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Quilt exhibits cover African-American tradition

Saturday, January 18, 2003

By Mary Thomas, Post-Gazette Art Critic

Sixty colorful quilts -- among them "Sunflowers and Poppies" by Wilkinsburg resident Gerry Benton -- brighten the walls of the Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center in two exhibitions that open tomorrow.

Gerry Benton with her "Sunflowers and Poppies" quilt.

"Western Pennsylvania Quilts" showcases 20 quilts made by African-American women in our region, and 40 quilts are featured in "Bold Improvisation: 120 Years of African American Quilts," selections from the collection of Pittsburgh native Scott Heffley. A painting restorer at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., Heffley has been collecting quilts made by African Americans for two decades. He will give gallery talks about the exhibition at 2 and 4 p.m. tomorrow (free with museum admission).

And if you go before Jan. 31, you'll still be able to see "Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures From the Smithsonian American Art Museum" and "Western Pennsylvania Folk Artists."

The History Center is at 1212 Smallman St. in the Strip District. Admission is $6, $4.50 for seniors (62 and over) and students with ID, $3 for ages 6-18, free for children 5 and under and members. Parking up to four hours in the Smallman Street lot is $3 with center validation. For information, call 412-454-6000 or visit www.pghhistory.org.

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