Two new exhibitions open at the Wilton Historical Society on Thursday, March 19. The Historical Society is hosting a reception from 5-7 p.m. and will welcome all visitors for the open house.

One Loop at a Time: June Myles’ Hooked Art

These are not your granny’s hooked rugs! Opening on Thursday, March 19, and running through October 3 at the Wilton Historical Society, the exhibition One Loop at a Time:  June Myles’ Hooked Art displays works of art “painted in wool.” The pieces on display–rugs, wall hangings, and pillows–are alive with color, texture and movement. The works show off June Myles’ sophisticated use of color, her love of language and her virtuoso needle skills.

What is rug hooking? “Rug hooking is both an art and a craft where rugs are made by pulling loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base such as burlap, linen, or rug warp. The loops are pulled through the backing material by using a crochet-type hook mounted in a handle (usually wood) for leverage. In contrast latch-hooking uses a hinged hook to form a knotted pile from short, pre-cut pieces of yarn.”

Characterized by rich tones, Myles’ work engages the viewer with humor and a style that finds its origins in folk art. The works tell their tales with words and images of animals. A veritable menagerie can be found–from anteaters to turtles, from frogs to goats–which frolic and gambol across lively patterns and amidst words both whimsical and wise. And then there are the men! Myles’ most interesting work, perhaps, can be found in a series of portraits of “men I’ve never met,” as she calls them. As varied as a sun-drenched “Matisseman,” a fiddler, a cook, a banker, an exotic manservant, a philosopher, and many more, these portrayals confidently inhabit their space. Their personalities and garb are enhanced with Myles’ deft use of collage techniques; the banker carries an actual watch, and the fiddler holds a genuine West Virginia bow!

Denyse Schmidt, In The Making:  Historic Inspirations/New Quilts

The Wilton Historical Society will also be showing the work of critically acclaimed quilt designer Denyse Schmidt. Her creations are modern interpretations of classic quilt designs–contemporary, functional textile art with deep historic roots. The exhibition of nearly a dozen quilts opens on Thursday, March 19 and will run through Saturday, October 3.

“A quilt is art, a quilt is history, and a quilt is a tactile, shared experience on many levels. Like folk music and tales passed down orally, quilts are graphic representations of stories and ideas that have emerged over the years in endless variations. Handed down from generation to generation, evolving slightly each time, the quilting patterns are themselves a living, breathing entity,” Schmidt says, describing the deep appeal quilts hold for her and for so many people. “I’ve always loved juxtaposing old and new, and by creating quilts, I could combine–and share–my lifelong love of textiles and design.”

She was drawn to the simple charm of antique quilts, their unexpected color combinations, and the way a single block pattern can lead to an infinite number of variations. Her quilts, with their quirky style and fearless use of color, are fresh and unexpected interpretations of traditional patterns like Rail Fence, Lafayette Orange Peel, Ocean Waves, Mariner’s Compass, Streak of Lightning, Wagon Wheel, Snake Trail, and Churn Dash. Many resemble abstract collage paintings, and all share their maker’s unselfconscious directness.

The Wilton Historical Society is located at 224 Danbury Rd..