Janet Dowis has been quilting for 50 years during which time she has created over 260 quilts. She made her first quilt, a baby quilt, during her first pregnancy in 1970. Completely self-taught in quilting, she unremittingly continued to quilt while attending medical school, completing residency training, raising four children, teaching at a medical school in Micronesia, then working full time as a specialist in emergency medicine in a career that spanned 30 years.
Her passion for the medium of fabric continues undaunted today. The majority of her quilts are bed-sized, many are hand-pieced and hand-quilted. On completing her third quilt, she entered it in the Fresno Fair in the mid 1970s and won Best of Show, which was followed by more Best of Show awards in subsequent years. In 2008, the Fresno Arts Council chose Janet to exhibit her work at Fresno City Hall during the month of October. This show, which featured 28 of her quilts, was very well received by both the arts community and the public. The Arts Council which hosts local artist’s work each month, received many positive comments from the public and much of the feedback indicated that it was the best show in the history of the venue. Janet has sold many of her quilts and has had several quilts commissioned by patrons. Janet’s work far transcends the usual craft quilt; her unerring sense of color composition, her original designs, the technical precision in assembling the quilts, the intricate and varied quilting patterns, the amazing spectrum of quilt styles, and the evocative names of the quilts all combine to create a unique artistic vision, which consistently evokes wonder in those who see the work.
For Janet, her joy is in the actual making of the quilts and she loves that the medium combines the aesthetic with the practical. Most of her quilts can be equally at home on a bed or a lap, or exhibited on the wall, their beauty warming both body and soul. Since retiring from Emergency Medicine, Janet has divided her time between California, New Zealand and British Columbia, Canada where she has integrated the influences of these places and landscapes into her work. Traditional patterns and modern abstraction, re-creations in fabric of other artist’s works (Van Gogh, Emily Carr, Georgia O’Keefe), application of seashell fragments or buttons to the cloth of the quilts, contemporary optical illusion quilts or antique comforters utilizing trapunto, whole cloth quilts of Provence, all coexist in harmonious design and color on Janet’s palette.