First Takes: Wear Your Art on Your Sleeve

Courtesy Jennifer Charles

Marking 25 years of putting on its signature arts event, the La Quinta Arts Foundation could conceivably rest on its laurels. But that’s not how you continue attracting crowds.

Three years ago, the foundation — after careful consideration — introduced textiles as a category in its juried La Quinta Arts Festival. “This media had not been included in our event previously, as many artists in traditional categories are fearful that a festival may bring in wearables that are not entirely manmade by the artist,” explains Events Manager Kathleen Hughes. “We were also concerned if the textile category could hold its own with sculpture, painting, etc.”

Not only did it hold its own, but also accounted for last year’s Best of Show award — presented to Oakland-based Mark Thomas, a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles.

“This year, we had more than 50 artists across the U.S.A. and also from Ireland apply for our textile category,” Hughes says. “We will showcase 10 of them.”

The foundation appointed Jennifer Charles, a textile artist with 30 years of experience under her belt, as artist advisor for textiles. For her third year as an exhibiting artist, Charles will travel from her home in Salida, Colo., with hand-painted silk kimono jackets and tops. She defines textile art as “any creation made by the artist using coloring, patterning, texturing, stitching, weaving, knitting, painting, dying, quilting, and structuring of fiber to become wearable or decorative art.”

Charles and Thomas do their own design, patterning, painting, and sewing. To be included in the La Quinta Arts Festival — as in all other categories — works must be one-of-a-kind or of a limited edition. Hughes says festival representatives closely monitor exhibits throughout the duration of the festival to ensure they uphold the festival’s integrity and reputation for high-quality art.   

She points out that textiles at the festival, March 15-18, create the perfect stepping off point for Fashion Week El Paseo, March 18-25. “Once people see what can be done with fabric, they’ll be eager to see the trends in haute couture.”

Information: (760) 564-1244 or

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