MOULTRIE -- Competition is warming up at the Colquitt County Arts Center.

The community nonprofit will host its first juried quilt exhibition in March in which awards totaling $2,000 will go to the most striking designs.

The exhibition will extend from March 7 through April 20, but the main judged event will be held March 12 along with a luncheon sponsored by the Moultrie Federated Guild and an informal but informative talk with juror Lora Arledge, director of the Georgia Living Heritage Hall Fair Programs with the Georgia National State Fair in Perry. Arledge will give advice on what jurors look for in a piece and discuss trends in the craft.

"Most of the surrounding arts centers have been focusing on traditional artists, especially two-dimensional artists. We decided to look into the area of fine crafts and try build a place where they'll access to show their artwork," said exhibit organizer Jane Simpson.

Quilting "warms the body and the heart," Arledge said.

"It's very much like painting. The success of a quilt rests not only the level of skill of the quilter but the color choices, the fabrics the person chose. It's amazing how much difference it makes in a quilt that really grabs your attention and one that's ho-hum," she said.

The juried quilt show and an exhibition of woodturnings going on right now through Feb. 18 are first steps toward the establishment of a fine crafts show sponsored by the arts center. The quilt exhibition also serves to build up an artist roster.

"That's our ultimate goal is to build it into one nice, big show down the road," Simpson said.

Awards of $250 will be given in each division: Traditional hand pieced/hand quilted, traditional machine pieced/hand quilted, traditional machine pieced/machine quilted, contemporary hand pieced/hand quilted, contemporary machine pieced/hand quilted, contemporary machine pieced/machine quilted, appliqued/hand quilted and appliqued/machine quilted.

The show will draw a lot of people to the arts center who have never been before, Simpson said.

"There's a lot of quilting groups. It's one of the more popular exhibitions we have," she said. "We've had contemporary quilters come in here with incredible things you never would think of. Then, we have traditional quilters. We try to cover those categories here."

Entry fees are $20 per entry, and artists can enter one quilt per division up to three pieces. Delivery dates are Feb. 21 through 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and hand delivery pick-up dates after the show are April 25 through 28 also from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For those who want to get started on their own quilts or want a little inspiration, the arts center will offer in March a workshop on how to create warm memories with T-shirt quilts.

Coming in June, the arts center will have another first -- a juried youth exhibit also offering prize money.

For more information, contact Jane Simpson at the arts center at 985-1922.

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