As winter sets in, many people use quilts to help keep warm.

The quilts on display this month in council chambers at Grove City Hall weren't created for that purpose, but the colorful pieces do have a seasonal appeal.

The Art Concern, a program sponsored by Grove City Council, is presenting "Color Escape," an exhibition created by 17 members of the Art Quilt Alliance.

"Ohio winters are so gray, we thought why not a display of colorful quilts to break through the gloom," said AQA member Deb Bailleul, who helps coordinate the organization's three or four annual exhibitions. "It's a way to get some color back into our lives and get a little energy going for the winter."

The exhibition is on display through Feb. 28 at City Hall, 4035 Broadway. It is open during City Hall's regular hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or by appointment by calling Art Concern curator Ray Kline at 614-875-2423.

City Council's Art Concern was created 25 years ago, Kline said.

"It was created to bring culture and art to our community and provide it for our residents," he said. "Art is needed everywhere. A lot of people, for whatever reason, don't make their way to the Columbus Museum of Art or other art museums.

"The Art Concern is a way to make art easily accessible to everyone in our city."

City Council provides a $2,000 annual budget for the art program, council clerk Tami Kelly said.

"There aren't a lot of communities that have a program like this, and that was especially true when we started," said Kline, a retired Columbus College of Art and Design instructor.

In the past few years, City Council has purchased three paintings for a permanent collection, he said. The pieces by Edmund Kuehn, Paul Bourguignon and Sidney Chafetz hang outside the council clerk's office on City Hall's first floor.

"We typically have about six or seven exhibitions a year," Kline said. "We try to feature Grove City artists as much as we can, and we spotlight a variety of media, including oils and watercolor, pastel, silk screen, photography and fiber. We've had several quilt exhibits over the years."

While the classic style of quilting is "rule bound and traditional," art quilts are more freeform and abstract, said Bailleul, a Clintonville resident.

"It's more artistic and creative and comes more from within the artist," she said. "These are quilts to hang on your wall, not to cover your bed. They're not your grandmother's quilts.

"It's like painting with thread."

Visitors at "Color Escape" will find a variety of materials incorporated in the quilts, she said.

"In art quilting, you're limited only by your imagination," Bailleul said.

Beads, gauze, buttons and Tyvek, a brand of building wrap, are among the materials AQA artists have used for their displayed pieces, she said. Some of the artists painted their quilts to provide even more eye-popping colors.

Although she also makes traditional quilts, Columbus artist Rita Reed said she finds art quilting "more challenging and exciting to do."

"Wherever my ideas may go, I can follow them," she said. "You have the chance to do something completely different with every single piece."

Some AQA members come to art quilting "straight out of traditional quilting," Bailleul said. "Some come to it strictly for artistic reasons and have never tried to do a traditional quilt."

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