law Louisiana Bendolph.
|Gee's Bend, Alabama, circa 1937; Mary Lee Bendolph, Past & Gone, 2005|
Thanks to their experience at Paulson Bott, the quilters now think of themselves as artists. And, they appreciate that through the distribution of their graphic images their work has become appreciated by a wider public.
|Mary Lee Bendolph in Paulson Bott Press Studio|
|Chris Ballantyne, Untitled Berm, Pool, Submerged Rocks, Cliff, 2004|
|Isca Greenfield-Sanders, Blue Suit Bather, 2006|
While we can’t predict what’s to come as Paulson Bott enters the next phase, based on its history we can be confident that it will be both surprising and, somehow, just right.