When Mary Ann Tanking used to visit her mother in Colorado, she would accompany her to quilt guild meetings on Mondays. The group would spend the morning hand-stitching, and then Tanking’s mother would send her to get lunch for everyone. Tanking suspected something was going on while she was away.
“She would remove the stitches I put in in the morning,” Tanking said. “I didn’t find out until her funeral, when one of her friends told me.”
Tanking’s quilting skills have come a long way since then. Her quilt “Green Tea Jelly Roll Surprise With Leftovers” is one of four winning pieces from Salina artists in this year’s system-wide Art is Ageless® competition. Winners were chosen from the top local entries at all 18 Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America communities. Tanking’s piece will be featured in the 2016 Art is Ageless calendar, along with the works of more than 50 artists age 65 and older throughout Kansas and Missouri.
In quilting, a “jelly roll” is a bundle of quilt fabric pre-cut into 40 strips, sized 2 1/2 by 44 inches. Tanking said she was looking for a challenge. “I had looked at several quilt patterns, and I was bored with them, so I thought, I’ll figure out how to do this,” she said.
The result is a geometric pattern of blues, greens, and golds, with wine-colored accents from her scrap pile — those are the “leftovers.”
From 1976 to 1995, Tanking taught art at Southeast of Saline High School, then at Kansas Wesleyan University for 10 more years. More recently, she directed the art program at Sunflower Adult Day Services for adults with dementia. Tanking said she didn’t start quilting in earnest until she retired in 2005. Her mother died the same year, and Tanking completed a few quilts that her mother had started.
Tanking also is an accomplished painter. In 2012, her painting “Yarrow” won first place in the Art is Ageless competition; it was included in the 2013 calendar. This summer, Tanking had an exhibit of 21 paintings at the Stiefel Theater gallery (she sold four), and in September she had a show at the Yeldarb Gallery in Topeka.
One piece, titled “Tangled Thoughts and Fireflies,” will be the inspiration for her next quilt, Tanking said. And she also writes poems to go with each quilt — stitching together yet another creative facet of her personality.
In addition to Mary Ann’s work, Kathleen “Kay” Leckband, needlework, “Santa and sleigh: Away We Go!” will appear in the 2016 Art is Ageless calendar. Kay loves to cross-stitch Santa Claus and makes one each year for her daughters.
Two other Salina artists will have work featured on greeting cards.
Dixie Lee Haddock’s painting “Pretty Poppies” and Christmas category entry “Santa Is Watching You” will be featured. Dixie, a painter, has been in the calendar and/or on cards every year she has entered.
A painting by Julia Stanley entitled “Morning Flight” also will be featured on a greeting card. This is Julia’s first entry in Art is Ageless.