Sometimes a chance visit can change your life. If Ann Ramsey hadn’t stopped in Prescott for lunch, if she hadn’t popped into a specific gallery, she might not even be living here now.
Ann knows her way around a sewing machine. While her career led her to teach high-school Spanish in Kansas City, she has sewn all her life, and when she and her husband were thinking of relocating to some sweet spot to retire, warmer and drier than the Midwest, they took a road trip through the Southwestern states to explore. While driving through northern Arizona, they decided to stop in Prescott for lunch.
Of course, everyone who comes through Prescott has to wander along Whiskey Row, and they took a look in the Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery. When Ann saw how a co-op gallery is run, she enthused, “I want to be a part of this someday!”
Fast-forward a few years, and Ann and hubby did choose to relocate to Prescott. Ann had run a business in Missouri designing and sewing unique apparel, and wanted to continue producing wearable art. She began taking new denim jackets and shirts and customizing them with quilted panels, matching piping and buttons. Ann combined her love of quilting with her garment-design skills to create unique jackets for her business, Cedar Creek Studio. When she revisited the co-op, she was encouraged to join the team, and Ann has been a valued gallery member for several years.
When quilting became hugely popular in the 1980s, Ann got hooked on what until then had largely been a home hobby, but in recent decades has become collectible art. In former times quilts were made of worn-out clothes to provide a bed covering, but modern technology has provided the means to produce endlessly varied and affordable fabrics, allowing for a broad scope of expression.
Modern sewing machines also make the stitching of quilts much faster and easier. Ann chooses beautiful fabrics for her jackets, sometimes using fabric reproductions of works of art, ranging from The Kiss by Gustav Klimt to retro-style Western-themed fabrics, which are very popular for rodeo season.
She’s also had her own paintings printed on fabric for use in her work. Each jacket is beautifully finished and available in sizes XS-3X.“Every woman wants to have something fun,” she says, and custom orders are available, many selected from a binder at the gallery featuring her various designs and fabrics.
Asked what she is really excited about right now in her work, Ann relates that she is part of a group of four quilters who set challenges for themselves. They work independently, then surprise one another when they get together. Their work reflects the distinctive Gee’s Bend quilting style, influenced by vividly patterned Native American and African textiles in simple, improvised geometric forms and patterns.
Ann’s work can be found at cedarcreekstudio.com and at Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery on Whiskey Row.