Candy Robinson is dwarfed by one of the quilts currently on display at the Keizer Civic Center. The quilts will be on display until March 27. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Candy Robinson is dwarfed by one of the quilts currently on display at the Keizer Civic Center. The quilts will be on display until March 27. (KEIZERTIMES/Craig Murphy)

Of the Keizertimes

If you think the quilts on display currently at Keizer Civic Center look neat, just wait.

A bigger and better display is expected to be coming next year.

The Mid Valley Quilt Guild has 24 pieces on display at city hall for three months, ending on March 27. The idea was started by Candy Robinson, evening president of the guild and an employee at the Department of Revenue.

“I had a class here last spring,” Robinson said. “I noticed the walls were empty. I asked Paula (Collins) if she would consider having quilts. She had me to talk the mayor.”

Robinson did indeed talk to Mayor Lore Christopher, who was in favor of the idea.

“She said she would consider the quilts,” Robinson said. “Not everyone sees quilts as art, but the mayor grew up in a quilting family. I went to my group. I asked, ‘What do you think?’ They said it was cool.”

Christopher talked about the idea with Keizer City Councilors and stayed in touch with Robinson. The idea was approved in the fall.

Having measured all of the racks in city hall with Dan Collingham, Robinson knew there would be room for 43 quilts if everyone adhered to a 30-inch width limit. The problem is most members had quilts wider than that, without enough time to make something new for this year’s exhibit.

“No one had anything that size,” she said. “This will be even better next year. We’ve asked for the first quarter each year, starting this year. Once we got approval, then it was time to get our guild members to get stuff to me. There wasn’t a lot of time to make a new item.”

Once Robinson moved forward with the idea of having the quilts displayed, she wasn’t afraid of rejection.

“Last April is when this started,” she said. “I am always optimistic, it’s just my nature. What’s the worst thing they can do, say no? There was an opportunity to ask, so I took it.”

Robinson said some of the guild members had concerns about their quilts being damaged or taken while on display.

“Some didn’t participate because of that,” she acknowledged. “Some others would have loved to put one up, but did Stitches in Bloom at the Oregon Garden at the end of January. There was some attrition because of that.”

Displaying the quilts at city hall is a fairly new concept, for both the city and quilters alike. One of the key questions for councilors last fall was how the issue of insurance would work.

“The city usually does a year-long display. We’ll usually do a week-long quilt show, then take it down,” Robinson said. “This is an unusual venue for us.”

The guild has Quilt College at the Polk County Fairgrounds even numbered years (April 25-26 this year), so some of the 300-plus members have been focused on getting ready for that.

Overall, Robinson said group members are excited about the idea of quilts being on display in Keizer. The excitement has only grown after hearing of the reaction of others.

“I’m here almost every Friday to see how things are going, since I’m responsible for the exhibit,” Robinson said. “I talk to Paula each time. She said she gets positive feedback all the time. When we were hanging the quilts, people would come by and say ‘This is beautiful.’ Everything has been positive. One lady at the Keizer Police Department said this was her favorite thing that’s ever been here. That makes us want to do it annually even more. Now we have an audience.”

Christopher has been among those with a positive reaction.

“They make the community center look great,” the mayor said.