A year ago today, Yvonne Porcella paid me a great honor by coming to my art barn groundbreaking party on Valentine’s Day.
She had every excuse in the book to not make the two-hour drive from Modesto to Napa and back, and frankly, I was not expecting her. After all, she was deep in her fight against stage 4 cancer, but add to that, she had just fractured a couple of ribs by coughing a bit too hard during a recent chemo treatment. She was in a lot of discomfort, but she hid it very well behind her signature bright smile and her whacky sense of humor. Case in point: she gave me a housewarming gift that sits on my kitchen table today. Meet the “Thing:”
Yvonne has been one of my greatest mentors, and I had fun with her every time I was with her. She brought color, style, humor, and love wherever she went. When I didn’t know many people early on, she was the first to introduce me to important folks. She had numerous articles in Quilting Arts dating back to 2001. When I didn’t know a particular quilting technique, she would gently show me. My favorite tip to this day is that if the thread color on a satin-stitched binding isn’t perfect… heck, just take a Sharpie to it and color it in! She was practical without sacrificing her art. She committed herself to everything she did, wholeheartedly, and I think we can all agree, she lived a very bright life.
I spoke to Yvonne a couple of weeks ago and proposed an idea to her. Months ago Alex Anderson had invited me to be a participant in Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore this next September. It is a beautiful setting. Here’s a picture of Freddy Moran’s quilts hanging in the oak trees from last fall’s edition:
There is a greenhouse towards the back of the nursery, protected from the outside elements that I told Cindy, the owner would be perfect for a small art quilt exhibit. Last month I spoke to Yvonne and offered up an idea to her: What about I host an exhibit at Quilting in the Garden and call it “Live Your BRIGHTEST Life: Yvonne Porcella style.” She agreed.
So on this Valentine’s Day, I invite you to think about a small quilt (more details later) to pay tribute to someone who has been so influential to so many. I love that this tribute to her will be housed in a greenhouse: a place where beautiful things first blossom and take shape.
As it’s Valentine’s Day, I am going to drive to the ocean, bring my “Thing” with me, and think about our special friend and mentor.
With love and gratitude for having known such a special person,
A lovely way to remember a lovely lady!
You embody many of Yvonne’s characteristics: her enthusiasm, her generosity, her selflessness in working with others to craft her own life, her joy, her strength. I will always be grateful to her, for starting SAQA, for her vision, for her leadership
What a fantastic way to honor her! Thank you for all you do.
I never met Yvonne. But, from your words and the images I have seen of her work, I see the energy of her passion. Truly an inspiring woman and artist. May your heart be full today as you remember your friend. Hugs.
It’s people like her and you that have taken steps to share the joy and enthusiasm of fiber art and given others a platform and a community to share their art with the world. By doing that she and you have changed many lives in a positive way. I will always be thankful to her for SAQA and to you for starting Quilting Arts and continuing on with your ventures to help us along with our art journey.
Because her legacy lives in all of us, her spirit will be around a very long time! I was especially fond of her love of color, and the “no rules” theory! Always makes me smile!
what a beautiful tribute.
This is a lovely tribute! The garden exhibition sounds wonderful. I never had the pleasure of meeting her but have seen her love and beauty shine through every photo I have seen of her online. She really is a great inspiration to the world. Thank you for sharing her.
What a warm tribute to a women who has meant a lot to so many, wished I had had the honor. I’m not a quilter but a lover of quilts. I’m a painter and sculptor and began watching QA a long time ago and have learned so many things that I have transitioned to use in my own art or shared with my own students. Thank you for sharing.
What a great tribute and a wonderful intro to those of us who didn’t know Yvonne and how special she was. I’m so sorry for your loss. ps I love the Sharpie story. ❤️
What a beautiful tribute!
Yvonne had such a distinctive “style”…I never met her but I always heard and read wonderful things of her. I have been able to spot her work rather well. She would not have missed the ground breaking. I bet her contribution to the art barn’s time capsule helps your barn creativity grow.
Thank you for sharing your time with Yvonne with us. I enjoy reading everything I can about her. I remember when I first met her. She came to present at our guild. I can still see her sitting on the steps, talking about her work and her new challenge… overcoming cancer. I was stunned to witness her vibrancy, her spirit, her strength, her grit. I will never forget her and her ever present mile wide smile. What a woman! I am so very sad right now.
Years ago when I lived in San Diego, I participated in “Fabric Fantasies” three or four years. Ms. Porcella was the featured artist one year. When I saw the picture of your “thing”, the black and white seemed to me like her signature. I love her use of bright colors and “joie de vivre”. How fortunate for you that you know her in person.
What a great tribute! I’ve enjoyed Yvonne’s works for years and did meet her in Iris’ Mistyfuse booth at Quilt Market 2015. Last fall I bid on, and won, one of her quilts that she had donated to MD Anderson Hospital to raise $$ for Ovarian Cancer research. After reading tributes from several of her friends, I’m saddened that I didn’t get to know her better when she was alive – but her spirit continues to live on, and will for quite some time, I’m sure.
That was sweet of what you said about her.. She is inspiring woman that shows her talent in quilt.
Thank you Pokey for this beautiful tribute! Yvonne was so eclectically gifted and made such whimsical yet well thought out quilts. She was such a warm & generous teacher. The 1st time I saw a picture of one of her quilts in the newspaper for a quilt display at a local museum in 2000, I had to see them! When I saw her quilts, my 1st thought was, “I didn’t know you could do this with fabric!” My 2nd thought was, I want to do this!” And I have been ever since! Thank you Yvonne for giving me the love of quilt making! And I would love the opportunity to make a small quilt to pay tribute to my hero!
What a great tribute to your special friend. The show will be such a special tribute to her. The quilting world lost a piece of its very foundation with her passing. I remember her vividly from my time living in California from 1985-89 and our paths crossed several times.
Such a lovely remembrance of such a special lady.
Thank you for a lovely post about Yvonne. By starting SAQA, and then serving as its president for 11 years (!) she gave all art quilters a place to grow, learn and network. She was smart, sweet, kind and a true professional. Perhaps the small quilts in the exhibit could be for sale and the proceeds go to SAQA in honor of Yvonne?
This is the first I’ve heard that Yvonne lost her battle. She was an exceptional lady. This is a beautiful way to honor her and your friendship with her.