I feel very blessed, I was one of the lucky ones who was able to go to Florida this past weekend to celebrate the life of Allison Stilwell at the Jeanine Taylor Folk Art Gallery in Sanford.
A whimsical and colorful outsider artist, Allison had a huge fan base, and her art graced the pages of Cloth Paper Scissors, Quilting Arts, Studios, Art Doll Quarterly, among other publications. She and her sister Tracy also were hilarious(!) guests on Quilting Arts TV. Simply put, Allison’s humor, her unwavering joy de vivre were evident in every piece of art she made, and people couldn’t get enough.
When I found out Allison passed away this past May, like so many, I was devastated. But like artist Lyric Kinard had written to me online: our lives are better for having known her. I try to hold onto that thought, and I also think about the motto that Allison lived by:
The celebration this past Saturday was extremely well attended; people came from near and far to celebrate and remember her. Below, people are starting to gather in the art gallery.
There were a lot of much needed hugs…
Every wall in the gallery was adorned with art by the Artgirlz.
And tables overflowed with fabric hearts, art dolls, pillows, pins, buttons, and other arty bits:
After the ceremony where poetry was read and people tearfully–yet joyously–spoke, I gathered with Tracy and Allison’s life partner, Midge Baudouin in front of Allison’s fabric collaged self-portrait. It was hard to look at this portrait and not lose it (which I did). Allison started this self-portrait but never finished it, and like so many of us can relate with our own UFO’s, she had rolled it up and put it away. After Allison’s passing, Tracy and Midge desperately scoured the house, and when they unearthed the half-finished canvas, completed it together.
This life celebration–I know–is exactly what Allison would have wanted.
And she will live on in all of our hearts.
Thanks for giving me (and everyone) a glimpse into this most wonderful celebration of such an amazing woman and artist. She will live on in our hearts, our minds and most of all, our art! I so wish I could have been there.
A beautiful tribute! So glad you were able to go and take part so that you could share her tribute with all of us who enjoyed her art.
what a wonderful celebration of a wonderful life! thank you for sharing…
Dear Pokey. As I sit here with loved ones lingering, I am intoxicated and comforted by each sweet soul. Thank you for your beautiful words and images and for loving our Allison so much. Seeing your face, and your eyes and your tears and your smile is human medicine that helps the healing process for these broken hearts. We miss her. Bless you. Xx
a beautiful day. a beautiful tribute. i was honored and a bit in awe to witness the love. the art. the emotions that day.
We recently lost a 39 yr old friend of ours. We attended a beautiful ceremony as well. It is amazing how much one person can affect so many. I have been seriously looking at my partner’s religion to study in order to answer those end of life questions which came about upon the loss and that I need to resolve. At 65, I feel like I could start over and do so many artistic things. I am in a hurry now. Life is short and between chores and errands, I hope to keep learning and creating till my end.
I loved their work and had not heard of her death. I am so sorry that she is gone.
Thank you, Pokey for capturing the aura in the gallery, Midge and Tracy created a magnificent tribute to Allison that I will never forget.
What a perfect way to celebrate her life! She WOULD have loved it. Thank you for allowing us to feel a part of it.
Thank you pokey for sharing such a heartfelt experience.
Sent from my iPad
i am just finding this and devistated. I travel to Melbourne FL quite often for work and was always thinking of finding her studio and stopping by. I saw the heads she did in Cloth Paper Scissors and made and sold my own, working on one now of all the crossword puzzles i did on the planes as i traveled. I am retired military and still working , but i am an artist as well. also am just finishing up a lobng 10 months of treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer, finding my way to new normal one where i will do my art all the time..i guess the purpose of this rambling is that its all something that i was putting off, now more urgent from the Cancer and the recovery then i see of Allison’s death, and the words on her work “Do what you love”…my God…what am i doing here and NOT doing what i love. My heart goes out to Midge…prayers always with you
I wish I had known her as with now knowing Midge and Tracy I know Allison would have been one great and amazing artist /art sister/ friend! I’ve seen alot of her art works and feel almost as if I know her because of Midges dedication and tribute to Allison and her fabulous art! Thank You for reposting this article for those of us who missed it .